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    Many is More Paid Member

    Following the failed coup in Russia a cartoon in a New York newspaper featured two people standing in front of the Kremlin. One was saying to the other, "If you miss the one-party system, go to America." As the cartoon implies, new political alliances threaten to recast the United States as, at best, a beleaguered advocate of ideological plurality. Let's hope that American Buddhism doesn't follow the national political trend, especially since diversity is as central to Buddhist history as it has been to the history of the United States. More »
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    At the Crossroad Paid Member

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    Nothing to Lose Paid Member

    From a Buddhist view we are all ego addicts, in service of our own special interests. The good news is that liberation already resides within us, but to help prime the pump of awakening, we must leave behind our “possessions”—not in terms of what we literally own, but rather in terms of what owns us: those limiting, habitual patterns that diminish and dull our lives. More »
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    Dumbfounded in the Dharma Paid Member

    In Thoughts Without a Thinker, Dr. Mark Epstein recalls an encounter between Kalu Rinpoche and Korean Zen master Seung Sahn that took place twenty years ago at the home of a Harvard professor. As the Zen and Tibetan traditions employ “dharma combat” to test and hone one’s understanding, the students of both masters arranged for them to debate each other. Seung Sahn opened the debate, reaching into his gray robe and removing an orange. With classic Zen theatrics he held the orange toward his opponent’s face and yelled: “What is it?!” The elderly lama just continued to finger his prayer beads. Seung Sahn tried again, holding out the orange and demanding to know: “What is it?!” More »
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    A Two-Track Mind Paid Member

    Every time the salesman at Eastern Mountain Sports brought an item for me to try on—a Superwick undershirt, a fleece vest, a coated-nylon shell—I tried to gauge my level of comfort for various degrees of inclement weather. By the time he asked where I was going, he had every reason to expect me to say Mount Everest or Antarctica. It was Friday evening on January 19 and the forecast warned of a freak snowstorm moving north from the Carolinas and colliding with a cold front moving east from the Midwest. Sheepishly, I told him that I would be in Washington, DC, the next day stamping my warmly shod foot against fate, or at least against the Inauguration. To which the young man gave me a thumbs-up, then shrugged and said, taking my credit card, "Well, I guess it must have been different in the sixties." More »
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    The Formless Field of Benefaction Paid Member

    There was a time when the Heart Sutra evoked associations with Asian monastic rituals, and not Florida hospitals; and when "the great matter of life and death," as the Zen tradition puts it, did not apply to the American abortion debate; and when running an AIDS hospice may have been considered too secular for Buddhist priests; and when Buddhist priests felt obliged to deny their sexuality, all the more so if it was homosexual. More »