Travel

Pilgrimage has long been a part of global Buddhist practice
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    Pointy Rhinestone Glasses Paid Member

    Tan Chawut's Chanting echoed out across the temple grounds—as startling as the cry of the tree-dwelling gekko, as reassuring as the whirring of cicadas. I had journeyed to his monastery—Wat Rumpoeng (Lum-pung) in Northern Thailand—in search of tranquility and insight, the fabled twin blessings of Buddhist meditation. The regimen was rigorous: 20 hours daily of sitting and walking meditation in strict seclusion. During the last three days of a two week retreat, in an exercise known as "determination," retreatants were expected to meditate round the clock without lying down. A meal of rice gruel and greens was served at six a.m., the main meal at ten. For the rest of the day we fasted. Visiting and idle chit-chat were discouraged. More »
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    Cilantro Days Paid Member

    I have always loved the dance of cleaning the kitchen, washing the vegetables, cutting, cooking, cleaning again. My culinary career began when I apprenticed with a Swiss chef at age seventeen. Cooking was art, it was dance, but in Guatemala, I learned that it was medicine as well. More »
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    Notebooks from Lhasa Paid Member

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    Zen Flies Paid Member

    In San Francisco during the early fifties fly fishing was an important part of the Beat scene. Widespread interest in Buddhism and nature naturally led to Zen Flies. It was admittedly a passing phenomenon—as one angler-poet later explained in City Lights Review: "It got to where 'the perfect cast' meant 'no cast.' Eventually we just went swimming." Influences from the Zen Fly period can be traced on into the sixties. For example, the lyric "Fly Jefferson Airplane" was taken from a fishing poem by Richard Brautigan. Then there is the lettering carved deeply into a cliff above Muir Beach: "First there was a fish, then there was no fish, then there was." But of course the primary and most eloquent record is the remarkable flies (we have included four examples here) that have made their way into the hands of collectors over the years. More »
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    When You Hear a Dog Bark Paid Member

    Wimbledon seems an unlikely starting point, but if you leave the road running along the Common and pass into the drive of one of the spacious residences, you will find the brightly colored and gilded pagodas of a Thai Buddhist temple. It is an incongruous sight amidst the chestnuts and pine trees of an otherwise respectable Edwardian suburb. More »
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    A Yen For Cleaning Paid Member

    A friend had told me about Sho Ishikawa, who had grown up in Ittoen, a commune near Kyoto where toilet cleaning was considered a path to self-knowledge. Sho’s parents had spent most of their lives in the commune. Indeed, his father was in some ways one of the present spiritual leaders. Sho himself now lived in Manhattan and worked in public accounting. “It is difficult to imagine cleaning for your whole life,” he warned me during the first of our phone conversations. But perhaps I could. To augment my earnings as a writer, I had been cleaning professionally for six years. More »