The latest issue of Tricycle arrived in my mailbox about a week ago. I was quite pleased to find an article written by Steve Hagen. The question he addressed was from a reader in Woodstock, New York, who wanted to know if it was possible to have a “meaningful” meditation practice without a teacher. I have been practicing Buddhism since the late 1970s. I have discovered that getting a straight answer from a Buddhist teacher is like trying to shoot an arrow around a corner, for Buddhist teachers choose not to see in a straight line. Therefore (though not presuming to be more than a practitioner), I will answer the question of the person from Woodstock: Yes, you do need a teacher to help you find your way. Without a teacher, you are like a city dweller lost in the middle of a forest. You need direction.
—William Gilliland, Farmington, Maine
I’ve been a reader of Tricycle for a number of years, and I’ve always been struck that your magazine—and Buddhism in America, for that matter—seemed to be geared toward those who can afford it, those who can afford the expensive retreats advertised. Stories and articles about doctors, lawyers, etc. dominate. I would just like you to know that there are those of us who do manual labor and make under $50,000 a year with families, who are nonetheless practitioners of the dharma. It would be nice to see an article on a carpenter, a house painter, or a waitress in an upcoming issue.
—Tony Ryan, Boyce, Virginia
Oops . . .
I wanted to point out that in the article by Allan Hunt Badiner about Rajgir, India [“The Practical Pilgrim,” Fall 2003], the author states that “others recited the prayer of the Pure Land tradition, 'Namu-Myoho-renge-kyo.’” This is the mantra of Soka Gakkai Nichiren Buddhism, not Pure Land. Jodo Shinshu (Pure Land) Buddhists recite the Nembutsu—“Namu Amida Butsu”—the name that calls us to awaken. I also wanted to say I enjoy your magazine tremendously and find it very informative and that I read it cover to cover.
—David Shodo Portolano, E-mail
Correction: In the Fall 2003 Books in Brief section, the editor of Holding the Lotus to the Rock was misidentified; his name is Michael Hotz.
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