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January 25, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Buddha Porta Potties, Marine Mindfulness, and Tibetan Rap

Emma Varvaloucas
I don't know what Dutch company Boels Rental was thinking when they green-lighted an advertising campaign that involved images of Shakyamuni Buddha printed on Porta Potties around the Netherlands, but it's safe to say they didn't expect a massive Facebook campaign, led by two Thai Buddhists, demanding that the images be taken down. The campaign gathered such support that only two days after it began, the company had apologized and promised to "withdraw the designs from the market." More »
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January 24, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Stories of the Buddha Part 4, Avadāna Stories Quick Guide

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. More »
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January 23, 2013

The Dangers of Spirituality

An Interview with David Webster
In recent decades, the decline of religious belief and affiliation in the West has been accompanied by a steady increase of interest in “spirituality” and the deployment of the term. The word has come a long way from its Christian roots to encompass alternative and mystic traditions from a number of religious traditions, and, more recently, to denote a kind of lifestyle most often characterized as “spiritual, but not religious.” As the authors of Selling Spirituality, Jeremy Carrette and Richard King observe, “There are perhaps few words in the modern English language as vague and wooly as the notion of ‘spirituality.’” More »
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January 22, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Bhutan's Nyingma Treasure Revealers

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. Bhutan's Nyingma Treasure Revealers More »
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January 22, 2013

Social Media Guidelines for Vajrayana Students

The following guidelines were posted on the Facebook page of Buddhist author and filmmaker Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche (via American Buddhist Perspective). If you think or believe that you are a student of Vajrayana—whether or not that’s true is another matter—but as long as you think you are a Vajrayana practitioner, it becomes your responsibility to protect this profound tradition. More »
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January 22, 2013

TrikeTV: Buddha Balderdash

Welcome to the second episode of TrikeTV, "Buddha Balderdash." This time, the audacious Tricycle staff hit the streets of New York City to play Balderdash with a Buddhist twist. Balderdash is a board game that asks players to correctly define difficult words—and if they don't know the right definition, to make one up. We decided to ask strangers to define classic Buddhist words like "dharma," "nirvana," and "karma." Watch to find out just how much Buddhist parlance has successfully permeated the mainstream consciousness... Watch the first episode, "A Very Buddhist Christmas," here. More »
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January 21, 2013

May I Be Safe: Third Week of Cyndi Lee's Retreat

In this week's retreat teaching, "May I Be Safe," yoga teacher and longtime Buddhist practitioner Cyndi Lee discusses alignment not just in the sense of our physical body, but also in terms of our focus on feelings of union and self-integration. These feelings, through a codified set of practices, can create the causes and conditions for happiness. Introducing us to one of Patañjali's yoga sutras, Yogaś citta-vritti-nirodhaḥ, she emphasizes the "state of yoga" as a type of presence or nowness that can be achieved through the processes of mental cessation and "realigning." She introduces us to the practice of pranayama before ending with more beginner-level yoga. More »
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January 18, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Buddhism, Self-Help, and Suicide

Emma Varvaloucas
Some of us Buddhists, myself included, like to decry Buddhism being used as self-help or therapy. And yet, Buddhism has become so entwined with self-help that in New York Magazine's recent self-help issue, half of the six feature articles mention Buddhism in some way. Kathryn Schulz's piece "The Self in Self-Help," accurately summarizes the whole phenomenon in just one sentence: "Curiously, Buddhism is simultaneously a burgeoning influence on the Western self-help movement and entirely at odds with it: anti-self, and anti-help." More »
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January 17, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Stories of the Buddha Part 3, Jataka Tales Quick Guide

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. Part 1: Stories of the BuddhaPart 2: Life Story Quick Guide More »
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January 16, 2013

The Self in Self-Help Literature

Alex Caring-Lobel
In New York Magazine's new self-help issue, journalist Kathryn Schulz examines how we can improve ourselves and why it's so damn hard. You might know you shouldn't watch the next episode of that serial television show on Netflix (those new countdowns don't help) or eat that deep-fried, bacon-wrapped Twinkie (or five), but that doesn't mean you won't! Exploring this dissonance between the prudent, "better" you and the troublemaking mortal sinner leads Schulz to grapple with the thorny question, "Can self-help work if we have no idea how a self works?" More »
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January 16, 2013

Does a Cow Go "Mu"?

An Interview with Buddhist Poet Dick Allen
Dick Allen is the current poet laureate of Connecticut, a position he’ll hold until 2015. Allen has studied Buddhism for over 50 years, since meeting Alan Watts one quiet autumn afternoon at Syracuse University, where Allen took the country’s first undergraduate credit course in Zen Buddhism in 1960. Allen is most drawn to “crazy Zen,” and many of his Buddhist poems are written, he says, to “Americanize Buddhism and Zen Buddhism through the use of American landscapes, American icons like Coca-Cola, and Apple computers placed alongside cloudy mountains and brooms sweeping Buddhist temple floors.” More »
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January 15, 2013

Spiritual Esperanto

A Response to "The Dalai Lama as a Brand"
In Joachim Krueger’s most recent blog post on Psychology Today, the social psychologist attempts to expose the alleged hypocrisy of the 14th Dalai Lama and what he views as the unexamined shallowness of His Holiness’ vision. In demythologizing the Dalai Lama and his aura of “overall goodness,” Krueger asks us not only to sober up from our blind reverence but also to “consider the pull of collective valuation, the need to revere at least someone, and the fragility of the human thinking machine.” More »
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January 15, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Kagyu Founders Part 4, Pakmodrupa and Gyergom Tsultrim Sengge

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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January 14, 2013

Tricycle's 12 Best of 2012

Welcome to Tricycle's Best 12 of 2012, where we look back on the past year to share with you our best content from 2012. Discover any gems you might have missed and revisit old favorites. Featuring writing by professor Donald S. Lopez and journalist Linda Heuman, dharma talks from teachers Thanissaro Bhikkhu and Ken McLeod, and the popular first episode of TrikeTV, Tricycle's Best 12 of 2012 is the one experience of living in the past for which your Buddhist friends will forgive you. Of course, we know our list is subjective—let us know what your 2012 Tricycle favorites were in the comments below. Best 12 of 2012 From the magazine: More »
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January 13, 2013

May I Be Healthy: Second Week of Cyndi Lee's Retreat

In "May I Be Healthy," the second week of our January retreat, "May I Be Happy: Getting Realigned for the New Year," Cyndi Lee leads us in a variety of practices that are meant to "cut through our habitual momentum of distraction." She asks us to ask ourselves, "What do I do to avoid being present?" By refocusing our attention on ourselves, we can take responsibility for our own perceptions and actions, and begin the path toward happiness, health, safety, and a life with ease.  Cyndi leads us in a series of meditations, starting with shamata, then the maitri (lovingkindness) meditation, then another shamatha, before wrapping up with yoga.   More »
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January 11, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Rejection Therapy and Bringing the "Glam" to Meditation

Emma Varvaloucas
Today on Buddha Buzz I must start with the most egregious example of spiritual consumerism I think I have ever seen in my life. As someone who went to journalism school and now makes a living as a magazine editor, I feel like my response to Wednesday's New York Times article "The New Mantra: Replacing 'Om' With 'Glam'," should be something more eloquent than what I'm about to share, but really, all I can summon up to say about this article is… "Noooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo!" followed by loud sobbing. More »
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January 11, 2013

An Open Letter to the Buddhist Community from the Osho Council of Rinzai-ji

This morning we received the following open letter to the American Buddhist community from the Osho Council of Rinzai-ji responding to the sexual misconduct of their head Joshu Sasaki Roshi. More »
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January 10, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Stories of the Buddha Part 2, Life Story Quick Guide

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 Art 101: Stories of the Buddha Part 2, A Quick Guide More »
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January 09, 2013

Meditating on Mortality

An Interview with Mortician Caitlin Doughty
According to Mike Belsito, who runs a funeral planning website, the word "death" is searched for on Google 68,000,000 times per month. "For perspective," he writes, "that's twice as much as the search results for the word 'marriage'—and more than thirteen times as much as the results for 'happiness.'" When the Tricycle staff were planning our current issue, which features a large special section on death and dying, we didn't know these numbers. But we're happy to learn that we're not the only ones interested in our own mortality. More »
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January 09, 2013

Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman

The Dude and the Zen Master
The Tricycle staff had a lot of fun last night at the NYC Union Square Barnes & Noble event featuring actor Jeff Bridges, Zen teacher Bernie Glassman, and Tricycle's very own editor and publisher James Shaheen. Jeff and Bernie were there to promote their recently released book The Dude and the Zen Master. If you've seen The Big Lebowski, you know which one is the Dude and which one is the Zen master, although many fans of the cult classic claim that the Dude is a Zen master. The two friends spent five days at Jeff's ranch in Montana doing what they call "jammin'" and what I like to call being on a "bro retreat"—chilling out, talking about life, and smoking cigars. Their conversation was recorded, transcribed, and voilà: The Dude and the Zen Master was born. More »