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December 04, 2012

Treasury of Lives: Kagyu Founders Part 2, Gampopa and Barompa

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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December 04, 2012

A Buddhist Holiday Survival Guide: Compassionate Gift Giving Ideas

One way to give compassionately and intelligently this holiday season is to widen the net of those who receive the benefit of your generosity by donating to charities and nonprofit organizations. You can forego traditional presents and instead make a donation in your loved one's name, or you can pledge to donate the amount of money you spend on holiday gifts this year to a worthy cause. Every Tuesday here on Tricycle's Buddhist Holiday Survival Guide, we'll be posting about Buddhist organizations who could use your help this holiday season.   More »
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December 03, 2012

Neuroscience Fiction in the New Yorker

Alex Caring-Lobel
Since Alissa Quart's "neuro-critical" Times op-ed, which we covered on the blog last week, The New Yorker has followed suit. On The New Yorker's News Desk blog, Gary Marcus reports on the recent history of the preponderence of neuroscientific explanations in the mainstream media despite several setbacks within the field and a number of overlooked books which seriously undermine neuroscience's most sensational claims. This brief history extends up to the publication of Quart's op-ed last week, which Marcus announces as the entry of these concerns into the mainstream. More »
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December 03, 2012

A Buddhist Holiday Survival Guide

'Tis the season to be jolly—and to grit your teeth and run through the gauntlet of what is commonly known as the holiday season. Whether it's gift shopping or socializing with your relatives that's got you down, Tricycle's month-long Buddhist Holiday Survival Guide is here to help. Throughout the month, Zen monk Brad Warner will be answering all of your practice questions, and midway through December, Zen teacher Ezra Bayda will be leading a discussion on dealing with those difficult relationship situations—in-laws, new partners, old family resentments—that tend to crop up over the holidays. More »
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December 03, 2012

New Online Retreat: Transforming Self, Transforming Earth: A Buddhist Ecology

It's possible that Hurricane Sandy was an anomaly. Or maybe, just maybe, the Earth is trying to tell us something. As more resources in both the public and private sectors are being put toward sustainable technology and awareness initiatives, our new retreat with professor and Zen teacher David Loy offers yet another way to contemplate the pressing eco-crisis.  Often it seems like a rather daunting task— can an individual actually change the trajectory of our planet? Our December retreat, "Transforming Self, Transforming Earth: A Buddhist Ecology" offers insights into how we can (and must) take responsibility for our individual attitudes that have repercussions on much larger scales.  More »
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November 30, 2012

Buddha Buzz: Buddhist News from Around the World, Week of November 26

Emma Varvaloucas
Tibetan self-immolations are continuing at an alarming rate. Since the last Buddha Buzz post on November 16, 14 more Tibetans have set themselves on fire to protest the Chinese rule. There's no denying that the self-immolations are occurring with greater frequency. Out of the 89 self-immolations since 2009, 27 of them—about 30%—have taken place this month, according to the International Campaign for Tibet. Two weeks ago, British monk Tonden (David Alain) became the first non-Tibetan to self-immolate, setting himself on fire in the garden of Nalanda monastery, in France, where the resident monks were in retreat. More »
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November 30, 2012

Chopping Onions

Elizabeth Bastos
Cleaning the bathroom or chopping the onions is no less important than sitting in deep meditation. Grasping this and acting on it is called waking up. —Janet Jiryu Abels, “Participate Fully” "Chop wood, carry water" is a Zen saying. In other words, just do what you are doing, nothing more, nothing less. As Yoda would say, Simple it is not. Chopping onions, I almost chopped off the tip of my left index finger. I had to wrap my hand in a tea towel and sit down, and reconsider my entire life while the tea towel bloomed red. More »
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November 29, 2012

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: King Gesar of Ling

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. This week Jeff takes a look at artistic renderings of King Gesar of Ling, folk hero in Tibetan epic literature. Himalayan Art 101: King Gesar of Ling More »
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November 29, 2012

"Neuroscience: Under Attack" in the New York Times

Alex Caring-Lobel
If you get the Sunday Times you probably saw Alissa Quart's clever op-ed on the backlash against the perfunctory extrapolations and sweeping claims made by popular neuroscience. The danger of false positives in neuroimaging has been brought to the attention of the public eye over the last several years (remember those neuroscientists that imaged brain activity in a dead salmon?). Quart's piece, however, doesn't just lay blame on shoddy science and premature conclusions drawn by neuroscientists, it also examines the culture that allows neuroscientific explanations to supplant other viable interpretations of experience. More »
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November 28, 2012

The Haiku Spirit

An Interview with Scholar-Artist Stephen Addiss
Stephen Addiss, PhD, is Professor of Art at the University of Richmond in Virginia. Author of The Art of Haiku, one of Tricycle’s picks for “Books in Brief” this issue, Addiss is a prolific scholar-artist who has been practicing Japanese calligraphy and ink painting for over 40 years. He is a true jack-of-all-trades—Addiss also studied music under the tutelage of John Cage and toured internationally for 16 years as part of the folk duo “Addiss & Crofut.” Tricycle’s Emma Varvaloucas spoke with him by phone last month about his recently published book and his thoughts on the “haiku spirit.”   More »
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November 27, 2012

Treasury of Lives: Bon Master Drenpa Namka

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. Bon Master Drenpa Namka More »
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November 26, 2012

Storms, Now in 3D

A Review of Life of Pi Andrew Gladstone
As we are consistently told throughout the opening scenes of Fox 2000’s new release, The Life of Pi (adapted from the 2001 best-selling novel by Yann Matel), the story about to unfold “will make you believe in God.” Though that is hardly the case, the spectacular visual landscapes, animated beasts, and terrifying storm sequences, imagined and rendered masterfully in 3D by director Ang Lee (Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon) will certainly cause a stir in your stomach, if not in your faith. The story follows Pi Patel (played well by acting newcomer Suraj Sharma), told in a series of increasingly extended flashbacks from an older Pi (Irrfan Khan) to a dumbfounded Canadian writer (Rafe Spall) who is inquiring into his legendary story of surviving 227 days at sea—with a Bengal tiger. More »
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November 26, 2012

Home Funeral Practices for Buddhists: Final Week of Caroline Yongue's Retreat

This week begins "Home Funeral Practices for Buddhists," the final week of Caroline Yongue's retreat on preparing for death. In this last installment, Caroline walks us through the procedures of a home funeral, staging the readings and practices in a mock demonstration.    More »
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November 24, 2012

Tricycle pilgrims make it to the Tiger's Nest

Tricycle Pilgrims are troopers—most of us made the arduous hike to the Tiger's Nest, or the Taktsang Palphug Monastery, as the Bhutanese call it. Padmasambhava (Guru Rinpoche), who brought Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan, is said to have meditated there in a cave for three years, three months, three weeks, three days and three hours. Built in 1692, the monastery was rebuilt after a fire in 1998. I should add that we not only made it up but also made it back down. Some sore muscles but nothing serious! Image: Approaching the Tiger's Nest, Paro Valley, Buthan. © Risto Kuulasmaa. More »
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November 23, 2012

The Zen Master Goes Black Friday Shopping

Elizabeth Bastos
When the Zen master Black Friday shops, it is not hard to understand! When breathing, breathe! When Black Friday shopping, shop! When finding "jingle socks" and "scarves for her," and "hostess gifts under $25," just find them. Go to aisles 7 and 14 and 15 and find them! Do not rush, but neither shall you go slow like the snail climbing Mt. Fuji, and miss out on the Crock Pot Spectacular.  More »
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November 22, 2012

A Very Buddhist Thanksgiving

What Are You Thankful For?
Happy Thanksgiving from the Tricycle staff! We hope that your Thanksgiving is a day of warmth and gratitude and of sharing your time with those you treasure most. If it turns out to be something more along the lines of what comedian Johhny Carson once said, though... "Thanksgiving is an emotional holiday. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they only see once a year. And then discover once a year is way too often." ...we offer our heartfelt empathy. To get us into the Thanksgiving spirit this year, we decided to go around the office and ask the traditional Thanksgiving 'round-the-table question: "What are you thankful for this year?" Here's what we had to say: More »
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November 22, 2012

Thanksgiving Blessing

Tricycle pilgrim receives blessing from Khenpo Khatar Rinpoche at Thrangu Tashi Yangtse Monastery, which the the group visited yesterday. A 40km drive from Kathmandu, the monastery sits atop the Himalayan foothills, offering stunning views. It was built at Namo Buddha, where, in a former life, the Buddha is said to have saved a starving Tigress and her cubs by offering himself as food. A stupa was built on the site and is considered one of the holiest places in Nepal. We're all grateful to have made the visit. Happy Thanksgiving! Image: Khatar Rinpoche offers Tricycle pilgrims blessings. © Risto Kuulasmaa. More »
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November 21, 2012

A Vegetarian Thanksgiving

Teachings from Lama Shabkar
As you prepare for Thanksgiving tomorrow, please consider this teaching from Lama Shabkar, a Tibetan yogin known for his spontaneous songs. Though it was originally written from the perspective of a sheep, we've changed it around to reflect the coming holiday. For some Thanksgiving vegetarian recipe ideas, go to the next page. More »
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November 20, 2012

Tricycle Pilgrimage: Today's Teaching from Kathmandu

From today's teaching at Shedrub Ling: It's not enough to think you understand impermanence and then to forget about it. The real dharma practitioner is someone who contemplates impermanence many times throughout day. Only then do our fixations begin to loosen, our attachments begin to break. Only then do we finally begin to relax. Image: Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche at the White Gompa. © Risto Kuulasmaa. More »
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November 20, 2012

Tricycle Pilgrimage: One love

Tricycle pilgrimage co-leader Justin Kelley gave interfaith harmony a big boost earlier today with his newfound Hindu friends. Photographer and fellow pilgrim Risto Kuulasmaa dubbed the pic "One Love," appropriately enough. The new friendship was struck up along Kathmandu's Bagmati River, where the caves of Tilopa and Naropa are a stone's throw from the famed Pashupatinath Temple, the holiest site in Nepal and one of the Hindu world's most important temples built to Lord Shiva. The mix of Hindu and Buddhist traditions characterizes the region. Image: Buddhist monk Justin Kelley with newfound friends. © Risto Kuulasmaa. More »