Buddhism

  • 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 »
  • Consider the Source: Why did Zen monks live in caves? Paid Member

    While Zen monks did live in caves in part to find refuge from the elements, there’s more to the story than just avoiding thunderstorms—they were also hiding out from the government. Ancient Chinese kings were loath to let too many “home-leavers” skip out on paying taxes, serving in the army, growing food, or having children—the activities needed for a country to survive and for kings to live in style. The king viewed monks who claimed exemption from these activities just because they wanted to practice meditation as deadbeats or brigands. Monks who were caught were defrocked or worse. More »