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    ON LANGUAGE: What's in a Word? Paid Member

    Taking another look at the Buddhist roots of a much-maligned term: Aryan. More »
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    Practical Pilgrim: The Roots of Enlightenment Paid Member

      BODH GAYA IS Buddhism’s Mecca, Vatican, and Wailing Wall. Among the eight great Buddhist pilgrimage sites in India, Bodh Gaya is the most visited. But unlike the holy places of those other faiths, the great center of the Buddhist world revolves around not a building or a shrine but a single living tree.   For six years the seeker Gautama, hoping to find a way out of suffering, had practiced and painful austerities along the nearby Niranjana River. But finally realizing this was not the path to ultimate happiness, he wrapped himself in a yellow shroud taken off a corpse marked for cremation and accepted a bowl of rice milk from a young village girl named Sujata. This strengthened him. Taking fresh green grass for a mat, he then sat facing east under a local pipal tree and vowed not to rise until he had attained enlightenment.   More »
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    ON GARDENING: Arranging Garbage Paid Member

    IT WAS ALMOST DARK when I came upon the bobcat, walking alone on a steep overgrown trail far above the Green Gulch valley. She had been dead for weeks, her black-rimmed lips pulled back in a snarl of protest, tiny soot flies scouring her empty eye sockets. Her belly was slit open and she lay, disemboweled, in her own dry blood. The acrid stench of death rose off her matted fur. I considered carrying the� More »
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    ON LOCATION: Tribute in Light Paid Member

    LIKE EVERY NEW YORKER who was living in the city on that cloudless day five years ago, I had been to other local memorials; in the fall of 2001, the visceral debris of aftermath made potent shrines. Standing in sick awe before the white-dust-coated hole at Ground Zero, or reading names on the heartbreaking “MISSING” posters, I remember feeling the relief of real contact, of collective concentration in the face of shock. In the intervening� More »
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    SANGHA SPOTLIGHT: Being Time Paid Member

    EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON, in a basement corner in one of America’s most infamous prisons, a transformation begins with the simple sweep of a broom. Here, on the rocky banks of the Hudson River, beneath Sing Sing Correctional Facility’s chapel auditorium, a small group of prisoners enter an angular, pale-yellow classroom and swiftly clear away the desks and chairs. In their place, the men set zabutons and zafus - meditation mats and cushions - in facing rows. Soon, incense smokes� More »
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    ON THE CUSHION: Strong and Silent Paid Member

    I just signed up for my first weeklong meditation retreat. I have a history of back pain and am a little scared of all that sitting. Is there anything I can do to prepare? WHEN I ATTENDED my first meditation retreat, I had the exact same issue. Within two days of sitting, my lower back began to hurt. I tried to sit ramrod straight and stretch on every break, but no amount of adjustment seemed to� More »