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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 »
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    Selling Water by the River Paid Member

    It’s not unusual for Tricycle to cover the enormous diversity of Buddhism, but in this particular issue, the spectrum is about as broad as it gets. At one end, we have the barbaric destruction of the Buddhas of Bamiyan. At the other, Mirabai Bush speaks of introducing contemplative practices to American power spots such as Harvard University and the bio-tech giant, Monsanto. In one place, sublime expressions of Buddhism are destroyed; in another, it is used as a new and civilizing agent of change. More »
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    Net Worth Paid Member

    One story retold from the life of the Buddha concerns a mother who loses her child. Distraught, the woman wanders aimlessly, clutching her dead infant to her breast. When she hears that the great sage Shakyamuni is expounding the dharma nearby, she goes to him and asks, "Why has this happened to me?" In response, the Buddha sends her on a mission: to collect one mustard seed from each household in the village that has never known death. Only when the woman returns empty-handed, does she begin to find solace. Two thousand and five hundred years after this legendary event, the information superhighway (see this issue's special section) is being heralded as the great revolution of our age, an unparalleled breakthrough that will generate radical changes in our daily lives. Nothing, however, suggests that these changes will have any effect on a mother who loses a child. More »