Tricycle Blog

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July 30, 2014

Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Rinzai Zen Master, Dies at 107

The influential teacher leaves a mixed legacy. Mark Oppenheimer
On Sunday, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a Rinzai Zen Buddhist who came to the United States in 1962 and went on to become one of the country’s most influential, if not most controversial, Zen teachers, died at Cedars-Sinai medical center in Los Angeles. He was 107 years old. Although said to have no dharma heirs, Joshu Roshi had legions of followers who founded about 30 Zen centers, from Seattle to Oslo, Vancouver to Berlin, some of which later closed. He led a large center in Los Angeles and two training centers in the Southwest, one in New Mexico and one at Mount Baldy, in the mountains east of Los Angeles. The poet and songwriter Leonard Cohen lived at Mount Baldy in the 1990s, lending his teacher a semimythic status among spiritually inclined rock fans. More »
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July 25, 2014

From Monastery to Marketplace

Mindfulness is no longer just a form of meditation—it’s a lifestyle that can be bought and sold. Is there an upside? Jeff Wilson
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July 24, 2014

"Unthinkable"

The Dalai Lama speaks out on violence in Gaza. Max Zahn
Seventeen days have elapsed since the Israeli Defense Forces began air strikes on Gaza, and seven days have passed since the onset of its simultaneous ground invasion. As of Wednesday evening, 700 Palestinians and 35 Israelis had lost their lives—not to mention an additional 4,600 wounded Palestinians. More »
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July 16, 2014

McDonald's™

A poem in memory of Artemisa Salinas (1932–2011) Bobby Byrd
 The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences.—Seng-T'san, the 3rd Patriarch I got a Zen friend eats vegetarian at MacDonald's sometimes. He likes the cheap coffee. He says, "Don't be a snob, Bobby. What difference does it make?" And he gives me a wise Buddhist smile. More »
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July 11, 2014

Once a Teacher, Always a Student

The annual festival of Guru Purnima celebrates teachers of all stripes, and the capacity to lead others to enlightenment. Kythe Heller
Guru, usually translated as “teacher,” suggests a transition from darkness (gu) to light (ru), meaning “that which dispels the darkness of ignorance.” One pictures a Hindu holy man with a long beard—charismatic, perhaps tipping toward authoritarian excess. Yet the subtlety of the term, with its Latin cognate gravis (heavy, matured), indicates a process rather than a person, a fruit (enlightenment) that ripens to become sustenance for others. More »
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July 10, 2014

Harry Potter and the Mischievous Monks

Two Thai monks are in big trouble. Joanna Piacenza
Now here are two worlds we never thought would collide: Buddhism and Harry Potter. It appears a few monks in Thailand have mastered the spell Wingardium Leviosa and are ready to play some Quidditch.  More »
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July 08, 2014

The Monk Scam

Faux monastics prey on tourists in New York City. Daisy Radevsky
New York’s Times Square is full of people asking for money. Although the neighborhood has lost just about all its grit, scams of all sorts still crop up in the area, evergreen as it is with vulnerable tourists. The latest breed of scammers, profiled in a recent New York Times article, come dressed in monk’s robes. More »
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July 03, 2014

One Way to Nirvana

It’s not just the Buddha Way that’s different—the Buddhist mountaintop is different, too. Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
This article is the tenth in the Tricycle blog series 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism with scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.  More »
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July 02, 2014

How Do We Talk About Death?

In her final days, a writer reflects on the divine art of dying. Karen Speerstra
Writer Karen Speerstra was diagnosed with ovarian cancer in 2003 and entered hospice care in 2013. What follows is a selection from her hospice journal, which appears in her final work, The Divine Art of Dying, out from Divine Arts in September.  Lately, I’ve been thinking a lot about caterpillars. And how they become butterflies. I chuckle at the New Yorker cartoon of two caterpillars looking up at an airborne butterfly and one says, “They’ll never get me up in one of those!” There’s a mystery about this fuzzy worm inside a chrysalis that holds the potential of flying. What a paradox! I’ve read that the caterpillar completely disappears, except for a few cells that are called imaginal cells. Imagine! More »
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June 30, 2014

San Francisco Boom

Sound and sight from a longtime poet-resident of San Francisco Barbara Berman
Buzz saws cacophonous mega-hums on west side avenues. Beloveds and I are safe for complicated reasons. Sky beyond our deck still reminds me of late-day Arles. All around. Beyond. Dying in creatively vicious ways.   The screwed out here one kind of huge lewd ringing rising on a bright, dry afternoon.   Barbara Berman is the senior poetry reviewer for The Daily Rumpus. She has work forthcoming in 99 Poems for the 99 Percent, out July from 99:The Press. Image: Amani Willett/Gallery Stock More »
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June 26, 2014

Slow-Motion Satori

The Zen tradition’s “sudden enlightenment” may not be so sudden after all. Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
This article is the ninth in the Tricycle blog series 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism with scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.  More »
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June 19, 2014

Four Ennobling Truths

The four noble truths are not true for everyone. Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
This article is the eighth in the Tricycle blog series 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism with scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.  More »
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June 13, 2014

No Try, Just Do

Actor Steve Buscemi speaks about kindness and anger with a Shambhala nun
They make a fairly odd couple. The television and film star Steve Buscemi (Boardwalk Empire, The Big Lebowski) sits alongside Shambhala nun Karma Trime Lhamo, the director of Princeton Buddhist Meditation Group. The setting is incongruous, too: a park bench in the middle of an exhibit at the Rubin Museum of Art. But this strange alchemy—comprising episode six of Buscemi’s web series Park Bench—is an unequivocal delight. Buscemi asks sincerely felt, straightforward questions, while Ani Trime responds with wisdom reminiscent of her late teacher, Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche. Watch as she shares her thoughts on dukkha, meditation, and the importance of being kind.  More »
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June 12, 2014

Only the Occasional Brothel

The “unconstrained conduct” of Zen is more literary trope than pervasive practice. Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
This article is the seventh in the Tricycle blog series 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism with scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.  More »
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June 11, 2014

Mipham Chokyi Lodro, the 14th Shamarpa, Dies at 61

Pamela Gayle White
Shamar Rinpoche passed away suddenly this morning in his center in Renchen Ulm, Germany, at the age of 61. The 14th Shamarpa, Mipham Chokyi Lodro, was born in Tibet and recognized and enthroned there by his uncle, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, supreme head of the Karma Kagyu lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. More »
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June 10, 2014

Painting the West Saffron

A new map published by the Washington Post misrepresents Buddhist populations in Western states. Jeff Wilson
Scholars have known for some time that Buddhism is the largest religion in Hawaii after Christianity, the majority religion in all US states. Now—according to an article in last week’s Washington Post—Buddhism has also attained second-place status in a dozen Western states. More »
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June 06, 2014

The Graduates

Two young publishers bring the voices of exiled Tibetans to light
Kelsang and his friend Tenzin are both graduating seniors from the Tibetan Children’s Village, commonly known as TCV. In their spare time they publish Exile World, a small newspaper that serves as an important voice for young Tibetan writers living in exile. Watch more short films about Tibetans living in exile at the Tibetan Stories website. More »
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June 05, 2014

God or Human?

While Buddhism has a place for gods, the Buddha wasn’t exactly one of them. Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.
This article is the sixth in the Tricycle blog series 10 Misconceptions about Buddhism with scholars Robert E. Buswell Jr. and Donald S. Lopez Jr.  More »
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June 04, 2014

Sole Beauty

For the fourth time in the beauty pageant's history, Miss Tibet crowns an unopposed contestant
“Lone contestant Tenzin Yangzom to be crowned Miss Tibet 2014.” That’s the headline straight from the Miss Tibet home page, and it means exactly what it says: the India-based competition received eight total applications, five confirmed, and four “withdrew at the last minute expressing various personal problems.” The automatic winner was Tenzin Yangzom, 23, who the pageant organizers hope will draw awareness to the plight of the Tibetan people by going on to international competitions. More »
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June 02, 2014

“Massacre”

On the 25th anniversary of the Tiananmen Square Massacre, see Liao Yiwu read the poem that landed him in prison