Buddhist Traditions

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    In the Between Paid Member

    The Tibetan Book of the Dead (Bardo thos grol), written by the great master Padmasambhava, organizes the experiences of "the between"—(Tibetan, bar-do) usually referring to the state between death and rebirth. Padmasambhava hid the text for a later era, and it was discovered by the renowned treasure­finder Karma Lingpa in the fourteenth century. More »
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    Enlightenment Needs a Minyan Paid Member

    I want to explore the possibility, within Buddhism, of enlightenment as a collective as well as an individual process, nurtured by a practice of public truth-telling in a community of spiritual equals. The seeds of this idea are well represented in ancient Buddhist thought and tradition, yet the notion of collaborative awakening connects with many threads of Western tradition, such as democracy, Quaker meeting, trial by jury, even conventional Judeo-Christian worship. It may also help bridge the gap between meditation tradition and the more devotional schools, whose members comprise most of the world's living Buddhists, East and West. More »
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    In the News Paid Member

    PRETENDER TO THE THRONE In our last issue we reported on the outrage of Chinese officials when the Dalai Lama announced that a six-year­ old Tibetan boy, Gedhun Choekyi Nyima, had been determined to be the reincarnation of the tenth Panchen Lama, who died in January 1989. The Chinese government claimed that, under the terms ofa 1792 Qing Dynasty agreement, they had the right to approve the selection of all important lamas found in Tibet. Now the Chinese government has installed its own selection, six-year­ old Gyaincain Norbu, thus effectively creating a rival Panchen Lama. More »
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    Conceptions of Happiness Paid Member

    Happiness is awakening to the question "Who is happy, who is unhappy, who lives, and who dies?" True happiness is uncaused, arising from the very nature of being itself. We seek happiness only when we are asleep to our true nature—dreaming that enlightenment is over there, somewhere else. But we are all, already, what we are seeking. Buddhas seeking to be Buddhas. Ha! How ridiculous.—Adyashanti, San Francisco Bay area teacher who draws upon Zen and Advaita Vedanta We're always trying to free ourselves from misery but we go about it the wrong way. There are a lot of small sweetnesses in life that we ignore because they're so fleeting. It's very important to look at what lifts our spirits and brings us happiness—to cherish those moments and cultivate appreciation. Happiness comes from being receptive to whatever arises rather than frantically trying to escape what's unpleasant. —Pema Chödron, from True Happiness, a Sounds True CD set More »
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    A Sangha-less Sangha Paid Member

    One becomes a Buddhist by going for refuge in the “three gems”—in other words by saying, “I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the dharma, I go for refuge to the sangha.” But what exactly are these three gems? This was a question that vexed the early Buddhist community. When you go for refuge to the Buddha, are you going for refuge to his body, or to his mind? Because that body was the product of ignorance and subject to disintegration, it was not considered suitable as the Buddha-jewel. The Buddha was, however, said to possess certain qualities—such as compassion, concentration, and fearlessness—that are uncontaminated by ignorance. This “body of qualities” (dharmakaya) was deemed the true object of the practice of refuge. More »
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    The Bodhisattva Vows Paid Member

    The Great Vows, known as the Bodhisattva Vows, probably originated in China around the sixth century and may have been derived from an earlier Sanskrit gatha (a four-line verse that sums up an aspect of the dharma, and is often a vow). At the turn of the eighth century we find Chinese Zen master Hui-neng teaching their implications. Today they are recited at the end of services in most Mahayana centers. More »