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December 18, 2014

Six Questions for B. Alan Wallace

An interview about Buddhism, science, and the nature of mind
The past four centuries have brought an explosion of scientific knowledge and technological know-how. The march of material progress has, however, left many Buddhist practitioners wondering whether Western society’s external transformation has been matched by an internal one, and if so, what role Buddhism can play in promoting a deeper understanding of both the external and internal worlds. Below, B. Alan Wallace, a uniquely interdisciplinary thinker, responds to six questions on this subject. More »
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December 17, 2014

Tricycle Talks: Jeff Wilson, Mindful America

A conversation with author Jeff Wilson
In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Tricycle managing editor Emma Varvaloucas speaks with author and Tricycle contributing editor Jeff Wilson about how Buddhism influences and is appropriated by minority-Buddhist cultures in the West. Wilson, who wrote a blog post on the subject, explains how an evangelical impulse has overtaken some mindfulness advocates. His latest book is Mindful America: The Mutual Transformation of Buddhist Meditation and American Culture. More »
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December 16, 2014

The Grit That Becomes a Pearl

Dukkha, explained Thanissara
Having loved enough and lost enough, I am no longer searching, just opening, no longer trying to make sense of pain, but being a soft and sturdy home in which real things can land. These are the irritations that rub to a pearl. —Mark Nepo More »
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December 15, 2014

Taitetsu Unno, Shin Buddhist scholar and minister, dies at 85

Rev. Dr. Taitetsu Unno—one of the world's preeminent scholars of Jodo Shinshu (Shin) Buddhism and a longtime minister in that tradition—passed away on Saturday, December 13. He was 85 years old.  Unno's final moments were spent surrounded by friends and family, including his son Mark, who describes his father's enduring equanimity and gratitude: More »
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December 15, 2014

Drama or Dharma

A Buddhist Holiday Survival Guide Shozan Jack Haubner
Decked out in a Santa Claus hat and beard, Shozan Jack Haubner (the pen name of a real Zen monk) speaks about how to bring our practice into our approaching holiday gatherings, how to remain mindful as we are saturated in our (let's admit it: somewhat tense) family relationships, and—most importantly—how to accept what we can’t control. As he points out: “Life as we know it is not how any of us would have designed it.” Happy Holidays from the Tricycle team! More »
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December 12, 2014

Unusual Choices

Rebecca Adam presented Top Gear on TV before giving up her fame to become Ani Chudrun, a Tibetan Buddhist nun. Planetary Collective
Planetary Collective, founded in 2011, responds to the most pressing issues our civilization is currently facing as we push the planet to its brink. Its members, pulling from their Buddhist backgrounds, attribute the roots of the environmental and social crises facing humanity to the misperception that we are separate—from each other, the planet, and the cosmos as a whole. Their forthcoming feature film is titled Planetary. Learn more about the Collective here. More »
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December 05, 2014

Fear of Silence

While we can connect to others more readily than ever before, are we losing our connection to body and mind? A Zen master thinks so, and offers a nourishing conscious breathing practice as a remedy. Thich Nhat Hanh
I have the impression that many of us are afraid of silence. We’re always taking in something—text, music, radio, television, or thoughts—to occupy the space. If quiet and space are so important for our happiness, why don’t we make more room for them in our lives? One of my longtime students has a partner who is very kind, a good listener, and not overly talkative; but at home her partner always needs to have the radio or TV on, and he likes a newspaper in front of him while he sits and eats his breakfast. More »
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December 04, 2014

Why I Support Fast Food Workers

The fast food strikes are about more than fair pay—they're about recognizing the innate dignity of oneself and others.  Sharon Salzberg
By the end of the day on Thursday, December 4th, fast food workers will have walked off the job in 190 cities across the United States, the latest in a series of single-day strikes that have taken place over the past two years. The workers are demanding a base wage of $15 per hour and the right to unionize. More »
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December 03, 2014

Meditating in Public

Northeastern University students sit down to protest rising carbon levels. Joshua Eaton
As members of the Northeastern University Buddhist Group settled into their meditation cushions on Saturday, November 22, and found their breath, a biting wind blew through the green in Boston’s Copley Square. A golden, Thai-style Buddha sat in front of them, its jewelled robe catching the light off of John Hancock Tower. But this wasn’t just a street retreat or a public meditation—it was a protest against climate change. “Every faith group at Northeastern does a service project . . . and we wanted to somehow bring mindfulness meditation—some aspect of the dharma, the teachings of the Buddha—into society, and obviously for a good cause,” explained Emily Burke, a junior at Northeastern University and a member of its Buddhist Group that helped organize the event. More »
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November 26, 2014

Turning Madness into Flowers

A poem on the grief that brings us home Alice Walker
If my sorrow were deeperI'd be, along with you, underthe ocean's floor;but today I learn that the oilthat pools beneath the ocean flooris essenceresidueremainsof all ourrelationsallour ancestors who have died and turned to oilwithout our witnesseons ago.We've always belonged to them.Speaking for you, hanging, weeping, over the water's edgeas well as for myself.It is our griefheavy, relentless,trudgingus, however resistant,to the decaying and rottenbottom of things:our grief bringingus home. Alice Walker is a poet, activist, essayist, and Pulitzer Prize–winning novelist. More »
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November 21, 2014

The Dharma and the Artist's Eye

A Tricycle contributing editor recounts how his religious practice and creative work became expressions of one another. Charles Johnson
To consider oneself a Buddhist, says His Holiness the Dalai Lama, one must embrace the four noble truths expounded two and a half millennia ago by Shakyamuni Buddha during his 45 years as a teacher of the dharma. Regardless of one's lineage or tradition, these truths state that (1) there is suffering; (2) the cause of suffering is thirst (trishna), which most commentators interpret as being selfish desire; (3) there is a way to end suffering; and (4) that way is the eightfold path (arya astanga marga). Of the eight steps on this path, the one to which the others build and in which they triumphantly culminate is right mindfulness (samyak smrti). It is the root and fruit of all Buddhist practice.  More »
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November 18, 2014

Kensho Down on Texas Avenue, El Paso, Texas

A lunch poem Bobby Byrd
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November 17, 2014

Early Days with Thich Nhat Hanh

One of the Vietnamese master’s first American students reflects on the enduring bond of the student-teacher relationship. Andrew Cooper
Like many thousands of others around the world, I have had Thich Nhat Hanh close in my thoughts this past week. Along with so many, I breathed with some relief when I read Sunday’s report from his community in Plum Village that his condition, following his brain hemorrhage, seems to have stabilized, and while his condition remains critical, there is reason for cautious optimism about the possibility of a full recovery. More »
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November 14, 2014

What Was Mindfulness?

Mindfulness seemed like the answer to our prayers. Instead, it came to justify some of our worst cultural excesses. Clark Strand
With headlines like “Gentrifying the dharma: How the 1% is hijacking mindfulness” and “Rebel posturing and ‘mindfulness training’ can’t cover up tech world’s awful labor standards” on Facebook courtesy of Salon.com, suddenly American Buddhists find themselves pushed to one side or the other of an age-old debate. Should the sacred life show secular benefits, or should spirituality be essentially an "inside job"? More »
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November 13, 2014

Thich Nhat Hanh Hospitalized for Severe Brain Hemorrhage

The Editors
[UPDATES BELOW] Plum Village Mindfulness Practice Centres announced yesterday that Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh (affectionately known by his students as "Thay"), had suffered a severe brain hemmorrhage on November 11. Thay is currently under intensive care in Bordeaux, France. He is reportedly exhibiting signs that a full recovery may be possible. More »
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November 10, 2014

Don't Just Sit There, Do Something

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship's next generation seeks to expand the moral vision of Western Buddhism. Richard Eskow
Ever since Western converts began adopting Buddhist traditions, their community has sought a balance between the quest for personal peace and tranquility and the sense of social engagement that has sometimes expressed itself, most recently on the streets of Ferguson, Missouri, with the well-worn activists’ phrase No justice, no peace. More »
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November 06, 2014

Five Questions for Sarah Ruhl

The playwright's newest, The Oldest Boy, tells the story of an American mother’s dilemma after her child is recognized as a high Buddhist lama.
Award-winning playwright Sarah Ruhl’s latest work, The Oldest Boy, tells the story of an American boy’s selection as a tulku, a reincarnated lama of the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. When monks arrive and ask to take the child away for training in India, his American mother (Tony Award nominee Celia Keenan-Bolger) and Tibetan father (James Yaegashi) must make the most difficult decision of their lives. Directed by Rebecca Taichman, The Oldest Boy is running at Lincoln Center in New York City until December 28, 2014. The Lincoln Center Theater Review posed five questions to its writer, Sarah Ruhl:1. How did a Catholic white girl from Illinois come to write about Tibetan Buddhism? More »
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November 05, 2014

Bringing It All Back Home

Can we love our families fully while upholding the Buddha’s teaching on nonattachment? Lama Jampa Thaye
Sometimes people ask me if there isn’t a conflict between the Mahayana instruction to see all beings as close relatives, worthy of our affection and compassion, and Buddhist teachings on nonattachment. Perhaps they are thinking of Jetsun Milarepa’s words: When you look at your child Firstly he is a soft-spoken young god.Then he is a distant-hearted neighbour.Finally he is an enemy and creditor.So I let go of children. More »
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October 30, 2014

But for a Moment

After his cancer diagnosis, a young man grapples with the question of how best to use what little time he has left. Asher Lipson
Less than a month ago the Tricycle editors received a note from a young man named Asher Lipson. It began: “My name is Asher Lipson, I am 24 years old, and I have stage 4 cancer, a rare sarcoma that has spread to my lungs and brain. I was diagnosed just after graduating from college at the beginning of 2013. My oncologist has told me to carefully prioritize the things I want to do for the next year, because I may well die within that space of time.” Asher told us of his spiritual journey, one that included Judaism, Catholicism, Unitarian Universalism, and ultimately, Buddhism. He wanted to know whether we would be interested in publishing his writing. Before we could get back to him, Asher passed away. But we had been moved by his words. More »
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October 29, 2014

Not Two

A JuBu draws support from the way both faith traditions teach of the almighty one. David Gottlieb
At 6 a.m., my teacher strikes the singing bowl. The tone spirals out, becomes hollow. At the center of a room emptied of sound, we sit cross-legged, facing a brick wall. Slowly the mind quiets, the breath deepens; the sounds from outside seep through the bricks—a jogger, two kids laughing and arguing their way to the bus stop, an ambulance, a helicopter. Right now there is no text, no prayer, no millennia of continuity, no God inspecting my deeds. There is my teacher and there is me, sinking below the turbulence in which I had swum for four decades. When my teacher strikes the bowl again, it jars me back to the surface. As the sound once again spools out—my lungs are open, my head is clear, and my knees ache. With silence and stillness, another day begins. More »