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June 19, 2013

Miya Ando solo show Mujo (Impermanence) opens today

New York-based emerging artist Miya Ando is debuting her recent work in Mujo (Impermanence), her first solo exhibition at Sundaram Tagore Gallery in New York City. A descendant of Bizen sword-makers, Ando was raised among swordsmiths and Nichiren Buddhist priests in a temple in Okayama, Japan. Combining traditional techniques of her ancestry with modern industrial technology, Ando skillfully transforms sheets of burnished steel and anodized aluminum into ephemeral abstractions suffused with subtle gradations of color. The Mujo show opens today, June 20, with a cocktail reception from 6 – 8pm, and will run through July 20 at the Sundaram Tagore Gallery at 547 West 27th Street, New York. Check out the teaser for our upcoming profile of the artist and her work below: More »
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June 19, 2013

Consider the Source: Why is Bodhidharma Credited as the "First Ancestor" of the Chan (Zen) School?

Andy Ferguson
Although Bodhidharma is honored as the “First Ancestor” of Zen Buddhism in China, historians know well that Zen not only preceded Bodhidharma, it was also widely practiced centuries before his arrival. So how did Bodhidharma acquire the honored title of “The First”? The foreign Parthian monk An Shigao is credited with introducing Zen to China in the 2nd century, roughly 300 years before Bodhidharma arrived in China. Plenty of evidence indicates that Zen gained popularity soon thereafter, with historical records indicating that Zen flourished in China’s Northern Liang Dynasty at least 50 years before Bodhidharma came on the scene. More »
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June 18, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Jetsun Pema Trinle

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. Jetsun Pema Trinle More »
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June 17, 2013

Consider the Source: Why didn't Chinese Zen dharma halls have Buddhist icons?

Andy Ferguson
In traditional Chinese Zen, the dharma hall had a special status as the place where the Zen master expounded the dharma. It was purposefully separated from the Buddha hall, where statues of the Buddha and other notables provided prominent devotional icons for temple services and visitors. The dharma hall itself, however, was always bare of such figures. Why? More »
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June 17, 2013

Third Week of Chodo and Koshin's Retreat: Mindfulness and Concentration

In this third week's teaching of Zen teachers Robert Chodo Campbell and Koshin Paley Ellison's online retreat, "Mindfulness and Concentration," the two continue their exploration of the eight awarenesses. Covering both mindfulness and concentration practices, Chodo and Koshin show us how developing and expanding awareness aids our ability to care intimately for ourselves and others. As Chodo says, "One can only be as intimate with another as one is with oneself." The practice of samadhi, or concentration meditation, equips us to be at home in any situation, regardless of how stressful or terrible it may be, and begins our process of becoming intimate with our selves and the world around us. More »
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June 14, 2013

Buddha Buzz: On Hiatus for Bonnaroo 2013

Buddha Buzz is on hiatus this week while Tricycle's daring and irreplaceable editorial assistant Alex Caring-Lobel travels to Manchester, Tennesee, for Bonnaroo 2013. Please come back in one piece, Alex. There he is! In the meantime, here's what's going on in the Buddhist world (and beyond) this week: - The 50th anniversary of Vietnamese monk Thich Quang Duc's self-immolation More »
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June 13, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 3 - Ithyphallic Deities

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: Dorje ShugdenPart 2: The Svastika Controversial Art, Part 3: Ithyphallic Deities More »
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June 12, 2013

Consider the Source: Why Did Tea Come to Symbolize Enlightenment?

Andy Ferguson
The great Zen master Zhaozhou (Joshu)’s advice to seekers of the Way was “Go drink tea.” Zhaozhou’s contemporary, Zen Master Jiashan Shanhui, famously uttered, “Tea, Zen: one taste,” a phrase that adorns countless tea houses in China. What’s the story behind Chinese Zen and tea culture’s intimate relationship? More »
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June 11, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Nyingma Founders Part 5, Dzogchen

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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June 10, 2013

Consider the Source: Why is the Yellow River yellow (and what does it have to do with Buddhism)?

Andy Ferguson
The Yellow River is an iconic symbol of Chinese civilization. Its yellowness comes from the immense amount of silt it carries from the desert regions in the northwest, where Buddhism entered China via the Silk Road. The sand blown off from those deserts has blanketed the region for millenia, leaving soil that is both fertile and easy to dig. The main result was the civilization’s early farming communities. The easily dug soil from the desert also helped create a great number of caves, which house thirty million Chinese people to this day. More »
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June 10, 2013

Second Week of Chodo and Koshin's Retreat: Serenity and Meticulous Effort

In this second week of Zen teachers Chodo and Koshin's retreat, "Serenity and Meticulous Effort," they develop the ideas from the previous week by exploring the third and fourth awarenesses from the Mahaparinirvana Sutra: serenity and meticulous effort. As Koshin says, serenity is not just about bliss, but about about finding presence and grace in the moment-to-moment chaos of daily life. This part of the practice demands rigor and constant effort; it is the ability to turn outward and open to life, however terrifying or difficult it may seem to be. Serenity, then, is not an escape from the stresses of the moment, but is instead being satisfied with not knowing what will arise next. More »
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June 07, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Steven Seagal and Vladimir Putin

Alex Caring-Lobel
Action film star, orientalist, martial arts expert, and recognized Tibetan Buddhist tulku Steven Seagal reemerged in the media this week after aiding a congressional delegation to Russia. Seagal has long been well connected in Russia, where he’s known to get all buddy-buddy with President Vladimir Putin, an avid martial arts enthusiast. More »
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June 06, 2013

Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Fakes, Part 1 - An Introduction

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. Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Fakes, Part 1 - An Introduction More »
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June 06, 2013

Tintin discovers Edward Said.

Kevin Moore
© Kevin Moore More »
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June 05, 2013

Consider the Source: Why Was Maitreya Too Fat to Sit in Full Lotus?

Andy Ferguson
In the great Buddhist grottos at Dunhuang, the unequalled repository of Buddhist statues and art in China’s far west, certain Buddha figures do not sit in full lotus as one might expect. Nor do they stand erect, another common posture. Instead, they sit with their legs crossed at their ankles, a puzzling, rather uncomfortable looking position. The Chinese scholar Gu Zhengmei argues that this posture is a sure sign that these statues represent Maitreya Buddha, the “Buddha to Come” who is said to appear in the world when all have forgotten the dharma. He claims that it is consistent with discoveries of Maitreya images not just at Dunhuang, but also in Greek-influenced Gandhara, where the first icons of the Buddha were found. More »
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June 04, 2013

Treasury of Lives: Dorje Shugden

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. Treasury of Lives: Dorje Shugden More »
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June 03, 2013

Consider the Source: Why Bodhidharma was a rebel, not a myth

Andy Ferguson
Revered as the father of Zen Buddhism, some scholars have still denied or raised doubts as to whether Bodhidharma actually existed. He did. In fact, new evidence from Chinese scholarship suggests that he was a critically important historical figure, one far more fascinating than previously imagined. But if this is true, why doesn’t he appear in any official imperial records that were created while he lived? The earliest and most reliable account we have concerning Bodhidharma’s life, written by the great monk-historian Dao Xuan around the year 650 AD, clearly suggests that Bodhidharma did not like emperors and made a point to avoid them. The famous story of Bodhidharma meeting and rejecting the “Bodhisattva Emperor Wu” of the Liang Dynasty is only the most famous bit of information that supports this thesis. More »
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June 03, 2013

New Online Retreat: Caring in the World: The Eight Awarenesses

In our new online retreat "Caring for the World: The Eight Awarenesses," with Robert Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Campbell, co-founders of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, the dynamic teacher-duo explores one of the Buddha's final teachings, the Eight Awarenesses, as a guide to practice and study of intimacy and care. Each week the two will address two new awarenesses, supplementing their reflections with their own stories from their work in clinical care. More »
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May 31, 2013

Buddha Buzz: Radical Strains of Buddhism

Alex Caring-Lobel
Virulent anti-Muslim violence has once again enveloped a Burmese town—this time Lashio in the northeastern Shan State. What was once perceived as an isolated outbreak of murderous rioting in the western Rakhine state against Rohingya Muslims last year has now become a common occurrence in locales across the country, where not only Rohingya but all Muslims have become viable targets. Reacting to a quarrel between a Buddhist woman and an older Muslim male customer, Buddhist mobs—with monks in their ranks—armed with rocks, sticks, and machetes took to setting fire to the city’s largest mosque, a Muslim school, Muslim orphanage, and scores of Muslim-owned shops. More »
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May 31, 2013

Preeminent World Religions Professor Huston Smith Turns 94

Emma Varvaloucas
Happy birthday to Huston Smith, who turns 94 today! Smith, widely recognized as the West’s preeminent teacher of world religions, has made a career of building cross-cultural bridges. For decades he has taught his readers about Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and many other traditions. Raised in China, the son of Christian missionaries, Smith has had a long and illustrious career as an academic, TV interviewer, and author, along the way dropping acid with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and hobnobbing with a Who’s Who of 20th-century truth-seekers, from Thomas Merton to Joseph Campbell, Martin Luther King, Jr., Noam Chomsky, and Saul Bellow. More »