Arts & Culture

The growing influence of Buddhist artistic expression in contemporary culture
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    Lessons of History Paid Member

    Nearly thirty years have passed since I first became involved in Buddhism. I was nineteen at the time, dizzy with the optimism of the 1960s and the thrill of having traveled overland from England to India. The Tibetans had been in exile from their homeland for just over a decade. The Dalai Lama was only thirty-seven years old and had yet to visit the West. I remember walking up the mist-drenched hills above Dharamsala into the hushed village where the Dalai Lama and his followers had settled. My traveling companions and I visited and lived in impoverished Tibetan refugee communities. We were enthralled by the exploration of a virtually uncharted terrain under the guidance of extraordinary teachers who had literally stepped out of an ancient Buddhist civilization into the modern world. More »
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    In the News Paid Member

    IN MEMORIAM On October 19, environmentalist, feminist, and Tibet activist Petra Kelly who was best known as the founder of the Green Party in Germany, was discovered dead along with her longtime companion Gert Bastion in their home in a suburb of Bonn. Both were former members of Parliament. At the time of death Kelly was forty-four and Bastion sixty-nine. The cause of death is still uncertain. Kelly and Bastion, along with Pat Aiello, edited The Anguish of Tibet (Parallax Press), a collection of essays that challenged Chinese policies on Tibet and indicted countries like the United States and Germany for erecting, as Kelly put it, the "great brick wall around the Tibet issue" in order to protect Chinese interests. More »
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    Fancy Dancers Paid Member

    "Scratch any dancer and you will find Denishawn"—a phrase common among post-World War II critics—sums up the monumental impact of Ruth St. Denis and Ted Shawn. Through their tenacity and conviction, their eccentricities and vision, they laid the foundation for what was to become modern dance. Born in Newark, New Jersey in 1874, Ruth St. Denis was a poor farmgirl with a flair for the dramatic. In 1904 when she passed by an advertisement in a drugstore window in Buffalo, her "destiny as a dancer... sprung alive": the goddess Isis, bare-breasted and brooding, filled a large poster for Egyptian Deities Cigarettes. One year later, St. Denis performed Radha: The Mystic Dance of the Five Senses, a work about sensuality and renunciation modeled on a character from Edwin Arnold's The Light of Asia. The final tableau featured St. Denis seated in lotus position and lost in samadhi. More »
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    Documenting the Dalai Lama Paid Member

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    Speaking of Silence Paid Member

    Recently I had the happy occasion to introduce two old friends whose lives had been informed by the Cistercian monk, Father Louis, better known as Thomas Merton. Both had grown up in Episcopalian families; one had converted to Catholicism and later became a Tibetan Buddhist, and the other is in training to be a Zen teacher while reaffirming her Christian heritage. The Catholic convert, Harold Talbott—interviewed about Merton in this issue of Tricycle—had introduced Merton to Tibetan lamas in the Himalayas in the weeks just prior to Merton's sudden death in Bangkok in 1968. By that time, influenced by Zen adept D.T. Suzuki, Merton had read and written about Zen for years, and the original motive behind his Asian journey was to meet Zen roshis in Japan. More »