As an enthusiastic Tricycle reader from day one, I have watched, with a mixture of support and amusement, Tricycle’s very admirable but very flawed, self-conscious attempts to engage a twenty-something audience. I am including in this attempt an interview with a Beastie Boy and his view of the bodhisattvas; an aborted column called “GenX” by a young Buddhist at Harvard who insisted on telling us about herself and very little about her studies or Buddhists of her generation; a self-described punk from Spirit Rock who bemoaned the absence of younger teachers; and finally, in your last issue, a second-generation Shambhala student who explains why he is not a “dharma brat,” although by the time we finish reading his article, his preachy arrogance begs the question.
What all of these twenty-somethings share is a much greater interest in teaching than in studying, which is not an optimistic vision for the deepening of dharma in the West. Yet I also feel that Tricycle must assume responsibility for providing a pulpit for those who have barely gotten their feet wet. Additionally, I think it is likely that the very offer of a pulpit to green practitioners sets them up for the embarrassing statements they make. You have successfully, I believe, included the voices of the new generation in many first-person accounts in which there is no attempt to preach the dharma, but rather to speak from personal experience and offer honest self-reflection. And when that comes through, questions of age or experience become honest intimacies of self-reflection.
—Cynthia Foster, E-mail
Hitting the Head on the Nail
Clark Strand’s retelling of “P’u-hua Departs to the Sky” [Parting Words, Winter 2002] poses a query: Who is the one, this passerby? Yes, “Who will nail it [the coffin] shut?” “Who is the one P’u-hua must rely upon at the last possible moment to deliver him, mind and body, to the sky?”
Given the koanic nature of P’u-hua’s story, I am joyfully reminded that a koan is a symbolic paradox of an essential nature to be recognized.
My response to Strand’s query: Alas, there is no independent existence. Perhaps the calligraphy in the accompanying artwork to P’u-hua’s story is more telling:
Alas, there is nothing.
—Will Svabek, San Geronimo Village, California
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Image 1: © P.B. Law
Image 2: © Neal Crosbie