Books

  • The Weather is Just the Weather: Birth of a Tricycle Article Paid Member

    In late September 2010 I traveled by train to Cambridge, Massachusetts. As I passed through Rhode Island, bored, tired, hungry—all the small negatives that combined make travel a magical experience—I remembered some snippets of history, King Philip's War, William Blackstone leaving Boston on the back of a bull ("The Puritan court ordered his house burned down"), the birthplace of American industry, and so on, and read about it in fragments and snatches on my cellphone. More »
  • Real Happiness 28-Day Meditation Challenge, Day 23 Paid Member

    After sitting in the office today, I reflected on the past several days as a flurry of anticipations. Rarely do I realize how inundated my day-to-day life is with waiting. I am always in waiting—relentlessly—for the next thing—whatever it might be. These anticipations take all the colors of the rainbow—from desire for a new thing, stress about an upcoming interview, up to the noblest aspirations of helping another or cultivating my own positive qualities. Whatever it is that I’m waiting for, by the time it arrives (if it ever does), there is already another thing for which I sit in waiting.More »
  • The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines Paid Member

    The Bodhisattva’s Embrace: Dispatches from Engaged Buddhism’s Front Lines (Clear View Press, 2010, 244 pp., paper, $15) is a collection of personal essays written by Alan Senauke over the last twenty years. Senauke, former director of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and advisor to the International Network of Engaged Buddhists, is a Zen priest who writes with authority on the topic of engaged Buddhism, from Israel and Palestine to the streets of Burma. He takes on difficult subjects to invite readers to “bear witness” to them, holding the belief that the deep suffering of the world naturally inspires compassionate action. Throughout his essays, Senuake’s words are like rocks: simple and strong. It’s a no-nonsense, sober approach to the truth of suffering, and Senuake’s message is clear: we’re all in this together, so let’s help each other out. More »
  • Real Happiness 28-Day Meditation Challenge, Day 22 Paid Member

    I was looking forward to sitting in the office today. But when the time came my thoughts kept circling back to the various sex scandals whose echoes are ricocheting around the Zen community. It is depressing to think that we can't seem to keep sex out of the zendo. Articles like this from the New York Times make it seem like our lives are dominated by the sex instinct, no matter what our preferences are. So however civilized we may seem, we really haven't gone far at all from our days in the caves, the trees, the bottom of the ocean. Thanissaro Bhikkhu said: More »
  • The sun and the wind: Day 18 of the challenge Paid Member

    I haven't sat yet today. It's so nice outside I thought that I might just count my pleasant stroll to lunch as some walking meditation. Although, I'm sure that it doesn't qualify—I was somewhere between autopilot and mindful. I definitely wasn't focusing my attention on my feet and legs, as Sharon instructs us to do in Real Happiness when she invites us to walk "as if your consciousness is emanating from the ground up." However, I also wasn't lost in thoughts of future and past, like I so often am. I saw the man with headphones, shouting angrily at his own reflection in a window (impressive, I know, noticing a screaming lunatic). There was also the Dorrito bag in the tree bed on the corner, the incessant honking of a taxicab. In New York, one is always surrounded by more than enough grit and grime to think "This is a dirty world," but today I was thinking more "What a wonderful world" so maybe this meditation is doing something for me. Or maybe it was just the weather. More »
  • The Practice of the Wild Paid Member

    Gary Snyder has been a mosquito, and Jim Harrison would like to be a tree. These are two important things we learn from watching The Practice of the Wild, a documentary by John J. Healey featuring the old codgers (San Simeon/ Whole Earth Films, produced by Will Hearst and Jim Harrison, 52 min., DVD, $18.95). Although it contains some archival footage and short interviews with friends and colleagues, the bulk of the film consists of a Q&A between Snyder and Harrison. Officially, it’s Harrison asking the questions and Snyder answering them—however, in truth, it’s a shared conversation. It’s a delight to watch the two friends as they amble across the Santa Lucia Mountains discussing the objects of their passions: the earth and its poetry. They make a likable pair. Where Snyder is refined and eloquent, a trim graybeard speaking with the authority of someone accustomed to being listened to, Harrison is unassuming, earthy, and unkempt. More »