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Novelist Bruce Wagner’s essay on the influential author and spiritual guide Carlos Castaneda, “The Art of Reality,” appears in this issue. “When the opportunity unexpectedly presented itself to contribute something to Tricycle, the notion of writing about Carlos Castaneda immediately came to mind. At first, the writing was stiffly formal; when I attempted something more personal, it seemed like a much better approach. A great teacher of any tradition can introduce one to the concepts of intent, self-examination, personal accountability, the Spirit, the Wheel of Time, the Wheel of Karma—though usually the student is ‘asleep at the Wheel,’ and such concepts become mere sloganeering. We remain trapped in adolescence. Carlos Castaneda’s interest was to liberate with the power that comes with being fully awake.”
Will Johnson’s correspondence with associate editor Andrew Merz is featured as this issue’s cover story and On Practice piece, “Full Body, Empty Mind.” “It has never made sense to me that most Buddhist practices—whose purpose is to examine the true nature of being—focus almost exclusively on the contents of the mind and on the fields of vision and sound, but largely ignore awareness of the rich feeling presence of the body. Only when I’m able to experience my entire body as a field of minute, shimmering tactile sensations does my mind spontaneously go empty.”
Caitlin Van Dusen’s profile of scent-meditation teacher and fragrance designer Joel Leonard appears here. “When I returned from visiting Joel in Copenhagen and opened my suitcase, I was suddenly overwhelmed by the smell of agarwood incense, which he had burned during our scent-meditation sessions. The smoke had become trapped in the fabric of my clothes. In one inhalation, I was transported back to my time with him: the falling snow, the warm cups of green tea, the sound of the sea. Now more than ever I’m convinced that one breath can contain an entire world.”
This issue’s Dharma Talk (“Love Is All Around”) has been adapted from John Makransky’s new book, Awakening Through Love. “Tibetan lamas I’ve known embody a wise and loving nature, awakened through practices long adapted to Tibetan culture over the centuries. In this book, such practices are adapted yet again so as to meet the hearts and minds of contemporary Westerners. Tibetans often say that the most effective entryway into enlightened awareness is guru yoga—communing with awakened beings through their love and wisdom, then merging into oneness with them in the Buddha-mind. Awakening Through Love begins with the same premise—that this very world already embodies Buddhahood through many beings who transmit the power of love and compassion to us, often by small gestures that go routinely unnoticed.”