Tricycle Responds: This altar is in Bodhgaya, India, which is ninety kilometers south of Patna and is the place where Shakyamuni is said to have reached enlightenment.
Tricycle on Tricycle
I certainly enjoy your publication. Please tell me, why is it called "Tricycle"?
The essential components of a tricycle—three, vehicle, and wheel—correspond to concepts found throughout Buddhist history. We speak of the three treasures: the Buddha, dharma, sangha; of turning the wheel of dharma; and of the three great vehicles of Buddhism: Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana. (And while there is no traditional concept that parallels handlebars, the Dalai Lama, on being presented with a small golden tricycle, took hold of each one and said, "the absolute and the relative.") What also influenced the choice of name is the Zen expression "beginner's mind." It implies a mind that is open, available, not constrained by habitual mental patterns.
Where's the Beef?
With interest I read the different statements on eating meat ("What Does Being a Buddhist Mean to You?" Vol. II, No.2): they cover a wide spectrum of opinions. One important aspect, however, has not been touched upon at all: today's methods of raising animals. How is it possible that out of ten intelligent, mindful, and caring people, not a single one mentions the extremely brutal reality of modern meat production?
Factory farms are hell realms for billions of suffering beings. This is something that did not exist in Buddha's lifetime or even fifty years ago, and, it looks like, still doesn't exist in most people's minds. Can we honestly claim to be concerned with the suffering in this world while not only overlooking but—with our food choices—directly supporting this large-scale, institutionalized abuse?
Today, it's not primarily a question of eating meat. The traditional arguments like honoring the spirit of the animal you kill, saying grace, or being mindful of the fact that life is eating and beings being eaten are all very well, and I can appreciate them, as long as you know how your meat was treated when it was still alive and feeling.
The extremity of the oppression, and the resulting suffering, is little known, even among clear-eyed Buddhists, especially among Tibetan and Japanese teachers.
Wide, Wider, Widest
Your articles offer a wide range of Buddhist philosophy, history, and practices, as well as many diverse points of view on those same subjects. What a delightful change Tricycle is from the overwhelming number of magazines that are so insubstantial that they can be quickly paged through in one sitting!
In all of the diversity you offer, however, I have yet to see anything on Japanese Vajrayana Buddhism. It would be very enjoyable to see an article on Tendai Mikkyo Buddhism in your magazine.
A friend's gift subscription to Tricycle last year was fraught with tension because she was trying to help create understanding between me and my oldest daughter, who has been a Buddhist nun living in Sri Lanka. My inability to comprehend her life, her decisions, and what I continue to feel is a rejection of the religious and family values with which she was raised has caused much anguish in our family. I searched the pages of your magazine for understanding in vain until I read "A Journey with Elsa Cloud" by Leila Hadley.
It was a tremendous comfort to feel another mother trying to come to terms with a daughter lost to the East. In time maybe I too will be invited for a visit and maybe now I will be able to accept.
Name withheld upon request
I am sure that I am typical of someone whose life was changed by Three Pillars of Zen edited by Philip Kapleau. Influenced by this book, I went to study Zen at Tassajara. That was many years ago, almost another lifetime. I stopped sitting, moved, married, switched jobs, etc. I lost track of Zen, lost track of myself—to tell the truth. Coming across Tricycle on a news-rack, I bought it to read the Kapleau interview. Halfway through reading it, I burst into tears, having realized that this man, now old, just stuck with it. My admiration for his resolve and understanding knows no bounds.