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Denis Wallez
«Intentions do matter.»
«Intentions do matter.»

Denis Wallez's posts

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Worldly winds

People hide. They're trapped by the "eight worldly winds" ( and
To hide, they lie… including tho themselves (

To tell the truth is not easy, for words have destructive power, and telling the truth doesn't imply being insensitive: the Buddha mentioned 5 factors for a statement to be faultless, "spoken at the right time, spoken in truth, spoken affectionately, spoken beneficially, spoken with a mind of good-will." Truthfulness is a valid concern, but it's not the only one!

But, ultimately, telling the truth takes courage… more courage than most people are willing to invest maybe: invest for the sake of what exactly?
• Of empowering others —even though this also requires us to accept their freedom to act in a way we might prefer they wouldn't. Buddhism has a version of the Golden Rule: Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful (Udānavarga 5.18). Empowering others is a moral duty if you feel hurt when your potential is limited by the context. Empowering others is a form of danā, of generosity (as explained against complicit silence in
• Of engaging constructively and creatively with "reality as it is" —we can only work on what we're aware of, so "accepting reality as it is" is a prerequisite to reform (it's not passive submission to the unacceptable: it's seeing the unacceptable as such, and seeing the available opportunities to engage with it).

One of the difficulties though is that "the truth" is too often seen as static, but it changes from moment-to-moment: our thoughts are not monolithic, and conflicting (subconscious) thoughts do not all come to the surface at the same time… It's possible to be kind, then angry, then calmer… Which is the truth? All, and none. It's impermanent, it's changing. A good question is: is it changing in a wholesome direction? What can I do about it? Well, apparently, this article suggests that spreading information and supporting curiosity (our own and others') remain key.

#Buddhism #Dharma

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January – … — June 2017

The beginning of 2017 has proven pretty challenging, for a variety of reasons, so much of my activity online has been around curation —rather than personal posts— as well as moderating and answering numerous questions in the "Buddhism Q&A" and "Buddhism and Meditation" communities.

Yet, 13 original contributions still appeared on top of the many carefully selected shares, links, etc.:
Put more chances to succeed on your side!
Croire ou ne pas croire…
(or To believe or not to believe…
Tout le problème, en un mot ? "Rituel"
• Above the Xiashui village
Spring, like the rest of the year, is harvest time!
An abundance of "expedient means"
Should we always use the 12 nidānas backward?
Watch your "ordinary" mind, now, in your "ordinary" life, with all its unnecessary drama, not just when you're "practising"!
Seeing, and accepting, things as they are
Légalité (variable) n'est pas moralité
Ère de l'information : derniers jours du Dharma ?
Striving for moral consistency?
In large public settings, it is responsible to have first aiders…
(individual guidance is available:

Contributions to the "Buddhism Q&A" and "Buddhism and Meditation" communities are not listed. As always, alms are very welcome, via (or

#Buddhism #TableOfContents

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October — November — December 2016

14 original contributions, on top of reshares, links, etc.:
On using science to support/weaken Buddhist doctrines
Maddening expression of the day: kālena kālaṃ
The Buddha, on fear
a striking call for change
Love and detachment
(ou Amour et détachement
The #AskMeAnything silly "Thank you" celebration!
Getting back into practice, after a lapse, is the priority
Automatic translations
What did I do, to deserve this?
Continuité karmique: pollution
Samaññaphala sutta (DN 2)… or why some monks definitely motivate me to keep both non-sectarian and lay!
Floating on a lotus

As usual, answers in the "Buddhism Q&A" community are not listed above (

#Buddhism #TableOfContents

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In large public settings, it is responsible to have first aiders, AED defibrillators, etc. You don't know "who" might have an emergency, but you know it's likely "someone" will.

Any teaching taken out of context, repeated in loop by ignorant parrots, can be dangerous… The Buddha's words have been used e.g. to attack an ethnic and religious minority in Myanmar, or e.g. to minimise the guilt of Japanese soldiers during WWII (« there's no self, there's no being truly being killed »)… The words of an experienced and sensitive teacher can become an insensitive, insensible hammer when quoted and yielded by less qualified, less awakened repeaters.

Retreats in the Goenka traditions are based on the traditional teachings of the spiritual leader Goenka, who died in 2013. His daily lessons have been videotaped and are played nightly for meditators at retreats. So there is no "main teacher" on site. Volunteer "assistant teachers" are supposed to guide meditators, but their qualifications are unclear (read: usually none, the only requirement is that they have attended at least one previous meditation course). There is generally one "lead" assistant teacher who is supposed to be trained… if you're lucky… but that doesn't even mean (s)he will speak your language well enough to understand, let alone discuss, a subtle change of mindset (which might later snowball into devastating madness).

By now, I've heard of enough cases of psychosis (including one of my friends), heard of enough bad advice given, heard of enough ludicrous assertions (the Buddha only taught the (mahā)satipatṭhāna sutta, really?), and met enough people who needed serious post-retreat psychological help, in order not to recommend the vipassana retreat in the Goenka tradition. And yes, I know of some people who got a lot from these retreats, and who will sound like enthusiastic supporters, good for them, but « it went well for me, therefore it should go well for you too » is very flawed and self-centred logic!

And this is not because I doubt of Goenka's attainments, but because of the way the teachings are now spread, without a qualified and experienced meditator to help people go through the difficulties that may arise. This is irresponsible, in my view: it's too easy to wash one's hands and say it's the problem of the meditator going crazy. Blaming the victim and denial of personal responsibility go against "right effort".

In large public settings, it is responsible to have first aiders, AED defibrillators, etc. You don't know "who" might have an emergency, but you know it's likely "someone" will.
In the same way, if you run meditation retreats, you ought to be trained enough in psychology (ideally both Western and Eastern versions) and in meditation techniques to cope with the inevitable troubles that "someone" will experience. You also ought to run retreats in languages you're truly fluent in.
No teacher is perfect, no one makes no mistake, but "right effort" certainly calls for refraining from complacency or negligence… Running retreats without sufficient proficiency in the side-effects of what you prescribe is negligence.

Passing information (by playing tapes) is not the same as understanding, which itself is not the same as manifesting wise appropriateness…
One has to remember that the student's circumstances dictate what's appropriate, the teacher's preferences don't (one of the founding principles at!

If you don't experiment with powerful medication (without the supervision of some doctor, who knows more than his own health history), then don't experiment with powerful mental techniques (without supervision of some qualified practitioner, who knows more than just his own spiritual history)!

#Buddhism #meditation
As we have discussed before meditation [sometimes] has a darkside, and while such tragic outcomes are rare, there is a growing body of research that highlights the dark side of intense meditation.

Vogt wasn't the first to die by suicide after a meditation retreat, according to experts who are aware of other cases. And she wasn't the first to go into psychosis or experience serious mental issues after taking a a course of intense meditation.

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Zen and martial arts… or how to go beyond fear?
August 26th–27th, 2017

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Striving for moral consistency?

« What people should strive for (…) is moral consistency » is a challenging perspective, because blanket, context-insensitive, one-size-fits-all answers are doomed to fall for abusive generalisations!

Consistency sounds great… until you start looking at reality! Reality is contingent, ineffable, perpetually changing.
Intuitively, doing the 'right' thing does not imply doing the same as before, "for the sake of consistency".
And you can never list all the nuances and sub-cases relevant to make a 'rule' appropriate to every single situation that may arise… A 'good' rule might cover 99% of cases, or even 99.9%, but there will always be exceptions, and so striving for 'consistency' has to be mitigated with striving for 'appropriateness'.

If impermanence is a key trait of reality, then consistency is a poor compass to navigate it. Imagine you're on a ship. You might think that to go 100km north from where you are, sailing consistently 100km north is a good strategy… but it is not!
Because you'll drift along the way, due to imprecisions and imperfections as well as sea currents, and if you never compensate for that drift, consistency will not get you to your destination.
It's not a like a compass pointing north is useless, quite the contrary, but consistency isn't a solution to the actual problem at hand (i.e. "getting to your destination", not "pointing north"!). Similarly, compassion is useful, but isn't a magic solution either (in particular if equanimity is left behind).

A comment in Lion's Roar on the article attached mentioned the Buddha stating « It is impossible for a monk whose mental fermentations are ended to intentionally deprive a living being of life. » — Sutava sutta (AN 9.7) in relation to the "trolley problem", but I'd argue this is irrelevant.
An arahant has no personal 'agenda', no personal 'intention', but (s)he still perceives appropriateness: (s)he sees when non-acting —'letting' 5 people die— is a form of acting. And it's not that complicated: non-acting is acting when there's something you could do to make the situation more wholesome (also known as "right effort") but you refrain from doing it. Non-acting is acting when you're actively going against the stream of (or refraining from) what would be wholesome. In fact, an arahant has left the raft of the Dharma behind, after crossing to the other shore, so it wouldn't even come to his/her mind to cling to a generic quote from a sutta, out of context, in order to self-servingly justify inaction.

#Buddhism #Dharma

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Ère de l'information : derniers jours du Dharma ?

Titre légèrement dramatique, puisqu'on m'a demandé d'écrire dans un style plus "journalistique"… Vous savez : pas trop difficile à lire, éviter les références sérieuses, éviter le besoin de réfléchir par soi-même, titres aguicheurs, etc.

Bref! Cet article est dans la partie « Ère de l'information » du numéro 23 (juillet–août 2017) du premier magazine francophone inspiré du bouddhisme et de sa philosophie de vie,

La prochaine retraite en français à est « Zen et arts martiaux… ou comment dépasser ses peurs ? » (23–24 septembre),

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Ère de l'information : derniers jours du Dharma ?

Slightly dramatic title, as I was asked to write in a more "journalistic" style… You know: not too difficult to read, avoid serious references, avoid any requirement to think by oneself, attention-grabbing headlines, click baits, etc.

Anyway! This piece is in the « Ère de l'information » section of the #23 (july–august 2017) issue of the first francophone magazine inspired by Buddhism and its philosophy of life,

The next retreat in French at is « Zen et arts martiaux… ou comment dépasser ses peurs ? » (23–24 septembre),

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