essay

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    Jungle Beast Paid Member

    Our guide, an ambitious young Nepali, told us what to look for on our hike out into the jungle. We would be walking among close-standing trees and underbrush; we must stay together, follow him, and do exactly as he said. More »
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    Magpie Sisters Paid Member

    WHEN I FIRST came to the Therigatha, or The Psalms of the Sisters, I couldn't believe my ears. Here were texts composed on the tongue by Buddhist women that captivated my attention and imagination so completely that I could literally feel their presences hovering close by. These women seemed vivid inhabitants of the apparitional realm or "enjoyment body" Buddhists call Sambhogakaya, whose attributes are compassion and communication. The poems-really a collection of many diverse expressions… More »
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    Sudden Awakening Paid Member

    In 1993, I went to Lucknow, India to receive teachings from the Advaita master H.W. L. Poonjaji, a disciple of Ramana Maharshi. Many of my friends and colleagues, including several dedicated teachers of Vipassana meditation, had preceded me to Poonjaji’s door. By the time I arrived, his fame had blossomed and his small living room bulged with seekers from around the world who had elbowed their way into his morning satsang. I found a flat square saffron cushion in the back of the room and squeezed onto it, my knees bumping my neighbors on both sides. Ceiling fans spun in a feeble attempt to cool the already rising temperatures of the still early morning, and stifling a yawn as I wiped sweat from my brow, I wondered what I was doing in this steamy room at the foot of a guru. I didn’t believe in gurus. More »
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    Glass of Water, Bare Feet Paid Member

    Once, long ago, in the midst of a Zen retreat, I stood in a darkened hallway and drank a glass of water. That’s a lie. The truth is: I stood in a darkened hallway and discovered that I couldn’t even drink a glass of water! Of course, I could lift the glass, open my mouth, and swallow the water. But I couldn’t perform this simple activity simply, wholly—with each gulp, my mind splintered into myriad thoughts of past and future, each one of them bearing its weight of self-consciousness, its little tag marked me, me, me. More »