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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    Free Speech / Right Speech Paid Member

    AS A STRANGE NEW MEDIUM, the Internet's true nature is difficult to grasp. Is there anything special or uniquely valuable about it or is it simply being over-hyped. Could the Net even be dangerous-to children, for instance, by exposing them to unsuitable material? We see and hear endless media reports, some favorable, some not, on this subject. Millions are exploring the Net for themselves with enthusiasm, while others wait behind on the on-ramp, often with fear and loathing. The Internet has entered into our cultural consciousness as an object onto which we project our hopes and fears. This fundamental ambiguity is nowhere more clearly on display than in the issue of right speech, an ancient Buddhist application of the principle that human sanity as well as social harmony calls for communication that is honest, helpful, clear, and wholesome, rather than deceptive, coercive, and harmful. 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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    Bonfire Paid Member

    I live in a dark wood whose icy blue shadows have long been cast across my heart. Rich almost unto excess, the Yaak Valley is filled with soft-shaped mountains that resemble lying-down men and women. Rich in its four distinct seasons, the valley spans the Montana—Idaho—British Columbia border. Its array of eccentric human characters are scattered through the forest, but the Yaak is richest of all in its diversity of life forms. It’s a place of anomalies and opposites, of paradoxes—or rather, what seem only at first to be paradoxes, but which really are each other’s complements of the whole. It is this richness—this fullness of opposites—that gives the valley such a feeling of completeness, a resonance that is palpable even to a visitor. 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. More »