Relationships

All of our interpersonal relationships are a crucible for Buddhist practice
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    Authority and Exploitation Paid Member

    Robert Aitken Roshi: Someone once suggested that we have a kind of radical retreat at Koko An (our Zen center in Honolulu), with people taking turns being the roshi—the teacher. I think this was a misguided suggestion. Learning in a context of deepest inquiry, where self-deception is most likely to enter in, demands transference and trust. A student might not see the point of a particular idea or act, but if a trusted teacher presents it, the student is able to accept it provisionally and be encouraged to let it sink in. More »
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    Born in Tibet Paid Member

    In the summer of 1951, Heinrich Harrer began writing his classic Seven Years in Tibet in a hotel room in Kalimpong, India, only months after fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet. A newly independent India, fearing the Red Army now at its border, soon ordered Harrer home to Austria and a war-devastated Europe. In his native Alps, the renowned mountaineer completed his dramatic story: trapped by the outbreak of war while mountaineering in India, Harrer escapes a British prisoner-of-war camp, and survives a two-year flight through the Himalayas to Lhasa. There he becomes friend and teacher to the young Dalai Lama. Since its publication in 1953, Harrer's story has unwittingly contributed to the myth of Tibet as an exotic and inaccessible Shangri-la. 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 »
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    Accusing the Tiger Paid Member

    At Tintern Abbey, a medieval Cistercian monastery located on the border between England and Wales, a young monk was caught having an affair with a village girl. The abbot had the girl strangled, and the monk buried up to his chin in the river mud, where the tides rose over him and he drowned. Punishments of maiming and death for sexual misconduct are prescribed in both the Old Testament and the Koran. Buddhists call this approach to morality "theistic" and "dualistic," meaning that it defines right conduct by an external reference point, such as divine law, and splits the world into good and evil. The guardian of morals imposes the law with particular harshness against the sexual offenses of spiritual practitioners, because flesh and spirit are thought to be enemies. What comes from the flesh is evil, and must be chastised. More »
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    The Zen of Paul Reps Paid Member

    When Paul Reps was asked what kind of Zen he practiced, he answered: “Reps Zen.” This poet-painter-philosopher who died last year at the age of ninety-six not only followed his own Zen but influenced generations of Americans. Zen Flesh Zen Bones, a collection of Zen stories complied by Reps, was published in 1952 and continues to introduce new audiences to the tradition. I first met Reps soon after World War II. He had been sending me articles for Gentry and American Fabrics, magazines which I published at the time. In one accompanying note, he suggested that we go to Japan together. Our first encounter was at the old Spanish colonial airport in Los Angeles, en route to the Far East. More »
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    Right Speech Paid Member

    “And what, friends, is right speech? Abstaining from false speech, abstaining from malicious speech, abstaining from harsh speech, and abstaining from idle chatter—this is called right speech.” “And what, bhikkhus, is wrong speech? False speech, malicious speech, harsh speech, and gossip: this is wrong speech. “And what, bhikkhus, is right speech? Right speech, I say, is twofold: there is right speech that is affected by taints, partaking of merit, ripening on the side of attachment; and there is right speech that is noble, taintless, and supramundane, a factor of the path. More »