Filed in Community

Letters to the Editor


David Rome's letter states that "tension between individualism and community is a key to dharma in the West; I hope that Tricycle, which seems to call on a lot of 'expatriate' energy—inevitable perhaps—will not discount the importance of dharma community."

I think Mr. Rome is referring to those contributors to Tricycle who, he believes, have withdrawn themselves from or withdrawn their allegiance to, the sangha. How does he discern from the variety of speakers who find a voice in Tricycle, which are "expatriates" or more ambiguously, express "expatriate energy"? On what basis does Mr. Rome presume to make a judgement about any individual's allegiance to the sangha? Is he inviting readers to judge each author's views as to whether or not their views are in accord with "mainline Buddhist doctrine" or are tainted by this "expatriate energy"? Does Tricycle give greater representation to the views of such "expatriates" than the views of the "patriots"? Who are the patriots, anyway?

In light of Shakyamuni Buddha's instruction that one should regard the members of the sangha as those who have taken refuge in the Buddha, the dharma and the sangha, the notion of "expatriates" from the sangha is nonsensical. It is a false charge. Use of the term "expatriate" to characterize the contributors to Tricycle reflects only Mr. Rome's view of whatever it is he means by "expatriate" and not what has been taught. Although I don't believe Mr. Rome's comments represent the views of the members of the Vajradhatu community, I certainly wouldn't slur Mr. Rome's good reputation by calling him an "expatriate!"

Austin, Texas

The presidential election is upon us, but I have not seen the "Quayle Question" addressed in the pages of Tricycle. I hope the editors have not forgotten Vice President Quayle's reference to Buddhism in his now famous speech to the United Negro College Fund:

What a waste it is to lose one's mind, or not to have a mind is being very wasteful. How true that is.

Mr. Quayle is obviously attacking the "no-mind" (wu-hsin) doctrine advanced by Hui-neng, the Sixth Patriarch. I am, however, still uncertain as to whether this plank in the Vice President's platform reflects a general bias against Buddhism, or if his comments mark the rebirth of the Northern Ch'an school and of Huineng's antagonist, Shen-hsiu.

Tricycle readers beware: Quayle is just a heart-beat away from being President Quayle—or is it Patriarch Quayle?

Salmon Beach, Washington

In response to your excellent article on abortion, one Mr. Richard Collet, in an apparent reference to reincarnation, wrote: "As a person in middle age, I may need a safe womb within twenty years." Rarely, have we heard the urgent need for pro-choice revealed with greater clarity. Mr. Collet, if you are so concerned with safe wombs, you should pray to be one.

New Orleans, Louisiana

I found the letter from Lise Weil in the Summer Issue (and your response) somewhat disturbing.

The male/female issues seem of a very temporal nature and are concerned with transitory forms. Is it too unfashionable to suggest that the quality of the articles in your most welcome and instructive magazine should far outweigh the relevance of the writer's temporary gender? I would appreciate your thoughts on this.

Troy, Michigan

Tricycle asked Lenore Friedman, author of Meetings with Remarkable Women (Shambhala Publications: 1987), to reply to this letter.

Lenore Friedman's reply:
This view reflects, I think, a kind of dharmic dualism that elevates the transcendent, eternal, "empty" nature of our reality above what is temporal, earthly, here-and-now. It misses the central paradox of religion (Buddhism included) that this world and That World are inseparable. (Not one, not two, Zen adepts say.)

To be sure, gender issues are "temporal" issues relating to roles and forms. But form is emptiness and emptiness form!

The Buddhist canon exits entirely in the world of form. So does Tricycle and the "concept of multiple rebirth." How we treat each other, who speaks and who listens, what angles of vision and experience are included or excluded—these mundane matters matter. This world matters. Karma and rebirth do not, I believe, change that. The perception that "nothing matters" is incomplete without the simultaneous perception that "everything matters" as well.

Finally, what exactly determines "quality"? Isn't it depth and richness and multiplicity of view as much as technical or scholarly brilliance? However high a publication's "quality," if it conveys only half the range of human sensibility, isn't it flawed?

Berkeley, California

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