“Aro” Buddhism

David Chapman

Are any of you Atheists, like me, needing a break from reading and writing about Christianity?  Or perhaps you are a Buddhist or a Christian who would just like to meet other kids on the block.  Well, why not take a vacation and focus on Buddhism for a short while.  Why not join me in one of my new explorations.  I have just started reading an interesting, well-written Buddhist site called “Approaching Aro” which explains a colorful Buddhist sect called “Aro”.   Aro is a Vajrayana Buddhist sect and a peculiar version at that — more in later posts.  Buddhism, in one taxonomy, is largely divided into three major sects are Mahayana, Theravada and Vajrayana sects.  I will let your read this wiki article for an intro to Vajrayana, but let me say that Vajrayana itself is a vibrant, complex, magical version of Buddhism, and Apo is a further unique Western lineage of this sect.

The writer of “Approaching Aro” is David Chapman who has a PhD in computer science and has been a business man and scientist.  David is an apprentice in this system of Buddhism and does an fine job explaining his chosen Buddhist practice.  I first ran into David on some other Buddhist sites where I admired his questions and comments.  And since then, I have found him to be an excellent facilitator of dialogue with a sharp, kind analytic mind — thus my interest.

“Approaching Aro” has a unique layout.  It is written like a book instead of as a date-driven blog.  It has an expanding table of contents on the left.  As David adds pages, he fits them in this content outline. (I have been doing something similar on my site, but my main presentation is date-driven).  So to follow David’s site,  it is best to subscribe to e-mails for new additions to this e-Book.  I have done that, but I will also be starting from the beginning and reading “Approaching Aro” like a book and commenting on it like I have other books.  So please join me on the comment sections of Chapman’s blog if you’d like to read it with me.  But please note, David states that the intended audience of his blog is Buddhists.  He has another blog called “Meaningness” for the non-religious or for the religiously faint-at-heart. 🙂

The photo above is the only photo I can find of David Chapman.   I find such a photo strange and almost boastful, delusional, pretentious or outright wacky.  But after reading his blog, I totally doubt any of those adjective apply to David.  Nonetheless, I wanted readers to know that I may share their initial reactions to the picture.  David also uses this pic as his avatar.  To further illustrate David’s weirdness (a compliment in my sick world), David also has another blog which uses the analogy of vampires to explain Buddhism: “Buddhism for Vampires“.   Speak of weird!   So, his pic, the vampire thing and the apparent cultish quality of Aro made me initially very skeptical of his writings but my explorative readings to date have revealed David Chapman’s thoughts to be very intriguing.  But remember from my history it should be clear that I am very susceptible to cults, superstition and much more.  So my readers probably already know to take my insights with a heavy dose of salt. 🙂  Stay tune to posts about Aro.


Filed under Philosophy & Religion

10 responses to ““Aro” Buddhism

  1. Hi, Sabio,

    Thank you very much for the kind words!

    I have spent many hours reading your site since I first came across intelligent comments you made elsewhere, and have found much to my liking. I have also appreciated the comments you’ve posted on my site recently. I’ve been in lurker mode on yours, but hope to comment occasionally.

    I’m puzzled by what you said about my photo. Apparently it communicates something I’m unaware of, so it would be valuable to understand that…

    It was taken as one of a series illustrating different meditation positions, for the free, email-based Aro meditation course (http://aromeditation.org/). You can see it in the original context at http://aromeditation.org/getting-down-to-earth.html .

    I used it because it’s a pretty good photo, I don’t have many, and it’s got a bit of Buddhist content.

    Everyone can meditate, and sitting in this position is not particularly difficult… Could you say more about what makes it seem pretentious?

    Thanks & best wishes,


  2. @ David

    Thank you for stopping dropping a note. “Many hours” reading? Wow, I am impressed. I hope something was of value.

    Concerning your photo. I am very big about talking about the Elephant in the room and many of my readers are religion-phobic. So I had to mention my impression of the photo since I thought others would have it.

    Imagine if someone sent around a picture of themselves kneeling in prayer. Or imagine someone who does karate uses a picture of themselves in a kicking position.

    As your site shows, many advertisements show people in blissful meditation. The image always has a sanctity or a pretentiousness component depending on ones perspective when used that way. People are use to seeing little Buddha statues.

    Gee, maybe it is like a Christian sending a picture around of themselves on a cross.

    But to your points: Yes, everyone can meditate. But everyone can pray or do Karate and those sorts of photos are not the ones they chose as avatars for blogs. Imagine a weight lifter using an icon of themselves bench pressing and saying “anyone can do it.”

    But, after reading our posts, I see none of that in your writing. So didn’t want readers to hear that. I am not saying you shouldn’t use the image, I just didn’t want what I consider a common impression to stop some of my readers.

    I hope that answers your question.

  3. Ed

    Well to the point about the picture… I get that David is simply demonstrating a common meditation position. However, it does communicate a slightly pretentious message. I am sure, totally unintended. It might be the “Jack Lalanne” body and the perfect hair. Not sure. Having had the “zen” approach to hair thrust upon me, I might be unconsciously sensitive. :-} I have checked out a couple of Davids sites. Very well done. I hope I have something worthwhile to say one day. I have a friend that practices Vajrayana and have looked into it out a bit. As you know I am a minimalist zen type. So Aro seems like a lot of ritual and drama and “ta-da”… all to approximate that all is one…
    Regarding christianity… many atheist sites seem to be a place where issues with christian upbringing are dealt with. I am happy to see you dive into this. It seems very interesting …

  4. meaningness

    @Sabio, @Ed — Thank you both, this is helpful. Always surprising to learn how one is perceived by others.

    @Ed — I see — I guess I am “too sexy for my avatar”… I’ll let my girlfriend know 🙂 Thanks for the compliments on my sites.

    I think I will keep the existing image for _Approaching Aro_ and, following your kind advice, find a geeky professorish picture for _Meaningness_ and general blog comments.

  5. Ed

    @ Dave… thanks for being a good sport. The comments are made with tongue in cheek and respect. Very funny, “too sexy for me avatar”…

  6. Hmmm, gonna have to second this one David. I know you are a good guy, legit and have a lot of good stuff to say, but I gotta say your pic is a bit….ummm…yea what everyone else said. 🙂

  7. It took me a long time, but I’ve finally got a geeky new avatar. I hope it meets everyone’s approval. Thanks again for the advice!

  8. Great photo — now you look like the rest of us mere humans! SMile.

  9. Just dropping in to say that, even after the explanations, I am still puzzled as to why anyone would object to the photo of David meditating, or project pretentiousness on it. It’s just a picture of a man meditating for goodness sake, and a very nice one at that.

    Over and out.

    Thank you.

  10. Suzanne (Tantric ending): Well, like many things, this is a question of aesthetic preference. You would need to poll folks. It is not an objective question. So I was giving feedback from part of the population. I guess it depended on David’s intent and he may not have understood how some folks take it. When you are in an echo chamber long enough, your preferences can seem like common sense, no?

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