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November 21, 2007

Einstein and Buddha, together again

Steven Seagal is back on the Buddhist scene, visiting what is said to be Europe's largest Buddhist temple in the Russian Federation republic of Kalmykia. Most readers will remember that Seagal was recognized as a tulku by His Holiness Penor Rinpoche about ten years ago. Kalmykia itself is notable for being the only region in Europe where Buddhism is the dominant religion. Seagal is also visiting a boxing tournament in Elista, Kalmykia's capital. More »
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November 20, 2007

Life's Big Questions

This is a guest-post from Lama Surya Das. I have been asking people around the country about what is their big life question. Many say in return, “What do you mean?” I say—“You know, the big questions of life and death, the afterlife, God, suffering, meaning and purpose, truth, happiness, love.” And they inevitably say, “Oh, those big questions.” For everyone is familiar with them. We are all faced with these questions throughout life, as well as with the many little quandaries of daily life. How well and to what degree we attend to them varies from person to person and from decade to decade. I myself feel well endowed with the Why Chromosome. More »
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November 20, 2007

A statue saved in Pakistan, and the Zen of Meeting Women

There's a mention of SFZC's groundbreaking restaurant Greens in this pretty photo gallery of vegetarian dining in San Francisco, and also in the related article (from the New York Times.) Normally when we hear Pakistan and Buddhism in the same sentence, it's because Islamists have dynamited another statue. But here's a case where some villagers got together and saved a statue. Will Smith has studied Buddhism and Hinduism and says they're no better or worse than Scientology. Who came out on top at the recent ASEAN conference? More »
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November 19, 2007

Caption Me!

Tricycle contributing editor Frank Olinsky snapped this picture of a zafu around the corner from his Brooklyn digs recently, and it seems to scream for a caption or story, doesn't it? Let us know if you come up with one! More »
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November 19, 2007

Business as Usual in Burma

The cyclone that hit Bangladesh last week killed more than 3,000 people and may have left a million homeless. As sea levels rise, expect more problems like this in Bangladesh and other low-lying coastal areas (where most of the world's population lives.) A Hollywood movie has Jesus hanging out with Buddhists and fighting the caste system in India during his "missing years" between ages 13 and 30. ASEAN is coming under fire for their handling of the situation in Burma. U.S. Trade Representative and Bush appointee Susan Schwab said ASEAN has a "special responsibility" to make Burma comply with international calls for reform. And U.N. More »
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November 14, 2007

Don't Forget Burma

The Worst Horse finds a big collection of graphics telling us all: "Don't forget Burma!" So, following that good advice: Burma is selling jewelry. (Burma produces 90% of the world's rubies.) Don't buy it! The junta keeps arresting people during Rapporteur Pinheiro's visit. The BBC says Burma's monks are not ready to forgive the wrongs done them by the junta. The painting "Monks with Traits of a Crow," is shaking up Thailand, which is estimated to be 94% Buddhist. You can see the painting after the link. More »
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November 14, 2007

Graying Buddhism?

Clark Strand, a contributing editor to Tricycle, has raised some hackles with his recent opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal, "Buddhist Boomers," which more or less follows up on his piece "Dharma Family Values" from the pages of Tricycle. Strand argues that Buddhists in America (referring primarily to converts from the Baby Boom) are getting older and Buddhist ranks are not being filled by young people. Buddhists should emulate other religions in getting children involved, he argues. More »
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November 13, 2007

The Dalai Lama and Gandhi

BURMA: As Paulo Sergio Pinheiro visits Burma on behalf of the UN, a monk and a female activist were arrested in connection with the September protests. Human Rights Watch has called for a ban of all Burmese gems and jade, which together account for more than 10% of the junta's revenue. DALAI LAMA: Speaking at the Satyagraha Conference in India, the Dalai Lama says he met Gandhi, not in this lifetime, but in a dream. More »
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November 12, 2007

FreeRice

Interesting site: FreeRice will donate 10 grains of rice through the United Nations for every word you define correctly! Get to it, you word-whizzes! More »
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November 12, 2007

Rapporteurs, Happiness, and Torture

Paulo Sergio Pinheiro, the U.N. special rapporteur (it's real, look it up) to Burma visited prisons and other sensitive places in the country, according to the Bangkok Post: The government claims that only 10 people died in the crackdown. Other sources claim the death toll was closer to 200. Up to 3,000 people were arrested during and after the crackdown, of whom an unknown number remain in jail. One of Pinheiro's tasks is to verify the number of deaths and detentions, in a country that is notorious for hiding the truth. Observers said Pinheiro, no stranger to Burma, had planned his itinerary well. He was allowed to plan his itinerary? The U.N. More »
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November 09, 2007

Books: How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America

As a recent arrival at Tricycle as well as a relative newcomer to Buddhism, I’ve got a fair amount of reading to catch up on. Editor-in-chief James Shaheen recommended that I check out Rick Fields’ How the Swans Came to the Lake, which offers an in-depth history of Buddhism’s role in American life. Originally published in 1981 and last updated in 1992, Swans is a (mostly) current and always relevant look at Buddhism’s roots. In a culture saturated with pop-Eastern philosophy—toy Buddha car accessories, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance and The Tao of Pooh, the now-discontinued “Om” fragrance by Gap—it’s clear that Buddhism has secured a place in the imagination of the American public. In warm, witty prose, Fields takes on the question of why and how this came to be. More »
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November 09, 2007

Aung San Suu Kyi "Very Optimistic"

Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, set to meet with members of her opposition party for the first time in three years, is "very optimistic" about changes in Burma. She also met with Aung Kyi, a general representing the ruling junta. This is progress. The world needs to keep up pressure to keep the talks going and being about real change. Burma isn't the only place Buddhist monks are facing trouble. More »
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November 08, 2007

Gil Fronsdal, Aung San Suu Kyi, the Dalai Lama on Parade, and Meditation Tips

Insight meditation teacher Gil Fronsdal has answered the top three questions from visitors to tricycle.com. They're here. BURMA: A very brief piece says Aung San Suu Kyi is ready to cooperate with the government "in the interest of the nation." Boycott Chevron. More »
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November 07, 2007

Gustaaf Houtman, Kate Wheeler, Joseph Goldstein, and Michael Caine

Here's a great interview with anthropologist Gustaaf Houtman, an expert on the big, messy world of the Burmese military. It's from Irrawaddy News Magazine. Quick take: Q: But surely, secular politicians, such as Aung San, never approved of Buddhism as a political instrument? A: Approving of Buddhism as a political instrument is one thing: understanding by means of Buddhist concepts how disorder arises and order may be established, and what kind of political intervention might be necessary, are another. To proclaim that Buddhism here serves as a political instrument would be to grossly oversimplify what has been going on. In raising fuel prices to unaffordable levels, the regime has made it impossible for the laity to support Buddhist monastic practice and so has politicised Buddhism. More »
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November 07, 2007

Masterpieces of Buddhist Art, Burma deadlock, Traffic jams in Tibet

An exhibition of Korean Master Jin Hyung Lee's Buddhist sculptures is happening in L.A. at Silk Roads Design Gallery, 145 North La Brea Ave., until December 16, 2007. The event is co-sponsored by Korea Sah International Buddhist Temple, 500 N. Western Ave. Check it out if you're in the area. This seated Bodhidharma (Korean: Dalma) caught my eye, but there are more than thirty pieces in the exhibition, all as beautiful as this one. I love the chest hair on the "blue-eyed barbarian." (Sculpture is gilded bronze, 46 x 39 x 29 inches.) More »
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November 07, 2007

We've Lost the War on Terror

Danny Fisher has a post about waterboarding and our shameful (and now inevitable) Attorney-General-to-be, Michael Mukasey. Add waterboarding to extraordinary rendition and I think it's fair to say we've left "American values" far behind us and perhaps we'll never return. NBC Nightly News (or one of those shows; I get them confused) was in Culpepper, Virginia lately. It seems like a nice quiet town, but the general mood there, according to anchor Brian Williams (or somebody), was anxiety. And not anxiety over oil prices, internet predators, or the weakening dollar, but anxiety over how some Arab's gonna blow up the schoolbus. More »
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November 06, 2007

The Art of Reality

You may have read Bruce Wagner's essay "The Art of Reality" in the pages of Tricycle or on tricycle.com. (Bruce also had something to say about the fires in and around L.A. and San Diego in the pages of the New York Times not long ago.) In response to a recent letter to the editor regarding his essay on Dr. Castaneda, "which seems to have raised an eyebrow in one reader," Mr. Wagner had this to report: "At the invitation of Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, several practitioners of Tensegrity who worked directly with Carlos Castaneda recently conducted a sold-out workshop at the Shambhala Mountain Retreat in Colorado. More »
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November 06, 2007

Trouble in Thailand continues; Who's meditating now?

BURMA: Imprisoned leader Aung San Suu Kyi is set for talks with UN envoy Ibrahim Gambari. What will they talk about? She reportedly has some health problems. The junta will gladly let her leave for treatment, but getting back in might be a little trickier. More »
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November 05, 2007

Books: EVERYTHING BE OK

Many of our readers will recognize the jagged and ruminating coyote with his scraggly beard, twig ear, and inky backgrounds. This Zen master’s creator, Neal Crosbie, has been contributing illustrations to Tricycle for over twelve years. A regular feature in our cartoon space in “Letters to the Editor”, Crosbie’s vignettes show the canoe-riding coyote musing on The Big Questions: “thank you for letting me come here to talk about my mountains. they were here and now they’re gone and so forth. it is said we will soon enter nirvana. what’s the hold up?” and giving curious advice: “THE NAVAJOS WERE RIGHT: for more info see a Navajo.” More »
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November 05, 2007

Burma needs PR help, among other things

David Steinberg, described as being something of a PR consultant to the Burmese government, visited recently and spoke with government officials. He told them they were losing what little legitimacy they have in international eyes, but acknowledge later that his visit seemed to have little effect, much like everything else the world is doing on Burma. More »