Living and practicing harmoniously with others is essential to Buddhist teachings
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    End of the Story Paid Member

    Tricycle: So often you speak of clear seeing and just listening. What makes this distinct from "regular” seeing and listening? Packer: Have you ever listened to breathing without knowing what it is? Without thinking about where it comes from or where it goes? This is an innocent listening—unburdened, unhindered by knowledge or by judgment, such as “My breathing is too shallow”; innocent listening is no right breathing, no wrong breathing. What is there when I don’t come to listening with preconceptions, but rather start freshly?Tricycle: It sounds so easy. Why is it met with so much resistance? More »
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    A Sangha-less Sangha Paid Member

    One becomes a Buddhist by going for refuge in the “three gems”—in other words by saying, “I go for refuge to the Buddha, I go for refuge to the dharma, I go for refuge to the sangha.” But what exactly are these three gems? This was a question that vexed the early Buddhist community. When you go for refuge to the Buddha, are you going for refuge to his body, or to his mind? Because that body was the product of ignorance and subject to disintegration, it was not considered suitable as the Buddha-jewel. The Buddha was, however, said to possess certain qualities—such as compassion, concentration, and fearlessness—that are uncontaminated by ignorance. This “body of qualities” (dharmakaya) was deemed the true object of the practice of refuge. More »
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    Walking Alone Paid Member

    Achaan Runjuan levels her wise gaze as I ask yet another question. We are seated on benches at the windows of her kuti (cottage) in the wooded confines of Suan Mokkh, a Theravada Buddhist monastery in southern Thailand. From the monastery entrance comes the sound of dogs fighting, one animal screaming as the others maul it, while a drone of deep male voices chanting Pali verses comes from somewhere among the trees. The mae jis—modest, white-robed, shaven-headed women—are giggling together or pacing slowly in walking meditation. Orange-robed monks disappear into the jungle to their huts tucked among the tangled vines. Achaan Runjuan's two-story white stucco cottage stands a Iittle a part from the other women's dwellings, inside a wooden fence with bells on the gate. There are orchids planted around the large tree in her yard. Achaan means "teacher," and the very fact that she bears this title sets her apart. More »
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    The Changing of the Guard Paid Member

    The procession carrying the body of Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche was heralded by the wails of a lone bagpiper and the slow, steady heartbeat of a deep bass drum, followed by the hoarse guttural cries of Tibetan horns. As a crowd of more than three thousand American students and guests watched in silence, the funeral procession of Trungpa Rinpoche emerged from a fogbound forest at the Karme Choling retreat center in northeast Vermont. The body was carried in a palanquin—a canopied, silk-curtained upright box—and covered with a round white parasol. The palanquin was then lifted into the ornately painted cremation stupa, twenty-five feet high and surmounted with a gold spire. More »
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    Contradictions In Action Paid Member

    An eleventh-century Burmese king honored his conversion to Theravada Buddhism by building Pagan, an imposing city containing 13,000 templesand pagodas on the fertile plains of the Irrawaddy River. Slaves constructed this spectacular homage to the teachings of the Buddha. In the late twentieth century, a Burmese dictator commands a military government that tortures, murders, and impoverishes its own people. The general, the soldiers, and the victims are all Buddhists. More »
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    Say it Right Paid Member

    According to former psychologist Marshall Rosenberg, needs are never in opposition—only our strategies for meeting them are. A number of dharma teachers are finding that Rosenberg’s methods can serve as a support for the Buddhist practice of Right Speech. It is a midsummer morning and I am meditating with my parents in their living room. At my back my father sits in an armchair, his right shoulder slumped from the stroke that threw him to his knees six months ago. My mother is upright in front of me on her seiza bench, her white hair falling over her shoulders. I breathe in, making my whole body calm and at peace. The dial of the kitchen timer at my knee turns almost imperceptibly toward zero. More »