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August 09, 2013

Makeshift Bomb Detonates in Buddhist Temple in Indonesia's Capital

Alex Caring-Lobel
On Sunday evening a bomb blast rocked the Ekayana Buddhist Centre, a temple for Jarkarta’s Chinese Buddhists in the western area of Indonesia’s capital, leaving three members of the 300-person congregation with minor injuries. A second explosive device was found undetonated, smoldering in a bucket, with a note that read, “We respond to the screams of the Rohingya.” Although loaded with “buckshot, batteries, and other materials,” the explosives were incapable of a major blast, a police spokesman told the Wall Street Journal, noting that the explosion failed to break the glass of a nearby door. More »
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August 07, 2013

A Moral Politics

Nourishing change in US food policy Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi
For months members of the House of Representatives wrangled over how much in cuts they would make to the nation’s food stamps program in the new Farm Bill they were drafting. On July 11th, by a vote of 216 to 208, the House finally passed a bill, and guess what? The bill does not include any funding for food stamps. Opposition to the bill was strong—all Democrats joined by twelve Republicans voted against it—but the majority prevailed, reflecting the agenda of Tea Party ideologues and conservative deficit hawks who dominate in the House. More »
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July 31, 2013

Robert Bellah, Sociologist of Religion, Dies at 86

Alex Caring-Lobel
Preeminent sociologist of religion and Tricycle contributor Robert N. Bellah has passed away after complications following a minor surgery. He was 86. Bellah had most recently served as the Elliot Professor of Sociology, Emeritus, at the University of California at Berkeley. Through his teaching and writing throughout his post there, his ideas spread far beyond the academy to greatly impact our understanding of religion and spirituality in the culture at large. In 2000, he received the National Humanities Medal from President Bill Clinton in recognition of his accomplishments. More »
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July 29, 2013

Consider the Source: Ordinary Mind Zen

Andy Ferguson
Because the fundamental nature of consciousness, of mind itself, is without characteristics, Zen Buddhism teaches signlessness. Ordinary activity, reflected in the lives of monks or villagers, fully embodies this signless teaching about mind. This is the “Treasury of the True Dharma Eye, whose true sign is signlessness, the sublime Dharma gate,” as taught in Zen’s founding legend by the Buddha. The “sublime gate” of signlessness is not at all empty of meaning. Traditionally, taking Zen’s signless path leads first to perceiving, then seeing through, reincarnation, the “wheel of birth and death.” What is quite profound is then inextricable from what is entirely ordinary. It is passages about the “ordinary,” where the difference between sacred and mundane is forgotten, that Zen literature takes on its peculiar flavor. More »
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July 26, 2013

Buddhist monk blames Muslims for Myanmar bombing

Richard S. Ehrlich
(RNS) A radical Buddhist monk in Myanmar said a bomb that exploded near him, wounding five devotees, came after a death threat by a “Muslim religious leader” who wanted to silence his campaign to prevent Buddhist women from marrying Muslim men. Ashin Wirathu’s portrait appeared on the July 1 cover of Time magazine’s Asia edition, above the headline, “The Face of Buddhist Terror: How Militant Monks are Fueling Anti-Muslim Violence in Asia.” “Since their plan to fight me via Time Magazine has failed, they are now targeting my ‘dharma’ (Buddhist teaching) events, and the devotees, with explosive devices,” Wirathu told the respected Irrawaddy magazine. More »
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July 24, 2013

Consider the Source: Origins of the Wild Goose Pagoda

Andy Ferguson
Tourist groups that visit the Terra Cotta Warriors inevitably visit Xian’s other famous landmark, the Wild Goose Pagoda, an icon central to the development of Chinese Buddhism. In this post I will explore why the Wild Goose Pagoda is such an object of pride for the city of Xian, and its role in Chinese Buddhism’s development. For centuries, Buddhism entered China along the Silk Road, the legendary trade route that stretched from ancient Rome to Xian. This trade route passed directly through the region where Mahayana Buddhism developed, serving to convey Mahayana teachings to China. More »
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July 23, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Khenpo Munsel

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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July 19, 2013

On Martyrs' Day, Burma's Past Meets its Future

Alex Caring-Lobel
Today marks Burma's Martyrs’ Day, a holiday commemorating the anniversary of the assassination of anti-imperialist revolutionary Aung San, father of the Nobel Peace Prize laureate and newest member of Burmese parliament Aung San Suu Kyi. Recognized as the architect of Burma’s independence from Britain, the young leader was gunned down in a government building on July 19, 1947 along with six of his cabinet ministers, just six months before his country would achieve independence. In Burma, today is a day of mourning, both of the leader and the principles that would have likely become manifest in Burmese society if his life had not been cut short. More »
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July 18, 2013

Every 28 Hours

The Case of Trayvon Martin Charles Johnson
by Charles Johnson More »
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July 15, 2013

Did Bodhidharma Invent the “Mu!” Koan?

Andy Ferguson
A monk asked Zen master Zhaozhou, “Does a dog have buddha-nature?” Zhaozhou replied, “Mu!” “Mu!” is one of a handful of Zen stories from ancient China that have become famous. This koan has served as the “Gateless Gate” into Zen for countless students in China, Japan, and elsewhere. Though it is often attributed to Zen master Zhaozhou (Japanese: “Joshu”), the story’s origins stretch further back into history. As I point out in my book Tracking Bodhidharma, there is some evidence that the story goes back to the nominal founder of Chinese Zen, the first ancestor Bodhidharma himself. The connection between Bodhidharma and the "Mu!" koan can be found in an old Chinese ditty of unknown origin that goes More »
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July 12, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Birthday Celebrations for HHDL Draw Teargas and Gunfire in Tibet

Alex Caring-Lobel
Celebrations honoring the Dalai Lama’s 78th birthday were disrupted on Saturday in the Ganzi prefecture in Tibet when Chinese paramilitary forces fired on a crowd of 500 Tibetans, leaving at least six injured. More »
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July 12, 2013

"Buddha on Strike" at Goldman Sachs HQ

Buddha on Strike founder Max Zahn has been meditating in front of Goldman Sachs headquarters in New York every business day with the aim of extending "compassion to its employees and demand that they do the same for the worldwide billions affected by the bank's practices." You can learn more about Zahn's efforts over at his website, Buddha on Strike. More »
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July 10, 2013

Consider the Source: Are Baizhang’s Famous “Pure Rules” a Fake?

Andy Ferguson
The ancient Chinese Zen master Baizhang established “pure rules” for the regulation of his monastery on Great Hero Mountain in China. The rules have served as the basis for monastic organization and practice for centuries, and their influence has extended to Zen monasteries throughout China and beyond. The Chinese Zen tradition acknowledges that The Pure Rules is a reconstruction written about 400 years after Baizhang lived. The original text of Baizhang’s regulations was lost in the chaos of war as Chinese dynasties rose and fell in the centuries following his death. Many take on faith that the current version of Baizhang’s rules was reconstructed to accurately reflect the original text based on available evidence. But this view may be entirely mistaken. More »
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July 09, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Sonam Peldren

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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July 08, 2013

Consider the Source: Why did the Ancient Zen Masters Seldom Mention Emptiness?

Andy Ferguson
Early Chinese Zen masters seldom spoke about ideas like emptiness. Early writings also lack discussions about sutras, including texts like The Diamond Sutra, which is strongly linked to the Zen tradition. The Heart Sutra is hardly mentioned, and the bodhisattva ideal also gets very little ink in early records. Often, when such ideas and texts are mentioned by the old masters they are referred to with a dismissive, even derisive, tone. More »
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July 08, 2013

Bomb Blasts Rock Buddhist Pilgrimage Site in India

Alex Caring-Lobel
A series of low intensity bombs detonated inside the Mahabodhi temple complex in Bodh Gaya, India early on Sunday morning, leaving one Burmese monk and one Nepalese monk injured. One of the most-visited pilgrimage sites for Buddhists, the complex stands next to an iteration of the Bodhi tree under which Siddhartha Gautama, the historical Buddha, is said to have attained enlightenment. Four explosions went off inside the temple complex, three by a nearby monastery, and another by a Buddha statue, according to India's Home Secretary. At least two other bombs were defused.Although there were around 200 people in the temple complex when the bombs began exploding, no deaths and only two injuries have been reported. The temple complex and the Bodhi tree sustained minimal damage from the small blasts. More »
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July 04, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 4 - The Female Nude

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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July 03, 2013

Consider the Source: Is the Buddha's Hairdo Greek?

Andy Ferguson
The brilliant scholar, writer, and postmodernist art critic Thomas McEvilley died in March of this year, but his scholarship may yet spawn a renaissance in our understanding of the ancient world. His epic work, The Shape of Ancient Thought, advances a breathtaking perspective on how ancient philosophies grew and influenced one another. Our view of the philosophical and religious development of Greece, Rome, South Asia, and even East Asia may undergo a sea change if the arguments in this book are widely recognized. It is certainly important that past and future archeological work be held up against McEvilley’s insights. More »
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July 02, 2013

Treasury of Lives: The 7th Dalai Lama

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 »
Tricycle Community 4 comments

July 02, 2013

Trike Contributing Editor David Loy takes on "McMindfulness"

Over at the Huffington Post, Tricycle contributing editor David Loy and Ron Purser take on the trend of "McMindfulness," a quickly growing (and lucrative) industry slinging a form of secularized mindfulness deracinated from its ethical context. Proponents of mindfulness training often brand their teachings as Buddhist-inspired, the authors note, but in the same breath deny the practice's ties to its origins, assuring their corporate clients and sponsors that the technique is purely secular. While "uncoupling mindfulness from its ethical and religious Buddhist context is understandable...the rush to commodify mindfulnesss into a marketable technique" has a number of undesirable results. More »