This web site invites inquiry into early Buddhism, especially the relational or interpersonal practices and potentials found in the Pali suttas, along with corollaries of those early practices in contemporary life and practice.
Such inquiry inevitably involves some engagement with scholarship, but by intention it is also personal, ad hoc, and a bit haphazard—reflecting the opportunities, teachings, and experiences that come to me. Read more about this project.
Ānanda went to the Blessed One and, on arrival, having bowed down to the Blessed One, sat to one side. As he was sitting there, Ānanda said to the Blessed One, "This is half of the holy life, lord: admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie."
"Don't say that, Ānanda. Don't say that. Admirable friendship, admirable companionship, admirable camaraderie is actually the whole of the holy life."
—Upaḍḍha ("Half") Sutta, SN 45.2
discussion:"Great work, Martha! I loved the video of Shinzen Young—very insightful. I do believe improv is a way of life, not about being funny. If everyone took just one improv class the world would be a better place, guaranteed."
on "Improvisation As a Spiritual Practice"
- "I am particularly enamoured of Dharma Contemplation practice having encountered it in 2012 on a retreat with Gregory here in the UK. ... [and] inspired by your assertion that studying the suttas has benefited your practice, I have a sense of this with the very little textual study I have done. After years of intending to study the texts, ... I am ready to make a concerted effort at textual study."
on "About This Project"
Author Archives: Martha Lee Turner
Overview and critique of the methods presented by G. C. Pande for separating the Pali suttas into early and late material. Continue reading
[I wrote this in 2015 for a group of college students. But the need to wrangle attention runs through all of life: museum-going is just another instance of practice in daily life.] Visiting a museum is sometimes hard work—at least, … Continue reading
Personal productivity expert David Allen describes a type of distractibility very familiar to meditators—and diagnoses it as stemming from the attempt to manage too commitments in short term memory, which is poorly suited to the task. He thinks we can get to concentrated clarity and “flow” by managing those commitments outside the mind, in an external system reliable enough that the mind can trust it. Continue reading
I have been doing some improv this fall—as a spiritual practice. Standard principles of improv include: stay in the present moment, listen carefully, do not get tangled up in your ego, keep letting go of your idea from a second … Continue reading
On five Tuesdays in April and May (2013) I led Dharma Contemplation for a group of seven meditators, reading passages from the Pali suttas. Continue reading
Greg Kramer’s book Dharma Contemplation: Meditating Together With Wisdom Texts (Orcas, WA: Metta, 2011) is now available for e-readers in EPub and Mobi formats! Continue reading
My friend Liz and I led a series of interfaith dialogues this spring, using the protocol of Greg Kramer’s Dharma Contemplation and reading texts from a variety of world religions. Continue reading
Suppose for a moment that play were a root from which mindfulness develops—its immediate precursor, or most archaic form—and that root shared by accomplished meditators, children, and animals. What would that mean? How might it change our ideas of play? … Continue reading
I have been remembering my first encounter with Insight Dialogue and thinking about how my understanding of that practice has grown and shifted over the years. (Insight Dialogue, as some readers will know, is an interpersonal meditation practice in which … Continue reading
Eight participants (including myself) met in my small apartment on six Tuesday evenings in September and October (2012) for an experiment in Dharma Contemplation. (See here for my planning and intentions for this group.) For simplicity’s sake, I announced this … Continue reading
So, who am I, publishing this stuff? And what on earth do I think I’m doing? Short answer: I’ve been thinking and wondering, in recent years, about the role of relationship in Buddhist practice, both early and contemporary. Somewhere in … Continue reading
This movie presents a young Vietnamese girl who habitually meets the world with bright, steady, clear attention and just a trace of a Buddha-like smile. Continue reading
I’ve begun an experiment: facilitating group dialogic meditation using a text—using Greg Kramer’s Dharma Contemplation method—and doing so primarily as a way of conveying certain meditative skills. Dharma Contemplation is a meditative method engaging a text in four stages, a … Continue reading
Here’s a deck of flashcards for Lily de Silva’s Pali Primer. They work in the flashcard program Anki, which is the best free/open source flashcard program I could find. (I’d be interested to know if you have another favorite.) Anki … Continue reading
It was a dark and stormy retreat afternoon. My mind was dull, my body sagged. Suddenly, I remembered Mahāgosinga Sutta, MN 32. Continue reading
This web site draws its name from the Upaḍḍha Sutta, a conversation between the Buddha and Ānanda. (The word upaḍḍha itself means “half.”) Ānanda exclaims about the value of friendship, and the Buddha responds by describing two ways in which … Continue reading