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October 06, 2015

Ma Moune

How a writer met her faithful companion Pamela Gayle White
Pamela Gayle White will be writing about her life with Moune, her Berger Picard, for the next three months on the Tricycle blog. More »
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October 05, 2015

Side Effect

My Zen-literary friendship with Philip Whalen David Schneider
Philip Whalen, NYC 1984. Photograph by Allen Ginsberg. More »
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October 02, 2015

Naropa’s Five-Acre Conundrum

With plans to expand, the Buddhist-inspired university seeks a permit to exterminate around 100 prairie dogs on its land. Rick Bass
Activists delivered a petition to Naropa University last week demanding the college withdraw its permit application to remove about 100 prairie dogs from its campus by means of “lethal control.” The online petition, organized by the Colorado organization WildLands Defense, has now garnered a total of almost 170,000 signatures. The liberal arts college, founded by the late Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa in 1974, has held its ground, even as the pesky critters continue to burrow underfoot. To get Naropa’s side on the matter, I call Bill Rigler in the office of public relations at Naropa. The folks who’ve started the petition, he says, “don’t even live in Boulder—they live a hundred miles away.” He mentions this at least twice. More »
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September 30, 2015

Talking Buddha, Talking Christ

In his address to Congress, Pope Francis drew attention to an unlikely American: the Trappist monk Thomas Merton, who played no small role in popularizing Buddhism in the West. Max Zahn
Popemania may have moved on to the afterlife, but our memories of it endure: the wide-eyed references to Francis as a "rockstar," the jet-black Fiat, and yes, even the Popemojis. Papal pomp aside, perhaps the most memorable moment of the visit was the Pope's address to a joint session of Congress, in which he spoke pointedly about climate change, the arms trade, and the death penalty, among other issues.  More »
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September 28, 2015

Focus Comes First

A practice to develop the steady mind necessary for attaining wisdom Leigh Brasington
Perhaps no aspect of the Buddha's teaching has been more misunderstood and neglected than right concentration. Yet right concentration is an integral part of the Buddha's path to awakening. It is, for instance, one of the qualities cultivated on the eightfold path. In general, Buddhist teachings can be divided into three parts: sila, samadhi, and prajna: ethical conduct, concentration, and wisdom. Or to put it into the vernacular: clean up your act, concentrate your mind, and use your concentrated mind to investigate reality. The Buddha thus makes it clear that a concentrated mind is necessary for the proper examination of reality. The jhanas are the method he taught over and over again for developing such a mind. More »
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September 22, 2015

Dalai Lama Says If Successor Is Female, She Must Be Very Attractive

"Otherwise, not much use," the Dalai Lama told BBC. Alex Caring-Lobel
In a recent interview with the BBC, the 14th Dalai Lama, the spiritual leader of the Tibetan people, expresses some controversial ideas about female leadership and the gender's innate inclination toward compassion. (Jezebel was right on it right away.) At around the 4:50 mark in the video (below), when journalist Clive Myrie asks whether the Dalai Lama's 15th reincarnation could be a woman, he responds with an enthusiastic "Yes!" explaining that females "biologically [have] more potential to show affection . . . and compassion." More »
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September 22, 2015

When Science Met Buddhism

By the 16th century, Tibetans were already challenging received teachings with empirical evidence. Julia Stenzel
Being Human in a Buddhist World By Janet Gyatso Columbia University Press, 2015 544 pp., 51 illustrations; $45.00 (Cloth) More »
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September 21, 2015

Laurie Anderson Partners with Former Gitmo Detainee in Newest Work

HABEAS CORPUS will fuse different elements of film, sculpture, music, and video at Park Avenue Armory.
In her new work, HABEAS CORPUS (October 2–4 in the Park Avenue Armory’s Drill Hall), artist Laurie Anderson has partnered with former Guantanamo Bay detainee Mohammed el Gharani to explore the story of his seven years of being interrogated and tortured at the prison camp. The work features an installation and performances, and fuses different elements of film, sculpture, music, and video. Since all ex-detainees from Guantanamo Bay are currently barred from entering the United States, el Gharani will appear as part of this installation live from West Africa, beamed into the Armory Drill Hall via advanced streaming techniques and three-dimensional imaging. It will be the first real-time meeting between a former detainee and American audiences. More »
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September 18, 2015

Myanmar Buddhists’ Beef

With official help, radical Buddhists target Muslim-owned businesses. Swe Win
Last year a Muslim businessman called Lwin Tun set up a factory in Labutta, a town in Myanmar's Ayeyarwady Delta. He spent $330,000 on buildings and cooling systems, but couldn't buy the product his factory was meant to process: meat. That's because Labutta's seven cattle slaughterhouses, also Muslim-owned, had suddenly gone out of business. In January 2014 they had tried to renew their licenses, but local authorities had already sold them to an association led by members of the radical Buddhist group Ma Ba Tha. The Muslim slaughterhouses went bust—and so, after just three months, did Lwin Tun's meat-processing factory. More »
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September 18, 2015

Cool Boredom

Life's in-between moments don't have to drive us crazy—they can calm us down.  Chögyam Trungpa Rinpoche
In everyday life, we habitually try to conceal the gaps in our experience of mind and body. These gaps are a bit like an awkward silence around the table at a dinner party. A good host is supposed to keep the conversation going with his or her guests to put them at ease. You might talk about the weather, the latest books you've read, or what you are serving for dinner. We treat ourselves similarly. We occupy ourselves with subconscious chatter because we are uncomfortable with any gaps in our conversation with ourselves. More »
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September 16, 2015

Buddhist Greek Life Comes to Campus

San Diego State will get the first Buddhist fraternity and sorority in the country. Caitlynne Leary
For the first time, a Buddhist fraternity and sorority are coming to the San Diego State campus. This year, the Delta Beta Theta sorority and Delta Beta Tau fraternity are in the process of becoming chartered Greek organizations. Jeff Zlotnik, cofounder of the Dharma Bum Buddhist Temple in San Diego, and Abby Cervantes, a student of the temple, are establishing the new organizations on campus. They will spend the semester gathering members and gauging campus interest. This semester they plan to begin meeting weekly to meditate and discuss Buddhism. Soon, they will formally request to join the Greek community. More »
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September 15, 2015

Meditation, According to Stock Photography

An unreliable meditator explores an unreliable source. Brent R. Oliver
Meditation and its redheaded stepsister mindfulness are currently sweeping through the Occident like a sandalwood-scented tsunami. You can’t swing a dead snow lion without hitting someone who’s been to a meditation seminar, retreat, class, symposium, workshop, or would just really, really like to try it. For, like, focus, you know? Focus and calm. And less stress. It does that, right? My considerable and well-wrought snark aside, this is a good thing. While I’m attracted to meditation for one reason—the attainment of total enlightenment and its attendant powers of telekinesis and teleportation—many folks aren’t into that. Whatever your personal preferences, mo’ meditation, unlike mo’ money, generally doesn’t lead to mo’ problems. In fact, it generally leads to fewer. The mo’ meditation, the better, I’ve always said. Or at least thought to myself. More »
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September 11, 2015


A poem on the seemingly unspeakable tragedies of post-9/11 modern life Paul Breslin
0 Hole torn in the language,How shall we speak?  On the scale of war,But where are the armies? A few men and less moneyThan houses cost on my block. Counting the deadIs like counting the stones In a wall, when we haveNo word meaning “wall.” Wind acrid with toxins;Makeshift shrines in the street. When Stockhausen called it art.We were outraged, and yet  Something art-likeWent into its making. More »
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September 10, 2015

No Adaptation Required

An interview with longtime Tantric Buddhist teacher and translator Sangye Khandro 
Tantric (Vajrayana) Buddhism, according to American-born teacher and translator Sangye Khandro, does not need to be adjusted for Westerners. Still, she says, Western seekers often struggle to receive full transmission and find proper instruction; or they run up against cultural misunderstandings, translation issues, and other obstacles to accomplishment. She sees these impediments as separate from the practice itself which, whether encountered in Tibet or the West, can enlighten sincere practitioners. More »
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September 08, 2015

When Am I?

Contrary to popular belief, you can't be in the present moment.  Loch Kelly
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September 02, 2015

10 Steps to a Mindful Wedding

These two Buddhists just got married. Here's what they learned. Alex Tzelnic
On July 25th my fiancée, Courtney, and I got married. It was truly incredible, partly because now I never have to say the word fiancée again. While other people said girlfriend or boyfriend, husband or wife, for 14 months we used this flowery French term that made it sound like we were constantly one-upping everyone. “Oh, you got married in a hotel? My fiancée and I are getting married in a barn in Vermont.” Even the mundane began to sound pretentious: “My fiancée and I had cereal for breakfast.” (And of course we used Dom Perignon instead of milk.) More »
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August 31, 2015

A Gleeful Foreboding

Why we secretly crave severe storms Clark Strand
It’s strange how much modern people secretly crave weather-related disasters—the blizzard that shuts down a city, bringing travel and commerce to a halt, the tropical storm that knocks out power, leaving millions in the dark. People of earlier centuries rightly feared such events and earnestly prayed to be delivered from them. Now there's an excitement that begins building the moment we hear of such a storm.  More »
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August 27, 2015

Actualizing The Fundamental Point

"To study the self is to forget the self."  Eihei Dogen
As all things are buddhadharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings. As myriad things are without an abiding self, there is no delusion, no realization, no buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death. The Buddha way, in essence, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms fall, and in aversion weeds spread.  To carry the self forward and illuminate myriad things is delusion. That myriad things come forth and illuminate the self is awakening.  More »
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August 26, 2015

12 Things You Should Never Say to the Sick

Much of the way we talk about disease is terribly flawed. But we can change that.  Toni Bernhard
Even the most well-intentioned people often don’t know how to talk to the chronically ill. This is because we live in a culture that treats illness as unnatural. As a result, people have been conditioned to turn away in aversion from those who aren’t healthy, even though it’s a fate that will befall everyone at some point in his or her life.  The consequences of taking this unrealistic view of the realities of the human condition is that many people feel uneasy and even fearful when they encounter people who are struggling with their health. I admit that this was true of me before I became chronically ill. Now I find it as natural to talk to people who are chronically ill as I do to people who are the pinnacle of health.  More »
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August 25, 2015

The “Problem” of Religious Diversity

We need a less theological—and more spiritual—defense of religious diversity. Rita Gross