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February 11, 2015

Bible Belt Buddhism

An Evangelical Christian reveals how Buddhism has helped him weather a crisis of conscience and faith.  Jim Owens
I live in the heart of the Bible Belt. When this article is published, many of my family and friends will fear I am destined for hell. Some Christians, like many others, misjudge what they do not understand. Some simply scratch their heads when they hear of a Christian examining Buddhism, meditation, or even just alternative experiences and faiths. Other Christians will have much stronger objections than that. I know this well, for there was a time when I was one of them. More »
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February 09, 2015

Against “Common Sense” Buddhism

The dharma is nothing if not counterintuitive. Lama Jampa Thaye
There’s an old story about a frog. He’s lived all his life in a well, and one day another frog appears at its rim. They get to talking, and the strange frog tells the older one that he’s come from somewhere called the ocean. “I never heard of that. I guess it’s about a quarter the size of my well?” “No. More than that,” answers the other. “OK—a half?” “Much bigger,” the strange frog laughs. “The same size, then?” “No, even bigger,” says the foreign frog. “Alright. This, I got to see,” says the oldster as he clambers out the well and sets out for the ocean. It’s a hard road, but at last he arrives. Unfortunately, when he sees the ocean, the shock is so great that it blows his mind and his head explodes. More »
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February 06, 2015

Angry White Buddhists Protest the Dalai Lama

Casting themselves as the “true” dharma heirs of Tibetan Buddhism, members of the NKT reprise an old Orientalist trope. Ben Joffe
You know that guy. He talks about “tantric yoga” in casual conversation. Maybe he has dreadlocks. Maybe he’s shaved his head. He’s definitely not had a beverage with regular milk in it for years. He’s probably white and affluent. He’s probably been to India. And he probably wears Buddhist prayer beads as jewelry. It’s easy enough to compare this stereotype to the “serious” convert to Buddhism, who, though they too may talk about tantra, sport distinctive hairstyles, or be white and affluent, seem at least to wear their prayer beads as more than just a fashion statement. Yet how easy is it to identify where religious conversion begins and cultural appropriation ends? More »
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February 04, 2015

Personal Heaven, Personal Hell

Sex and the five precepts Hannah Tennant-Moore
A Sri Lankan monk once told me, “There is no doubt: if you follow the five precepts, you will be happy. You will live a good life.” We were standing outside the Mahabodhi Temple, in Bodh Gaya, India, discussing the Buddhist path for lay followers. At that point in my life, the monk’s words struck me as uncomplicatedly true. I was living in a Buddhist monastery as part of the Antioch Buddhist Studies program and observing the five precepts with such fervency that I wouldn’t borrow my roommate’s flashlight for even a minute without asking first. “What if she comes back to her room and needs her flashlight while you have it?” my teacher asked sensibly. “It’s a way of avoiding unnecessary complications.” The four months I spent in India were undoubtedly the happiest, simplest days of my life. More »
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February 03, 2015

No More Nukes

Sokka Gakkai International's president calls for nuclear nonproliferation and increased aid for displaced persons. 
In 1975, Daisaku Ikeda met with Secretary of State Henry Kissinger to urge the de-escalation of nuclear tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union.  More »
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February 02, 2015

A Tibetan Buddhist Nun Blazes a Trail for Other Women to Follow

Founded by Thubten Chodron, Sravasti Abbey is one of the only communities in the US where women can become fully ordained in the tradition. Tracy Simmons
NEWPORT, Wash. (RNS) At a conference for Western Buddhist teachers some years ago, the Venerable Thubten Chodron and other monastics complained to the Dalai Lama about the difficulties they faced: lack of finances, education, a place to live. At one point the leader of Tibetan Buddhism began to weep. Finally he told the teachers: “Don’t rely on us to do things for you; go out and do things to help yourself. If you run into problems come and tell me.” Those words changed the course of Chodron’s life. The notion of starting a Tibetan Buddhist monastic community in the West was already in the back of her mind. All she needed was permission. More »
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January 30, 2015

Putting an End to Buddhist Patriarchy

In order to become a force for social change, Buddhism needs to rid itself of enduring ills—the barring of female ordination first among them. Ajahn Brahm
On December 1, 1955, in Montgomery, Alabama, an African-American woman refused to obey a bus driver’s order to give up her seat to a white passenger. This simple act of defiance became one of the most important symbols of the modern Civil Rights Movement in the United States. Before she passed away in 2005, Rosa Parks became a Buddhist—at age 92. One can speculate that this female icon—and fierce opponent of discrimination—chose Buddhism because it lends itself to the advancement of social justice causes. She was right. More »
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January 27, 2015

Was the Buddha an Atheist?

Preeminent Buddhist thinkers—Badiner, Kornfield, Batchelor, and Thurman—weigh in. Philip Wolfson
"The Buddha was an atheist." Writer Allan Badiner made this bald pronouncement in the midst of a conversation that spanned the wee hours of a cloudless Burning Man night. Sitting in a vast tent where, during the day, scores of partygoers had washed off their dust and grime in a plexiglass chamber, we discussed prevailing notions of a Buddhist godhead and, conversely, our mutual embrace of the religion in its secular form.   I was most intrigued, though, by Badiner’s description of the Buddha as an atheist. I asked for sources.   Allan’s first response: More »
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January 23, 2015

Ghosts, Gods, and the Denizens of Hell

Of Buddhism's six alternately wretched and blissful realms, only ours offers a shot at complete liberation. Donald S. Lopez Jr.
For Buddhists, the universe has no beginning. Various world systems come into existence and eventually cease to be, but other worlds precede and follow them. The Buddha is said to have discouraged speculation about the origin of the universe; the question of whether the world has a beginning is one of fourteen questions that the Buddha refused to answer. He also remained silent when asked whether the universe will ever come to an end. Individual worlds are destroyed, incinerated by the fire of seven suns; but, no apocalypse, no final end time, is foretold. Individual beings put an end to their individual existence, one that also has no beginning, by traversing the path to nirvana.  More »
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January 20, 2015

The Economy of Salvation

To achieve the Buddhist goal of release from karmic debt, we must annul economic debt. Alex Caring-Lobel
The incomparable loftiness of the monk figure—placid and disinterested, having renounced desire—leads many to think of Buddhism as a religion detached from all worldly concerns, especially those of economy. But Buddhism has always addressed a continuum of human flourishing and good, creating what has been referred to as an “economy of salvation.” Metaphors of economy—even of debt—abound in Buddhist texts, and in many ways Buddhism came to be fundamentally shaped by economic conditions and considerations of the era in which it originated. More »
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January 15, 2015

The Real Enemy is Religious Extremism

And it doesn't belong exclusively to Islam. Nayomi Munaweera
Gnanasara Thera, the leader of a Buddhist extremist organization called Bodu Bala Sena More »
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January 15, 2015

More than This Body

We can't rid ourselves of bodily pain, but by changing how we relate to it, we can awaken our minds. Ezra Bayda
Pain, by definition, kind of sucks. So unpleasant emotions like fear and anger often arise along with it, making for an especially demoralizing experience. We usually try, then, to simply get rid of it. Being cured of pain is the outcome our culture teaches us to expect—we carry a sense of entitlement that life should be free from pain. But one of the worst parts of the pain syndrome—whether the discomfort is short-term, as in meditation, or long-term, with chronic pain—is that our physical pain and our urge to nullify it feed off one another in a most unfortunate loop, and our life comes to revolve around our discomfort. More »
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January 14, 2015

The Dalai Lama on What People Get Wrong about the Present Moment

Far from eternal, without past and future, the present doesn't exist.
Many Tricycle subscribers will be familiar with the clip below from Sunrise/Sunset, which screened at our film club about a year ago. In the clip, the Dalai Lama deconstructs the present moment, so often essentialized in contemporary Buddhist discourse. He is clear: without past and future, there is no present, as it only has meaning in relation to past and future. This flies in the face of our own habit of essentializing the present moment at the expense of conceiving of ourselves as contingent, historical beings. It is a kind of meditative instruction that has ossified into Western Buddhist dogma.  More »
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January 12, 2015

Zen Moves Through

A conversation with Guggenheim curator Sandhini Poddar about how Buddhist teachings helped inspire India's preeminent modernist painter, V.S. Gaitonde
Trying to identify an artist’s Zen Buddhist influence is something of a fool's errand—and perhaps an antithetical one. The religion, after all, has a long, proud tradition of underplaying any overt impact it has on an adherent’s life. Ancient master Hiakajo Roshi famously summed up the practice with a rather spare injunction for students to eat when hungry and sleep when tired. Chan master Linji Yixuan, founder of the Rinzai school, echoes the sentiment in his oft-cited koan “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Nevertheless, Zen Buddhist artists abound, so it’s tempting to wonder how practice might mingle with craft. More »
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January 09, 2015

The Robert Frost Kickball Club

A poem on the no-self of DJ Koan Maceo J. Whitaker
In my soul grows a small soul. In my small soul, one smaller. Infinite repetition, nonstop loop. Each beanstalk is an endophyte. Inside my teeth lie small baby teeth. Inside those, infinitesimal baby teeth. I reject each grim oath whispered by gypsies in Western Mass. I fumigate rotting futons. If he were still akickin' I'd kick Robert Frost's ass in kickball. I'd pop the ball, restitch it with shards of marble. I'd talk shit + run up the motherfuckin' score. The game within the game. I hereby donate my bargain-bin Kama Sutra handbook to a humanoid giraffe named Koan. Koan rocks black  glasses and a Kangol. More »
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January 08, 2015

I Survived Ebola. But the Fight Doesn’t End There.

Ashoka Mukpo—journalist, human rights worker, and son of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—sits down with Tricycle to discuss his personal ordeal with Ebola, his work in Liberia, and how spiritual communities can help.
When Ashoka Mukpo speaks about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, his words carry a compassion and humanity that can only come from firsthand experience. That’s because Mukpo, 33, is one of only a handful of Americans to contract Ebola in West Africa, where he was working as a cameraman with NBC News.  More »
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January 07, 2015

Fostering Peace, Inside and Out

A Theravada monk and scholar outlines three steps toward real peace, and the role of our spiritual practice in achieving it. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
At the beginning of a new year it is customary for us to express our hopes for peace in the year ahead and to wish each other peace. But to actually achieve peace is by no means an easy task. Real peace is not simply the absence of violent conflict but a state of harmony: harmony between people; harmony between humanity and nature; and harmony within ourselves. Without harmony, the seeds of conflict and violence will always be ready to sprout. More »
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January 06, 2015

If You Build It, They Will Need Food

Making retreats accessible to all—and ensuring there's delicious cuisine when they get there Noa Jones
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January 05, 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh Emerges from Coma

The Editors
The most recent communiqué from Plum Village, the spiritual community of the venerated Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, announced that the teacher had emerged from his coma, which was brought on by a severe brain hemorrhage in November. More »
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December 29, 2014

Tricycle's Top 14 of 2014

Looking back on the best, oddest, most memorable articles of 2014
This year, we once again turned the Tricycle "wheel of dharma" in our usual thoughtful yet provocative—and (we like to think) occasionally funny way. Self-described white trash Buddhist Brent Oliver taught us that the future of Buddhism depends on who it belongs to, author Ruth King explained how to transform anger into wisdom, and writer Allan Badiner brought us to the Nevada desert to see what the dharma looks like at Burning Man. Take a walk with us down memory lane to look at the articles that made this year at Tricycle one to remember. From the Magazine: White Trash Buddhist More »