Buddhist Traditions

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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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    Many is More Paid Member

    Following the failed coup in Russia a cartoon in a New York newspaper featured two people standing in front of the Kremlin. One was saying to the other, "If you miss the one-party system, go to America." As the cartoon implies, new political alliances threaten to recast the United States as, at best, a beleaguered advocate of ideological plurality. Let's hope that American Buddhism doesn't follow the national political trend, especially since diversity is as central to Buddhist history as it has been to the history of the United States. More »
  • Minding the Storehouse Paid Member

    Although most of us are intimately identified with the contents and functions of our minds, we never make the attempt to actually see what goes on there. If we did, we might see what the Buddha saw over two thousand years ago: that we are not of one mind, but many, and that these various minds are refracted by different states of mind (or states of consciousness). More »
  • Rolling the Wheel Paid Member

    This episode of the life of Shakyamuni Buddha, as retold by Nikkyo Niwano, starts in Bodh-gaya following the Buddha's enlightenment under the Bodhi tree. The decision to turn the dharma wheel initiates a teaching mission that lasted over forty years and took the Great Sage back and forth across the breadth of northern India. More »
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    When the Buddha Bowed Out Paid Member

    "Who are you?" said the Caterpillar.This was not a very encouraging opening for a conversation. Alice replied, rather shyly, "I hardly know, sir, just at present—at least I know who I was when I got up this morning, but I think I must have been changed several times since then.""What do you mean by that?" said the Caterpillar sternly. "Explain yourself!""I can't explain myself, I'm afraid, sir," said Alice, "because I'm not myself, you see.""I don't see," said the Caterpillar."I'm afraid I can't put it more clearly," Alice replied, very politely, "for I can't understand it myself, to begin with; and being so many different sizes in a day is very confusing. ""It isn't," said the Caterpillar. More »
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    The Formless Field of Benefaction Paid Member

    There was a time when the Heart Sutra evoked associations with Asian monastic rituals, and not Florida hospitals; and when "the great matter of life and death," as the Zen tradition puts it, did not apply to the American abortion debate; and when running an AIDS hospice may have been considered too secular for Buddhist priests; and when Buddhist priests felt obliged to deny their sexuality, all the more so if it was homosexual. More »