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April 04, 2009

Big Sit Day 41 Meditation Tip

Here's your Big Sit Day 41 Meditation Tip: Find a style of meditation you enjoy. The more you enjoy meditation the more you will want to do it. There are several guided meditations for your listening enjoyment on the Tricycle Community -- just click the Audio tab. More »
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April 03, 2009

Guest Post: Astrophysicist Adam Frank on Science and the Future of Buddhism

Can Buddhism in the West survive into the next generation? After the initial burst of sangha-building by Baby Boomers and Gen-Xers, will the Buddhist meme propagate into kids coming out of college now? Will this 2,500-year-old tradition finally complete its circumnavigation and build sustainable roots in the West? Over the last few years a series of articles have appeared in magazines and newspapers on the “graying” of American Buddhism and the risks to its continued survival. Of course Buddhism remains one the fastest growing religions (if that definition really fits) in the United States. This comes even at a time when participation in religion appears to be declining. There are real and serious issues that this line of discussion raises. How do Americans take a tradition with deep roots in contemplative practice and monasticism and broaden it for a society that will mainly be lay parishioners? How are families included? How are the communities of shared values and social action that are so much a part of American religious life to be included? All of these questions will have to be addressed if Buddhism is not only to take root but also to flourish and gain strength from its encounter with America and the Western perspective in general. In that regard, Buddhism’s’ relationship with science holds unique and uniquely hopeful possibilities. By now everyone has heard the Dalai Lama’s apocryphal quotation on Buddhism and science. When asked what would happen if science discovered something that was at odds with Buddhist belief, he replied, “We would change our beliefs.” While some have questioned exactly what the Dali Lama meant, there does appear to be a very different attitude toward science in Buddhism than in other American religions. This is an important distinction that bodes well for the Buddhist perspective. The future of all religious enterprise will, to some degree, hinge on its response to science. More »
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April 03, 2009

Big Sit Day 40 Meditation Tip

Don’t cheat: “If you’re counting the breaths, for example, don’t let it be Enron style. An honest accounting works wonders for the spiritual bottom line.” - Tricycle contributing editor Mark Magill More »
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April 02, 2009

What Buddhism Believes In

A few back and forth responses between Barbara O'Brien and Professor Paul Flesher. You can start here and work your way backward. Professor Flesher kicks it off by attempting to explain Buddhism in 600 words, beginning and ending by comparing it to atheism. Well, Buddhism is complex (and some argue that rather than one Buddhism there are Buddhisms) but recent experiences with Twitter have made me think that 600 words is a lot of room. We have only, as another professor, William Strunk Jr., said, to make every word tell. Explain Buddhism in a single tweet, 140 characters. How many characters in John 3:16? More »
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April 02, 2009

Day 39 Big Sit Meditation Tip

When your mind wanders, don't get discouraged. That's what minds do. The practice is in coming back to the breath. More »
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April 01, 2009

Saltwater Buddha and the Theory of Everything

I've just started reading Jaimal Yogis's new book, Saltwater Buddha: A Surfer's Quest to Find Zen on the Sea. Yogis recently wrote an article for Tricycle on his life as a young Zen practitioner searching for meaning, and Saltwater Buddha picks up along the same lines. In reading the first few pages, I was reminded of a piece in The New Yorker last summer about the unemployed surfer/physicist Garrett Lisi, who has attracted considerable attention for his nascent "Theory of Everything," described as the Holy Grail of physics. More »
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April 01, 2009

Day 38 Big Sit Meditation Tip: Count

Count the breath. On your in-breath, count "one"; on the out-breath, count "two"; and so on, up to "ten," and then begin again. More »
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March 31, 2009

Day 37 Big Sit Meditation Tip: Equilibrium

If you're straining too hard to maintain concentrative focus, let go and listen to the sounds around you. More »
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March 31, 2009

China Showcases Its Panchen Lama

China launches its Panchen Lama pick with interviews and fanfare. Columbia University's Robert Barnett thinks this may undermine the Dalai Lama's position as the preeminent spokesman for the Tibetan people. Barnett says: He will never really replace the Dalai Lama, but his role confuses the picture and can gradually be used to weaken the Dalai Lama's standing. . . "I think [China's] Panchen Lama is being built up very gradually as a public spokesman within the Tibetan Buddhist world. More »
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March 30, 2009

Day 36 Big Sit Meditation Tip: Coffee

A little groggy, Bodhidharma, the first Zen patriarch, cut off his eyelids to stay awake. He tossed them aside and legend has it tea leaves blossomed at the very spot they landed. We don't suggest you try this in your garden at home but tea does work wonders, and meditators have drunk it for centuries to stay awake. You can drink coffee, too, says Peter Doobinin of New York's Downtown Meditation Community, who told Tricycle: Some people say that it was actually Buddhist monks who discovered coffee. The story goes that they were wandering around in the forest somewhere when they came across the beans. They started chewing them and thought, "These are great. We can use this energy for our meditation practice." If you are going to get up in the morning and sit, it doesn't have to be first thing. Get up and have a cup of coffee if it helps. It's when you start taking out the newspaper and doing other stuff that you lose the freshness of mind you have when you first wake up. More »
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March 30, 2009

Aging as a Spritual Practice

Lew Richmond teaches "Aging as a Spiritual Practice" from his blog of the same name. He writes: The first principle of Buddhism is that everything changes, which could also be translated as “everything ages.” The first thing the young Buddha-to-be saw on leaving the palace and entering the town was the wizened face of an old man. For the first time, the young prince Gautama really saw what aging is and realized in a flash that everything we love, including our own body, will not last. Thus his spiritual quest began. Lew has joined us at the Tricycle Community to introduce you to the practice and to answer your questions. Welcome, Lew! To visit Lew and read his introduction at the Tricycle Community, click here. More »
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March 29, 2009

Who's Spying on the Dalai Lama?

From the New York Times: A vast electronic spying operation has infiltrated computers and has stolen documents from hundreds of government and private offices around the world, including those of the Dalai Lama, Canadian researchers have concluded. The spies managed to infiltrate over 1,200 computers in 103 countries, the Times reports. Most of the servers supporting the operation were traced to China, along with one in southern California. The Dalai Lama, among others, was targeted: ... the researchers found that specific correspondence had been stolen and that the intruders had gained control of the electronic mail server computers of the Dalai Lama’s organization. More »
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March 29, 2009

Day 35 Big Sit Meditation Tip

If meditation is a priority, then it’s helpful to take that word literally and put meditation first. An example would be my rule of not turning on the computer before I’ve meditated. Simple, but effective. Probably the most trenchant advice I ever heard was in eight words from Suzuki Roshi:  "Organize your life so you can sit well." - Senior Shambhala teacher David Schneider More »
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March 28, 2009

Day 34 Big Sit Mediation Tip

Sit in the morning first thing. The mind is usually quietest then. Sometimes we even wake up before our neuroses do. More »
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March 27, 2009

Day 33 Big Sit Meditation Tip

"You are not trying to make things turn out the the way you wnat them to happen. You are trying to know what is happening as it is." - Burmese monk Sayadaw U Tejaniya Read an interview with him here. More »
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March 27, 2009

Adopt a Monk

Alan Senauke of the Berkeley Zen Center just sent us word of a new program that has been started by Clear View Project, a Buddhist-based relief organization. "Adopt A Monk" aims to help monastic political prisoners in Burma in the aftermath of the Saffron Revolution. According to Clear View, there are currently 220 monks and 8 nuns imprisoned in Burma under draconian restrictions: Their only possessions [upon arrest in 2007] were their robe, begging bowl and their vows. In jail, they are stripped of robes and bowls, and are not allowed openly to follow their monastic vows. Many monks have received lengthy sentences—up to 68 years. In prison all monks and nuns are forcibly disrobed, most are tortured. More »
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March 26, 2009

Reading Past Dogen, to Dogen

We're having some interesting discussions at the Tricycle Community on the Big Sit, the teachings of Zen Master Dogen, and a bunch of other things. Here's an interesting response by Tricycle’s editor-at-large, Andrew Cooper, to our post from last week’s discussion on The Fundamentals of Dogen's Thought: Reading Past Dogen, to Dogen Studying the work of a religious teacher from a distant time and place presents any number of problems. Yet it is precisely through an active dialogue with tradition, for which such study can be essential, that the strivings and concerns of an individual’s spiritual life are anchored in a context of shared human endeavor. Sometimes ideas from the past seem to float unimpeded across the centuries and resonate intimately with our deepest intuitions. Sometimes they just clang and clatter in discordance with our basic values and best knowledge about the world. More »
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March 25, 2009

Your Favorite Place to Sit

Do you have a favorite place to sit? Post a picture of it at the group Tricycle Community member David F. has created. More »
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March 25, 2009

You Are Not Your Brain

The Dalai Lama was taken to task when he suggested that there was more to consciousness than its neural components. Now, from a somewhat different point of view, UC Berkeley philosophy professor Alva Noe is arguing that three's more to consciousness than gray matter. In a Salon interview about his recent book Out of Our Heads: Why You Are Not Your Brain, Noe lays out his argument. Unlike many Buddhists, though, he is not arguing for the immateriality of mind,  rather: More »
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March 25, 2009

Cushion or Chair?

I used to hear that only wimps gave up the cushion for the chair. But whether because of age or injury or a simple disinclination, many meditators have opted for the chair anyway. Today I hear teachers routinely tell us that it's just fine to sit in a chair, though usually at the back of the meditation hall, far from the action. I have to admit, I've never been one to do it. When I had knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus, for instance, I meditated lying down until I healed. I just didn't like the idea of sitting in a chair. But many meditators, for one reason or another, do, and I can't see anything wrong with it. So a few years back, I was receptive when our copy editor, longtime Triker Karen Ready (she predates even me), wrote a practical guide to sitting in a chair, replete with pictures. (She presented other alternatives as well, coming into my office one day with an odd contraption—lots of Velcro and straps—that was supposed to support the lower back. More »