History

  • Sangye Gyatso and China's Long Memory Paid Member

    A week ago, Professor Robert Barnett wrote for the New York Review of Books, explaining some history to those curious why China is so sensitive to news of the 14th Dalai Lama's planned retirement—news that recently upset many Tibetans. He traces the cause back to the Fifth Dalai Lama, the first to hold temporal power, bestowed, as is well known, by the Mongol Khan (who, I think, was a follower of the Sakya school, not the Gelugs.) In the Fifth Dalai Lama's declining years, the new and ambitious Qing Dynasty claimed sovereignty over Tibet (and many other areas thousands of miles from their capital of Shenyang and later Beijing.) More »
  • Zen Sinners, Zen Saints: Tricycle Responds Paid Member

    The longtime Zen practitioner and writer Stuart Lachs recently criticized Tricycle for what he considers the magazine’s participation in the long tradition of Zen hagiography (see “When the Saints Go Marching In”). To support his argument, Lachs cites two articles Tricycle published, “Down East Roshi” (2009), about Walter Nowick, and “The Wanderer” (2008), an excerpt from Sheng Yen’s autobiography, Footprints in the Snow. More »
  • Blame and Powerlessness in Japan Paid Member

    Tricycle contributing editor Clark Strand writes on Mappo, the Age of Decline, and its impact on the Japanese psyche for Religion Dispatches: Japanese literature is filled with writings about earthquakes, tsunamis and other such cataclysmic events which were, for many, interpreted as portents of harder times to come. For others they were decrees from heaven meted out to a people whose Confucian morality had become corrupt or simply lax; or the Mahayana Buddhist version of the traditional “end times” scenario. Mappo, the “Age of Decline,” was thought to have occurred because the dharma—the teaching of Buddha—had been allowed to languish and grow stale. More »
  • Nice art, troubled history: Dorje Shugden Paid Member

    Issues around the worship of the Tibetan deity Dorje Shugden have been the source of much conflict ever since the deity and its associated practices were adopted by the Gelug sect of Tibetan Buddhism. But it was not the Gelugs who inducted the deity into the Tibetan Buddhist pantheon. In fact, it was only in the early 20th century that Gelugs adopted practices linked to Dorje Shugden. Previously, such practices were primarily associated with the Sakya sect. More »
  • Wikileaks: Lumbini Edition Paid Member

    At the request of Dr. Christoph Cueppers—German Tibetologist, director of the Lumbini International Research Institute, and friend—I went yesterday to the UN Archives and Records Management to sift through old documentation on the UN's role in the early days of Lumbini's development."It would be very very helpful indeed if you could get some documentation of the early days of the Lumbini," he wrote, "and the international commitment. Photos, exchange of notes, whatever is there is of interest. Also the assignment of the Master Plan to Kenzo Tange."Most of what I looked through wasn't very juicy—formal letters requesting financial support, thank you notes. etc.—but I loved it. For me, touching history is an electric, life-affirming activity. This is our collective heritage! Isn't it wild that this is our collective heritage?Here are a couple photographs of the correspondence I dug through. More »
  • The Council of Lhasa (792-794 CE) Paid Member

    The Council of Lhasa did not take place in Lhasa, but rather at the Samye monastery, which is located 3-1/2 hours away from Lhasa by bus these days. Samye is said to be the oldest monastery in Tibet, built in the middle of the 8th century at the request of King Trisong Detsen (one of the three Dharma Kings of Tibet) with the help of Padmasambhava, who brought to the local spirits to heel, and the scholar-monk Shantarakshita. The grounds at Samye are laid out in a mandala pattern and the main building is said to be based on Odantapuri, one of the great Buddhist universities of India, now destroyed (Odantapuri's high walls caused it to be mistaken for a fortress by the general Khalji, who conquered Bihar and Bengal at the end of the 12th century. Though if it had low walls, he might have knocked them down too.) More »