Buddhism

  • Buddha Buzz: Radical Strains of Buddhism Paid Member

    Virulent anti-Muslim violence has once again enveloped a Burmese town—this time Lashio in the northeastern Shan State. What was once perceived as an isolated outbreak of murderous rioting in the western Rakhine state against Rohingya Muslims last year has now become a common occurrence in locales across the country, where not only Rohingya but all Muslims have become viable targets. Reacting to a quarrel between a Buddhist woman and an older Muslim male customer, Buddhist mobs—with monks in their ranks—armed with rocks, sticks, and machetes took to setting fire to the city’s largest mosque, a Muslim school, Muslim orphanage, and scores of Muslim-owned shops. More »
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    Preeminent World Religions Professor Huston Smith Turns 94 Paid Member

    Happy birthday to Huston Smith, who turns 94 today! Smith, widely recognized as the West’s preeminent teacher of world religions, has made a career of building cross-cultural bridges. For decades he has taught his readers about Buddhism, Hinduism, Islam, and many other traditions. Raised in China, the son of Christian missionaries, Smith has had a long and illustrious career as an academic, TV interviewer, and author, along the way dropping acid with Timothy Leary and Richard Alpert (Ram Dass) and hobnobbing with a Who’s Who of 20th-century truth-seekers, from Thomas Merton to Joseph Campbell, Martin Luther King, Jr., Noam Chomsky, and Saul Bellow. More »
  • Himalayan Buddhist Art 101: Controversial Art, Part 2 - The Svastika 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. Read Part 1: Dorje Shugden Controversial Art, Part 2: The Svastika More »
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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 »