Buddhist Traditions

  • Was the Buddha an Atheist? Paid Member

    "The Buddha was an atheist." Writer Allan Badiner made this bald pronouncement in the midst of a conversation that spanned the wee hours of a cloudless Burning Man night. Sitting in a vast tent where, during the day, scores of partygoers had washed off their dust and grime in a plexiglass chamber, we discussed prevailing notions of a Buddhist godhead and, conversely, our mutual embrace of the religion in its secular form.   I was most intrigued, though, by Badiner’s description of the Buddha as an atheist. I asked for sources.   Allan’s first response: More »
  • Ghosts, Gods, and the Denizens of Hell Paid Member

    For Buddhists, the universe has no beginning. Various world systems come into existence and eventually cease to be, but other worlds precede and follow them. The Buddha is said to have discouraged speculation about the origin of the universe; the question of whether the world has a beginning is one of fourteen questions that the Buddha refused to answer. He also remained silent when asked whether the universe will ever come to an end. Individual worlds are destroyed, incinerated by the fire of seven suns; but, no apocalypse, no final end time, is foretold. Individual beings put an end to their individual existence, one that also has no beginning, by traversing the path to nirvana.  More »
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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 »