Living and practicing harmoniously with others is essential to Buddhist teachings
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    Which Buddhist Personality Type Are You? Paid Member

    ”You must be a Deluded type,” said my retreat dishwashing partner. “I can tell by the way you’ve loaded the dish drainer.”I glanced at my dish drainer with its skewed plates, a glass perched on top of a pot, and serving spoons stuck at odd angles. It looked like a circus balancing act. Next to it was the dish drainer he had stacked before me. His dishes were meticulously in line from smallest to largest, glasses were in a particular place and order, and everything looked as if it could be hermetically sealed in plastic and sent as a compact UPS package.“And what type are you?” I asked, suspecting I already knew.“Aversive.” More »
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    Why Buddhism Needs the West Paid Member

    In an oft-cited statement, which might be apocryphal, the British historian Arnold Toynbee said, “The coming of Buddhism to the West may well prove to be the most important event of the twentieth century.” Given the monumental social, political, and scientific changes of the last century, that claim seems pretty unlikely. But Toynbee may have noticed something the rest of us need to see: that the interaction between Buddhism and the West is crucial today, because each emphasizes something the other is missing. Whether or not Toynbee actually made this observation, the significance of the encounter may be nearly as great as his statement suggests. More »
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    Lotuses and Lilies Paid Member

    On the central wall of the Guest House at the monastery where I lived during the 1980s, there was a mural painted by the Japanese Jesuit priest Father Maxima depicting a scene from Buddhist legend. Once when Shakyamuni’s disciples had gathered on Vulture Peak to hear a sermon, he simply stood in their midst and, holding a single flower aloft so all could see, twirled it between his thumb and forefinger. At this, all were puzzled. Mahakashyapa alone, among all the disciples, broke into a smile, indicating that he had understood the final truth of Buddhism. Father Maxima’s mural was a faithful depiction of all this. At the center stood Buddha holding up a lotus blossom. About him were the various monks and animals, bodhisattvas, devas, and other heavenly beings normally to be found when Shakyamuni delivered a sermon. But Mahakasyapa wasn’t smiling—at least not like any smile I’d ever seen. Rather, he wore an expression approaching horror. More »
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    Triumph of the Heart Paid Member

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    The R Word Paid Member

    In our current atmosphere of cultural polarization, the term religion has become highly contested. Just how contested was brought home to me in April 2006, when, during a public lecture I gave at the University of Montana in Missoula, a man in the audience sharply questioned my very use of the word. I said that I was simply following a long history of usage, that I knew that some people contrast spirituality, which they see as good, with religion, which they believe is bad, but that I had never found that dichotomy helpful, as spirituality until recently was always considered an aspect of religion, not a rival to it. But he was adamant. Religion, he insisted, is a terrible thing and if I didn’t want to use the term spirituality, I should think of some new word. Like what? I queried. He had no answer but insisted I come up with one. More »
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    Lotus in the Fire Paid Member

    Tricycle: How do you understand karma in terms of your sickness? Harrison: If I seek an answer as to why I am HIV-positive and why somebody else isn’t, I’m going to drive myself crazy because I’m never going to get an answer to that.Tricycle: I didn’t mean it in quite that way. Rather, that AIDS has pushed you deeper into practice than you may have gone without it, and you often refer to your life now as a blessing. Harrison: I would never call the virus a blessing, but I have no doubt that if I had lived to ninety years without this sickness, I probably would never know the depth of peace and contentment that I’m experiencing in my life now. I truly am happier than I’ve ever been.Tricycle: Does practice make it easier to die? More »