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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 »
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    What Does Being a Buddhist Mean to You? Paid Member

    It’s okay to lie if it’s to save my life or someone I care for. Carol Ann Stockton Vocalist and environmental activist Poulsbo, Washington I’m human, I have mind and ego. And of course I have lied and do. And because I do, I practice. So we practice “no mind” to minimize harm and we follow the precepts as a reminder of our direction, of how to keep our way. Nancy Brown Guiding Teacher at New Haven Zen Center New Haven, Connecticut When do I lie? As soon as I start answering this question. More »
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    On Gardening: Gone To Seed Paid Member

    Upright, well-mannered gardens, with tidy beds of manicured lettuce corseted by tightly clipped boxwood hedges, make me itch. I have a naughty mind that wants to scratch rank pigwood seed between all neat and trim rows. Give me a wild garden any day. One of the most inspiring autumn gardens I ever saw was just such a wild patch growing in a deserted city lot in the heart of industrial West Berkeley. There, in the midst of upscale, gentrified businesses and a thumping lumberyard and sand factory, this forgotten garden dominated the landscape. More »
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    Haiku Mind Paid Member

    What relationship have you discovered between haiku and meditation? A certain kind of hokum accompanies much of haiku today. People imagine it to be something other than it is in spiritual terms. But haiku is very, very simple. In the same way that you make yourself very simple by following the breath. You clear your mind, let go of everything else. In the same way, writing haiku takes you right to the heart of the moment. That’s the Zen of haiku, really. Being able to let go of everything and enter into this space. Haiku is seventeen syllables long, so it seems very small. More »
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    Top Ten List Paid Member

    The recent spate of interest in Buddhism in magazines (like Time) and on television (like “The Oprah Winfrey Show”) inspired the students in my BS (for Buddhist Studies) 230: Introduction to Buddhism to compile a list of the ten most common misconceptions that Americans have about Buddhism. The students were the first to admit that they themselves held many of these very misconceptions just a few months ago. Now they know better. The list is provided below, with commentary: More »
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    On Gardening—A Prayer for the Forest Paid Member

    “Draw your chair close to the precipice and I’ll tell you a story.” —F. Scott Fitzgerald I recently returned from a pilgrimage into Headwaters Forest in Humboldt County in northern California, where eight of us buried an earth treasure vase in the heart of old growth redwoods. We went into this remote forest 275 miles north of Green Gulch Farm by foot, crossing the line onto barricaded private land and tracking a maze of muddy logging roads for hours to reach the Headwaters grove, high in the saddle of the Elk River drainage system. More »