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March 14, 2007

Meditation: What do the numbers tell us?

James Shaheen
Kudos to Jeff Wilson, whose blog post at the end of December continues to inspire lively discussion. It’s a good bit of information to keep in mind that most Buddhists do not meditate; just like many of our Asian counterparts, we are often ignorant of other forms of Buddhist practice. Tibetans never referred to their dharma as “Tibetan dharma”; nor did Sri Lankans consider their dharma anything but dhamma. It is Western historical scholarship that began the study of comparative religion, and it is in the West where we find most forms of Buddhism thriving side by side. So it’s an excellent point Jeff makes: The forms of Buddhism most common among Western converts make up only a very thin slice of the global Buddhist pie. More »
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March 12, 2007

BuddhaTrain

Philip Ryan
Gee, I wish I could ride this train. But it doesn't seem to be in the cards right now. In the meantime I'm left wondering what's happened to Big Red Buddha. Does anyone know? Like a lot of Republican candidates, BRB doesn't seem to have survived the November elections. I haven't seen Miso on any soymilk cartons either. And I've been looking. More »
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March 05, 2007

The Best Horse

Andrew Merz
There's no shortage of Buddhist websites these days---see our links for evidence---but few are as entertaining and wide-ranging as theworsthorse.net, edited by my friend Rod Meade Sperry. Taking pop-culture and sub-culture as its starting points, TWH covers a lot of ground. The feature articles exhibit the strength of the site: an unfailing ability to get to the salient dharmic core of the many shapes Buddhism is taking in modern culture. Generally, this is accomplished with humor, sensitivity, and intelligence. The reader participation is impressive---don't miss "Body Vows," the collection of tattoos submitted by practitioners, with their stories---and a feeling of community permeates the site, without social networking being the thrust of the whole thing. More »
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February 26, 2007

Buddhist chaplain thrown out of jail

Philip Ryan
Buddhist chaplain Frank Tedesco was kicked out of the Pinellas County Jail recently for allegedly breaking jail rules and bringing contraband behind bars. (Pinellas County is in the Tampa Bay area and contains the city of St. Petersburg, Florida.) From The St. Petersburg Times: Tedesco, 60, an unpaid volunteer, thinks the blowup stems at least in part from a Christian bias. More »
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February 15, 2007

Railway brings "huge surge" of visitors to Tibet

Philip Ryan
The People's Daily Online reports that the rail link to Lhasa allowed many more Buddhist pilgrims to attend the December 27th Sera Bengqin Festival at Sera Monastery than in previous years. As the People's Daily put it, "Tibet ended its history without a railway in July 2006," but the railroad has brought more concern than jubilation for Tibetans, who understandably would rather diminish than strengthen their ties with "mainland" China. When the railway first opened I read about the Tibetan plateau's fragile ecosystem, home to several unique species, and rather like an island in biological terms. More »
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February 07, 2007

The Soul as a Rainbow

Philip Ryan
The Christian Post, a website providing daily coverage of Christianity all around the globe, is preparing its readers for the Dalai Lama's upcoming U.S. visit with an article called, "How to Evangelize Tibetan Buddhists in the West," by Michelle Vu. More »
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February 05, 2007

Stealing Time

Andrew Merz
Here I am, on Monday morning, writing my Friday blog entry. Whenever I'm late I think back to what was probably the first talk I heard on the five precepts, the standard ethical guidelines for us lay Buddhists. One of the many points made that had me shaking my head in resignation to the irrefutable logic of the precepts - at that point I was still learning the basics, but I already had that feeling that there was no turning back (arg!) - was a very interesting interpretation of the second precept, undertaking to abstain from taking the not-given. My teacher pointed out that one thing some of us often take from others without their giving of it is time. Basically, when we're late for an appointment with a friend, we are stealing their time. More »
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January 31, 2007

Dalai Lama says new rail link bringing trouble to Lhasa

Philip Ryan
Speaking in Mumbai on Wednesday, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama reportedly said the new rail link to Lhasa was bringing prostitutes and beggars to Tibet: Beggars and the handicapped are coming to Lhasa in huge numbers. China is also forcing prostitutes to go to Lhasa, leading to the increased danger of AIDS. More »
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January 26, 2007

The Dha-ha-ha-harma

Andrew Merz
I remember reading somewhere a while back (it's pretty foggy) about what a modern-day Zen teacher (or he might have been Tibetan) said when asked about the skillfulness or use of laughter. His response was something to the effect of "I love laughter, because you can't think conceptual thoughts when you're laughing." The room full of eager students no doubt broke down in side-splitting non-conceptual thought. More »
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January 24, 2007

Buddhist Self-Love and Blessed Contraceptives

Philip Ryan
From the department of Wasting Your Time on the Web: Jef Poskanzer has a page on his site reproducing a chart that supposedly appeared in the San Francisco Chronicle in December 1994. The chart, titled "Religion and Sexual Ethics," lists a variety of (mostly) sexual topics, and says how these topics are viewed in various religions. The  topics may be categorized under these headings: Blessed Morally Acceptable in Most Cases Neutral or No Clear Position Morally Unacceptable in Most Cases, and Condemned The Chronicle is said to have made the chart "based on official reports and expert advice." More »
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January 23, 2007

A Handful of Leaves—For Free

James Shaheen
The Buddha taught far fewer things than he knew of. He told his disciples: "[T]hose things that I have known with direct knowledge but have not taught are far more numerous [than what I have taught]. And why haven't I taught them? Because they are not connected with the goal, do not relate to the rudiments of the holy life, and do not lead to disenchantment, to dispassion, to cessation, to calm, to direct knowledge, to self-awakening, to Unbinding. That is why I have not taught them." More »
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January 19, 2007

Of Pizza Hut and Enlightenment

Andrew Merz
A truly spectacular benefit of working here at Trike is having the opportunity to take time off for extended retreats. I just returned from a month in the desert, and can't thank my colleagues enough for allowing me to disappear as we were closing the Spring issue and shouldering the extra burden while I was gone. Without going into detail, I'll just say that all sorts of interesting work was done, and I only hope that it will turn out to be for the benefit of all sentient beings, as they say, my coworkers included. More »
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January 17, 2007

Dalai Lama tells India and China to just get along

Philip Ryan
Speaking in Kolkata, the Dalai Lama called for improved relations between China and India. Calling himself India's "longest guest" (he's fast approaching the 50-year mark) the DL said friendship between India and China would benefit not only the nations themselves and the rest of Asia, but the entire world. More »
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January 16, 2007

Some Buddhist Crowing

James Shaheen
I'm happy to let you all know that Tricycle was awarded first prize in the Historical Travel category by the North American Travel Journalists Association (NATJA) for "Fearsome Roots in a Quiet Forest" by David Taylor. The article covered David's trip to North Carolina's Smoky Mountains in search of the elusive ginseng plant. It ran in the summer 2006 issue. Sharing first prize was Travel + Leisure; National Geographic Travel was runner up. Tricycle's managing editor, Ian Collins, did a great job editing the piece. Congratulations to him and David both! More »
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January 05, 2007

Running on Emptiness

Philip Ryan
Sakyong Mipham Rinpoche, spiritual and secular leader of Shambhala International and president of The Shambhala Sun, the Canadian bimonthly, has a new music video out. A wearer of many hats, the Sakyong is also a marathon runner. He completed the New York City Marathon last year in a very respectable 3 hours, 26 minutes. You can't say he's running on empty. Philip Ryan, Webmaster More »
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January 03, 2007

Crawling to Bodh Gaya

Philip Ryan
The Hindustan News reports that Gyansen Lama, a Tibetan monk in his 20s, is crawling all the way from Tibet to Bodh Gaya, the site of the Buddha's enlightenment beneath the Bodhi Tree. He has already cleared Nepal and, as of January 3, 2007, is about 110 kilometers from his goal. (He reportedly covers about 7 kilometers a day on average.) Curious crowds have gathered along the route to watch the spectacle of a monk wrapped in sackcloth with woolen gloves moving along the road "at a snail's pace." It is not clear how Gyansen Lama and his entourage of two monks crossed the border out of Tibet, but the ground in India must certainly feel softer and warmer than the roads in Tibet, where wool gloves seem like faint protection. Philip Ryan, Webmaster More »
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December 20, 2006

Buddhists continue to be targeted in southern Thailand

Philip Ryan
Buddhists are fleeing the terror-hotspot of Pattani in southern Thailand. While the Muslim insurgency there isn't causing much of a stir in the West (guess why) it is a fact of life for many Thais. Buddhists find themselves being targeted in a war where the insurgents are mostly anonymous, and make few demands. Muslims are a small minority in Thailand, but they dominate the south of the country near the Malaysian border. More than 1000 people have died in the conflict since 2004. Philip Ryan, Webmaster More »
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December 14, 2006

Prison Dharma

Philip Ryan
Maria Sudekum Fisher of the Associated Press reports on the growing number of services for Buddhists behind bars in an article printed in the Houston Chronicle (now on the Buddhist Channel.) The article cites Lama Chuck Stanford, the Buddhist representative of the Kansas City Interfaith Council, the Prison Dharma Network in Boulder, the Buddhist Peace Fellowship, Zen Mountain Monastery's National Buddhist Prison Sangha, and St. More »
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December 04, 2006

Enlightenment Card

Philip Ryan
Visa is now offering credit cards with images of the Buddha, people meditating, and other "enlightenment"-inspired images. Touting the "socially conscious credit card," Visa says: "As a member of the Enlightenment Reward Card program, your purchasing power goes to support the things that matter most to you." For example, 200,000 Rewards points earns you a yoga retreat in Spain. As a press release this summer stated: "The Enlightenment Card allows socially and spiritually conscious businesses and organizations to support each other and offer their services and products as part of the rewards program." More »
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November 28, 2006

Weekend Buddhists

James Shaheen
Templestay Korea, an organization that first invited visitors to experience Korean Buddhist temple life during the 2002 World Cup Tournament, was hosting over 50,000 would-be Buddhists by 2005, according to the New York Times. The brainchild of Korea’s largest Buddhist order—the Jogye Order of Korean Buddhism—the program invites international guests to live the life of a monk for several days. Offerings vary to suit visitors’ tastes, and can include brief walking meditation retreats, sitting meditation, and calligraphy. More »