• Tricycle Community 2 comments

    Returning to the Buddhist Past Through the Tale of Genji Paid Member

    On Tuesday, I posted an announcement about a new translation of the Lotus Sutra. I thought it would be interesting to take a moment to peer back into the past and see how this text, and other elements of Buddhism, have often been understood in traditional Buddhist cultures. At the same time, we can’t really understand the past without reference to our own situation, so I’ll include some comments on how traditional ideas relate to our modern views. Let’s take a look at a vignette from the Tale of Genji (Genji monogatari). Written in the eleventh century, the Tale of Genji is often described as the world’s first novel. Over 1,000 pages long in English translation, it records the courtships of several generations of the Japanese nobility. In fact, it is rather like a very long Buddhist version of a Jane Austin novel. More »
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    An Important New Translation of the Complete Lotus Sutra Paid Member

    Buddhism’s history in America began in 1844, when Unitarian Elizabeth Palmer Peabody translated a section of the Lotus Sutra into English for the Transcendentalist journal The Dial.  Since then there have been a number of complete translations of the Lotus Sutra, but translation is always an ongoing process and new versions often help reveal things obscured by earlier ones. Many sutras were translated repeatedly into Chinese, for example, with each version providing something new based on the training and viewpoint of the translator (or translation team, as was common in Chinese history). It’s a great thing to hear, therefore, of a new, complete translation of the Lotus Sutra now available from Wisdom Publications. This new version is translated by Dr. Gene Reeves, who for many years has worked with the liberal Buddhist movement Rissho Koseikai, which focuses on study of and devotion to the Lotus Sutra. The Lotus Sutra has an unusual history in America—due to historical quirks, it has largely become associated with the minor Nichiren Shoshu sect and its 20th century spin-off Soka Gakkai, groups that have often taken an exclusivistic approach to Lotus Sutra interpretation that is at odds with how most East Asian Buddhists approach it. Indeed, the Lotus Sutra is a pan-sectarian text considered core for the Zen, Tendai, and Nichiren denominations, as well as exercising an important influence on the Shingon, Pure Land, and other groups as well. The Lotus Sutra is certainly the single most important scripture in East Asian Buddhism, rivaled only by the Heart of Perfect Wisdom and Larger Bliss Realm Adornment Sutras. More »
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    Another 9/11? Let's hope not. Paid Member

    Although the media insists on comparing last week's terrorist assaults in Mumbai to 9/11, India's government has (so far) thankfully resisted pressure to react with the misinformed and excessive force that has characterized the U.S.'s post-9/11 war efforts. In an Op-Ed piece for today's New York Times, the Indian-Bengali author Amitav Ghosh explains that the Mumbai invasion is closer to the 2004 Madrid train bombings than it is to the 2001 attacks on the World Trade Center and makes a wise and sensitive argument for a patient response. More »
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    Burmese Blogger Nay Phone Latt sentenced to 20 years in prison Paid Member

    A Burmese blogger, Nay Phone Latt, was sentenced to twenty years and six months in prison for mocking the brutal and humorless criminals who run Burma. His blog, in Burmese, is here. (The standoff between Burma and Bangladesh has ended as well. More »
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    Money, Sex, War, Karma Paid Member

    I am currently reading David Loy’s sensationally titled Money, Sex, War, Karma: Notes for a Buddhist Revolution. It is probably the most thought-provoking book on Buddhist themes that I have read for several years. MSWK comprises a series of fourteen essays that address major cultural, political, economic, and spiritual issues from a Buddhist perspective. The book is written in a direct, urgent, yet almost conversational style. Topics include money, time, Karma, sex, attention, ecology, food, and war. More »
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    Wendy Johnson Paid Member

    Tricycle's longtime contributor Wendy Johnson continues to pop up right and left. An article in Voice of America profiles her work at Green Gulch, while Wendy herself will be reading from her new book, Gardening at the Dragon's Gate, at East West bookstore in Manhattan tonight at 7:45 pm (78 Fifth Ave., between 13th and 14th Sts). More »