CLARK STRAND’s confession of faith, “Born Again Buddhist”, offers a highly personal view of American Buddhism. He tells us: “I believe we are on the brink of a great new wave of Buddhist conversion, and that wave will be Pure Land Buddhism. The Pure Land teaching seizes ordinary people in the midst of their ordinary lives and transforms them on the spot. And because that experience is passed from heart to heart, it travels very quickly. That is why I have called it born-again Buddhism. It will spread exactly like a fire.”
AMY KARAFIN profiles Weezer’s Rivers Cuomo for this issue (“Rivers in the Stream”). “At first I thought Rivers’ life was a paradox,” says Karafin. “I have trouble keeping up my meditation practice if I go out to dinner. How does a full-fledged rock star keep it up on tour? But when I met him, I realized that these ideas of celebrity and success were just constructs. We’re all on similar paths, each with its own individual set of obstacles and strengths. In the end, finding the dharma through music is just as natural as any other route.”
AJAHN BRAHM’s On Practice (“Stepping Toward Enlightenment”) is adapted from his new book on jhana meditation, Mindfulness, Bliss and Beyond, to be released by Wisdom Publications in September. A Japanese monk told him in London in 1969 that according to the law of karma, anyone who writes a book on Buddhism will spend his or her next seven lifetimes as a donkey! Whether or not this is true, Ajahn Brahm is confident that anyone—not just those with long ears—who follows the instructions in his book will escape all rebirth.
SALLIE JIKO TISDALE explores the developing relationship between her dharma center and a nearby evangelical Christian seminary in her essay, “Beloved Community” on page 54. “A few years ago, I would have said I had no interest in ecumenical or interfaith dialogue. After I joined in my community’s conversations with local conservative Christians, I’ve come to believe that this is truly work of dharma as well as of peace. Nothing challenges our hidden sense of duality like trying to make friends with people who seem to have a completely different view. Without a common belief system, we’ve gradually found common beliefs. I’m grateful for the chance to enter this new territory.”
JUDY LIEF’s Dharma Talk, “Letting Go” appears here. She writes: “For me, dharma has to have an edge—and I have noticed how easy it is to draw away from that edge and fall back asleep. What challenges me at one stage of the path becomes an obstacle at a later stage, and teachings that had real meaning for me morph into comfortable truisms I can pull out whenever I am called upon for advice. When I see this happening—as with the overused phrase 'Just let go'—my curiosity is aroused, and I want to dig more deeply into what it really means.”