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May 31, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 2 - The Svastika

Jeff Watt
Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition. Read Part 1: Dorje Shugden Controversial Art, Part 2: The Svastika More »
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May 29, 2013

Consider the Source: Why was Hercules the Buddha's first guardian?

Andy Ferguson
The connection between early Western and Eastern civilizations is far more intimate than most people realize. Indeed, the earliest depictions of the Buddha, from the area around ancient Gandhara in Pakistan, depict him like the statue of a Greek god. Greek culture and influence remained in the areas of Afghanistan and northern India long after Alexander the Great conquered the region; the large Greek population retained the art and philosophy of ancient Greece while marrying into the local population. A beautiful early example of Gandharan art shows the Buddha protected by a hovering Herakles, the Greek hero who the Romans called Hercules. More »
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May 29, 2013

Scholar Donald Lopez to give talk at 92Y TriBeCa this Friday

Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies and Tricycle Contributing Editor Donald S. Lopez, Jr. will be speaking about the history of the Buddha this Friday in New York City. The talk, titled "From Stone to Flesh: A Short History of the Buddha," will touch on a number of points from his new book of the same title, which tells the story of how various idols carved in stone became the man of flesh and blood that we know today as the Buddha. This lesser-told history describes how the Buddha has never been a fixed notion in neither East nor West. The talk will take place at 92Y TriBeCa on Friday, May 31 at noon. Tickets are $21. Find more details and buy tickets here.     More »
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May 29, 2013

Eastern Self/Western Self Revisited

Linda Heuman
My previous blog post reflecting on Gish Jen’s new book Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Independent Self, generated quite a bit of discussion. Some respondents dismissed as mere “personal observation” the claim that people from Western and Eastern cultures tend toward different types of self-construal. Others considered such generalizations as an Eastern “collectivist self” vs. a Western “individualist self” stereotypical, unhelpful, or completely irrelevant. One reader, while acknowledging that cultural differences of self-construal were “well known and not new,” stated flatly that such differences are “not important as far as awakening is concerned,” while another worried that they were so important the dharma transmission to the West must be doomed—since the dharma is so deeply rooted in Asian contexts, how could it possibly exist elsewhere? More »
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May 28, 2013

Treasury of Lives: The Case of the Dalai Lama's Cursed Boots

Alexander Gardner
Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition. Treasury of Lives: The Case of the Dalai Lama's Cursed Boots More »
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May 27, 2013

Final Week of Pat Enkyo O'Hara Roshi's Retreat: To Be a Bodhisattva

"When we allow ourselves to be enlightened by everything that exists, then we can't help but to also serve."—Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara In the final week of Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara's retreat, "To Be a Bodhisattva," she interprets and adapts the last slogan of Zen Master Dogen from the Genjokoan: to be enlightened by the myriad things is to become a bodhisattva.  "A bodhisattva is not a fixed character, an 'Awakened Being,'" Enkyo Roshi says. Rather, a bodhisattva is an "'Awakening Being'—a being that is awakening, and is awakening others. A bodhisattva is one who relates to the world in an awakening fashion." When we recognize the interconnectedness of all things, helping others becomes automatic, as we cease to see the difference between ourselves and others. Then, to serve others is the same as serving oneself.    More »
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May 24, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Chinese Policing Tibetan Areas Suffer from PTSD

Alex Caring-Lobel
France24 reporter Cyril Payen recently brought new interviews and images out of Tibet that reveal a dire human rights situation resembling “an Orwellian world of surveillance.” Nicholas Bequelin with Human Rights Watch contends that "the situation in Tibet is as bad as it's ever been," adding that "Chinese police forces are now running what could be called a major counter-insurgency operation in Lhasa." The problem, says Bequelin, is that there is no real insurgency in Tibet. And with the visible increase of surveillance, the emergence of one is unlikely. More »
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May 23, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 1 - Dorje Shugden

Jeff Watt
Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition. Controversial Art, Part 1: Dorje Shugden More »
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May 22, 2013

The Ban on Rupert Sheldrake's TED Talk

Alex Caring-Lobel
Scientist Rupert Sheldrake’s recent work lays bare many of the unexamined assumptions common in mainstream science. I was very pleased to find that the first online comment on “A Question of Faith,” my interview with Sheldrake in the new issue, brought up the ban on his TED talk, and was from a scientist, at that. The commenter—a physician—explained how the ban caused him to rethink the effect of scientific dogma in his own practice. This convinced me that the ban itself is quite revealing. Proponents of the ban may have celebrated their early success, but the result has been more complex in that it has provided fodder for Sheldrake’s arguments.  More »
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May 22, 2013

Consider the Source: Why is Mahayana Buddhism a "snow zone tradition"?

Andy Ferguson
If you look on a map, you’ll see that the spread of Mahayana Buddhism matches places where the winters are bad and it snows a lot. Why? In warmer climates in India, monks could live in the forest, taking refuge in temporary structures to wait out the rainy season. But in northern climates, the long winters demanded better protection, so home-leaving monks had only two choices: they could live in a cave or in a monastery. More »
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May 21, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Nyingma Founders Part 4, The Jangter

Alexander Gardner
Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition. More »
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May 20, 2013

Consider the Source: Why did Zen monks live in caves?

Andy Ferguson
While Zen monks did live in caves in part to find refuge from the elements, there’s more to the story than just avoiding thunderstorms—they were also hiding out from the government. Ancient Chinese kings were loath to let too many “home-leavers” skip out on paying taxes, serving in the army, growing food, or having children—the activities needed for a country to survive and for kings to live in style. The king viewed monks who claimed exemption from these activities just because they wanted to practice meditation as deadbeats or brigands. Monks who were caught were defrocked or worse. More »
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May 20, 2013

Tricycle Short Film Trailer Release: Amituofo

"A lot of people believe that martial arts was born in the Shaolin Temple. That's not true. When the Chinese people were born, martial arts was born. But the Shaolin Temple was the first place to combine all the martial arts together." —Shifu Shi Yan Ming, abbot of the USA Shaolin Temple More »
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May 20, 2013

Third Week of Pat Enkyo O'Hara Roshi's Retreat: To Be Awakened

In the third week's teaching of Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara's retreat, "To Be Awakened," she addresses the third slogan of Zen Master Dogen from the Genjokoan: To forget the self is be enlightened by the myriad things. "Every thing is an opportunity to wake up," says Enkyo Roshi, "but we have to be open to it, and recognize it." We often come to think of enlightenment as an abstract, idealized state. But actually, enlightenment often lies in the most mundane moments and experiences. Or as Enkyo Roshi puts it, "We are looking so hard for something that we don't recognize that it's right here." By sitting, quieting our mind, and becoming intimate with ourselves, she reminds us, we can connect to the wholeness and security of the universe.     More »
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May 17, 2013

Buddha Buzz: The Transsexual Monk, The Million Bottle Temple, and The Accidental Prime Minister

Emma Varvaloucas
Only in Thailand: Sorrawee Nattee, the 2009 winner of the Thai "Miss Tiffany" transsexual beauty contest, has removed his breast implants and become a monk. That's what I call getting the best of both worlds, since women in Thailand are unable to receive full ordination... More »
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May 16, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: The Vajra Scepter, Part 1

Jeff Watt
Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition. The Vajra Scepter, Part 1: Multiple Meanings More »
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May 15, 2013

News Brief: Mindfulness Conquers World

P. B. Law
This just in from The NewsLeek, Buddhism's Finest News Source. BOSTON, May 1, 2013—The International Mindfulness Foundation (IMF) today announced that mindfulness has officially succeeded in conquering the world. “Now that global leaders in business, government, the military, health care, academia, and the media have fully embraced the practice of mindfulness at home and in the workplace,” stated IMF chairman Hugh Briss at a major press conference, “we at IMF have declared full and final victory in the war on mindlessness.” More »
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May 14, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Lotsawa Loden Sherab and Lotsawa Zhonnu Pel

Alexander Gardner
Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition. Translators from the Second Propogation: Lotsawa Loden Sherab and Lotsawa Zhonnu Pel More »
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May 13, 2013

Second Week of Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara's Retreat: To Forget the Self

In the second week of Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara's retreat, "To Forget the Self," she expounds on the second slogan of Zen Master Dogen from the Genjokoan: To study the self is to forget the self. To forget the self, Enkyo Roshi says, is to forget the idea of the self: its story and its inclination toward avoiding and clinging to various phenomena. We forget the self when we shift our attention to the present, to the constantly shifting flow of moment-to-moment reality. In that presence, when our internal monologue drops away, we forget the self and are free to feel the flow of life around us.   More »
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May 10, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Marijuana-filled Buddhas, HHDL speak out on Burma, and some good ol' Buddhist Americana

Alex Caring-Lobel
Earlier this week US Customs and Border Protection officials seized nearly 600 lbs of pot inside a shipment of Buddha statues and other religious figurines. Officials at the El Paso US-Mexico crossing discovered the narcotics—and an alternate explanation for the Buddha's contented grin—with the help of an irreverent, drug-sniffing dog. No arrests have been made. More »