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July 04, 2008

Sitting With Fire

Tassajara Zen Monastery, part of the San Francisco Zen Center, is currently threatened by the wildfires raging in Big Sur.  You can follow what is going on by reading their wildfire-related blog, Sitting With Fire, which is kept updated.  You can also get details at Tassajara's website, including how you can help.  The monastery is been closed until July 11, although some residents remain to help fight the fires and carry out some services.  One interesting part of practice with fire has been the residents' chanting of the Smokey the Bear Sutra, written by Gary Snyder.  Zen practitioners throughout the country are also chanting the Shosai Myokichijo Darani, a basic service chant in Tassajara's lineage, in solidarity with the residents of the threatened mon More »
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July 03, 2008

Teenage wasteland?

Not for these budding Buddhists. Newsweek's Beliefwatch has a post on teenagers turning to the dharma--particularly ones from non-Buddhist families. More »
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July 02, 2008

China - Tibet talks begin, and we have.... Silence?

At least from the inside. No news about what went on behind closed doors between the Dalai Lama's envoys and the Chinese government. However, we do have some delicious sound bytes from both parties on the day of the talks, keeping with their usual messages to international media. From Tibetan government in exile: Hoping for results, while reiterating the call for international support of Tibet's not-quite-independence. From those in employ of the Chinese government: The Dalai Lama's followers incited violence. In conclusion, more of the same. Still, it doesn't have to mean more of the same ahead. I hope for the best, and look forward to good news when the talks are done. More »
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July 02, 2008

From Salon

Andy Cooper flagged two Salon articles that may be of interest. Dalai Lama's time bomb ponders the Dalai Lama's policy of nonviolent activism in the face of widespread frustration among many Tibetans. And physicist/theologian Karl Giberson asks science and religion, Can't we just all get along? More »
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June 30, 2008

"I believe that flowers can blossom from anguish and inhumanity."

That's Japanese artist Ikuo Hirayama in an NPR interview, talking about the core belief that compels him to create. Hiramaya was fifteen years old and living in Hiroshima when the U.S. detonated the atomic bomb in 1945. His paintings, including a series on the Silk Road, address Buddhist themes of hope and change. More »
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June 30, 2008

36 Hours in Bangkok

The New York Times features a quick dash around Thailand's bustling capital. If you can't afford the trip to see the Emerald and reclining Buddhas in person, a handy slideshow will let you live vicariously. More »
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June 30, 2008

In the News

The Tassajara Zen Mountain Center in Big Sur--the oldest Buddhist monastery in the Western Hemisphere--prepares to fight against the encroaching fires in California. More »
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June 26, 2008

"Head in the sand" isn't really a policy stand

Talking Points Memo and The New York Times bring us the news that the Bush administration chose to deal with an EPA policy recommendation on global warming last year by, um, never reading it. The Times reports, The White House in December refused to accept the Environmental Protection Agency’s conclusion that greenhouse gases are pollutants that must be controlled, telling agency officials that an e-mail message containing the document would not be opened, senior E.P.A. More »
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June 26, 2008

Meditation: The New Black?

The Pew Forum survey continues to turn up interesting tidbits, among them the apparent popularity of meditation in America. Greg Smith, a research fellow at the Pew Forum, summarized: Almost two-fifths of Americans report meditating at least once a week. This practice is particularly common among Buddhists, with six in 10 saying they meditate weekly. But it’s also interesting that nearly three-quarters of Jehovah’s Witnesses, more than half of Mormons and members of historically black Protestant denominations, and nearly one-half of evangelical Protestants and Muslims say they meditate weekly. One-quarter of the unaffiliated population also reports meditating at least on a weekly basis. More »
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June 25, 2008

Leave of Absence

I will be away until July 14th, 2008 and will not be blogging here during that time, but my place on the Tricycle blog will be taken by a variety or worthy writers, so enjoy! -Phil More »
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June 25, 2008

Jack Kornfield

The wonderful dharma teacher Jack Kornfield, whose every word is full of kindness and wisdom, has a new website. Please drop by and pay your respects. If you're not careful you might even learn something. More »
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June 25, 2008

Gail Seneca of the Foundation for the People of Burma

The Foundation for the People of Burma was one of the first groups in on the ground after the cyclone to bring in humanitarian aid. One of the directors, Gail Seneca, is now taking questions on tricycle.com. If you're interested in hearing first-hand accounts of what's happening in Burma -- and it's still something of a mystery as the media is largely blocked from accessing the trouble spots -- please stop by and ask her a question! It's very easy -- Just click Add a Question and fill out the simple registration process. The question session will run until July 13th, after which she will post her answers. More »
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June 25, 2008

An Xiao Now

A portfolio of work by An Xiao--photographer, poet, Buddhist, and all-around superstar--is up on Tricycle's website, along with an exclusive interview. Check it out! New Yorkers can enjoy An Xiao's work in two additional places this summer: An Xiao at Alphabet Scoop, with StreetHaiku Ice Cream An Xiao will be showing her popular Coney Island photos, including one from her new Coney Island Snow series, at Alphabet Scoop, a homemade ice cream store in Alphabet City. More »
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June 25, 2008

The IOC regrets Beijing "hardliner"'s statement

The IOC and China are having a gentle tiff. At a ceremony celebrating the torch's passage through Lhasa, "noted hardliner" Zhang Qingli said: "Tibet's sky will never change and the red flag with five stars will forever flutter high above it. . . We will certainly be able to totally smash the splittist schemes of the Dalai Lama clique." The IOC responded, "The IOC regrets that political statements were made during the closing ceremony of the torch relay in Tibet." And now that the torch has safely passed through Lhasa, Tibet will open to tourists again. More »
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June 25, 2008

Burma Cyclone Deaths; and Business in Burma

Deaths from Nargis are now put at 84,500, up from the previous estimate of 77,000. Plus an interesting (and anonymous) article from the Wall Street Journal about how China "keeps the wheels on" in Burma. Other countires and companies (Chevron) do business in Burma, but China is far and away the most important. More »
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June 25, 2008

More Fun with the Pew Report

More fun religious factoids from the new Pew Report via Beliefnet: 21% of atheists believe in God (What was th exact phrasing of this question?) and 74% of Americans believe in heaven while only 59% believe in Hell. Call it American optimism. Tolerance -- 70% of Americans say "many religions can lead to eternal life" and 68% that there "is more than one true way to interpret the teachings of my religion." Most amazing, 57% of evangelicals say many religions can lead to eternal life. Given that one of the most important teachings of evangelical Christianity is that salvation comes ONLY through Christ, this finding ought to rattle Christian leaders. More »
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June 24, 2008

The U.S. and Religious Tolerance

“It’s not that Americans don’t believe in anything,” said Michael Lindsay, assistant director of the Center on Race, Religion and Urban Life at Rice University. “It’s that we believe in everything. We aren’t religious purists or dogmatists.” More »
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June 24, 2008

A Little Bit of Compassion, from Oregon to Burma

As the tragedy in Burma continues to loom over our hearts, there are yet some uplifting stories to be found. While looking through the April 2008 issue of Ink on the Cat (the newsletter of The Zen Community of Oregon), I came across the news that the ZCO Sangha had assisted in the sponsorship of a Burmese refugee family. They are a family of five, now in Portland, having come from a refuge camp in Thailand they lived in for four years. It is the education of their children (14, 13, and 9 years old), they say, that lead them to cross such long distances. More »
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June 24, 2008

"Security considerations" keep away Olympic crowds

China is getting a little bit of security-itis. They must have caught it from Dick Cheney's America. The plush lobby of Beijing’s Kerry Center Hotel is usually crowded with foreign guests, many of them listening to jazz and sipping martinis in Centro, the hotel’s fashionable bar, or lining up for taxis after dinner at the Horizon restaurant. Tiananmen Square in Beijing is a landmark for tourists. But the city has yet to experience an expected boom in foreign visitors. More »
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June 24, 2008

No one goes to Naypidaw

And they're not wanted anyway: Naypyidaw is Myanmar’s new capital, built in secret by the ruling generals and announced to the public two and a half years ago, when it was a fait accompli. A nine-hour drive north from the former capital, Yangon, it looks like nothing else in this impoverished country, where one out of three children is malnourished and many roads are nothing more than dirt tracks. Workers in Naypyidaw (pronounced nay-pee-DAW) are building multilevel, flower-covered traffic circles. In a country of persistent power shortages and blackouts, street lamps brightly illuminate the night, like strings of pearls running up and down scrub-covered hills. More »