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November 24, 2015

A Monk in Mormon Utah

Sri Lankan former monk Wijitha Bandara, now a religions professor in Salt Lake City, on the importance of a patient and inclusive mind
From Sri Lanka to Tanzania, South Africa to Utah: religion professor Wijitha Bandara’s biography is a bona fide Buddhist diaspora. More »
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November 23, 2015

Seeking Other Postures

A longtime meditator rediscovers instructions for the walking body. Mary Talbot
In spite of being a daily walker, I have always regarded walking meditation as a sort of punctuation to, or respite from, the work of sitting; nothing on the order of the sober mind training and investigation to be undertaken on the home base of the cushion. This willful delusion could be a hangover from my earliest forays into zazen, where kinhin really was a respite—but also, it seemed to me, a mad, macho dash around the zendo for which I was ill-suited, even as a teenager. Nor was I ever tolerant of the extreme slow motion of Burmese-style vipassana walking. On the contrary, it sent my kleshas into a tailspin, and just made me want to hurry up and sit down.  More »
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November 17, 2015


Jan Chozen Bays
Embodiment is: emerging into this world of light and sound joy of skin touching skin, mouth on breath, body sliding into/out of body separateness of playmates teasing, mommy scolding, dog growling, knife cutting loneliness of being encased in envelope of skin, thoughts and emotions a mystery to others confinement to body as a constantly changing piece of luggage, always a surprise to look down and it has sprout hair or breasts, become fat, wrinkled, thin, peeling, saggy becoming afraid that this will end.          Embodiment is: frustration of mind-never-still standing square in the way of Mind  More »
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November 12, 2015

The Sound of Silence

Getting quiet to hear nature—and my true self. Joan Duncan Oliver
The author’s morning meditation view during her retreat, as it appears in the afternoon. More »
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November 10, 2015

A Special Bond

I'm grateful for my eye-catching dog, even when I'm not.  Pamela Gayle White
It is like this: wherever we go, people make a beeline for Moune. One block of Charlottesville’s pedestrian mall will bring “What kind of dog is that?” “Oh, honey, come check it out! He looks just like Benji!” “Is that a Briard?” “Can I pet him? Her?” “What’s its name?” “Winn-Dixie!” “Can I take a picture?” “How old is he?” “Hey Bud!” “Oh. My. God. She is so PRESH!” Some days we enjoy the limelight; other days Ma Moune tolerantly stands there while I, hackles raised, can barely suppress the urge to growl and bare my teeth. It is great patience practice if I’m in a hurry or a bad mood. I’ve joked with friends that next time I’ll get a dog that everyone will pass by without a second glance. More »
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November 04, 2015

The Great Matter

Caught up trying to extend our lives, we've forgotten how to let them go.  Sam Mowe
The Great Matter is Tricycle’s blog on death and dying by contributing editor Sam Mowe.Medical technology has gotten so good at keeping people alive, we’ve forgotten how to die. This forgetting has happened with the best of intentions—namely, we want to preserve life because it is precious and fleeting. But because so many of us are stuck in this mentality of trying to postpone death through medical miracles, we often miss unique opportunities for insight and connection at the end of life.  More »
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November 02, 2015

Prominent Buddhist Scholar Rita Gross Suffers Massive Stroke

Known for her groundbreaking work on gender and religion, the Buddhist teacher, author, and feminist is now in hospice care  Max Zahn
Update (11/12/15): We received news this morning that Rita Gross has passed, at peace and without appearing to suffer. The body was treated in the traditional Tibetan manner and will be cremated after three days. Rita had requested that her ashes be sprinkled into the Lotus Pond at Mindrolling, Jetsun Khandro Rinpoche's retreat center in central Virginia. Rita M. Gross—an author, dharma teacher, professor, and longtime Tricycle contributor—suffered a massive stroke last week. She is currently in hospice care at her home in Eau Claire, Wisconsin.  More »
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October 30, 2015

5 Realities of Becoming a Hardcore Meditator

What happened when I decided to Get Enlightened or Die Tryin' Brent R. Oliver
At the beginning of this year I made a vow. If you’ve read my other columns here you’ll no doubt be aware of the fact that I’ve had trouble picking—and then sticking with—a specific Buddhist modality. There’s so much available, especially with the advent of teaching via Internet, that my attention has always been divided among the glut of Buddhist approaches that have flooded the West. I’ve snatched up every shiny object out there and fiddled with it only to become entranced by another sparkly thing close by. The sentence that best sums up my journey is probably “Ohhhh, look at that delightful thing . . . oh, SHIT what’s that over there?!” More »
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October 27, 2015

(Meta)Physical Education

Buddhist lessons from an elementary school gym teacher Alex Tzelnic
After finishing my yearly spiel about rules this morning—the one in which I talk about participation and commitment, about how the work that we do in gym is similar to the work that we do in the classroom, and that even though we may not always like it, completing this work will challenge us, and make us better athletes, teammates, and disciples of Michelle Obama—Amanda, a feisty third grader, remarked, “Great speech, Alex.” I didn’t want to laugh. Laughing would indicate to her classmates that undermining your teacher with a well-timed sarcastic comment is acceptable behavior. But in the battle between laughing and being teacherly, laughter always seems to win. When a student pokes a needle into the inflated balloon of your own gravitas, it’s hard to remain serious. More »
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October 22, 2015

Learning to Die in the Anthropocene

What do we do when failure is inevitable? Roy Scranton
I’m a bad Buddhist. I don’t meditate every day, and some weeks, I feel lucky if I find the time to meditate at all. I go to zendo in rare spurts, a few weeks on, months off. I kill mosquitoes, flies, and moths. I drink, though no longer to excess. I’ve managed to rationalize continuing to eat meat. I’m often impatient and snarky with people, angry at them for blocking traffic, for being rude or thoughtless, for moving through the world in a haze, unconscious of the life flowing around them. Look out! Look up! Just look! I want to shout. I am suspicious and proud and sometimes cruel, inconstant in my compassion. I don’t steal and I don’t lie, but I’m vain about that; after all, honesty is one of my best qualities. And yet for all my vanity, I’m a hypocrite, too: I dissemble and misrepresent and omit. More »
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October 20, 2015

The Power of Altruism to Change the World

Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard in conversation with Joan Duncan Oliver
The French-born Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard gave up molecular genetics almost 50 years ago to dedicate himself fully to Buddhist practice. Dubbed "the happiest man in the world," he's since authored several books from Shechen Monastery in Nepal, the most recent being Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World, published by Little, Brown and Company in June.   In this wide-ranging, 30-minute interview filmed during Ricard's most recent visit to New York, contributing editor Joan Duncan Oliver speaks to Ricard about some of the most pressing issues currently facing humanity—climate change, species extinction, and inequality—and how altruism can solve them. —Eds. More »
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October 16, 2015

The Pope and a Cow’s Hoofprint

A dharma lesson in recognizing the goodness in others Mary Talbot
There’s a sutta in the Pali Canon where the Buddha draws an analogy between appreciating the good in someone you’ve got issues with, and lapping up water from a cow’s footprint in the middle of a scorching desert. Getting down on hands and knees, putting your face right into that animal puddle, feels problematic—compromising—but you need that clear water, just like you need the goodness and clarity in the person who also acts in a way you can’t abide. Ignore the things you don’t like, says the Buddha. The water in that hoofprint in the dirt could change everything. Ultimately, it’s not a compromise at all. More »
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October 15, 2015

Slow the F@*k Down

Illness has forced me to reconsider what I truly value.   Sebene Selassie
Late last fall, after my third cold in less than two months, I went to see my integrative doctor. It was my rare day off. I had been ridiculously busy working long hours all of September and October. I said something about catching whatever bugs had popped up that everyone else seemed to be getting. She laughed and said, "Sebene, it’s not like the cold and flu arrive on a plane from somewhere else. There are as many microbes now as any other time of the year." Duh, of course. Wait, then why do we all get sick in the fall and winter? She answered: "It's because we have lost harmony with the rhythms of nature." More »
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October 14, 2015

“For once, then, something”

A Buddhist poet reads Robert Frost. Maitreyabandhu
For once, then, somethingby Robert Frost More »
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October 09, 2015

Tricycle Talks: Mindfulness and Awareness in End of Life Care

Interfaith chaplain Pamela Gayle White speaks with four healthcare professionals on what they've learned from working with the dying.
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October 08, 2015

Making Friends with Mess

Confessions of a Buddhist clutterer Joan Duncan Oliver
There’s an elephant in my living room: a pachyderm-sized heap of banker’s boxes, research folders, three-ring binders, clothes, shopping bags, books, books, books and a thousand etceteras that have steadily accumulated until the space looks like the Fresh Kills garbage dump—minus the old cars. When an electrical contractor came the other day to survey my apartment for rewiring, I had to waylay him in the corridor and warn him of the hoarder’s nest he was entering and what he could expect to find. “Don’t worry, there are no dead cats or old hamburgers buried in there,” I joked. He was not amused. A look of panic crossed his face, and I had to coax him inside. Even then, he refused to step beyond the foyer. More »
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October 07, 2015

The Sangha without Thich Nhat Hanh

Brother Fulfillment, a monk in the Order of Interbeing, discusses the community in light of its leader's sickness.
Thich Nhat Hanh leads students in a walking meditation at Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. On November 11, 2014, the international Buddhist community was dealt a sudden blow when the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a beloved teacher and prolific author, suffered a brain hemorrhage that rendered him unable to speak or walk. Since then, Thich Nhat Hanh (affectionately known by his students as “Thay”) has shown steady if small signs of recovery: swallowing solid food and more recently, uttering his first words. He is currently receiving treatment in San Francisco at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.  More »
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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 »