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    Are We There Yet? Paid Member

    Recently, I visited New Mexico to join the first Buddhabus Tour. Organized by the Tricycle ExChange, a membership program for our readers, the trip included eighteen adventurers. They started off with a workshop at Naropa Institute in Boulder and, after a day’s ride through the Rockies, arrived in Crestone, Colorado, where they stayed at Richard Baker’s Zen center and visited the Tashi Gomang stupa. Then on to Taos and Santa Fe, where the travelers attended separate workshops with Joan Halifax, Natalie Goldberg, and vipassana instructor Marcia Rose. More »
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    Back to Basics Paid Member

    Dharma 101, this issue’s special section (p. 40) includes some very basic questions, but that doesn’t limit it to beginners. There’s nothing elementary in asking about karma, enlightenment, emptiness, or about asking, “If There Is No Self, Who Meditates, Who Is Born, Who Dies?” They’re introductory questions not only because they tend to bedevil the newly engaged practitioner but because of their capacity to introduce a practitioner to the true nature of his or her own mind. More »
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    Speaking of Silence Paid Member

    RECENTLY I HAD the happy occasion to introduce two old friends whose lives had been informed by the Cistercian monk, Father Louis, better known as Thomas Merton. Both had grown up in Episcopalian families; one had converted to Catholicism and later became a Tibetan Buddhist, and the other is in training to be a Zen teacher while reaffirming her Christian heritage. The Catholic convert, Harold Talbott—interviewed about Merton in this issue of Tricycle—had introduced Merton to Tibetan lamas in the Himalayas in the weeks just prior to Merton's sudden death in Bangkok in 1968. By that time, influenced by Zen adept D.T. Suzuki, Merton had read and written about Zen for years, and the original motive behind his Asian journey was to meet Zen roshis in Japan. More »
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    Lightening Up Paid Member

    Many years ago I sat in a café reading a college textbook on Buddhism. An elderly woman at the next table had been eyeing me curiously and seemed to have something to say. I looked over at her several times, tacitly inviting her to speak, but she remained silent. Had she noticed the title of my book? The café was known for its eccentrics, and in time I began to imagine that she was a convert Buddhist who’d traveled the far corners of Asia and was primed to share with me at the slightest prod the great treasures of the East. But no sooner had I returned to my book than she leaned toward my table to remark rather irritably, “Otherworldly chants and begging bowls—and all that talk of suffering! I find it terribly depressing.” More »
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    Crossing Paths Paid Member

    Several months ago, at a packed auditorium in lower Manhattan, Pema Chödrön, one of the West’s most revered teachers, spoke frankly before a rapt audience about the challenges of dharma practice. She acknowledged that there had been periods of deep loneliness and self-doubt, but added that practice had also brought with it an ever deepening acceptance of life on its own terms. Her relaxed demeanor and steady gaze conveyed a courage and faith that seemed only to strengthen over the course of the daylong teaching, heightening the aspirations of her listeners and students. During the question and answer period that followed, Pema Chödrön pulled no punches. Absent was a sugar-coated dharma popularized by a consumer culture eager to package spiritual highs. When one woman spoke of her weariness in the aftermath of a series of brain surgeries, Pema didn’t shrink from the difficult truth: Yes, you can continue to fight, she said; in fact, it’s the best thing to do. More »
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    Practicing Politics Paid Member

    Whenever we've gone political, a good number of our readers have gone ballistic. Letters pour in exhorting us to stay above the fray. Politics, some would have us think, is off-limits to Buddhists. Just the same, when West Coast Editor Anne Cushman proposed a special section on politics this election year, I braced myself for blowback and gave her the green light. And why not? Electoral politics, fraught with partisanship and dissent, are as much an opportunity to cultivate wisdom and compassion as any other aspect of life in the West - maybe even more so. After all, how many of us keep our heads in discussions about the upcoming elections? How many of us can bring our practice into our political lives, deepening our values rather than abandoning them at the slightest provocation from the opposition? More »