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October 24, 2014

Against the Stream

A film portrait of dharma teacher Josh Korda Rikki Gunton
In this short film, Josh Korda recounts his journey from young substance-abuser to meditation teacher at Dharma Punx NYC. If we can learn, Korda says, to appreciate the ephemeral nature of everything we have, we'll never feel like there's anything missing from life. Rikki Gunton is a photographer, nonfiction filmmaker, and yoga teacher living in New York City. More from Josh Korda Now What?Life as a Recovering Addict More »
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October 23, 2014

A Pilgrimage Among Friends

Three old buddies encounter the sacred at Kumbh Mela, the largest human gathering in the world. Gail Gutradt
Chances are you have never heard of the Kumbh Mela. Any coverage of the event on Western television is usually given short shrift, the name translated with a shrug as “The Festival of the Pot.” A crowd shot, and some mention of how many people attended, given in millions. Indians themselves record the numbers in lakh or chror—for in a country of over a billion people isn't it more useful to count in multiples of a hundred thousand or ten million? On the television screen you might see ten seconds of local color: hoards of Naga Babas, warrior ascetics with streaming dreadlocks, storming into the waters clad only in marigolds and ashes. And you think, "How exotic!" but you can have no notion of the event itself. More »
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October 15, 2014

The Chimera of Human Advancement

Three Soto Zen masters discuss the mistaking of technological progress for human transformation. Kodo Sawaki, Kosho Uchiyama, and Shohaku Okumura
In The Zen Teachings of Homeless Kodo, three generations of dharma teachers grapple with the social and technological changes they witnessed in Japan over the course of their respective lifetimes. Kodo Sawaki, the eponymous "Homeless Kodo," first brought Soto Zen Buddhism out of the monasteries and into the streets during the early 1900s. His dharma heir, Kosho Uchiyama, continued this tradition during the latter half of that century. Now Shohaku Okamura, the title's translator and last commentator, applies the wisdom of his forebears to our present day.—Ed.Kodo Sawaki: After all our efforts, racking our brains as intensely as possible, we have come to a deadlock. Human beings are idiots. We set ourselves up as wise and then do foolish things. In spite of our scientific advancement, we haven’t yet achieved greatness of character. What’s the reason for this? More »
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October 14, 2014

Joshu's Dog

If Zen koans included GIFs John House
A monk asked Joshu, "Does a dog have buddhanature or not?" Joshu replied, "Mu." Commentary: Dog in the backyard, lifetimes upon lifetimes spent shuttling between the bright sun of the deck and the smelly shade of the propane tank. But there is no door into the cool of the restful kitchen, and no one need open it. Upon realizing this, a dog passes naturally through the Gateless Gate.John House is a Tricycle contributing editor. More »
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October 08, 2014

Walking on Sacred Ground

An interview with singer-songwriter Kesang Marstrand
The insert for Kesang Marstrand’s latest album, Karma Khyeno, could easily be mistaken for a chant book. Replete with full-length Tibetan prayers in both their original and translation, the booklet includes a dedication not to Marstrand’s parents or musical influences, but to the leader of the Kagyu sect of Tibetan Buddhism, His Holiness the 17th Gyalwang Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. An inscription wishes for His Holiness’s “health and long life, and the fulfillment of all his great aspirations and noble activities.” This is not, to say the least, your standard name drop. Careful readers will also descry a short metta prayer directly above the track listings: “May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. May all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.” More »
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October 03, 2014

Taking The Dog For A Walk

Bring all the art and science of the world, and baffle and humble it with one turd. Elizabeth Bastos
This is the best time of year for dog walking. Fall's crunchy leaves, the sunset hues, those golden hours. My dog Sugar and I walk a circuit of the cross-country trail, past some chestnut trees, a bumper crop having a mast year, and she stops at the stand of them and sniffs the spiny shells of the fallen ones and gets more interested in a pile of fresh deer poop and I'm daydreaming about how I'm going to write a book about small moments like this one and it's going to be so beautiful and then—doggone it—she's rolling in the poop and I'm pulled out of my headspace and yanking on the leash yelling, "NO POOP!"  More »
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October 01, 2014

Don’t Believe the Hype

Neuroscientist Catherine Kerr is concerned about how mindfulness meditation research is being portrayed in the media.
Last May, an article about mindfulness on a popular mainstream news website finally spurred neuroscientist and meditation researcher Catherine Kerr to act. The article cited 20 benefits of meditation, from “reducing loneliness” to “increasing grey matter” to “helping sleep,” and painted a picture of meditation as a kind of golden elixir for modern life. Kerr posted the article on her Facebook page. “It is not like any of this is grossly inaccurate,” she wrote in her post. “It is just that the studies are too cherry-picked and too positive.” More »
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September 26, 2014

People's Climate March

An estimated 700 Buddhists marched together in last week's demonstration. Joshua Eaton
“I know that my path to enlightenment will only come from being connected to the world around me,” Njeri Matheu, a member of Brooklyn Zen Center, explained as she marched through the streets of midtown Manhattan. “It's not just about being centered inside; it's about being connected to your world.” Around her, an estimated 700 other Buddhists belonging to over 35 Buddhist organizations held signs and banners with environmental slogans as they walked, keeping rhythm with meditation bells. This Buddhist contingent contributed to the estimated 400,000 protesters who participated People’s Climate March, the largest march of its kind in history, on September 21. More »
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September 26, 2014

The Suffering of Addiction

An interview with Buddhist teacher and author Noah Levine
Buddhist teacher Noah Levine’s punk rocker past, social advocacy, and straight-talking, subversive books like Dharma Punx and Against the Stream have earned him an avid following among the young and disaffected. Now he can add a subset of Buddhists who, like Noah, are in recovery from alcohol and drug abuse. A fan of the Twelve Step program but not of its God-centered rhetoric, Noah put together an alternative, Refuge Recovery. Firmly grounded in the four noble truths and the eightfold path, Refuge draws on the best of Buddhism and Alcoholics Anonymous (AA). More »
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September 16, 2014

Mindfulness at Moonshine Hollow

Seeking an escape from the hum of academic life, a theology professor finds solace among the stone cliffs and sycamore trees of southeast Missouri. Belden C. Lane
The locals call it Moonshine Hollow, or Mooner's Hollow, partly because of the haunting character of the moonlight in this small, isolated valley. It forces you to pay attention to the thousand shades of shadow and light you'd never thought to distinguish before. The phenomenon has something to do with the curvature of the ravine here, as light reflects off stone cliffs above and the lithe, white limbs of sycamore trees below. Whatever accounts for it, Moonshine Hollow is well named. More »
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September 15, 2014

Tricycle Talks: Andrew Holecek, The Good Death

A conversation with Tibetan Buddhist teacher Andrew Holecek
Tricycle Talks: Now in iTunes More »
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September 12, 2014

Stephen Colbert: The 15th Dalai Lama?

The host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report makes a stunning announcement.
In 2007, Stephen Colbert, host of Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report, announced his run for President of the United States. Now, in the midst of this week’s media frenzy regarding the question of the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso's successor, Colbert dropped another bombshell on the Nation: he will be the 15th Dalai Lama. Finally, a successor that both Tibetans and China can agree on. On a more serious note, the media, at the least at first, got this story mostly wrong. Read our coverage here. More »
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September 10, 2014

The End of the Dalai Lama?

Not exactly. Alex Caring-Lobel
The Dalai Lama's likely reaction to the current media frenzy. An interview with the 14th Dalai Lama Tenzin Gyatso by the Sunday edition of German paper Die Welt has caused quite a stir in the media and in Tibetan communities across the globe. More »
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September 09, 2014

Going Back to the Source

A conversation between Stephen Batchelor and Henry Shukman
Stephen Batchelor and Henry Shukman, both Tricycle contributing editors, sat down for a thoroughgoing conversation at the Mountain Cloud Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico on "Going Back to the Source." Batchelor is a widely published scholar who has trained formally in Tibetan, Theravada, and Zen Buddhism. Shukman, meanwhile, is the head teacher at Mountain Cloud and an accomplished poet and novelist. More »
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August 31, 2014

The Reluctant Mystic

A review of Barbara Ehrenreich's Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything Roberta Werdinger
Living with a Wild God: A Nonbeliever's Search for the Truth About Everything By Barbara EhrenreichGrand Central Publishing 256 pp.; $26.00 cloth More »
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August 31, 2014

Direct and Gradual

The Platform Sutra tells the story of how, after a split in the sangha, the Northern school sends a spy to steal teachings from its southern counterpart. Master Huineng
The Platform Sutra, a classic of Zen Buddhism attributed to the Sixth Patriarch Huineng, tells the story of the aftermath of the religion's split into two schools: Northern and Southern. In this selection, the Northern Master Shenxiu sends a spy to gather teachings from the Southern Master Huineng. But the reconnaissance does not go as planned.—Ed. More »
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August 28, 2014

Dharma in Action

Our collective economic practices are endangering life on Earth. It’s time to set a new course through collective action. Ven. Santussika Bhikkhuni
As our dharma practice deepens, it begins to inform and influence everything we do, including how we engage with the important moral and social issues of our times. At this moment in human history, the unrestrained extraction and burning of fossil fuels has brought us, in the industrialized nations, to the point where we are contaminating and pillaging the Earth to such an extreme that we are endangering all life on this planet. Nothing could be further from the intention and practice of dharma. More »
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August 26, 2014

What's in a Word?

The trials of a major effort to translate Tibetan scripture into English Sarah K. C. Wilkinson
Terminology. Syntax. Diction. All words likely to send my mind wandering. And yet there I was, at the conference of 84000: Translating the Words of Buddha, in Bodhgaya, India, in a room full of high lamas and scholars who were convening to determine how to transmit Mahayana teachings to the world. It wasn’t just important. It was fascinating. More »
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August 22, 2014

Beware the Charismatic Guru

Cultic gurus do not liberate their followers but entrap them. John Snelling
The following article by John Snelling (1943-1992) was first published in 1982. As reports of abusive teacher-student relationships in Buddhist communities continue to surface, Snelling’s essay remains just as relevant today. We hope that its republication here, along with the suggested readings that follow, will provide further food for thought. —Ed.Of course, in following a spiritual path—as in anything in life—one needs information, support, and the guidance of experienced people. We could call those who supply these essentials teachers—though perhaps spiritual friends is a better term. Traditionally in both East and West such people have lived modestly and often in seclusion, avoiding the public gaze. Some, however, on account of their very rare gifts and achievements, attained fame and sizeable followings. The Buddha is an example from the distant past, Sri Ramana Maharshi from more recent times. More »
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August 21, 2014

Monks in Ferguson

Six Tibetan monks join Ferguson demonstrators to support justice for Mike Brown. Joshua Eaton
Tensions continued to escalate in Ferguson, Missouri over the death of 18-year-old Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager shot and killed by a white police officer, Darren Wilson, on August 9. His death set off days of protests and a heavy-handed, militarized police response that has sparked national outrage. But Ferguson residents got a pleasant surprise on Sunday: A visit from a group of Tibetan Buddhist monks. “Ferguson was a very heated issue in our backyard,” explained Patty Maher, who is hosting the monks during their stay in St. Louis. “Sunday was their day off. . . . We didn't know what to expect, but they gladly went. And as you saw, their presence was profound.” More »