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August 15, 2014

Now Showing: Satori

For America's favorite irreverent writer, Robin Williams's The Fisher King is an unbidden, instantaneous round-trip ticket to satori. Tom Robbins
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August 14, 2014

Moving from a Culture of Death to a Culture of Life

A mere change in technologies will not suffice to avert climate change. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
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August 11, 2014

Do We Really "Have No Choice"?

An Israeli Buddhist argues that if we truly yearned for peace, we would respect human dignity. Stephen Fulder
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August 06, 2014


Sooner or later, whether from panic or in our final hour, each of us will find ourselves breathless. A former neuropsychologist offers three tips for when awareness of breath becomes difficult or even impossible. Meikyo Robert Rosenbaum
Many meditators learn first to focus on the breath, following it mindfully in the manner described in the Satipatthana Sutta; counting breaths in a way frequently taught at Zen centers; or using one of the many methods of pranayama from yoga. None of these work very well when breathing is compromised. I recently recovered from a bout of pertussis (“whooping cough”)—what the Chinese call the hundred-day cough. For three months my meditation was marked by a heavy chest and constricted bronchioles, and deep breaths would bring on paroxysms of coughing. More »
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August 01, 2014

A Shamarpa without Borders

After over a month of political turmoil, the 14th Shamar Rinpoche is cremated in Nepal. Ralph Frammolino
KATHMANDU, Nepal—It was the kind of ceremony that the honored guest seemed to be directing from the Beyond: thousands of students and admirers, from peons to a Nepalese government minister, converging on a half-built monastery to attend the traditional cremation rite of a vajra master that, even in death, stirred up an international fuss. They came to honor the 14th Shamar Rinpoche, Mipham Chokyi Lodro (1952–2014), a spiritual force who understood that staying true to his calling as the second-highest ranking lama of the Karma Kagyu order wouldn't win him any dharmic popularity contests. To many, he was a polarizing figure, an uncompromising traditionalist. More »
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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


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


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 »