Tricycle Blog

Our daily diary of the global Buddhist movement Subscribe to feed
Tricycle Community 0 comments

December 10, 2007

BOOKS: Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?

Polish philosopher Leszek Kolakowski's Why is There Something Rather Than Nothing?: 23 Questions From Great Philosophers was supposed to be longer. Or rather, it is longer in the original Polish: the English-language version (or at least the American version) drops seven philosophers, leaving twenty-three thinkers and their questions. The questions span the whole range of philosophical concern: What is the human spirit? How is knowledge possible? What is evil? What is the source of truth? Many questions are variations on what we can know and how we can be certain of anything (i.e. epistemology.) More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

December 07, 2007

Game Over

The junta is firmly back in control, and international "efforts" to bring change to Burma has failed, according to the New York Times, and it's hard to argue. The junta toyed with the NLD and waited out the international indignation, all the while being enabled by ASEAN. And the crackdown was bloodier than reported (of course) according to Human Rights Watch. Now, back to business. Rubies, anyone? More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

December 06, 2007

The American Nightmare

An ex-monk, Thanh Thach of Cambodia, was delivering pizza in Richmond, California on November 26th when he was gunned down by unknown assailants. He leaves a wife, Eng Heng, owner of a nail salon in San Anselmo, California and a U.S. citizen since the mid-90s, and three sons. His story reads like the dark side of the American dream, the ferocious struggle to get by in this country: Thach, who earned his U.S. citizenship in September, had recently lost his job as a mail handler at the U.S. Postal Service center in West Oakland and had been delivering pizzas for about a month. He had earned his manicurist license. How much is said in those quiet sentences. HOW TO HELP Pizza Hut has established a Thanh Thach memorial fund. More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

December 06, 2007

Compassionate Gift-Giving and Dharma Combat

Joan Duncan Oliver wrote a piece for Tricycle about compassionate gift-giving that might help with some tricky decisions this holiday season. Singapore - City - Zen links to an amazing article on alternet.org, Dress for Excess: The Cost of Our Clothing Addiction. (S-C-Z often has great environmental links.) Here's some brief passages from the Alternet article: The numbers are astonishing. Apparel is easily the second-biggest consumer sector after food. We're spending $282 billion on new clothes annually, up from $162 billion in 1992, based on U.S. Census figures. . . More »
Tricycle Community 1 comment

December 05, 2007

Sharon Salzberg and Burma

This morning, insight meditation teacher and author Sharon Salzberg appeared with Tricycle editor James Shaheen on a show called "Be Happy, Dammit!" on Sirius radio at Lime 114 in a conversation with host Karen Salmansohn, bestselling author many books on happiness. For more on Karen, see notsalmon.com. Here's a programming schedule for the channel -- Be Happy, Dammit! airs weekdays at 8 AM East Coast time. Sharon is of course well known in the Buddhist community. More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

December 04, 2007

Burma and Bodhi Day

More bloody confrontations unavoidable, says a Burmese monk, now in exile. (The Guardian Weekly out of the U.K. reported on November 16th (using reportage from Le Monde) that monks in Pakokku said, "If prices keep going up there will be more rallies. We didn't like the army entering the monasteries." They also reported a while ago that international outrage was fading fast over Burma. Ask Pamela Gayle White! The translator, writer, and teacher of Tibetan Buddhism is available for your questions on the tricycle website until December 21st. More »
Tricycle Community 6 comments

December 04, 2007

Is this how you feel?

This cartoon from our friend Roberto Guerra more or less sums it up: And here's a short clip of some beautiful chanting from the annual 24 Hour Nembutsu of the Amida Trust, from Pure Land Etchings. Here's a brief "Theory of Nembutsu" if you'd like to know more. The term roughly means Buddha in Mind, or Mindfulness of the Buddha, and derives, I think, from the Sanskrit Namo Amitabha Buddha. Comments clarifying this would be most welcome! - Philip Ryan, Web Editor More »
Tricycle Community 1 comment

December 04, 2007

OCD, China, and Shakespeare in Arizona

Reading about perfectionism / OCD in the New York Times. A counselor at U.C. Davis treating perfectionists gives them this advice: Leave work on time. Don’t arrive early. Take all the breaks allowed. Leave the desk a mess. Allow yourself a set number of tries to finish a job; then turn in what you have. David Brooks, in another part of the paper, talks about China being a radical meritocracy (no one leaves work on time there): When you talk to Americans, you find that they have all these weird notions about Chinese communism. You try to tell them that China isn’t a communist country anymore. It’s got a different system: meritocratic paternalism. You joke: Imagine the Ivy League taking over the shell of the Communist Party and deciding not to change the name. More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

December 03, 2007

Burma's Protesters to be Put on Trial

BURMA: Aung Sann Suu Kyi and her National League for Democracy will not be involved in drafting Burma's new constitution, according to a spokesman for the junta. The junta also dismissed the September protests as "trivial." But the protesters will nevertheless be put on trial, in a complete mockery of due process. Ecologists are complaining about China's dams in Burma. More »
Tricycle Community 3 comments

December 03, 2007

BOOKS: Nonviolence by Mark Kurlansky, and Gandhi on Nonviolence edited by Thomas Merton

NONVIOLENCE is published by the Modern Library/Random House; GANDHI ON NONVIOLENCE, edited by Thomas Merton, is soon to be reissued by New Directions Press. More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 30, 2007

Maggin Monastery Shut Down by Burmese Junta

More bad news from Burma: While Aung San Suu Kyi meets again with the representatives of the junta delegated to keep her busy, Maggin monastery, supposedly linked to the protests, is shut down. The abbot of Maggin, Sayadaw U Indaka, has been arrested and is held in an undisclosed location. Maggin Monastery, located in Rangoon, is a sanctuary for HIV / AIDS patients from rural areas seeking treatment in the big city. "Closing a monastery is unprecedented in recent history," said a Burmese journalist who visited the monastery to confirm the closure. "Authorities have seen Maggin monastery as a camp of political activists. More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

November 29, 2007

Religious Market Share

In its December 2007 issue (p. 26 or so), National Geographic reports on World Religions (with helpful and colorful diagrams.) The world breaks down this way: 33% Christian, 21% Muslim, 14% Nonbelievers, 13% Hindus, 12% Other, 6% Buddhist, and a small amount of Jews, some fraction of 1%. The data comes from 2005, courtesy of the World Christian Database (Center for the Study of Global Christianity at the Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary) and there is nothing about number or methods. It doesn't really matter -- Americans are mostly interested in the Muslim figures in studies like this. The Nonbelievers figure is probably skewed by Communist countries, which all rank very high in Nonbelievers, with the exception of Laos -- and frankly I'm very skeptical as to what their data is on Laos anyway. This is all about Market Share. More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 28, 2007

Arrests Continue in Burma

Sad but apparently true: Amnesty International has condemned the continuing arrests of political activists inside Burma despite what it says was the government's pledge to stop. The London-based rights group on Tuesday published details of the arrest of several activists since early November. Amnesty says Burmese Prime Minister Thein Sein made a commitment to Ibrahim Gambari to halt the arrests when the U.N. special envoy met with him earlier this month. Thein Sein is not to be confused with the junta's supremo, Than Shwe, also known as the Bulldog. Also, Burmese refugees settle in the Washingon, D.C. area. No word on which candidate they're leaning for -- oh, wait. They'll never be given citizenship in post-9/11 America. More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

November 28, 2007

Resacralizing the Holidays: Holy Day Mindfulness

This is a guest post by Lama Surya Das (that was supposed to be published before Thanksgiving.) As the holydays start coming upon us, fast and furious, I like to turn back to spiritual readings and teachings to refresh and remind me what it's all about. Of course, having been called the 'Ocean of Questions,' I like to start with questions and then live mindfully into them. So first my HolyDay questions: What is this really all about? Why are we here? What are we doing? And what is important and really matters? Aren't these all part of life's big questions, anyway? More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 27, 2007

Protests at Bodh Gaya, Korean Idyll, and Tibet House Auction

Danny Fisher alerts us to the protests at Bodh Gaya -- protests against the Myanamar junta, that is. There is a strong Burmese presence in Bodh Gaya, Burma being not so far away. (Since the monks mentioned are wearing yellow, not red, they are more likely to be Sri Lankan, perhaps, than Burmese.) Beautiful account (plus photos!) of a visit to Korea on the always entertaining Dreaming of Danzan Ravjaa. Our friends at Tibet House are teaming up with Christie's for an auction on December 5th. What's up for grabs? Works by Donald Baechler, Lynn Davis and Annie Leibovitz, exotic trips and a guitar autographed by Dave Matthews. More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 27, 2007

Atheism, Vietnam, Sarkozy, and Holiday Stress

 Why is atheism so hot right now? The Nation's Katha Pollitt: There's no question in my mind that horror at militant Islam and fear of Muslim immigration lie behind at least some of the current vogue for atheism--you don't make the bestseller list by excoriating the evils of Lutheranism or Buddhism. The problem is that the more scorn one feels for religious belief, the less able one is to appreciate "reformed" or "moderate" variants of the faith. After all, pro-gay Episcopalians and liberation theology Catholics still believe in Christ, the afterlife, sin; reformed Jews still find wisdom in the Old Testament. Strictly speaking, an atheist should have no truck with any of it. But if all you can offer people is reasons to quit their religion--which also often means their community, their family, their support system and their identity--you're not going to have many takers. More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 27, 2007

"Soulless Scientism"

This NYT blog post on the stem cell debate -- and various other issues where religious warriors wade into deep water to do battle with the krakens of science -- caught my eye. Among other things, a commentor suggests scientism, a word I'm fond of, is invented by the right (like "Islamofascism"): Alas for the Christians, who have had to fight a mighty, mostly losing battle with scientists. The last ditch effort, creating a new word, scientism, for a general ad hominem is pretty lame. Perhaps they should switch to Buddhism, in which the conflicts are rare. - Philip Ryan, Web Editor More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

November 26, 2007

Web help, Bird flu, and Cardinal Zen

Our friends at Metta Forest Monastery, whose buildings and grounds were spared by the terrible September October fires in southern California, have not been so lucky with their website. Their site is down and it might be nice for some web-savvy friendly Buddhist webmaster-type in southern California to lend a hand. Their contact information is here. I visited Metta Forest a while ago and had a wonderful time. So why aren't I living there as a renunciate and earning merit for you all? Sigh. BURMA: Blood rubies, bloodshed, kleptocratic bureaucrats, monks bludgeoned in the streets, and now bird flu. More »
Tricycle Community 2 comments

November 25, 2007

Science and Faith

This appeared in the New York Times recently (and has some bearing on a recent post here): In other words, the laws [of physics] should have an explanation from within the universe and not involve appealing to an external agency. The specifics of that explanation are a matter for future research. But until science comes up with a testable theory of the laws of the universe, its claim to be free of faith is manifestly bogus. - Philip Ryan, Web Editor More »
Tricycle Community 0 comments

November 22, 2007

Happy Thanksgiving

"May this be for our relatives. May our relatives be happy!" - 7. Hungry Shades Outside the Wall, Khuddakatha (Short Passages) from Handful of Leaves 4, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu More »