History

As a 2,500-year old religion, Buddhism has a rich and diverse past
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    Entheogens: A Brief History of Their Spiritual Use Paid Member

    To many people, the words psychedelic and spiritual are dissonant on first hearing. Yet the use of psychoactive sacraments in shamanic and religious practices is found throughout history. The word entheogen, used to describe certain plants and chemicals when used for spiritual purposes, emphasizes this long-established relationship. Following is a survey of the most historically prominent and widely used entheogens. More »
  • The Man Who Woke Up Paid Member

    Buddhism begins with a man. In his later years, when India was afire with his message and kings themselves were bowing before him, people came to him even as they were to come to Jesus asking what he was. How many people have provoked this question—not "Who are you?" with respect to name, origin, or ancestry, but "What are you? What order of being do you belong to? What species do you represent?" Not Caesar, certainly. Not Napoleon, or even Socrates. Only two, Jesus and Buddha. When the people carried their puzzlement to the Buddha himself, the answer he gave provided a handle for his entire message. "Are you a god?" they asked. "No." "An angel?" "No." "A saint?" "No." "Then what are you?" Buddha answered, "I am awake." More »
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    Jataka Mind Paid Member

    In a former life, many aeons ago, the Buddha took up residence in a forest hermitage, living the life of a recluse and studying with a resolute mind. Sauntering through the woods one day, admiring the springtime foliage, he rounded a bend near a mountain crevasse and saw a cave. There at the mouth of the cave, but a few feet from him, lay a starving tigress who had just given birth. This tigress was so overcome by her labors, so weak with hunger, that she could scarcely move. The future Buddha noticed her dark and hollowed eyes. He could see each rib distending her hide. Starved and confused, she was turning on her whelps, on her own tiger pups, seeing them only as meat to satisfy her belly. The pups, not comprehending the danger, were sidling up, pawing for her teats. More »
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    Tibet Paid Member

    IN 1959, the little-known 14th Dalai Lama fled his homeland as China’s army invaded Tibet. Just over a decade later, a generation of young Western seekers encountered Tibetan culture for the first time. Among them was Stephen Batchelor, who looks here at the story behind the Tibetan diaspora, what it has meant for Buddhism in the West, and what the future may hold.On March 28, 1959, three days before reaching sanctuary in northern India, the Dalai Lama's escape party crosses Karpo Pass on horseback. More »
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    Investigating the Buddha's World Paid Member

    The teachings of the Buddha have been variously understood by scholars, monks, and laypeople over the centuries. But what was it that the Buddha actually taught? While this remains an open and oft-debated question, scholar John Peacocke—in his work as both an academic and a dharma teacher—asserts that by looking to the history, language, and rich philosophical environment of the Buddha’s day we can uncover what is most distinctive and revolutionary about his teachings. Peacocke, who does not shy away from controversy, argues that in some very important ways, later Buddhist schools depart from early core teachings. More »
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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 »