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    Ground Zero Paid Member

    With all the events that signal the acculturation of Buddhism in the West—including the interface between Buddhism and psychology or social action, or between practitioners and scholars—it is increasingly difficult to keep track of everything that is going on. It also makes the temptation to keep busy with Buddhism all the more seductive—and the need to be selective, more pragmatic. Part of what makes "dharma news" so enticing is the way in which we find ourselves both witnesses and participants in the unfolding of Buddhism in the West. On some days it has the great pull of Shakespearean drama, on others, the small-hearted tug of a daytime soap. Paradoxically, it is the very experience of these constant pulls and tugs that makes us yearn all the more for the stability of a mountain, the indestructibility of "diamond mind," or the drama of no drama at all. More »
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    Not Yet Paid Member

    “A special section on anger? But I thought Buddhists weren’t supposed to get angry?” I kept hearing this as we prepared “Seeing Red: Practicing with Anger.” Often enough, the verbal response was followed by a giggle, or a twist of embarrassment around the mouth, as if the witness had just, deliciously, become privy to some secret admission. So. Buddhists aren’t supposed to get angry. Hmmm. That’s a good one. In Buddhism greed, anger, and ignorance are the root causes of suffering. If anger had proven easy to tame, train, or transform, the teachings of the Buddha would not have survived. Two thousand five hundred years after their inception, the teachings still resonate with clarity and conviction, addressing us as we are: greedy, angry, and ignorant. More »
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    Buddhism: For Adults Only? Paid Member

    “How did you come to Buddhism?” It’s a question I’ve asked plenty of Buddhists I’ve met over the years. People often answer that they came to Buddhism because they felt their churches or synagogues had lost touch with their faith’s spiritual ground. Or that they felt they could no longer abide by mores or live by tenets that did not sufficiently address the realities of their day-to-day lives. Attending ritual after empty ritual, they associated key dates of the religious calendar more closely with holiday sales and seasonal vacations than anything else. And yet, when it came to weddings and funerals—and, even among the more secular-minded, baptisms—they found themselves seeking out the local rabbi or priest. More »
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    Death Becomes Us Paid Member

    Imagine that a great sage arrives in the West to give the secret teachings on living and dying. Thousands of people pack the stadium. The master says: “We are born. We die. The sooner you understand this, the better off you are.” Then he stands up and bows good-bye. But everyone gets angry and says, "We already know that. We want our money back." So he sighs and continues. Perhaps the sage quotes from the historical Buddha (p. 20) or from the Tibetan master, Dilgo Khyentse (p. 23). Maybe he discusses particular practices (see Brown, Rosenberg, Sogyal Rinpoche) or suggests contemplating the reminder that Rick Fields repeats (p. 42): “Death is real. It comes without warning. This body too will be a corpse.” More »
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    What Does It Take? Paid Member

    “If you see a greater pleasure that comes from forsaking a lesser pleasure, be willing to forsake that lesser pleasure for the greater one,” writes Thai forest monk Thanissaro Bhikkhu, paraphrasing the Buddha in this issue’s Dharma Talk. The restraint our teachers speak of seems so simple, and yet how often, after periods of steady practice, do we find ourselves relapsing into a life governed by the pursuit of petty pleasures? After all, if we buy the logic of a greater pleasure won through restraint—freedom from the pull of impulse and, ultimately, from suffering itself—shouldn’t restraint be a breeze? More »
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    The Clinton Koan Paid Member

    What is the sound of one hand clapping? What was your face before you were born? These Zen koans have seeped into the English vernacular as "riddles." What characterizes a riddle, however, is to ask a question, then gleefully wait for the (often ridiculous) "right " answer. These days Washington has produced a veritable glut of riddles. Usually smutty, they are told at a pitch that turns elevators, taxis, and street vendor carts into stand-up comedy clubs, In Zen, koan practice primes an awakening to a reality that dwarfs the small sense of "me" and renders senseless one's own socially conditioned, ego-bound habits of linear, logical thinking This environment does not curry favor with hard-edged opinions, condemnation or holy superiority. Yet, oddly enough, for all the humor and irrationality inherent in koans, the right/wrong rhetoric of the beltway - by comparison - looks like kindergarten sophistry; not innocent, but rather too childish to contain contradiction. More »