History

As a 2,500-year old religion, Buddhism has a rich and diverse past
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    Digesting the Dharma, Part I Paid Member

    Last year, a new anthology of Buddhist texts, entitled Buddhism in Practice, was published. It seems that only once in each generation does someone have the audacity to produce such a book, and in this case, I was that person. In so doing, I placed myself in a long and venerable tradition of trying to encompass the dharma within the covers of a single book. The first such books, issued millennia ago, took the form of palm leaf manuscripts. Before long, they will certainly appear on CD-ROM. Regardless of technological advances, the problems facing the anthologizer have remained the same: What should be included and how should it be organized? More »
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    Mindfulness Of Death Paid Member

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    That Body Is This Body Paid Member

    If [a monk] were to see a corpse cast away in a charnel ground, picked at by crows, vultures, and hawks, by dogs, hyenas, and various other creatures . . . a skeleton smeared with flesh and blood, connected with tendons . . . a fleshless skeleton smeared with blood, connected with tendons . . . a skeleton without flesh or blood, connected with tendons . . . bones detached from their tendons, scattered in all direc­ tions-here a hand bone, there a foot bone, here a shin bone, there a thigh bone, here a hip bone, there a back bone, here a rib, there a chest bone, here a shoulder bone, there a neck bone, here a jaw bone, there a tooth, here a skull . . . the bones whitened, somewhat like the color of shells . . . piled up, more than a year old . . . More »
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    Buddha On The Rio Grande Paid Member

    For centuries, the northern stretch of the Rio Grande has lured religious seekers to its stark, awesome landscape. And as the people—among them Pueblo Indians, Spanish Catholics, and now a growing population of American and Asian Buddhists—have settled in, the region has marked their practices with its indelible stamp. Guest editor: Michael HaederleImage: The canyon of the Rio Grande near Toas, circa 1911. Photo by H. F. Robinson, courtesy of the Museum of New Mexico.  More »
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    The Death of the Dharma: A Prophecy Paid Member

    As far back as our sources can take us, Buddhism has taught that all things that emerge in time and consist of separate components (in technical terms, all “conditioned” phenomena) are subject to eventual destruction. And with remarkable consistency, Buddhists have applied this general theory not only to mundane things but even to the duration of their own religion. Within a century or two after the death of the Buddha, detailed accounts began to emerge predicting not only the eventual “death of the dharma” but also the cause and the approximate time of its destruction. Some of the accounts grew into full-fledged prophecies, of which the story found in the text translated here (a ninth-century Tibetan text) became one of the most influential. More »
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    Buddhism in the Baca Grande Paid Member

    On a glorious July morning in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains, a crowd made its way through crystalline air along a dirt road festooned with prayer flags towards the Tashi Gomang Stupa. Carmelite monks walked alongside devotees of a local ashram, Buddhist practitioners of various lineages among local farmers and ranchers, New Agers and the merely curious. For weeks Tibetan lamas had been gathering to prepare for this day, the birthday of His Holiness the Dalai Lama, when the forty-one-foot-high stupa would be consecrated. Above the stupa and to the east rose the fourteen thousand-foot-high snow peaks of the Sangres, to the west the view stretched forty miles across the San Luis Valley to the San Juan mountain range. To the south, towering over the Great Sand Dunes National Monument, rose Mount Blanca, known as Sis-na-jin to the Navajo and to the Hopi, the Sacred Mountain of the East. Visiting Tibetans remarked on how much the scenery reminded them of their own homeland. More »