Living and practicing harmoniously with others is essential to Buddhist teachings
  • (Meta)Physical Education Paid Member

    After finishing my yearly spiel about rules this morning—the one in which I talk about participation and commitment, about how the work that we do in gym is similar to the work that we do in the classroom, and that even though we may not always like it, completing this work will challenge us, and make us better athletes, teammates, and disciples of Michelle Obama—Amanda, a feisty third grader, remarked, “Great speech, Alex.” I didn’t want to laugh. Laughing would indicate to her classmates that undermining your teacher with a well-timed sarcastic comment is acceptable behavior. But in the battle between laughing and being teacherly, laughter always seems to win. When a student pokes a needle into the inflated balloon of your own gravitas, it’s hard to remain serious. More »
  • Making Friends with Mess Paid Member

    There’s an elephant in my living room: a pachyderm-sized heap of banker’s boxes, research folders, three-ring binders, clothes, shopping bags, books, books, books and a thousand etceteras that have steadily accumulated until the space looks like the Fresh Kills garbage dump—minus the old cars. When an electrical contractor came the other day to survey my apartment for rewiring, I had to waylay him in the corridor and warn him of the hoarder’s nest he was entering and what he could expect to find. “Don’t worry, there are no dead cats or old hamburgers buried in there,” I joked. He was not amused. A look of panic crossed his face, and I had to coax him inside. Even then, he refused to step beyond the foyer. More »
  • The Sangha without Thich Nhat Hanh Paid Member

    Thich Nhat Hanh leads students in a walking meditation at Blue Cliff Monastery in Pine Bush, NY. On November 11, 2014, the international Buddhist community was dealt a sudden blow when the Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh, a beloved teacher and prolific author, suffered a brain hemorrhage that rendered him unable to speak or walk. Since then, Thich Nhat Hanh (affectionately known by his students as “Thay”) has shown steady if small signs of recovery: swallowing solid food and more recently, uttering his first words. He is currently receiving treatment in San Francisco at the University of California, San Francisco Medical Center.  More »
  • Side Effect Paid Member

    Philip Whalen, NYC 1984. Photograph by Allen Ginsberg. More »
  • Naropa’s Five-Acre Conundrum Paid Member

    Activists delivered a petition to Naropa University last week demanding the college withdraw its permit application to remove about 100 prairie dogs from its campus by means of “lethal control.” The online petition, organized by the Colorado organization WildLands Defense, has now garnered a total of almost 170,000 signatures. The liberal arts college, founded by the late Tibetan lama Chögyam Trungpa in 1974, has held its ground, even as the pesky critters continue to burrow underfoot. To get Naropa’s side on the matter, I call Bill Rigler in the office of public relations at Naropa. The folks who’ve started the petition, he says, “don’t even live in Boulder—they live a hundred miles away.” He mentions this at least twice. More »
  • Talking Buddha, Talking Christ Paid Member

    Popemania may have moved on to the afterlife, but our memories of it endure: the wide-eyed references to Francis as a "rockstar," the jet-black Fiat, and yes, even the Popemojis. Papal pomp aside, perhaps the most memorable moment of the visit was the Pope's address to a joint session of Congress, in which he spoke pointedly about climate change, the arms trade, and the death penalty, among other issues.  More »