Review

  • World Cup 2010 Paid Member

    Back in 2007, three years before professional soccer teams were set to descend on South Africa's cities, 2010 World Cup fever was already taking hold. In Cape Town, where I was living at the time, billboards, posters, and television ads encouraged South Africans to keep the cities clean and safe in preparation for their 2010 visitors and hotels and restaurants had begun remodeling in anticipation of the hordes of fans. It will be the first World Cup to be held on the African continent, and South Africa—whose political, social, and financial troubles are well documented—has a lot riding on the month-long event. Now, two days before the ref's whistle signals the start of the first game between South Africa and Mexico, World Cup madness has reached a hysterical pitch—both within the host country and in the far-flung corners of the globe. More »
  • "The End of Lost: Death, Dharma, and the Dao" on Huffpost Paid Member

    Here is an interesting Huffington Post article on the finale of Lost.  Michael Carmichael writes, In the shattering aftermath of the end of Lost, the overwhelming tendency will be to dumb down its meaning to the level of mere western entertainment. Lost deserves to be understood as an epic -- an infinite interlocking series of trilogies and operas articulating the transformations of consciousness through the processes of death. More »
  • Thoughts on Days 1 and 2 of the Dalai Lama's teachings (w pix and vids) Paid Member

    In my days as a student at Naropa University I can recall many occasions, both in the classroom and out, where I found myself among a small handful of people discussing the work of Nagarjuna.  These discussions, without fail, would lead to highly complex conversations and/or debates about the nature of emptiness, the ultimate nature of reality, the absolute and the relative, nihilism and eternalism, middle-way philosophy, and so on.  If someone had told me then that I would one day find myself sitting in Radio City Music Hall surrounded by thousands of New Yorkers all receiving the same teachings, I might not have believed it—but that is exactly what took place yesterday. As can be expected with just about any discourse on a Nagarjuna text, even with my relative degree of familiarity I still found much of yesterday’s teachings hard to understand. I can only imagine what it must have been like for the thousands of people there who have never even heard a teaching on emptiness before, much less an advanced esoteric lecture on madhyamaka philosophy!  (*Insert the “over the head” hand gesture here.) [note: Here is a good piece on understanding Nagarjuna by David Loy, "The Dharma of Deconstruction"] In today’s teaching, the Dalai Lama finished his discussion of Nagarjuna’s text and moved on to the Shantideva text, A Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life. This was much more accessible.  The Dalai Lama introduced the concept of exchanging self and other and taught that ignorance is one of the chief causes of suffering. He explained that with a proper understanding of cause and effect, the nature of reality, and interdependent origination, we will be more capable of achieving happiness for ourselves and manifesting compassion for others. By introducing the subjects of personal happiness and compassion towards others, it was as if yesterday’s complex teachings on emptiness and the nature of reality were given some much-needed context, and I could feel the people around me become more engaged. Another very interesting part of today’s teaching was the discussion of Buddhism’s relationship to quantum physics.  His Holiness spoke of his conversations with highly intelligent western quantum physicists in which the striking similarities between Buddhist teachings and this fascinating field of science were touched on. Just like Nagarjuna describes in his text, these quantum physicists attest that when their work takes them very far into observation of matter and existence, they eventually get to a point where they can no longer prove anything exists at all! Obviously, the fact Buddhists are able to cite an ancient Buddhist text that says essentially the exact same thing as this cutting edge field of western scientific inquiry is quite impressive to the physicists. Still, the Dalai Lama pointed one very important difference between Buddhism and quantum physics.  With science, one only looks at the external world and therefore what is gained is a massive amount knowledge. With Dharma practice, one applies the same investigative methods to the internal world of personal experience and what is gained is more than just knowledge; one gains a deeper type of understanding altogether. It is the type of understanding that helps one achieve happiness and act with true compassion. It is the type of understanding that gives one the ability to liberate oneself and others from suffering. This can be deep, heavy stuff, and I hope my attempt to explain some of these complex ideas hasn’t left you scratching your head. Here are some photos and videos from the teaching today at Radio City music hall.  They were shot/recorded from my little handheld Canon Elph so they are definitely not the highest quality, but nevertheless I’m still very happy to share them with you all. (Videos after the jump.) More »
  • Water Work: Can we put the Gulf Coast oil spill into perspective? Paid Member

    A crisis that was already too large to comprehend just got bigger: the Gulf Coast spill might be 10 times worse than anybody thought. Thinking about the 5,000 barrels of oil gushing into ocean a few days ago made my heart sink… now it’s 70,000?! How can anybody possibly grasp the magnitude of this? Joseph McElroy wonders the same thing in his article “Water Work,” a review of both Stanley Crawford’s Mayordomo: Chronicle of an Acequia in Northern New Mexico and Peter Matthiessen’s Far Tortuga, in the most recent issue of Tricycle. His answer? So perhaps to refresh my thought, if not save the day, I find myself turning to small-scale comings and goings. More »
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    Buddha Swings? Paid Member

    Apparently, the story of the Buddha is now a musical—Big Band style. It's called Buddha Swings: Young Prince Sidd has it all: wealth, youth, fame and family. He's introduced to the tune of "Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy" and later "I've Got a Gal in Kalamazoo," only he's a guy from Kapilivastu (tu-tu-tu-tu). And this: He tries various paths to spiritual enlightenment, and they all turn out to be another song and dance, literally. Possibly the best is the one about the quest for nirvana, to the tune of "Rum and Coca Cola." If anyone's in San Antonio, please see it and tell us what's going on out there. More »
  • Tricycle Community 9 comments

    Mistaken Child? Paid Member

    This weekend, New York City's Rubin Museum of Art hosted the premiere of Unmistaken Child (mentioned in an earlier post), a wonderful film about a young monk in search of the reincarnation of his recently deceased master. On the advice of senior lamas, the young monk travels by foot from village to village in hopes of finding a toddler who fits the bill. While the young monk's joy at discovering his master again is quite moving, it is somewhat disturbing—at least for a Western audience—to watch the child taken from his consenting but seemingly ambivalent parents. At the end of the film, several of the audience wondered aloud about the wisdom of removing the child from his home (upon his parents' leaving, the child wails, "Now I have no friends."). It remains unclear whether the parents consider their child's fate to be an honor or a loss—or both. More »