editors view

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    Settle for the Stereo? Paid Member

    We've all heard that happiness can't be bought, but how many of us live as if this were really true? As contributing editor Joan Duncan Oliver reports in her opener to this issue's special section ("The Happiness Craze"), shopping outperforms "football, golf, and NASCAR combined," making it America's most popular pastime. Putting all empirical evidence to the contrary aside, we persist in thinking that getting what we want—or making things go our way—will bring happiness. And in spite of nods of dutiful assent whenever we hear that true happiness can be found within, we're curiously dismissive of the notion if our acquisitive behavior is any guide. While nodding knowingly to easy platitudes, inside we're just as likely to be thinking Yeah, but ... More »
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    The Joy of No Ambition Paid Member

    On a recent trip to San Francisco, I stopped by the publisher Chronicle Books to visit a friend. I was early, so I popped into their street-level bookstore to browse. Chronicle is known for its high production standards, so I always look forward to seeing their new titles. This time, one in particular caught my eye—“The Underachiever’s Manifesto: The Guide to Accomplishing Little and Feeling Great,” by Ray Bennett, M.D. Like most people I know these days, I work too much. So I welcomed Dr. Bennett’s call to underachievement and paid ten dollars to find out more. The book is a brief eighty-one pages, after which several pages follow under the heading “Some Blank Pages” (ten, to be exact, and they really are blank). The good doctor takes his underachieving seriously. But, he points out, underachieving is no cakewalk: More »
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    Room for Everyone Paid Member

    In February, we launched the Tricycle Community, an online global group of Buddhist practitioners and those interested in learning more about Buddhist teachings. We weren’t quite sure what to expect when we set out but were quickly surprised and pleased with the results: Over the past few months, nearly 10,000 people have signed on, kicking off a lively exchange that shows no signs of slowing down. People from around the world have participated in teachings, discussions, and, most recently, the Tricycle Book Club, among other activities, and are offering support to one another along the path. More »
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    The Big Sit — Editor's View Paid Member

    TWO YEARS AGO we invited our readers to participate in “Commit to Sit,” a 28-day meditation challenge in print and online, developed with the support and guidance of Vipassana meditation teachers Sharon Salzberg and Joseph Goldstein. Although we were hopeful, we couldn’t have expected the enthusiastic response we got. Readers across the country—newcomers and seasoned practitioners alike—joined us for what proved to be a fruitful and well-attended virtual retreat. The online forum filled with questions, so we asked Sharon to join us to respond to our meditators’ queries. The online conversations among our readers continued long after our fourweek challenge had passed. More »
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    Finding Common Ground Paid Member

    SINCE MEDITATION IS so closely associated with Buddhism in the West, it may be a surprise to many of our readers that the majority of the world’s Buddhists do not meditate at all. Yet one of America’s most vibrant Buddhist groups—and certainly the most ethnically, socially, and economically diverse—doesn’t practice sitting meditation. Instead, students of the Soka Gakkai International (SGI) are known for chanting the daimoku. You’ve no doubt heard the daimoku yourself, whether from Tina Turner on Larry King Live or from a friend or colleague: Nam-myoho-renge-kyo—veneration to the Lotus Sutra, which makes the radical proposition that everyone, without exception, can attain enlightenment through faith in the sutra’s teachings. More »
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    Heroes and Communities Paid Member

    IT IS TEMPTING, almost habitual, to view Gandhi through the prism of Western individualism, as a solitary leader who somehow lifted the entire Indian subcontinent on his shoulders and, David-like, took a stand against the Goliath of empires. But while there is no gainsaying Gandhi’s dedication and genius, if the approach to nonviolence he practiced had depended on heroism and charisma, his movement would have petered out into a cult of leadership instead of coming to define an approach to life that can speak to our concerns today. More »