Justin Merritt is a Theravadan Buddhist and student of Bhante Sathi. The focus of his practice and study is early Buddhism and the earliest suttas. He is a board member and teacher at the Northfield Buddhist Meditation Center in Northfield, MN.

As a composer he was the youngest-ever winner of the ASCAP Foundation/Rudolph Nissim Award. He is also the winner of a host of other awards including the 2011-12 McKnight Fellowship, the Copland Award, the Minnesota Orchestra Composer Institute Prize, and the Polyphonos Prize.

Hear his music at http://www.mooneast.com

Listen to the Simple|Suttas podcast with iTunes here or at http://feeds.feedburner.com/SimplesuttasPodcast.

He resides in Northfield, Minnesota with his wife Faye, their children Cullen Fang Ouxiang and Molly Fang Qinghe, and their dog Zoltán.

23 thoughts on “About

  1. Found you podcast, it is great! Your blog is better. Now write a damn book, you have sharp insight in an increasingly dull world.

    1. Hi, Justin – Yesterday I “discovered” your Blog, Pod-cast site. WONDERFUL. Thank you so much. I, too, echo Mike’s sentiment: PLEASE WRITE A BOOK, LOTS AND LOTS OF BOOKS!

      Thank you for all your wonderful efforts on behalf of the Dhamma.

  2. Thanks for a great website and podcast. I discovered you via the most recent episode of Secular Buddhist – great interview!
    I’m wondering if you are studying with the same Bhante Sathi of Triple Gem of the North?

  3. Is it just me or has Simple Suttas utterly disappeared from iTunes? I get no results from any mix of the terms Justin Merrit Simple Suttas.

    1. Thanks for the note. I have been having problems with iTunes. I’ll check it out. In the meantime, I recommend you subscribe directly through feedburner.

  4. I found it on iTunes by typing “simple|suttas” in the search box (make sure to include the vertical line between the two words, with no spaces). It is showing as author “unknown,” but it’s there.

    I heard about this from the Secular Buddhist podcast. I’m brand new to Buddhism, and I really liked the simplicity and honesty of your interview and approach.

  5. Hi. During your interview on “Secular Buddhism,” you mentioned that there are practices much more suitable for people with anxiety than vipassana. Could you please elaborate on what you had in mind? I am trying to get started from a similar place. Thank you!

    1. Kim, Thanks for the note. I would say there are two things: 1.) everything you do outside meditation and 2.) when you sit down on the cushion.

      1.) Most anxiety comes from other aspects of life. Everything you can do to reduce your stress and tension off the cushion will help with your meditation as well. Do less. Take long slow walks. Read less about politics. Get enough sleep. Take care of yourself. Anxiety in meditation is usually not a problem by itself, rather it is your body and mind telling you that something is wrong.

      2.) But that doesn’t mean stop meditating! When I say Vipassana, I mean watching the breath, noticing what come into consciousness, and watching it arise and fall. This is an intense practice that can exacerbate tension and anxiety. Instead, focus more on Loving Kindness, Compassion, Joy, and Contentment. Instead of just following the breath, bring to mind the experience of loving kindness or contentment. Contentment is really powerful. Then let your subject of meditation be that emotional, mental, and physical experience. Feel contentment in mind and body. Don’t worry about staying in the present moment, just be with that feeling. Do this for as long as you want. A minute, an hour. If someday you want to switch to breath meditation, it is always there, but any of these practices is powerful enough by themselves to get you anywhere you want to go. Learning to be absorbed in contentment or joy or love is about as good as it gets, short of complete liberation.

      I hope you find as much benefit from the practice as I have had over the years.

  6. Hi Justin: I’ve been tracking your podcast since inception. Love it! // I listened with interest over the summer to the series on paticcasamupada, a concept and practice-instruction that I’ve spent a lot of time pondering, sitting with, and learning from. If you’re not familar with them, I highly recommend two interpretative approaches that I don’t think you guys mention in the podcasts (and I can’t tell whether you’ve read them), two books I’ve found profoundly stimulating, exciting, and thought-provoking: Nanavira Thera’s “Note on Paticcasamupada” (in his Notes on Dhamma) and Linda Blanchard’s recent Dependent Arising in Context. If you don’t know these two sources, check ’em out, I think they’ll knock your socks off! Very best, David

    1. Thanks so much for the kind thoughts. I have read Linda’s blog posts but not the book. The Nanavira I feel like I have banged my head against rather than read! But it is great fun to try to match wits with someone obviously as intelligent as Nanavira.

  7. Justin, thank you for your generosity in producing this podcast and blog. The conversations you have with your Dhamma friend are smart and insightful (with a small i 😊) and I enjoy your one-off commentaries, like How to Speak Buddhish. I found your podcast searching for sutras on ITunes podcasts and was lucky to find Simple Suttas. You and your friend – David? I cannot recall his name… – are a joy to listen to. You banter with one another with sharp, but interesting intellect. I find it fascinating because I do not possess those qualities and admire those who do. Will you be making any more postings or podcasts this year?

    1. Thank you so much for the kind words. I’m sorry there hasn’t been much content lately, but I have a new job and David has a new baby! Hopefully soon we can get together again for another conversation on dhamma.

  8. I would love a podcast episode on the Abhidhamma Pitaka, just as an overview of it and its importance, if any.

  9. Hi, congratulations on a wonderful blog! May I ask for the name os the sutta about aggregates in the “Dhamma Conversations #1” from 19 of January 2017, please?
    It would be very helpful.

    Thank you!

      1. Justin, thank you so much! In the podcast episode you spoke about how everything we experience has to fall into a category of one of the aggregates. The name of the sutra sounded something like “analakan sutta”, not Anatta-lakkhana Sutta, though…
        May I ask if you are planing on resuming the podcast? I really enjoyed it and learned a lot as well.
        All the best.

  10. I’m interested in the earliest Suttas. Would it be reasonable to say that all the episodes on your podcast are in the “earliest” category? I re-listen to your podcast over and over so many thanks. What I’m really looking for are what might be called the Theravada “Top Ten Suttas.” So far I would include the Four Noble Truths, and the Not-Self Suttas, and of course the Eightfold Path. Over the years I’ve experienced a great deal of confusion bouncing back and forth from Zen, to Tibetan, and so on. So I am very happy to have found so many recent translations online. And I feel like I’m really starting to get it, meaning using the suttas as meditation guides. So could you recommend a few more “essential” or “must have” Theravada suttas? Thank you kindly. Bob

    1. Thanks so much for your kind words. This is a question I’ve asked myself many times with the idea of trying to put together a pamphlet of “essential” teachings. While I don’t have a firm answer yet, I would say that the more I read the more I realize that over-essentializing the teaching can be a real problem. That is to say, holding too tightly to a few teachings can lead people down the wrong path at times.

      All that said, I think that the Four Noble Truths and Eightfold Path have to be at the heart of everything.

      But you’ve inspired me to try to come down on a Top Ten Suttas! Brilliant idea for a future podcast.

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