In these uncertain times of layoffs, furloughs, and unprecedented unemployment, it’s worth remembering this simple truth.

You might want to sit down for this because I have some news that may be difficult for you to hear. Among Buddha’s many insights is one that might sound a little crazy.

You don’t exist.

To be clear, Buddha didn’t mean that nothing exists. He wasn’t saying that the whole world is a dream or an illusion. He wasn’t claiming that we’re all living in The Matrix. He meant something a little more subtle than that.

The physical body most people call you…

Buddha placed great value on concentration, but you don’t have to be an experienced meditator or yogi to understand the value of paying attention.

The world is a distracting place. And while it has certainly become more and more distracting in many ways, this is not a new problem by any means. As the futurist and best-selling author Alex Pang writes in his masterful book The Distraction Addiction, “Humans have always had to deal with distraction and lack of focus — and for thousands of years, they have been cultivating techniques that effectively address them.”

Let me confess something at…

Give it 90 minutes

Photo: Carlina Teteris/Moment/Getty Images

Buddha’s very first formal sermon covered a set of principles that came to be known as the “Four Noble Truths.” The first, which gets an understandably bad rap, is usually translated as: “Life is suffering.”

It sounds pretty depressing, but Buddha didn’t mean it to be. He was merely trying to validate a feeling all of us have at one time or another. Life is difficult. Pain and loss are inevitable. But this doesn’t mean that life is only suffering. There are moments of joy and happiness, too. Most of us are not in constant agony.

Some scholars aren’t even…

On July 27, 2008, I took my daughter Anna to her best friend Hazel’s birthday party in Palo Alto. I think they were both 6 years old. The party was at Rinconada Pool, a local public pool that you could reserve for private parties on weekend mornings.

It was still cold when we got there, before 10am I think, and they hadn’t opened the pool yet. Anna went off with her friends, and Hazel’s parents and various other adults were busy setting up plates and snacks on the tables off to the side. Everyone looked a little nervous. If you…

I never thought I would write a diet book. But I did. I thought some people might be interested to know why.

I’m a data scientist. In my day job, I’m Director of Analytics for Facebook. I spend my time there thinking about why people use Facebook the way they do and how we can make it better for them. After hours, I write a bit and I’m a practicing Buddhist. I teach sometimes at a nearby Zen temple. None of this has much to do with dieting.

Dan Zigmond

Writer, data scientist, and Zen priest. Author of Buddha’s Office. Lectures occasionally, advises start-ups, reads a lot, and hangs out with his kids.

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