"What is most important is the recognition of our common spiritual experience and the mutual willingness to speak of it on someone else's terms, remembering that there are as many ways to live life as there are people on the planet!" (The Music of Life, p. 5)
Life Theory is an original language study loosely modeled after music theory, in which I syncretize the world's major religions into a common synonymy of everyday words, in an attempt to map out their underlying psychology. Imagined as an interfaith dialogue, it is a cosmic chorus of voices from multiple disciplines: anthropology, brain science, ecology, mysticism, mythology, philosophy, and spirituality. I liken it to a 21st-century Tao Te Ching...
The Music of Life: Becoming an Instrument of Nature (1998) by Michael-James B. Weaver. A collection of inspirational quotes from around the world, marked up in a way akin to music notation. I am a child of the 80's, so think: The Dharma of Star Wars meets We Are the World, exploring the more mystical side of Christianity, Buddhism, Taoism, Islam, and Hinduism. Topics include comparative religion, linguistics, and logic. In 2020 alone, I added 15 more quotes (including a new appendix) by William Faulkner (p. 6), Rick Hanson (p. 21), the Dalai Lama (p. 22), Don Miguel Ruiz (p. 25), Pastor Melissa Scott (p. 49), Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj (p. 55), Rupert Spira (p. 56), Vincent Van Gogh (p. 83), Sadhguru (p. 84), Rupert Spira (p. 85), Khenpo Tsultrim Gyamsto (p. 101), Tony Parsons (p. 102), Adyashanti (p. 102), Doshin Nathan Woods (p. 106), and Pastor Melissa Scott (p. 106). (108 pages. Revised January 22nd, 2021.)
Context is for Kings: Is the Amplified Bible Guilty of Illegitimate Totality Transfer? (2020) by Michael-James B. Weaver. This paper investigates the art of interpreting the canonical text of Scripture and whether language amplification is an unwarranted, linguistic fallacy. It is supplementary to the chapter in The Music of Life presenting the Amplified Bible which is, after all, the very introduction to How 'Life Theory' Works. Thus, if there is a problem with the Amplified Bible, then there would be ramifications for Life Theory! Topics include Biblical exegesis, hermeneutics, and apologetics. New appendices in 2021: a five-page analysis of Ephesians 4:32, a 19-page discussion of synonyms vs. homonyms, a six-page look at Ecclesiastes 3:11, and a nine-page report on Exodus 4:24. (108 pages. Revised March 1st, 2021.)
The following essays on Tibetan Buddhism are presented here for posterity, especially those doing academic research—my thesis on Buddhist monasticism has been cited in Sobisch (2020), Emory-Moore (2019), and Chabot (2019). I quite enjoyed the detective work while I was researching these, and I learned a lot! I remain peripherally interested in the following subjects and do update these periodically with newly-added material that I happen to come across.
Empty Mountains: Finding the Middle Way (2001) by Konchog Nyima. A Christian-Buddhist debate, centered on Buddha's two-fold middle way between extremes. Organized by topic, this book presents an interfaith dialogue of sorts that describes (in their own words) how many fundamentalist Christians misperceive Buddhism, and how Buddhists might have responded (again, in their own words). Topics include nirvana, selflessness, and reincarnation. Under way is a new section compiling various 'emptiness' teachings as found in Biblical hermeneutics literature, a potential nexus for interfaith dialogue.(72 pages. Revised February 15th, 2021.)
All the Flowers I Normally See: Validating Kadampa Buddhist Teachings on Faith, Love & Wisdom, by Comparison with Other Buddhist Traditions (2008) by Kelsang Tsondru. A portfolio of essays investigating common, easily-debunked doctrinal criticisms made against the New Kadampa Tradition. In 2019, I added a new 20-page essay on the subject of mindfulness in Kadampa Buddhism, citing Dzogchen, Mahayana, and Theravadin sources to confirm what Geshe Kelsang Gyatso has previously said: "The Dharma is the same"! The text itself is modeled after Shantideva’s Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. Other topics include Guru devotion, Dharma Protectors, and emptiness. (108 pages. Revised July 28th, 2020.)
A Festival of Attainments: Understanding Kadampa Ordination, with Reference to Historical Precedents in Indian and Tibetan Buddhism (2011) by Kelsang Tsondru & Konchog Nyima. A Rimé (non-sectarian) approach to explaining 37 difficult points regarding Kadampa ordination vows, using only non-NKT quotes by Indian and Tibetan Lamas. (I even tracked down where Buddha Shakyamuni himself taught that ordination vows can continue past death, as recorded in the Tibetan canon.) Ten new pages of material were added in 2020, including new appendices. Topics include karma, the Vinaya, and avijnaptirupa. (65 pages. Revised December 18th, 2020.)
Triumphalism in Tibetan Buddhism: Accepting the Victory & Offering Defeat (2010) by Michael Weaver, Kelsang Tsondru, & Konchog Nyima. Research notes on the philosophical debate behind the Dorje Shugden Controversy. In particular, I recommend the two-page appendix Social Boycotts vs. Social Discrimination (pp. 94-95), in which George Takei shows why the Tibetan Government-in-Exile is on the wrong side of history when it comes to religious bans. Topics include religious freedom, the tetralemma, and polemics. (108 pages. Revised May 14th, 2020.)
Please note: The different author names used indicate the perspective from which I am writing: Michael Weaver (syncretist), Konchog Nyima (Kagyu Buddhist), and Kelsang Tsondru (Gelug Buddhist).
"I initially conceived the Matrix as a kind of Rosetta Stone for spirituality, psychology, and philosophy. Early on, my world religions professor remarked that Life Theory was "a remarkable attempt at syncretism." Using a multidisciplinary approach, it is my hope to show that they do all paint with the same colors, sing the same song, share the same love, and can even live in the same world." (The Music of Life, p. 11)
© 1998-2021 Michael-James B. Weaver