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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 »
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January 15, 2015

The Real Enemy is Religious Extremism

And it doesn't belong exclusively to Islam. Nayomi Munaweera
Gnanasara Thera, the leader of a Buddhist extremist organization called Bodu Bala Sena More »
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January 15, 2015

More than This Body

We can't rid ourselves of bodily pain, but by changing how we relate to it, we can awaken our minds. Ezra Bayda
Pain, by definition, kind of sucks. So unpleasant emotions like fear and anger often arise along with it, making for an especially demoralizing experience. We usually try, then, to simply get rid of it. Being cured of pain is the outcome our culture teaches us to expect—we carry a sense of entitlement that life should be free from pain. But one of the worst parts of the pain syndrome—whether the discomfort is short-term, as in meditation, or long-term, with chronic pain—is that our physical pain and our urge to nullify it feed off one another in a most unfortunate loop, and our life comes to revolve around our discomfort. More »
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January 14, 2015

The Dalai Lama on What People Get Wrong about the Present Moment

Far from eternal, without past and future, the present doesn't exist.
Many Tricycle subscribers will be familiar with the clip below from Sunrise/Sunset, which screened at our film club about a year ago. In the clip, the Dalai Lama deconstructs the present moment, so often essentialized in contemporary Buddhist discourse. He is clear: without past and future, there is no present, as it only has meaning in relation to past and future. This flies in the face of our own habit of essentializing the present moment at the expense of conceiving of ourselves as contingent, historical beings. It is a kind of meditative instruction that has ossified into Western Buddhist dogma.  More »
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January 12, 2015

Zen Moves Through

A conversation with Guggenheim curator Sandhini Poddar about how Buddhist teachings helped inspire India's preeminent modernist painter, V.S. Gaitonde
Trying to identify an artist’s Zen Buddhist influence is something of a fool's errand—and perhaps an antithetical one. The religion, after all, has a long, proud tradition of underplaying any overt impact it has on an adherent’s life. Ancient master Hiakajo Roshi famously summed up the practice with a rather spare injunction for students to eat when hungry and sleep when tired. Chan master Linji Yixuan, founder of the Rinzai school, echoes the sentiment in his oft-cited koan “If you meet the Buddha on the road, kill him.” Nevertheless, Zen Buddhist artists abound, so it’s tempting to wonder how practice might mingle with craft. More »
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January 09, 2015

The Robert Frost Kickball Club

A poem on the no-self of DJ Koan Maceo J. Whitaker
In my soul grows a small soul. In my small soul, one smaller. Infinite repetition, nonstop loop. Each beanstalk is an endophyte. Inside my teeth lie small baby teeth. Inside those, infinitesimal baby teeth. I reject each grim oath whispered by gypsies in Western Mass. I fumigate rotting futons. If he were still akickin' I'd kick Robert Frost's ass in kickball. I'd pop the ball, restitch it with shards of marble. I'd talk shit + run up the motherfuckin' score. The game within the game. I hereby donate my bargain-bin Kama Sutra handbook to a humanoid giraffe named Koan. Koan rocks black  glasses and a Kangol. More »
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January 08, 2015

I Survived Ebola. But the Fight Doesn’t End There.

Ashoka Mukpo—journalist, human rights worker, and son of Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche—sits down with Tricycle to discuss his personal ordeal with Ebola, his work in Liberia, and how spiritual communities can help.
When Ashoka Mukpo speaks about the Ebola outbreak in West Africa, his words carry a compassion and humanity that can only come from firsthand experience. That’s because Mukpo, 33, is one of only a handful of Americans to contract Ebola in West Africa, where he was working as a cameraman with NBC News.  More »
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January 07, 2015

Fostering Peace, Inside and Out

A Theravada monk and scholar outlines three steps toward real peace, and the role of our spiritual practice in achieving it. Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
At the beginning of a new year it is customary for us to express our hopes for peace in the year ahead and to wish each other peace. But to actually achieve peace is by no means an easy task. Real peace is not simply the absence of violent conflict but a state of harmony: harmony between people; harmony between humanity and nature; and harmony within ourselves. Without harmony, the seeds of conflict and violence will always be ready to sprout. More »
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January 06, 2015

If You Build It, They Will Need Food

Making retreats accessible to all—and ensuring there's delicious cuisine when they get there Noa Jones
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January 05, 2015

Thich Nhat Hanh Emerges from Coma

The Editors
The most recent communiqué from Plum Village, the spiritual community of the venerated Vietnamese Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh, announced that the teacher had emerged from his coma, which was brought on by a severe brain hemorrhage in November. More »
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December 29, 2014

Tricycle's Top 14 of 2014

Looking back on the best, oddest, most memorable articles of 2014
This year, we once again turned the Tricycle "wheel of dharma" in our usual thoughtful yet provocative—and (we like to think) occasionally funny way. Self-described white trash Buddhist Brent Oliver taught us that the future of Buddhism depends on who it belongs to, author Ruth King explained how to transform anger into wisdom, and writer Allan Badiner brought us to the Nevada desert to see what the dharma looks like at Burning Man. Take a walk with us down memory lane to look at the articles that made this year at Tricycle one to remember. From the Magazine: White Trash Buddhist More »
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December 26, 2014

To the Last Moment

Facing a terminal diagnosis, a Zen teacher reflects on what he'll leave behind. Myogen Steve Stücky
The following is adapted from a talk Myogen Steve Stücky gave at San Francisco Zen Center, where he served as abbot. Stucky passed away from cancer one year ago, the morning prior to New Year’s Day 2014. —Eds.To what shallI liken the world?Moonlight, reflectedIn dewdrops,Shaken from a crane's bill. —Dogen, Zen Master Feeling funny in my mind, Lord,I believe I’m fixin’ to die, fixin’ to die.Feeling funny in my mind, LordI believe I’m fixin’ to dieWell, I don’t mind dyin’,but I hate to hear my children cryin’. More »
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December 25, 2014

Tashi Mannox: Calligrapher

A short film about the work of Sanskrit and Tibetan calligrapher Tashi Mannox 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 22, 2014

Buddha Poem

Meg Lindsay
The gathering wants to include me, makes room for my chair in their circle of stacked meditation pillows, crimson & black, to place me between two women. One is young with the back underside of her hair dyed green clipped up in a barrette, and sits lower than I on her plump cushions. The other older one to my right is on my level, in another chair, dressed in soft clothes, zigzag hems, her breasts great pears molded underneath a layered peach sweater, but her dark hair spreads across her shoulders down to her waist and stray wisps reach out to me like some hippy’s who looks more like a designer witch, instead of intriguing and tosses More »
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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 »