Buddhism

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    Consider the Source: Why was Hercules the Buddha's first guardian? Paid Member

    The connection between early Western and Eastern civilizations is far more intimate than most people realize. Indeed, the earliest depictions of the Buddha, from the area around ancient Gandhara in Pakistan, depict him like the statue of a Greek god. Greek culture and influence remained in the areas of Afghanistan and northern India long after Alexander the Great conquered the region; the large Greek population retained the art and philosophy of ancient Greece while marrying into the local population. A beautiful early example of Gandharan art shows the Buddha protected by a hovering Herakles, the Greek hero who the Romans called Hercules. More »
  • Eastern Self/Western Self Revisited Paid Member

    My previous blog post reflecting on Gish Jen’s new book Tiger Writing: Art, Culture, and the Independent Self, generated quite a bit of discussion. Some respondents dismissed as mere “personal observation” the claim that people from Western and Eastern cultures tend toward different types of self-construal. Others considered such generalizations as an Eastern “collectivist self” vs. a Western “individualist self” stereotypical, unhelpful, or completely irrelevant. One reader, while acknowledging that cultural differences of self-construal were “well known and not new,” stated flatly that such differences are “not important as far as awakening is concerned,” while another worried that they were so important the dharma transmission to the West must be doomed—since the dharma is so deeply rooted in Asian contexts, how could it possibly exist elsewhere? More »
  • Buddha Buzz: Chinese Policing Tibetan Areas Suffer from PTSD Paid Member

    France24 reporter Cyril Payen recently brought new interviews and images out of Tibet that reveal a dire human rights situation resembling “an Orwellian world of surveillance.” Nicholas Bequelin with Human Rights Watch contends that "the situation in Tibet is as bad as it's ever been," adding that "Chinese police forces are now running what could be called a major counter-insurgency operation in Lhasa." The problem, says Bequelin, is that there is no real insurgency in Tibet. And with the visible increase of surveillance, the emergence of one is unlikely. More »
  • Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 1 - Dorje Shugden Paid Member

    Buddhist practice and Buddhist art have been inseparable in the Himalayas ever since Buddhism arrived to the region in the eighth century. But for the casual observer it can be difficult to make sense of the complex iconography. Not to worry—Himalayan art scholar Jeff Watt is here to help. In this "Himalayan Buddhist Art 101" series, Jeff is making sense of this rich artistic tradition by presenting weekly images from the Himalayan Art Resources archives and explaining their roles in the Buddhist tradition. Controversial Art, Part 1: Dorje Shugden More »
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    Consider the Source: Why is Mahayana Buddhism a "snow zone tradition"? Paid Member

    If you look on a map, you’ll see that the spread of Mahayana Buddhism matches places where the winters are bad and it snows a lot. Why? In warmer climates in India, monks could live in the forest, taking refuge in temporary structures to wait out the rainy season. But in northern climates, the long winters demanded better protection, so home-leaving monks had only two choices: they could live in a cave or in a monastery. More »
  • Treasury of Lives: Nyingma Founders Part 4, The Jangter Paid Member

    Biography and autobiography in Tibet are important sources for both education and inspiration. Tibetans have kept such meticulous records of their teachers that thousands of names are known and discussed in a wide range of biographical material. All these names, all these lives—it can be a little overwhelming. The authors involved in the Treasury of Lives are currently mining the primary sources to provide English-language biographies of every known religious teacher from Tibet and the Himalaya, all of which are organized for easy searching and browsing. Every Tuesday on the Tricycle blog, we will highlight and reflect on important, interesting, eccentric, surprising and beautiful stories found within this rich literary tradition. More »