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December 22, 2008

A little more on the Lotus Sutra

Our Spring 2006 issue featured a special section on The Sutra of the Lotus of the Wonderful Law. Here's the introduction to it from our own Andrew Cooper. More »
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December 22, 2008

Happiness Test

From the Huffington Post: The Authentic Happiness Test from the University of Pennsylvania. But HuffPo columnist Gretchen Rubin, who's working on her own Happiness Project, doesn't tell you that you have to register and give personal information because of course, it's an experiment for UPenn and they want to know your income so they can find out, at last, if money does bring happiness. Dr. More »
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December 18, 2008

Returning to the Buddhist Past Through the Tale of Genji

On Tuesday, I posted an announcement about a new translation of the Lotus Sutra. I thought it would be interesting to take a moment to peer back into the past and see how this text, and other elements of Buddhism, have often been understood in traditional Buddhist cultures. At the same time, we can’t really understand the past without reference to our own situation, so I’ll include some comments on how traditional ideas relate to our modern views. Let’s take a look at a vignette from the Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). Written in the eleventh century, the Tale of Genji is often described as the world’s first novel. Over 1,000 pages long in English translation, it records the courtships of several generations of the Japanese nobility. In fact, it is rather like a very long Buddhist version of a Jane Austin novel. More »
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December 18, 2008

This photo is a fake

Here's the story. More »
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December 18, 2008

The Arising of the Ad Hoc Sangha

Sangha is a Sanskrit word that in its narrowest sense has as its referent the community of those who follow the Buddha’s teaching. As limited as this application of the term might be, the community of Buddhist followers nonetheless consists of a vast network of sangha within sangha arranged like concentric rings of mutual inclusion. The Chico Zen Sangha, for example, which I founded and teach is a sangha in its own right. But it is as well a sangha within the larger sangha of both Soto and Rinzai Zen, having established formal affiliation with both traditions. But the Zen tradition itself is in turn a sangha within the larger sangha of the whole Buddhist community. Whether it be Tibetan, Theravada, Insight Meditation, Pure Land, or whatever, the community of those who follow the Buddha’s teaching constitutes one vast world-wide sangha. But it doesn’t end there, for it is taught that Buddha nature pervades the whole universe, a concept descriptive of a virtually limitless sangha comprised of the intimate and intricate interweaving of all beings into one seamless whole. This being so, what is there to exclude? What stone, what drifting feather, what clot of earth or sky, what soiled and drunken soul sleeping in the doorway of the convenience store, what cranky or cheerful clerk at the checkout stand, what mother, father, child, what family rich or poor, hungry or full, what being of any sort, anywhere, at any time, is not sangha? More »
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December 18, 2008

Thailand's Tiger Temple

You may have heard about Wat Pa Luang Ta Bua, the famous Tiger Temple in Thailand. Well, now the rest of the world has too. This is really just an excuse to post this fun picture. Now, if this big kitty, or his Siberian tiger cousin, were wandering the streets of Ulan Bataar would Konchog give him a home? Some info on tigers here and more on the tiger temple here. More »
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December 17, 2008

An Account of Meditate NYC

[The following is a guest post from Jolie Gorchov that I was supposed to put up last week! Sorry. If your organization is mentioned here but not linked, and you would like to have it linked, please let us know - Phil] A recent panel discussion in BuddhaDharma about The Future of Buddhism focused on “convert” western Buddhists without mentioning Asian Buddhists. This has kicked off a firestorm of web chatter about oppression and “Wonderbread” (western) Buddhists vs. Asian Buddhists. In light of this debate that’s made its way to blogs such as Dharma Folk, The Worst Horse, Shambhala Sun Space and the Tricycle Editor’s Blog, I wanted to counter with a recent afternoon in New York that was spent with all sorts of different Buddhist teachers, speakers, and sects. On Sunday, November 9, the Buddhist Council of New York presented its second annual Meditate NYC event.  Meditate NYC is a free week-long event aimed mostly at newcomers to meditation, and people who are interested in Buddhism. The Meditate NYC kick-off offered a wide-ranging program with speakers from America, Japan, Korea, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Tibet. The afternoon event opened at the Church of St. Paul & St. Andrew on the Upper West Side of Manhattan with the traditional Tibetan ringing of 108 bells. The event’s emcees, Roshi Pat Enkyo O'Hara, abbot of Village Zendo and Michele Laporte of Shambhala Center sat on stage as the Buddhist Council’s former President, Reverend T.K. Nakagaki of New York Buddhist Church opened the program and welcomed attendees.  Each speaker following gave about a 20-minute offering. More »
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December 16, 2008

An Important New Translation of the Complete Lotus Sutra

Buddhism’s history in America began in 1844, when Unitarian Elizabeth Palmer Peabody translated a section of the Lotus Sutra into English for the Transcendentalist journal The Dial.  Since then there have been a number of complete translations of the Lotus Sutra, but translation is always an ongoing process and new versions often help reveal things obscured by earlier ones. Many sutras were translated repeatedly into Chinese, for example, with each version providing something new based on the training and viewpoint of the translator (or translation team, as was common in Chinese history). It’s a great thing to hear, therefore, of a new, complete translation of the Lotus Sutra now available from Wisdom Publications. This new version is translated by Dr. Gene Reeves, who for many years has worked with the liberal Buddhist movement Rissho Koseikai, which focuses on study of and devotion to the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra has an unusual history in America—due to historical quirks, it has largely become associated with the minor Nichiren Shoshu sect and its 20th century spin-off Soka Gakkai, groups that have often taken an exclusivistic approach to Lotus Sutra interpretation that is at odds with how most East Asian Buddhists approach it. Indeed, the Lotus Sutra is a pan-sectarian text considered core for the Zen, Tendai, and Nichiren denominations, as well as exercising an important influence on the Shingon, Pure Land, and other groups as well. The Lotus Sutra is certainly the single most important scripture in East Asian Buddhism, rivaled only by the Heart of Perfect Wisdom and Larger Bliss Realm Adornment Sutras. More »
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December 16, 2008

ESP; 100 episodes of Buddhist Geeks; and a somber moment for single women

A very amusing post from Somewhere in Dhamma (based on a post from the Level 8 Buddhist) regarding an ESP experiment online. Amazing how we overthink things. Did I figure it out myself? No, I didn't. 21awake points out that Buddhist Geeks has turned 100 episodes old with their interview of Jun Po Roshi! Congratulations and best wishes to them -- Please drop by and have a listen. And congratulations are in order for Dogo Barry Graham, who gets married on December 27th. Somehow, the world feels a little smaller now. More »
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December 16, 2008

Brooks has Buddhism on the Brain

Maybe I can interview him for Tricycle. Discussing Malcolm Gladwell's new book, he David Brooks writes: Most successful people also have a phenomenal ability to consciously focus their attention. We know from experiments with subjects as diverse as obsessive-compulsive disorder sufferers and Buddhist monks that people who can self-consciously focus attention have the power to rewire their brains. Control of attention is the ultimate individual power. People who can do that are not prisoners of the stimuli around them. They can choose from the patterns in the world and lengthen their time horizons. This individual power leads to others. It leads to self-control, the ability to formulate strategies in order to resist impulses. More »
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December 15, 2008

Tricycle and Nichiren Buddhism

The current issue of Tricycle features an interview by contributing editor Clark Strand with Daisaku Ikeda, President of Soka Gakkai International. The interview, which was made available online, has become one of our most widely read web articles. Soon after it was posted, Buddhajones, an independent Nichiren-themed site, developed a thread with comments (many evidently posted by former SGI members) many of which criticized SGI and Tricycle for not being more critical of the organization. Below is editor-at-large Andrew Cooper’s entry to the thread, which was meant, in his words, to explain, how the magazine “viewed this interview as an editorial matter.” It might be of interest here, as the points it makes are relevant not only to that particular article but also to issues of diversity and inclusiveness for meditation-oriented Buddhists, as well as the sometimes thorny task of dealing editorially with controversies within Buddhist communities. This is a slightly abridged version, and readers can find the entire post, as well as the rest of the thread here. My name is Andrew Cooper and I am the Tricycle editor who worked with Clark Strand to develop his interview with Daisaku Ikeda. Please allow me to address, in a general way, some of the concerns raised in this thread. It would be presumptuous of me to attempt to speak to the specific disagreements among Nichiren Buddhists, but I can try to explain how we at Tricycle viewed this interview as an editorial matter. More »
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December 15, 2008

Two from the Times

Dharma Punx on the Bowery and retreats in the Catskills. More »
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December 12, 2008

American Dreaming; Lama Zopa Rinpoche

In a recent column in The Nation, Patricia Williams comments on the front page of the December 8th New York Times, which features a photograph of Detroit churchgoers praying to three gleaming white SUVs in hopes that the auto industry might be saved. While these parishioners undoubtedly provoked haughty disbelief over no small number of breakfasts—a delighted bit of disdain at such base veneration for a "once-golden, now dried-up cash cow," as Williams puts it—what does it say of the Times and the national appetite that the piece made for headline news? Following an election played out on CNN by Joe the Plumber and "the black vote," as Wolf Blitzer would have it, it's important that we pay skeptical attention to the ways we personify the economic crisis. More »
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December 11, 2008

Thailand Yanks the Economist; A Pattern Language

The Economist is yanked from Thai newsstands for running a story critical of the monarchy. Can we build a beautiful world? Christopher Alexander, author of the groundreaking A Pattern Language, thinks so. More »
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December 10, 2008

If you only do one thing today

Why not make it signing this petition? Courtesy Danny Fisher. More »
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December 10, 2008

Faulkner and Fear

58 years ago today William Faulkner received the Nobel Prize in literature. In his acceptance speech—which no one understood until they read it the next day in the paper because he was too far from the microphone—Faulkner said that "the basest of all things is to be afraid." In a Dharma Talk we are preparing for the next issue of Tricycle, Zen teacher Ezra Bayda stresses the same point: He writes that fear "is at the root of all conflict, underlying much of our sorrow" and offers guidance about how to practice with it. More »
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December 09, 2008

Right Livelihood Award laureates announced; Amy Goodman among them

The Nobel Prize, for all the much-deserved attention it draws to innovative and important people (HH The Dalai Lama among them), has attracted criticism for its selection process—individuals are chosen by predetermined panels, ruling out less-famous potential candidates. In 1980, Jakob von Uexkull founded the Right Livelihood Award, which has come to be known as the "Alternative Nobel Prize." Unlike the Nobel, the award accepts nominations from anybody. This year's recipients were just announced, and Amy Goodman of Democracy Now! is one of them. She interviewed two of the other three recipients on yesterday's show. Check out the Right Livelihood website to read more about Goodman and the other three laureates. More »
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December 08, 2008

Rohatsu

Rohatsu (Bodhi Day) literally means the 8th day of the 12th month. More »
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December 08, 2008

Buddhist Board Game

Thanks to Konchog for pointing this one out: dhamma musings shows us a Buddhist board game. More »
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December 08, 2008

Recession Hurts Recycling Efforts

Recycling has suffered with the recession. Here's more bad news: Just months after riding an incredible high, the recycling market has tanked almost in lockstep with the global economic meltdown. As consumer demand for autos, appliances and new homes dropped, so did the steel and pulp mills' demand for scrap, paper and other recyclables. Cardboard that sold for about $135 a ton in September is now going for $35 a ton. Plastic bottles have fallen from 25 cents to 2 cents a pound. Aluminum cans dropped nearly half to about 40 cents a pound, and scrap metal tumbled from $525 a gross ton to about $100. More here. More »