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    Real Enough Paid Member

    How do we wake up to the intimacy of meeting the moment at hand? How do we practice compassion in the face of cruelty and the unknown? Where does our imagination come from? Who is thinking? These are some of the questions that are alive in poet and writer Nick Flynn’s work and life. Koshin Paley Ellison and Robert Chodo Campbell, Zen Buddhist teachers and cofounders of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, invited Flynn to the Zen Center for an afternoon of conversation. They spent a few hours talking about poetry, bees, his time with the Abu Ghraib detainees, and letting our hearts break to open wide. More »
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    Consider the Seed Paid Member

    It is the size of a pea, and crisp green. Feel it in your fingers: the packed potential within its smooth borders; the tight, pinprick tip—that searching extension of sentience. Put it into the earth with me. Black mineral loam, juicy, flecked with bits of organic energy; arms from underground, waiting for our baby seed. Let’s spend a few weeks with it underground. Plant the seed in your imagination. Earth presses up against it; caressing it . . . it draws the earth into itself. The soil offers its minerals to the seed. Seed and soil flowing into one another.  More »
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    What Changes? Paid Member

    Not long ago, an editor who had been a patient of mine called to ask if I would write a piece for her magazine about what exactly changes as a result of psychotherapy. She wanted to know how to explain a successful therapy to her readers, many of whom might be reluctant to see a therapist, either because of the stigma attached or because they were unsure of how it could help. Write something about that, she suggested. More »
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    Sex in the Sangha . . . Again Paid Member

    In Buddhism’s relatively short history in the West, there have been so many scandals—sudden scandals and gradual scandals, scandals of all shapes and sizes—that it might not be long before someone decides to write that history not as a noble narrative of high aspiration but as a series of depressingly lowbrow misadventures. Whether they are about money, sex, power, substance abuse, or, as is most often the case, some combination of them all, one thing seems to be clear: while isolation is a symptom of scandals, scandals are not isolated events. More »
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    The Hidden Lamp Paid Member

    For most of the last 2,500 years, women have had to struggle mightily in order to practice Buddhism. In ancient China, Japan, and other Asian cultures, women were generally not allowed to ordain without the permission of male family members. They were kept home to be householders, slaves, laundresses, cooks, wives, and rearers of children. A few, determined to practice, even scarred their faces so they could enter a monastery without disturbing the monks with their beauty.  As a result, contemporary Buddhists all over the world practice in traditions where historical women’s voices are rare, and many of the teachings and practices have come down to us from a male point of view. This is certainly true in most of the familiar Zen stories and koans, like those in the famous Chinese koan collections: the Blue Cliff Record, The Gateless Barrier, and the Book of Serenity.  More »
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    On Meeting the Great Bliss Queen Paid Member

    Tricycle: Who is the Great Bliss Queen? Klein: The Great Bliss Queen is a title that one Nyingma lineage gives to Yeshey Tsogyel, an enlightened teacher and the central figure of certain tantric practices. In a conflation of history and hagiography, she is described as a Tibetan queen but also the consort, student, and spiritual equal of Padmasambhava, who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the eighth century. According to legend, she buried Padmasambhava's writings so they could be discovered later. Tricycles Why is she blissful? More »