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February 28, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 28: You Happy Lucky Idiot

Meditation month is wrapping up, and though I'm pretty sure I've achieved nothing, I have—I hope—developed some insight into "real happiness." The most pronounced of these is the insight that real happiness isn't so great. In fact, for anyone with half an imagination, it's opposite ("fake happiness," "conventional happiness"?) is far superior. While conventional happiness is filled with bouts of joy and connection, not to mention endless congratulations, awards and achievements, Cold Beer and Beautiful Girls, real happiness has something to do with sustained attention and—can't forget—accords with reality. More »
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February 28, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Why Paintings Are Made, Part 2

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. Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Why Paintings Are Made, Part 2 More »
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February 27, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 27: Trading Candy for Gold

As we near the close of Meditation Month at Tricycle, I thought it'd be nice to leave you with some good reading. It's not easy to maintain a meditation practice for many of us. As laypeople especially, it's difficult to see ourselves through the clutter of life to the cushion. This is why it's important to make sure that our surroundings are conducive to practice. I find Thanissaro Bhikkhu's writing on this particularly helpful. As a busy layman, I need all the help I can get, and I've found the Thai forest monk's most recent book, With Each & Every Breath, particularly helpful. This is what he writes on how to optimize our surroundings for a steady meditation practice: More »
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February 27, 2013

Planetary Purpose

A Video Interview with Director Guy Reid
Last week Tricycle caught up with film director and Planetary Collective founding member Guy Reid to talk about the group's short film Overview and their forthcoming feature film Continuum. The Collective, founded in 2011, responds to the most pressing issues our civilization is currently facing as we push the planet to its brink. Its members, pulling from their Buddhist backgrounds, attribute the roots of the environmental and social crises facing humanity to the misperception that we are separate—from each other, the planet and the cosmos as a whole. The solution, they contend, can be found in an emerging worldview that points to our interdependence. More »
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February 26, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Kagyu Founders Part 7, Rinchen Gon and Jampa Pel

Harry Einhorn
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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February 26, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 26: No more planning

Rachel Hiles
This week I’ve been working on practicing lovingkindness and one of the phrases that Sharon suggested for week 4’s lovingkindness practice has really resonated with me:   I wish you happiness and peace, and I know I cannot make your decisions for you.   I love planning.  I love planning so much that that when my loved ones fail to make plans or decisions, I try to fill that empty future space for them. I imagine that this is helpful, but it often leads to difficult situations when my plans for them don’t reflect their personal wants and needs. My desire to help and my belief that I know “what’s best” for those close to me comes from a positive place—I want my friends and family to be happy. But when I don’t allow them to make their own decisions, it leads to anger, frustration, and disappointment for everyone.   More »
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February 25, 2013

Sitting in Wartime

Lisa Kremer
Be mindful of the passing of time, and engage yourself in zazen as though saving your head from fire. —Dogen, 13th-century Japanese Zen master Eyes closed, the body comes into focus. I feel the touch of the ground beneath my sitting bones, the touch of my hands resting on crossed legs. The breath takes over; layers of the mind unfold. But today, on the threshold of the cave of consciousness, the walls of the cave—my body—grab hold. It is as if the vrittis (the whirling of thought and emotion) are embedded in the flesh itself. The skin, the muscle, the organs, the bones pulsate, calling me back. Look at me, my body says. Stay with me. Yes, watch me. Keep me safe. More »
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February 25, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 25: Grateful for the Competition

Andrew Gladstone
Every February brings a special kind of motivating anxiety into my consciousness. The Academy Awards. My relationship to this mostly trivial, yet oh so very significant event has evolved over the years; from my childhood wonder and fascination with Hollywood lore and tradition, to my more recent perceptions of the event as a flawed, political, wonderfully mysterious litmus test for one of the most important cultural industries in the world.  More »
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February 25, 2013

Let's Get Real

Wisdom 2.0 Wraps Up Dr. Jay Michaelson
The Wisdom 2.0 conference, a four-day gathering of the Silicon Valley crowd to address the intersections of spirituality, mindfulness, and technology, took place this past weekend. Author and conference attendee Jay Michaelson blogged his experiences at the summit here on the Tricycle blog throughout the weekend. Today's post covers the last day of the conference, which was yesterday. Let’s Get Real More »
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February 25, 2013

Lovingkindness: Final Week of Sharon Salzberg's Retreat

In this final week of Sharon Salzberg's retreat, "Lovingkindness," she discusses how the practice of lovingkindness meditation can transform our "default narrative," our involuntary tendency to see things in a negative way. Common feelings of alienation, exclusion, doubt, and fear can all be reconfigured through this powerful practice of challenging where our attention goes habitually. Sharon introduces the practice as a type of experimentation—by challenging our attention to expand instead of fixate, we can begin to condition it away from unhealthy narratives and towards a more gratifying sense of connection and interdependence. She concludes the retreat with a guided lovingkindness meditation. More »
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February 23, 2013

The Dharma is Out of Control

Dr. Jay Michaelson
The Wisdom 2.0 conference, a four-day gathering of the Silicon Valley crowd to address the intersections of spirituality, mindfulness, and technology, is taking place this weekend. Author and conference attendee Jay Michaelson will be blogging his experiences at the summit here on the Tricycle blog throughout the weekend. At Wisdom 2.0 today, I was talking with a senior dharma teacher, a veteran of the scene for thirty-odd years. “It used to be,” he told me, “that you could pretty much know everything that was going on in the American Buddhist scene. Now, it’s grown so much that that’s impossible, and it’s totally out of our control—and that’s okay.” More »
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February 22, 2013

Who's Afraid of Wisdom?

Dr. Jay Michaelson
The Wisdom 2.0 conference, a four-day gathering of the Silicon Valley crowd to address the intersections of spirituality, mindfulness, and technology, is taking place this weekend. Author and conference attendee Jay Michaelson will be blogging his experiences at the summit here on the Tricycle blog throughout the weekend. Is California afraid of California? More »
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February 22, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Buddhist-Muslim Relations and a Harlem Shake Koan

Alex Caring-Lobel
Many predominantly Buddhist countries in lower Asia are also home to substantial populations of Muslims. Likewise, a number of Muslim countries are home to Buddhist minorities. Majority-minority relations can be contentious, but add ethno-religious lines to the mix and things can easily degenerate from prejudicial policy-making to unbridled violence. (Take Rakhine Buddhist violence against the Rohingya Muslims in Burma, for example, which Tricycle covers in its most recent issue.) More »
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February 22, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 22: Buddhist Black Sheep

I'm my family's Buddhist black sheep. When I decided to go to Nepal some years ago to study at a Tibetan Buddhist shedra, my parents and most of my friends, none of whom are particularly religious, thought I was nuts. Granted, they were entertained—never have my Facebook statuses, which mostly centered around monks playing badminton with me, been so popular—but no one took it very seriously. When I came back from Nepal and my loved ones noticed that I was, as a matter of fact, very serious about Buddhism, I was treated to a series of lectures about what my friends and family viewed as the worrisome trend of my declining ambition. (Actually, that's putting it a lot more eloquently than it was in reality. It was more of a derisive, "What are you going to do, Emma? Be a Buddhist as a career?") More »
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February 22, 2013

Wisdom 2.0 Opens With a Challenge

“I hope we won’t be self-congratulatory this weekend.” Dr. Jay Michaelson
The Wisdom 2.0 conference, a four-day gathering of the Silicon Valley crowd to address the intersections of spirituality, mindfulness, and technology, began yesterday. Author and conference attendee Jay Michaelson will be blogging his experiences at the summit here on the Tricycle blog throughout the weekend. Like many future Buddhists, I played ultimate Frisbee in college. Back then, there was a movement to make Ultimate an Olympic sport—a movement that ultimately failed because the hippies who made up the Ultimate Players’ Association didn’t want their countercultural niche invaded by the mainstream. More »
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February 21, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Why Paintings Are Made, 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. Click on the images to see larger versions. Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Why Paintings Are Made, Part 1 More »
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February 21, 2013

Can mindfulness change a corporation?

Emma Varvaloucas
Over at the Buddhist Peace Fellowship website, frequent Tricycle contributor David Loy has published a letter, "Can Mindfulness Change a Corporation?" to William George, a Goldman Sachs and Exxon Mobil board member who has been meditating since 1974 and frequently advocates for the introduction of mindfulness techniques into the American corporate world. More »
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February 21, 2013

Meditation Month, Day 21: Acknowledging Anger

It was only a few years ago that I realized just how angry I was. I had been immersed in Buddhist practice for some time, but was in the habit of glossing over the token “Anger” chapter in Buddhist practice literature. In Tricycle’s “Dealing with Anger”-type articles I would maybe read the pull quotes and move on to the next piece. I would acknowledge a point well made, but operated under the entrenched assumption that it didn’t really apply to me, or that if it did, it wasn’t the main area I needed to focus on; there were other qualities and realizations and mental states that required development and my immediate, unwavering attention. More »
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February 20, 2013

Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi on his Gradual Awakening to Politics

Alex Caring-Lobel
In the current issue of Parabola, Theravada Buddhist monk and teacher Bhikkhu Bodhi writes about his spiritual journey—from his solitary quest toward personal liberation to a life of politics and social action. Believing that he could most benefit the world by working on himself, Bhikkhu Bodhi retreated to a monastery in Sri Lanka, only to later discover, through contact with the eminent Ven. Nyanaponika, that the manifestations of the mental defilements which wreak havoc on both the individual and the world called for precise social investigation and the development of social conscience. He also came to notice at this time "a perceptible disconnect between the reckless courses along which the world was careening and the complacent, almost self-absorbed attitudes...among many American Buddhists": More »
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February 19, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Origins of the Ngor Lineage

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 »