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    On Tap Shoes Or a Harley Paid Member

    When Tricycle cover designer Frank Olinsky proposed the current cover, I wasn’t sure if I was looking at Newsweek or Time. After a few seconds, my eyes began to focus on the fifty—count ’em, fifty—Tricycle covers. A few on our staff objected, “But it doesn’t look like a Tricycle cover.” And yet, it was nothing but Tricycle covers. I got to thinking: Sometimes Buddhism in the West doesn’t look like Buddhism, what with all its Western trappings. And yet, if you look closely, you’ll see that the dharma has found its way into nearly every nook and cranny of our culture, from intensive retreats at often remote locations to the everyday lives of ordinary folks. In a section we dubbed “Three Lives,” the lives of three very different Americans cross the Buddha’s path in unexpected ways. More »
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    A Word of Dissent Paid Member

    A friend of mine who begins each morning on the cushion used to get on my nerves carrying on about oceanic oneness. Not long after September 11, though, he was hopping mad and pinning his hopes on a “daisycutter,” the most devastating conventional weapon in our military’s arsenal. Espousing absurdly reductionist views about the “clash of civilizations”—courtesy of Harvard’s Samuel P. Huntington—he quoted the eminent professor with dramatic flair: “The fault lines between civilizations will be the battle lines of the future.” Such big ideas! Where, I wondered, had he hidden his cushion?More »
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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 »