Buddhism

  • Consider the Source: Why didn't Chinese Zen dharma halls have Buddhist icons? Paid Member

    In traditional Chinese Zen, the dharma hall had a special status as the place where the Zen master expounded the dharma. It was purposefully separated from the Buddha hall, where statues of the Buddha and other notables provided prominent devotional icons for temple services and visitors. The dharma hall itself, however, was always bare of such figures. Why? More »
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    Consider the Source: Why is the Yellow River yellow (and what does it have to do with Buddhism)? Paid Member

    The Yellow River is an iconic symbol of Chinese civilization. Its yellowness comes from the immense amount of silt it carries from the desert regions in the northwest, where Buddhism entered China via the Silk Road. The sand blown off from those deserts has blanketed the region for millenia, leaving soil that is both fertile and easy to dig. The main result was the civilization’s early farming communities. The easily dug soil from the desert also helped create a great number of caves, which house thirty million Chinese people to this day. More »
  • Buddha Buzz: Steven Seagal and Vladimir Putin Paid Member

    Action film star, orientalist, martial arts expert, and recognized Tibetan Buddhist tulku Steven Seagal reemerged in the media this week after aiding a congressional delegation to Russia. Seagal has long been well connected in Russia, where he’s known to get all buddy-buddy with President Vladimir Putin, an avid martial arts enthusiast. More »
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    Consider the Source: Why Was Maitreya Too Fat to Sit in Full Lotus? Paid Member

    In the great Buddhist grottos at Dunhuang, the unequalled repository of Buddhist statues and art in China’s far west, certain Buddha figures do not sit in full lotus as one might expect. Nor do they stand erect, another common posture. Instead, they sit with their legs crossed at their ankles, a puzzling, rather uncomfortable looking position. The Chinese scholar Gu Zhengmei argues that this posture is a sure sign that these statues represent Maitreya Buddha, the “Buddha to Come” who is said to appear in the world when all have forgotten the dharma. He claims that it is consistent with discoveries of Maitreya images not just at Dunhuang, but also in Greek-influenced Gandhara, where the first icons of the Buddha were found. More »
  • Treasury of Lives: Dorje Shugden 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. Treasury of Lives: Dorje Shugden More »
  • Consider the Source: Why Bodhidharma was a rebel, not a myth Paid Member

    Revered as the father of Zen Buddhism, some scholars have still denied or raised doubts as to whether Bodhidharma actually existed. He did. In fact, new evidence from Chinese scholarship suggests that he was a critically important historical figure, one far more fascinating than previously imagined. But if this is true, why doesn’t he appear in any official imperial records that were created while he lived? The earliest and most reliable account we have concerning Bodhidharma’s life, written by the great monk-historian Dao Xuan around the year 650 AD, clearly suggests that Bodhidharma did not like emperors and made a point to avoid them. The famous story of Bodhidharma meeting and rejecting the “Bodhisattva Emperor Wu” of the Liang Dynasty is only the most famous bit of information that supports this thesis. More »