Contributors Summer 2004

Tricycle editor-at-large Joan Duncan Oliver mined her own compulsions for “Drink and a Man” (page 67), a first-person essay in the special section “The Riddle of Desire.” “I wish I’d read Mu Soeng’s new book, Trust in Mind, before I sat down to write,” she says, referring to the Buddhist scholar’s latest title (review in this issue). “He really goes to the heart of the Buddha’s teachings on craving when he describes addiction as 'being willing to defend [our] preferential choices at the cost of our deeper experience.’ Happily, I was able to pursue this topic with Mu Soeng in an interview for this issue.”

Jeff Greenwald's profile of Alan Ball, creator of the hit TV series Six Feet Under, appears here. He writes, “Readers familiar with my work may recall my book about StarTrek, which featured an interview with the Dalai Lama; the monks at his Namgyal monastery are big fans of the show. Hollywood fascinates me, especially when it takes on tough themes like mortality, compassion, and liberation. After watching a few episodes of Six Feet Under, I realized that HBO and Executive Producer Alan Ball had broken new ground with their risky series about a family of Los Angeles undertakers. The first season is, simply, the best work I’ve seen on American television. It was a pleasure to discuss the show’s genesis with Ball - and to be reminded that great teachings sometimes come in unlikely packages.”

James Baraz advocates a lighthearted practice in this issue’s Dharma Talk. “Serious practitioners are often just that - very serious,” he observes. “Expressing our aliveness or enjoying life’s blessings can be seen as un-Buddhist. We may forget that besides understanding suffering, practice is also about developing happiness and a joyful heart. In working with people as a meditation teacher over the last twenty-five years, I’ve frequently seen earnestness turn into somberness, actually undermining genuine spiritual growth. Including joy as an integral component of our spiritual life brings energy to our practice, allows our goodness to shine through, and benefits everyone around us as well.”

While writing “Finding Patience," Michelle McDonald discovered how “patience protects and sustains us throughout our spiritual journey.” She writes, “I’ve been amazed to recognize how deeply patience holds us so that we can remain undefeated as we develop wisdom and compassion in the face of the joys and sorrows in our lives.”

Image 1: Joan Oliver © David Cluet
Image 2: Jeff Greenwald © Anitra Raju
Image 3: James Baraz © Carol Pratt
Image 4: Michelle McDonald © Greg Scharf

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