Buddhism

  • Tricycle Community 2 comments

    Cyborg Buddha: Is what we are born with enough or could we use a little help? Paid Member

    Suzuki Roshi once said something to the effect of, "You're perfect as you are—and you could use a little work." Transhumanist, bioethicist, and former Buddhist monk James Hughes would agree. And that's an understatement: there's virtually nothing about us, he thinks, that can't be enhanced to improve our chances at realization: More »
  • Beautiful Buddhist Silk Road Cave Art (via National Geographic) Paid Member

    via National Geographic: Emerging from the wind-sculptured dunes some 12 miles southeast of Dunhuang is an arc of cliffs that drop more than a hundred feet to a riverbed lined with poplar trees. By the mid-seventh century, the mile-long rock face was honeycombed with hundreds of grottoes. It was here that pilgrims came to pray for safe passage across the dreaded Ta klimakan Desert—or in Xuanzang's case, to give thanks for a successful journey. More »
  • Thoughts on day 3 of the Dalai Lama's NYC teachings Paid Member

    This is a follow up to my blog on Friday. Day 3... Let me think....... ........It was great! His Holiness continued with the Shantideva text but did not get to chapter 9 on Wisdom, although if I recall correctly he did mention something along the lines of that much of the topic was covered in the Nagarjuna text. The discussion on forbearance stuck with me.  Specifically, he spoke about refraining from taking action against those we may perceive as enemies, and that beyond just having compassion for them, that we can even be grateful to them for giving us an opportunity to work with ourselves.  When the teaching was over and I stepped out into the street and saw the whole event's lone protester, a man waving the Chinese flag while aggressively spewing hate and propaganda, I thought to myself, "Thank you, sir, for giving me this opportunity." More »
  • The Dalai Lama and Open Space Paid Member

    As you’re probably all well aware by now, the Dalai Lama was in NYC last week speaking to a packed house at Radio City Music Hall. Since I was fortunate enough to attend on Thursday and Friday, I thought I might share some of my thoughts and impressions from those talks. I should preface this post by admitting that I’ve always had a hard time with authority figures, especially religious authority figures. So, for me, the Dalai Lama’s entrance was distracting. Dramatic music started playing overhead. A woman behind me started loudly weeping. I was prepared to sit through this, uncomfortably. Of course, then the Dalai Lama didn’t do what he doesn’t do best: he didn’t take himself too seriously. He lightened the mood. He put on a red visor, smiled at everybody and began to speak. “There are six billion people in this world with great intelligence. We should use our intelligence to bring more joy and happiness, not suffering and sadness.” Oh that Dalai Lama, always transcending cultural bounds with ease. It’s these moments when you can understand why so many humans are attracted to this man. He seems boundless. Which brings me to my favorite topic that he discussed (after ditching the English language to speak about finer philosophical points in Tibetan)—the concept of emptiness as open space. [Side thought: Can things get lost in translation when they come from an enlightened mind?] While exploring Nagarjuna’s Commentary on Bodhicitta, the Dalai Lama said that we should think about emptiness as open space. When we try to find the essence of anything and instead find it to be empty, we should regard that discovery as having no bounds. Insight into emptiness will open space in our minds, allowing us to move about and act freely. More »
  • Tricycle Community 2 comments

    Russian Buddhists Paid Member

    Whenever I see an article or blogpost called "The Zen of..." or "The Buddhist Take On..." I quickly look for something else to read. (James Ure's Buddhist Blog is a rare exception to this rule.) Lost, Twin Peaks, Star Wars—they've all been scoured for possible dharma references, but it's hard to say why. Do we think there are hidden messages or codes here? Do we think nuggets of dharma have been dropped in by accident? Are we simply projecting Buddhist notions onto things that we like and care about? I think the answer is more likely that Buddhism and whatever piece of art we're looking at are both fingers pointing at the same moon, and so there's not much reason to lay Buddhism side by side with anything and try to say what they have in common. It's just this life, and our understanding of it, that they share, and that we all share. Nevertheless!—I finished reading Anna Karenina this weekend (actually re-reading, but I didn't remember much) and was struck by the character Konstantin Levin's enlightenment experience at the end of the book. Anna Karenina is, or was, Oprah's Book Club pick, which means good things for the translators, Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. They have a great thing going, and deservedly so, dusting off Russian classics in translations that those who know say are highly accurate. Levin is a thoughtful, philosophical man (Tolstoy without the talent, Tolstoy's wife is quoted as saying in the introduction) who is nonbeliever throughout most of the book. Near the book's end (page 794 of 817 in my version) he has an encounter with a peasant who explains that while most men live for themselves, to fill their own bellies, a certain neighbor of Levin's "lives for the soul" and "remembers God." This sends Levin spinning: We're all agreed on this one thing: what we should live for and what is good. I and all people have only one firm, unquestionable clear knowledge, and this knowledge cannot be explained by reason—it is outside it, and has no causes, and can have no consequences. If the good has a cause, it is no longer the good; if it has a consequence—a reward—it is also not the good. Therefore the good is outside the chain of cause and effect. He then asks, "Is it possible I've found the solution to everything, and that my sufferings are now over?" He heads off alone into the woods to think it over: 'I haven't discovered anything. I've only found out what I know. I've understood that power which not only gave me life in the past but is giving me life now. I am freed from deception, I have found the master.' ... Understanding clearly then for the first time that for every man and for himself nothing lay ahead but suffering, death, and eternal oblivion, he decided that it was impossible to live that way, that he had either to explain his life so that it did not look like the wicked mockery of some devil, or shoot himself. ... 'I sought an answer to my question. But the answer to my question could not come from thought, which is incommensurable to the question. The answer was given by life itself, in my knowledge of what is good and what is bad. And I did not acquire that knowledge through anything, it was given to me as it is given to everyone, given because I could not take it from anywhere. It goes on, very beautifully. Levin's revelation or epiphany is specifically Christian, but he considers the other religions and wonders why Christianity alone would have been given the truth. When he decides why that is the case (because it is his context, essentially) It's a very moving passage. More »