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    From Guantanamo to Shangri-La Paid Member

    Robert Wright, author of The Evolution of God, is heading off to a meditation retreat tomorrow. He describes his feelings about the upcoming retreat and a silent retreat he attended five years ago)in The New York Times: So with the retreat approaching, I should be as eager as a kid on Christmas Eve, right? Well, no. Meditation retreats — at this place, at least — are no picnic. You don’t follow your bliss. You learn not to follow your bliss, to let your bliss follow you. And you learn this arduously. If at the end you feel like you’re leaving Shangri-La, that’s because the beginning felt like Guantanamo. You can find the rest here. And you can also read Tricycle's interview with Wright, from our Spring 2003 issue. More »
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    Brain activity in nondual meditators and Alzheimer's sufferers "strikingly similar" Paid Member

    "[S]tudies suggest that there could be a striking similarity between the brains of meditators and those of people with dementia or depression." It's true, but it's not quite what it sounds like. While ordinary brains switch between two neural networks—one externally focused and the other internally focused—skilled meditators who reach "a state of oneness" seem to keep both networks going at once. Surprisingly, the same holds true for and those suffering from dementia, depression, or Alzheimer's. More »
  • Buddhism: Religion, Science, Both? Paid Member

    The "secularization" of Buddhism in the West has its countless proponents. But its secularization may often be little more than a wrong-headed denial of its religious roots. At least that's what we hear from our favorite Buddhist Geek Vincent Horn, who has posted to the Interdependence Project's "One City" blog, hosted by Beliefnet. While Horn acknowledges some of the positive effects of the secularization of Buddhist practice, in general, the trend doesn't sit well with him: More »
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    Buddhism and Science Paid Member

    In our Spring 2003 issue, B. Alan Wallace wrote, Buddhism, like science, presents itself as a body of systematic knowledge about the natural world. It posits a wide array of testable hypotheses and theories concerning the nature of the mind and its relation to the physical environment. These theories have allegedly been tested and experientially confirmed numerous times over the past 2,500 years, by means of duplicable meditative techniques. In this sense, Buddhism may be characterized as a form of empiricism, rather than transcendentalism. Are Buddhism and science close relatives? If Buddhism disagrees with science, must we side with science? Read the whole article. More »
  • In Dharamsala India, Buddhism meets the Big Bang Paid Member

    An article appearing in yesterday’s New York Times highlights an emerging month-long math and science program designed for Tibetan nuns and monks living in Dharamsala, India. Students in the Emory Tibet Science Initiative, which is backed by Emory University in Atlanta, attend a wide range of courses including biology, physics, neuroscience, math, and logic. In its second session this past spring 91 monastics enrolled in the rigorous program which introduces concepts such as the Big Bang Theory, cloning, and climate change. The Times article explores Tibetans’ emerging interest in modern science despite a Buddhist curriculum that remains largely unchanged: Tibetans marked the 50th anniversary of their exile this year, and a return to their homeland remains elusive. More »
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    Jesus, the Buddha, beautiful weeds and why happiness is so fleeting Paid Member

    Interesting—and brief: Watch Andrew Sullivan interview science writer Robert Wright. The two "blur the lines between Buddhism and Christianity." In 2003, Tricycle interviewed Bob Wright, who uses natural selection to explain, among other things, why happiness is so fleeting:  Considering the many thousands of years of evolution that have shaped us, if spiritual practice is designed to counter what comes “naturally,” we face quite a challenge.  Yes, and I think the scale of that challenge is something that Buddhism implicitly recognizes. Evolution designed us to pursue self-interest and get our genes into the next generation. But it did not design us to be happy. In fact, happiness is something that is designed by natural selection to evaporate. More »