"What does being Buddhist mean to you?"
"Pulling up your socks."
I put down Tricycle and took a winter walk.
Thank you, Mr. Williamson, for this good teaching.
Lake Wylie, South Carolina
Thank you for your wonderful magazine! Like many readers, my experience of Buddhism developed primarily within one particular tradition-in my case Rinzai Zen. It has been a revelation to discover the enormous variety and vitality of Buddhism in America. Tricycle allows students of one tradition to learn from and appreciate the traditions of others. This without the quibbling over dogma or denomination which seem to mar so many other religious journals. This is no small accomplishment, and you are to be congratulated.
You have struck a fine balance between journalism, history, controversial issues, and matters of faith and practice. The writing is free from both scholarly pedantry and "New Age" silliness. It is difficult to choose favorites from among your first three issues. But certainly I must single out "Anti-abortionlPro-choice" as the most intelligent and sensitive piece on the topic I have read.
Tricycle looks great, too. The sophisticated design, even the cartoons, help make it one of the most attractive periodicals on any subject. I hope you will ignore criticisms of lively artwork such as graced the cover of the Winter issue. Let Buddhism, at least, be free of the prudery which has plagued other religious communities.
My complaint is that you don't come out often enough. I hope to see you evolve into a monthly.
Arlington Heights, Illinois
The first two issues have knocked me to my knees. Such a powerful combination of dharma, wit, and comedy. Your publication is speaking to me, making me laugh on and off the cushion.
What I like very much about Tricycle so far is its apparent intent to blend information, inspiration, and criticism. The contretemps on Krishnamurti is a case in point. If there is ever to be established a vital American Buddhism, all three are necessary—but especially the critical spirit. We can't grow otherwise. We certainly can't make our differences go away. This is a great start! Don't fail us!
Rev. Suhita sounds like an Afro-American Mother Theresa—an inspiration to us all, setting a standard. (He makes other Buddhists look like small potatoes).
JOY LOUISE NEWCORN
Having read the "Hot Hand Sutra" by Larry Shainberg and the subsequent letters to the editors from Lee De Barros and Richard Boyle, I'd like to take a shot at it.
Has anyone considered that the canon of Buddhist scriptures, the Tripitaka, literally means "Three Baskets?" Perhaps we can update the guidance of keeping a cool head, warm feet, and hot hands?!
ROSS ESTES BLUM
I can't keep myself from commenting on the letter in the Spring issue objecting to the Winter cover art.
Though I found the cover mystifying myself, it never occurred to me to view it as any kind of pornography or as anything but intriguing! I have it before me at this instant, and am still at a loss to discover the pornographic element in it.
JON R. RUTHERFORD
Kansas City, Missouri
GUARDING THE ORDER
First, let me commend the editors of Tricycle magazine for their efforts to put out a quality Buddhist publication. I have, however, a few comments to make about the Winter issue, most notably about the cover art and the article "The Changing of the Guard."
One can see where some might consider the front cover to be avant-garde or artistic, but to Asians, this likens Tricycle to Penthouse. I would hope that artwork of this sort is not used in future covers.
About "The Changing of the Guard," this article doesn't really hit the mark for me. The impression I get is that the author wants the reader to believe that the conclusion (that American Buddhism puts an emphasis on householder instead of monk, and the community instead of monastery) is representative of all or most of what is going on in American Buddhism. This is not so, even among the Western-born.
As Executive President of the American Buddhist Congress, I travel to different parts of the U.S. every few months, visiting temples of all traditions, including a lot of centers that primarily serve Western-born Americans. For the past thirteen years, I have worked from Hawaii to Washington D.C. to promote the cause of American Buddhism. From my own experience, I cannot agree with what Mr. Fields is stating. The scandals he mentioned occured, and have been well-publicized over the years, but they did not move Western Buddhists in this direction. Also, only some centers are householder/communityoriented. There are not enough to be really representative of American Buddhism in general. The article comes across to me as being just a rehash of old news with a misleading conclusion tacked on at the end. The criticism made about the Buddhist order of monks in general is inaccurate and impolite. It tends to include, by association, all the Sangha, while overlooking the contributions made by the Bhikkus and their monasteries.
VEN. DR. HAVANPOLA RATANASARA
Executive President, American Buddhist Congress
Los Angeles, California
KEEPING THE BALANCE
Congratulations on your fine publication. I was happy to see a "mainstream" magazine on Buddhism. On reflection of Rick Fields' article "The Changing of the Guard," it seems that over the past twenty years much of the introduction of Buddhism to the United States has emphasized wisdom and compassion. But the third aspect of the Buddha's teaching—-morality or ethical behavior—has not received enough attention. Perhaps in the excitement of finding the Noble Truth, the more mundane but essential practice of morality got overshadowed, especially in a culture that emphasizes values that are contrary to practices that a Buddhist strives to maintain. Without the third pillar of Buddha's teaching, one's practice will surely be out of balance.
In the second issue of Tricycle, I was left with an uneasy feeling that things seem to be weighted towards Tibetan Buddhism. Perhaps it's only a bias of my own since my background is almost exclusively in Soto Zen. Do you feel that you've struck a balance between the various types of American Buddhism? If so, how did you come to it?
Tricycle responds: Tricycle may be off balance for any given issue, but it rides on three wheels and I think, over time, you'll discover that each wheel carries its fair share. —Ed.
Yours is the most readable and well-written Buddhist periodical ever. Best of all, it carries no "stench of enlightenment."
The interview with Jerry Garcia was apropos. I have long thought of the Grateful Dead as Dharma protectors. I found confirmation in Jerry Garcia's comments about the ethical commitments of musical shamanism and his humble concern with a job well done.
Annandale, New York