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February 11, 2016

A Trick of Light

Learning to confront fear at a forest monastery in Thailand Phoebe Myers
I always thought I’d see a ghost at Wat Pa Sukato. Something about the crushing darkness of the red dirt paths of the forest monastery and the stars and moon wiped away by monsoon clouds made the vines and trees feel cavernous. The white beam of my headlamp would swing back and forth every night, searching for possible demons along the path back to my hut. More »
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February 08, 2016

Wreck & Order: A Buddhist Writer’s Fierce Debut Novel

A review of Tricycle contributor Hannah Tennant-Moore’s first novel Carolyn Gregoire
On her 28th birthday, with a newly minted MFA in nonfiction from Bennington College, Hannah Tennant-Moore set off on a two-month backpacking journey in Sri Lanka to spend some time exploring her interest in Buddhism before launching her writing career. The reflections from that journey set the stage for her daring debut novel Wreck and Order (Hogarth, Feb. 9), an unconventional coming-of-age tale in which the reader follows a damaged woman named Elsie on a decade-plus quest for meaning that takes her from small-town California to New York City, Paris, and Sri Lanka. More »
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February 08, 2016

A Losar Greeting from His Holiness the Dalai Lama

“May you be happy in the here and now and may you finally achieve definitive goodness,” the Buddhist leader said in his Tibetan New Year address. Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
His Holiness the Dalai Lama recently offered a Losar greeting to Tibetans and Buddhists around the world. “Since everybody wants to be happy, and no one wants to be miserable, the cause of happiness is giving benefit and joy. If you create the causes of happiness, if you lead your life in benefiting others and not harming them, that’s a meaningful life, a life that has ‘tashi’ [good fortune]. On that basis saying ‘Tashi Delek’ means ‘may you be happy in the here and now and, as we Buddhists say, may you finally achieve definitive goodness,’” His Holiness said in the video. More »
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February 08, 2016

The Curious Case of the Cucumber Sage

Tricycle's feature editor solves the mystery of an "anonymous" Buddhist tale. Andrew Cooper
While browsing online recently, I came across a link to a collection of Buddhist humor. The table of contents included several familiar titles and one entry that, though its title was not one I recognized, made me think that the article itself might be the most familiar of them all. It was called “The Cucumber Sage,” and when I read it, my suspicions were confirmed, and in a most surprising way. It turns out that “The Cucumber Sage” has long been rather popular on the web. A quick search showed that it has been posted numerous times and even been published in a book. When it appears, there is usually a note saying that no one seems to know who wrote it and that it just appeared anonymously. But I happen to know who the author is, and it is not by chance. Because I wrote it. More »
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February 05, 2016

Buddha Buzz: Historic opportunity for Buddhist nuns

Nuns get a college, the Spring 2016 issue arrives, and postmodern Zen koans Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
This week, 17th Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje, one of the two claimants to the title, made a historical announcement and promise: to build a monastic college for nuns in the Himalayas. "I believe you are ready,” the Tibetan leader told a gathering of 400 nuns at the Third Arya Kshema Winter Dharma Gathering in Bodhgaya, India. A statement from the Karmapa’s office said the nuns will study the shastras (five Indian philosophies), and the college will offer education to both monastics and lay women. More »
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February 04, 2016

Steve Jobs, Buddhism, and Awards Season

“The criticism in Steve Jobs is the criticism of no criticism,” Curtis White writes. The Editors
The 2015 film Steve Jobs—an intimate portrayal of the man behind the digital revolution—is a formidable presence this awards season, with 13 wins and 87 nominations so far.  But Curtis White, a novelist and social critic, writes in the Spring 2016 issue of Tricycle that the film is a “soap opera” with not much plot to speak of beyond Jobs’ career.  Even worse, White writes, is that the “Apple mythology emerges unscathed”—a “consolation” to Apple fan-consumers and Silicon Valley.   More »
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February 03, 2016

Gender Revisited: Are We There Yet?

Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo reflects on the role of women in Buddhism and the work that still needs to be done. Donna Lynn Brown
When Ven. Karma Lekshe Tsomo arrived in Dharamsala in the 60s to study Tibetan, she needed the Dalai Lama to give his blessing before she could study with the monks at the Institute of Buddhist Dialectics. Since then, she’s helped Tibetan nuns learn to read, supported other  Buddhist women around the world, and watched as thousands of nuns in Asian countries have fully ordained.  Donna Lynn Brown spoke with Ven. Lekshe about the role of women in Buddhism at the American Academy of Religion conference in Atlanta in November 2015.  You were one of the earliest Western women to study in a Tibetan monastery. How did that come about? More »
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February 02, 2016

Postmodern Zen Koans

"If you see a Buddha in the road, ask which gender pronouns they prefer and then kill them." Elisa Abatsis
If you see a Buddha in the road, ask which gender pronouns they prefer and then kill them. - - One day Atticus lay down in the snow, and called out, “Help me up! Help me up!” His mother came and gave him some cold-pressed juice. Atticus got up and went away because that’s how unschooling works. - - What is your original personal brand before you were born? - - If a minimalist curates a 10-item fall capsule wardrobe but doesn’t blog the experience and doesn’t count her Acne Pistol Boots as one of the 10 items, has she really edited her closet? More »
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February 01, 2016

Sustainable Compassion for Those Who Serve

How recalling moments of unconditional care can help us better serve others John Makransky and Brooke D. Lavelle
Social service professionals are exhausted.  Forty- to fifty-percent of teachers quit their jobs within the first five years of teaching. Nurses, doctors, and other medical professionals report increasingly less satisfaction in their work. Suicide among social workers is on the rise; clergy suffer from depression and other medical issues.  Part of the problem is systemic—our social service providers are overworked and under-resourced. Yet another part of the problem is cultural, and stems from our beliefs about what compassion is and how we cultivate it.  Compassion is not a self-help technique More »
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January 29, 2016

Buddha Buzz: Beautiful Sutras and Old Postcards

A postcard from Tibet, remembering Stephen Levine, and Buddhism and psychedelics Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
Earlier this month, the New York Public Library released 180,000 public domain images, texts, maps, and other materials for view, download, and use.  The collection has quite a few (beautiful) prints from the 16th century Sutra of the Ten Kings of Hell—which depicts the Buddhist hell realm of souls being judged after death—as well as travel postcards showing Buddhist monks and meditators in Asia in the early 20th century. Here are a few of our favorite images from the collection: (The Sutra of the Ten Kings of Hell, 1594) (The Sutra of the Ten Kings of Hell, 1594) More »
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January 28, 2016

Knowing the Right Prayer

How Stephen Levine’s teachings helped one woman work through her husband’s death Laurie Riepe
The following essay remembers Stephen Levine, 78, a meditation teacher whose work focused on death and dying. He died at his New Mexico home on Jan. 17. Seattle. Gray. It’s February, after all. My husband, Julian, has been dead for one month. It’s early. Seven in the morning. I’m sitting at the kitchen table huddled under the light from the ceiling dome. The house is dark and shadowed around me.  More »
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January 27, 2016

Death as a Spiritual Experience

An intensive care doctor who is also a Shambhala teacher talks about discovering healing during the dying process Sam Mowe
Over the last couple of years, I’ve interviewed many doctors and spiritual teachers about death and dying. I typically ask the doctors questions about medicine and the healthcare system, while saving questions about meaning and purpose for the spiritual teachers. I had to throw that framework out the window with Dr. Mitchell Levy, who is both. Levy has been practicing medicine for 25 years and meditating for more than 40 years. He is currently chief of the pulmonary and critical care divison at Brown University’s Alpert Medical School and a senior teacher in the Shambhala lineage. Do you think that death can be a spiritual experience? More »
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January 25, 2016

Tricycle Talks: Buddhism and Psychedelics

Allan Badiner and Don Lattin talk spirituality and drugs in this new podcast.
In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Allan Badiner and Don Lattin discuss the complex relationship between spiritual practice and psychedelic experiences. They also examine a new wave of clinical research that uses psychedelic drugs to treat PTSD, addiction, depression, and other mental illnesses. Badiner is the editor of Zig Zag Zen: Buddhism and Psychedelics, an inquiry into the moral, ethical, and spiritual implications of blending Buddhist thought with the use of hallucinogens. Lattin is a reporter and author of the bestselling book The Harvard Psychedelic Club. More »
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January 25, 2016

Mindfully Binge-watching “Making a Murderer”

Those of us who were swept up in the series may want to examine our own fast-brain thinking. Ginny Holbert
Anyone who has mindfully washed the dishes knows it’s not as easy as it sounds. So how about being mindful while binge-watching a true crime documentary on Netflix? That’s a challenge. The addictive, infuriating, and wildly popular “Making a Murderer” can be seen as an eye-opening parable of how failing to be mindful can have tragic consequences in the justice system. The series, with its kaleidoscope of shifting facts and high-stakes subject matter, also presents a good opportunity for viewers themselves to transform mindless entertainment into mindful observation. More »
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January 22, 2016

Buddha Buzz

Snowstorms, social media dharma, and cultivating a personal practice Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
Here at Tricycle headquarters in New York City we’re bracing for Winter Storm Jonas, which could dump up to a foot three feet of snow on us by Sunday afternoon. And, if you live east of the Mississippi, you’re likely in for some unpleasant weather as well during the next few days.  This weekend is turning out to be an excellent time to stay inside (if you even have a choice), curl up with a blanket, cup of tea, and catch up on your Tricycle watching and reading. There are three parts of Deborah David’s online retreat, “Living Mindfully,” and a fourth comes out on Sunday afternoon. The talks explore a way to create and maintain a personal mindfulness practice. More »
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January 21, 2016

Social Media Dharma

Rather than viewing Facebook as a meaningless distraction, why not observe how we get caught up in and controlled by our mental and physical sensations online? Chris Towery
I know it sounds crazy, but Facebook has actually deepened my Buddhist practice. And I’m not talking about the numerous Buddhist-based groups, discussions, videos, and podcasts housed on the social media site. While that stuff has enhanced my intellectual grasp of the dharma, I’m referring to something more visceral: Facebook provides the ideal platform for a unique form of active meditation. More »
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January 19, 2016

Meditation teacher Stephen Levine has died

Levine was known for his work helping others prepare for death. The Editors
Stephen Levine, a meditation teacher and author best known for his work on death and dying, passed away in his New Mexico home on Sunday after a long illness. He was 78. “His heart has gone to God. His light is left here with us. Thank you for your blessings and love and friendship. Namaste,” a post on his website read.  In the 2009 Tricycle article “Living the Life You Wish to Live,” Levine and his wife Ondrea talk about their work to emotionally and spiritually ready people for death using Vipassana meditation techniques as well as discuss why they moved to the mountains to find quiet and work through their own illnesses. More »
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January 18, 2016

Remembering Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

A Buddhist priest reflects on the occasion of the civil rights leader’s birthday. Zenju Earthlyn Manuel
In the spirit in what would have been Martin Luther King Jr.’s 87th birthday, Tricycle asked Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, a Soto Zen Buddhist priest in the lineage of Shunryu Suzuki Roshi, what she has been thinking about on this year’s anniversary.   *** It's important that non-black teachers speak to the consciousness of hatred that Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. went up against his entire life. As a Zen Buddhist priest of African descent, I have received many requests this weekend to speak, as if King were only speaking to black people or only black people understood what he said. If that's the case I see why his dream has thus far been deferred. What dream? More »
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January 15, 2016

Buddha Buzz

Street art, mindfully checking email, and other new content from Tricycle Wendy Joan Biddlecombe
What would you do if you were walking down the street in New York City and saw a young Thai man painting a homeless man on a giant scroll? As Terence Cantarella writes in “How a monk-turned-street artist sees New York City’s homeless,”, many stop to watch—and even join in.  In case you missed it, be sure to check out the story on Pairoj Pichetmetakul, a former Buddhist monk, to learn more about his compassionate “Positivity Scrolls” project.  More »
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January 13, 2016

Roshi Bernie Glassman suffers a stroke

Glassman is being treated at a Massachusetts hospital The Editors
UPDATED 1/15: Roshi Tetsugen Bernie Glassman is in stable condition after suffering a stroke earlier in the week, according to an update from the Zen Peacemaker Order.   After 36 hours in intensive care, Glassman is in a regular hospital room. He has very little movement in the right side of his body, and family and friends are only able to understand about 20 percent of his speech. He is expected to start rehab next week, which could last for two weeks to a month. His prognosis is "good" to "very good," according to his doctors. More »