20 Years, 20 Stories

Celebrating two decades of Tricycle

It’s not uncommon for artists to remark that it was only years after completing a poem, say, or a musical composition or a sculpture, that they began to recognize fully what the thing was all about. Looking back over the first two decades of Tricycle, I think we can see something similar at work. Since the first issue appeared in the fall of 1991, we have been approaching a deeper understanding of what we can and should be doing—indeed, of what we are doing and have been doing through the years. But it has taken time for this purpose to become evident.

Our focus on Buddhist teachings and practices has been constant, as has our focus on their application in the cultures that have only recently adopted them. This will remain so. But it’s clear now that the underlying story all along has been the building of a community and culture, something larger than the sum of its parts—a context, a conversation. A more conscious effort to help build and deepen this context is an undertaking we welcome with enthusiasm.

We’ve selected the following 20 stories from the last 20 years with this emergent perspective in mind. These stories, which are available in our archives on tricycle.com, succinctly illustrate Tricycle’s evolution from a magazine-publishing initiative to a diverse and inclusive community of Buddhist practitioners around the globe.

—James Shaheen, Editor & Publisher

“As painful as it has been, the unraveling of institutional Buddhism has resulted in a valuable re-examination of the place of Buddhist practice in American society. At the very least, such problems have cut through romantic projections and thrown American Buddhists back on their own meditation cushions.” —“The Changing of the Guards” by Rick Fields


“What Kerouac was discovering was not some strange Oriental notion alien to the Western mind. He was exploring the basis of mind itself as it’s known in the West as in the East, except that he saw the Buddhist formulations as being perhaps more sophisticated than the monotheistic formulation of the West.” —“Negative Capability” by Allen Ginsberg

“Westerners attracted to Buddhism have been looking for ways to actualize its tenets in a culture that lacks a strong commitment to monasticism.” —“Meditation in Action” by Kenneth Kraft

“Even when fellow students confess to me that they are not strangers to, say, back pain or bouts of suffocation on their cushions, it is inconceivable to me that their martyrdom approximates my own. Didn’t Roshi tell me once that with the exception of one other student (an obese, elderly fellow with very short legs, who once toppled off his cushion in a faint), I have the worst posture in the zendo?” —“Crawling Towards Sitting” by Larry Shainberg

“Monastic life isn’t tough because you have to work hard all day long. It isn’t tough because you don’t have any time for yourself. It isn’t tough because there is no time to practice. It’s tough because there are no exits and you come up so close to yourself.” —“No Place to Hide” by Pema Chödrön
From “Psychedelics and Buddhism: The Roundtable”

“I don’t see psychedelics as an enlightening vehicle, but I do see it as an awakening vehicle. I see them beginning a process that awakens you to the possibility.” —Ram Dass

“It’s really a different kind of mind that is cultivated in meditation, where the qualities of stability, and loving-kindness, and clarity, and humbleness are the primary qualities. Psychedelics don’t necessarily cultivate those qualities.” —Joan Halifax

Stephen Batchelor: I did believe very literally in rebirth when I was training as a Tibetan Buddhist monk. But I used to ask myself, if there were no rebirth, would I behave differently? And the answer is no. Rebirth was never actually a driving force. Is it for you?

Robert Thurman: Yeah, I’d act differently. I’d relax a lot I think! I would lose my focus as a completely unrepentant workaholic. The fact that there would be nothingness awaiting—that’s like negative nirvana. —“Reincarnation: A Debate” between Stephen Batchelor and Robert A. F. Thurman

“Concentration and mindfulness go hand in hand in the job of meditation. Mindfulness directs the power of concentration. Mindfulness is the manager of the operation. Concentration furnishes the power by which mindfulness can penetrate into the deepest level of mind. Their cooperation results in insight and understanding. These must be cultivated together in a balanced manner.” —“Mindfulness and Concentration” by Bhante Henepola Gunaratana

“Though the number of black Buddhists is small, they are growing in an increasingly multi-cultural America with the promise of more black people turning the wheel of dharma as a new millennium dawns. For through the dharma, the black American quest for ‘freedom’ realizes its profoundest, truest, and most revolutionary meaning.” —“A Sangha by Another Name” by Charles Johnson

“We’re not born Buddhists, so there must be something that we’re receiving for which we are grateful. Following the dharma forms is a choice. You do not have to be here. Our devotion is born of gratitude for what we receive, not from our parents and local society. And if we have appreciation, gratitude, and devotion of some kind, then we soften up a little bit. Our hearts have been touched and we have more room, more patience for things we don’t understand.”—“Old Wine, New Bottles,” an interview with Lama Surya Das

Share with a Friend

Email to a Friend

Already a member? Log in to share this content.

You must be a Tricycle Community member to use this feature.

1. Join as a Basic Member

Signing up to Tricycle newsletters will enroll you as a free Tricycle Basic Member.You can opt out of our emails at any time from your account screen.

2. Enter Your Message Details

Enter multiple email addresses on separate lines or separate them with commas.
This question is for testing whether you are a human visitor and to prevent automated spam submissions.