Eliot Fintushel profiles Dr. Manfred Clynes for this issue in “The Merry Greis”. He writes: “Soldiering away at profitless things—that’s the life of the artist. Squint and tickle—maybe it’s something, and maybe it’s nothing—it hardly matters. The valuation is just a burden to be endured, plus or minus. So, now and then, when you meet a fellow from whose labors has issued, as it happens, something big and remarkable—you want to celebrate it.”
Steve Krieger shares the humor and mess of his work at Mount Baldy Zen Center in his essay “Growing Ground”. “Rose is a professional septic-tank-pumper extraordinaire. During the afternoon I spent with her at Mount Baldy, she approached her work like an intrepid public servant, a firefighter, or district attorney, selflessly ridding the world of yet another unpleasant fact of life it hasn’t the courage to dispatch itself. She was the impetus for 'Growing Ground,' and remains an inspiration as I slog through the anal stages of spiritual development, i.e., work through all my shit.”
Lin Jensen’s Dharma Talk on Buddhist ethics, “An Ear to the Ground” appears in this issue. He tells us: “I turned to Zen because I didn’t want to do any more harm. I felt I’d already done more than enough. I thought the Buddhist practice of noninjury might help me to do less. It has, but it’s been a lifetime’s journey for me. 'An Ear to the Ground' records a step in that journey, asking how one knows right from wrong and what one can rely on when making an ethical choice.”
Thubten Chodron encourages us to consider the motivations and repercussions of our speech in this issue’s On Practice piece "The Truth about Gossip". “I’ve continually been impressed with how much goodness or suffering our words create in the world. They are such potent forces that affect ourselves and others; gossip, in particular, can produce so many difficulties. Why do we find gossip so attractive, and how can we get a handle on our tendency to gab? This article discusses the thoughts and emotions that motivate what we say and how to transform them.”
David A. Taylor's essay on the elusive ginseng plant ("Fearsome Roots in a Quiet Forest") is adapted from his book, Ginseng, the Divine Root, which will be published by Algonquin Books in June. He says: "I was drawn to Buddhism while working on community forestry in Thailand. That's also when I started hearing people's accounts about ginseng, and learned that the plant was native to both Asia and America. Fascinated, I began exploring the stories. The book took the better part of two years and was an often fantastic journey."