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March 02, 2015

A Head in Front of a Body

A short mindfulness of body practice to prevent anxiety Jill Satterfield
Everyone experiences occasional anxiety and some of us might be fraught with it. Tricycle readers especially are most likely no strangers to hearing or reading about mindfulness-based meditation practices that can soothe the feelings of anxiety. But as anyone who has experienced an anxiety attack will know, what’s almost as unpleasant as having one is hearing someone say “just breathe, relax” in the midst of it. More »
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March 02, 2015

Guided Meditation—Week 1

Developing intent, breath by breath Ven. Pannavati
Ven. Pannavati is leading weekly guided meditations for Meditation Month. Check back every Monday in March for a new video teaching on the blog.Download the transcript of this retreat. It has been edited for clarity.  Ven. Pannavati will respond to reader questions posted below. More »
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February 27, 2015

March is Meditation Month!

Tips and tools to support (or start) your practice
If you think the impending all-at-once release of House of Cards Season Three might be a Netflix conspiracy to scuttle your daily meditation practice, or if the promise of expert feedback will allow you to try sitting for the first time, or if you could just use a little extra help from your spiritual friends, then Tricycle has the thing for you: That's right—all of March we'll be raising a ruckus about that quietest of human endeavors. Commit to sit with us for the entire month! We'll help you make the most of it with guided meditations, instructive articles, meditation-themed e-books, and much more.   More »
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February 26, 2015

Ruth Denison, Western Dharma Pioneer and Vipassana Innovator, Dies at 92

Mary Talbot
Ruth Denison was one of the first female dharma teachers in the West, renowned for pioneering an unconventional, body-centered approach to Buddhist practice and for launching hundreds of students on the Buddhist path. Earlier this month, she suffered a massive stroke and, according to her wishes, received no life-prolonging intervention. Denison spent her last days surrounded by students and friends at home at Dhamma Dena, the rambling, desert retreat center she founded in the late 1970s near Joshua Tree, California. She died on the morning of February 26, at the age of 92. More »
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February 20, 2015

Trying Not to Itch

A nightmarish retreat ends with a lesson in compassion toward oneself—and a doctor's appointment.  Shin Yu Pai
Three days into a weeklong Vipassana retreat at Spirit Rock Meditation Center, just north of San Francisco, California, I notice myself itching, unbearably. I’m not the only person distracted by the desire to scratch. Someone else leaves a handwritten note on the staff bulletin board confessing discomfort. The senior teacher responds by devoting an entire dharma session to “the itch,” the gist of which amounts to the following: observe the body’s suffering and let it go. The aching knee, the tickle in the back of the throat—just sensory experiences. Name, but refrain from scratching at all costs. More »
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February 19, 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh Making Steady Recovery

The Editors
More good news to report about the health of renowned Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, who emerged from a coma last November and appears to be making a steady, albeit slow, recovery. The website affiliated with his international network of youth sanghas, "Wake Up," published an update on his status, penned by longtime collaborator Sister Chan Khong.   It announces: More »
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February 18, 2015

Tripping with the Buddha

A Zen priest and a psychologist discuss the potential benefits and perils of a Buddhist practice that incorporates psychedelics.
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February 17, 2015

Myanmar's Cosmic Theater

Buddhist Art of Myanmar at Asia Society Anne Doran
Buddhist Art of MyanmarFebruary 10–May 10, 2015Asia Society, New York A Pyu period copper statue of a seated Buddha from the 8th or 9th century. Four years ago, Burma, now known as Myanmar, ended its decades-long isolation from much of the world. Now the Asia Society has mounted the first-ever museum show of Burmese Buddhist art in the US. The works included are fantastically varied in appearance, and for good reason. Until British rule in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, the region comprising present-day Myanmar was a collection of separate kingdoms whose names, borders, and populations changed over the centuries. Providing a common thread among these disparate cultures was Buddhism, still practiced by 90 percent of the population of Myanmar. More »
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February 13, 2015

The Path of Writing

"I wanted, as I wrote, to discover what I was reporting." Carl Lehmann-Haupt
I was nearly sixty when I decided to write this. In February 1998, we flew to Los Angeles to visit C's son for a few days. We slept on a mattress on the floor of his study and that first morning, still on East Coast time, I woke early to the sound of birdsong coming through the open window. The scent of lemon blossoms filled the air. It was as though we had flown from winter into spring. I was reading a book I'd begun on the plane when all at once, in the midst of reading, I suddenly decided to become a writer. It wasn't a whim. I decided, irrevocably, to write a book. The decision was absurd since I'd never written anything. I'd spent most of my life as a visual artist; even writing letters was difficult for me. More »
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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 »