• Learning to Die in the Anthropocene Paid Member

    I’m a bad Buddhist. I don’t meditate every day, and some weeks, I feel lucky if I find the time to meditate at all. I go to zendo in rare spurts, a few weeks on, months off. I kill mosquitoes, flies, and moths. I drink, though no longer to excess. I’ve managed to rationalize continuing to eat meat. I’m often impatient and snarky with people, angry at them for blocking traffic, for being rude or thoughtless, for moving through the world in a haze, unconscious of the life flowing around them. Look out! Look up! Just look! I want to shout. I am suspicious and proud and sometimes cruel, inconstant in my compassion. I don’t steal and I don’t lie, but I’m vain about that; after all, honesty is one of my best qualities. And yet for all my vanity, I’m a hypocrite, too: I dissemble and misrepresent and omit. More »
  • The Power of Altruism to Change the World Paid Member

    The French-born Tibetan Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard gave up molecular genetics almost 50 years ago to dedicate himself fully to Buddhist practice. Dubbed "the happiest man in the world," he's since authored several books from Shechen Monastery in Nepal, the most recent being Altruism: The Power of Compassion to Change Yourself and the World, published by Little, Brown and Company in June.   In this wide-ranging, 30-minute interview filmed during Ricard's most recent visit to New York, contributing editor Joan Duncan Oliver speaks to Ricard about some of the most pressing issues currently facing humanity—climate change, species extinction, and inequality—and how altruism can solve them. —Eds. More »
  • Naropa’s Five-Acre Conundrum Paid Member

    Activists delivered a petition to Naropa University last week demanding the college withdraw its permit application to remove about 100 prairie dogs from its campus by means of “lethal control.” The online petition, organized by the Colorado organization WildLands Defense, has now garnered a total of almost 170,000 signatures. The liberal arts college, founded by the late Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa in 1974, has held its ground, even as the pesky critters continue to burrow underfoot. To get Naropa’s side on the matter, I call Bill Rigler in the office of public relations at Naropa. The folks who’ve started the petition, he says, “don’t even live in Boulder—they live a hundred miles away.” He mentions this at least twice. More »
  • A Gleeful Foreboding Paid Member

    It’s strange how much modern people secretly crave weather-related disasters—the blizzard that shuts down a city, bringing travel and commerce to a halt, the tropical storm that knocks out power, leaving millions in the dark. People of earlier centuries rightly feared such events and earnestly prayed to be delivered from them. Now there's an excitement that begins building the moment we hear of such a storm.  More »
  • In Pursuit of Bird Poop Paid Member

    I graduated from college in the spring of 2008, just as the economy shuddered, gasped, and died. Not that the fatality mattered much to me at the time. Having spent the previous four years reading philosophy—Plato, Kant, Hume, and more Derrida than is likely healthy for a developing brain—I was borderline unemployable anyway. Or so I’d been told by the jerks in the Econ. Department.  More »