on the cushion

  • Tricycle Community 52 comments

    How to Practice with God Paid Member

    One of the very first things I heard about Buddhism, long before I ever became a practitioner, was that it was “a religion without a God.” This continues to be a popular way of describing Buddhism. But I’m not so sure it’s true.  More »
  • Tricycle Community 6 comments

    When Your Guru Goes Bad Paid Member

    In the past year or so, the Buddhist world has been rocked by several high profile sex scandals. Joshu Sasaki Roshi, Eido Shimano Roshi, and Dennis Genpo Merzel Roshi have all been accused of doing some pretty sleazy stuff with their students, and as a result a lot of deeply disappointed former students of these very popular teachers are now wondering if their entire practice has been a total waste of time. After all, if these so-called “masters” with all their years of training behind them and all their followers couldn’t behave in an a manner consistent with the very precepts they ceremonially gave to so many students, then how can we believe Buddhist practice is good for anything at all? More »
  • Tricycle Community 48 comments

    The Enlightenment Pill Paid Member

    Western society is obsessed with medication. Because medical science has advanced so far so quickly, we are prone to imagine that drugs can cure any illness if only we can find just the right combination of chemicals. So naturally when we hear representatives of Eastern religions describe our normal condition as diseased, we wonder what we can take to fix that. The notion that there might be a pill to make us enlightened seems to make perfect sense. The idea that psychedelic drugs might be able to do in minutes what used to take years of deep introspection and hard practice has recently made a major comeback. As if the 1960s and 1970s taught us nothing, there is a whole new generation promoting hallucination as a substitute for meditation. More »
  • Tricycle Community 1 comment

    Goalless Practice Paid Member

    The iconoclastic itinerant Soto Zen teacher “Homeless” Kodo Sawaki Roshi famously said, “Zazen is good for nothing!” He wasn’t being facetious. He wasn’t employing some kind of “skillful means” by saying something he really didn’t believe. He wasn’t being mystical and saying it’s good (wink, wink) for nothing (nudge, nudge). Nope. He meant it. Zazen really is good for nothing. It’s useless. Absolutely useless. One of the hardest aspects of Zen practice is getting your head around the idea that zazen has no goal. No goal at all. You don’t do it for anything except itself. It doesn’t get you anywhere. It doesn’t gain you a damned thing. More »
  • Tricycle Community 3 comments

    How to Not Waste Time Paid Member

    I hate the phrase “killing time.” No one has an overabundance of time here on this earth—the idea of killing any second of it just makes me cringe. In Zen monasteries you often see an old Chinese poem written on the han, the wooden board that’s hit to call people to meditation. It goes like this: Great is the matter of life and death Moments go by swiftly and are lost To squander time is a great shame Do not waste your life People have a great variety of definitions for what constitutes time wasting and what doesn’t. Some people want to stay busy and productive every minute. On the other hand, when asked what he thought was the purpose of life, Kurt Vonnegut said, “We’re all just farting around, and don’t let anyone tell you different.” But Kurt Vonnegut accomplished a lot in his time. More »
  • Tricycle Community 3 comments

    A Minty Fresh Mind Paid Member

    So now you’re convinced. You’ve read the Wikipedia page about Buddhism, watched a few videos of famous masters on YouTube, gone to the local New Age bookshop and bought a couple of Buddhist magazines, and now you’re ready to try some meditation for yourself. You visited the local sangha and sat with the group and listened intently as the teacher there told you the secret to practice was to meditate every single day. So you took the plunge and went to the gift shop and bought yourself a genuine meditation cushion. You set it up in the corner of your bedroom, where it waits for you every morning, lonely, sad, and neglected. The problem is, you just can’t seem to find the motivation. Your will is strong. Your belief is there. But darn it all, you just never seem to be able to get it together to meditate. Whenever you find a moment to meditate, you seem to do something else instead. More »