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    Alice in Enlightenedland Paid Member

    Suppose Alice had been reading a book on American Buddhism before drifting off to sleep on that fateful afternoon. Her exchange with the Cheshire Cat might have gone something like this:ALICE CAME TO A FORK in the forest path and was standing for a moment, puzzled as to which way to go, when she spied the Cheshire Cat sitting in full lotus position on a bough of a tree a few yards off, meditating. It looked so peaceful that she dared not disturb it, but at the same time it had such a compassionate air that she felt it might help solve her dilemma. So when it opened its eyes, she cleared her voice and said in her sweetest tone, "If you please, Cheshire-Puss, could you tell me the way to the Queen's croquet game?" For a moment the Cat only grinned at her, with its eyes bulging out quite alarmingly, but then it simply said, "Which would you rather do? Go to the Queen's croquet game, or get enlightened?" More »
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    Buddhism Without Beliefs Paid Member

    IF YOU GO TO ASIA and visit a wat (Thailand) or gompa (Tibet), you will enter something that looks very much like an abbey, a church, or cathedral, being run by people who look like monks or priests, displaying objects that look like icons, enshrined in alcoves that look like chapels, revered by people who look like worshipers. If you talk to one of the people who look like monks, you will learn that he has a view of the world that seems very much like a belief system, revealed a long time ago by someone else who is revered like a god, after whose death saintly individuals have interpreted the revelations in ways like theology. There have been schisms and reforms, and these have given rise to institutions that are just like churches. Buddhism, it would seem, is a religion. More »
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    White Trash Buddhist Paid Member

    I am forever in debt to the handful of teachers, writers, and thinkers who introduced me to Buddhist practice, provide constant inspiration, and continue to shape my knowledge of this path. Actually, I’m just forever in debt. Every time I get in my 12-year-old car and rattle away to the nearest retreat center, I’m reminded that I’m a poor white trash Buddhist. It’s a good thing none of those luminaries will ever try to collect, since I can’t even afford the practice as it is. That’s a shame, because the dharma saved my life. More »
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    Brain Karma Paid Member

    It seems that everyone wants change: the latest tech gadget, a different job, a better relationship. Things “as they are” are somehow just not quite satisfying. Buddhists will recognize this situation as evidence of the first noble truth: dukkha (suffering or inherent “unsatisfactoriness”) is simply part of existence. More »
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    The Unfamiliar Familiar Paid Member

    "A fresh look and a fresh listen,” said Robert Frost of a good poem. “Read it a hundred times: it will for ever keep its freshness as a metal keeps its fragrance.” A poem may not show us anything new, but what we see, we see afresh, and what we hear, we hear anew. Frost was talking about the poem itself: what it presents, and the way it does it, should strike us unexpectedly.
 The English novelist and scholar David Lodge asked, “What do we mean . . . when we say that a book is ‘original’? Not, usually, that the writer has invented something without precedent, but that she has made us ‘perceive’ what we already, in a conceptual sense, ‘know,’ by deviating from the conventional, habitual ways of representing reality.” It is newness of seeing, rather than newness per se, that counts. More »
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    The Happiness Metric Paid Member

    On Friday evenings in Thimphu, the capital of Bhutan, men, women, and children throng the main street, flowing together in a slow dance. Swaggering teenage boys, arms slung over each other’s shoulders, speak in surprisingly gentle voices. Stray dogs assertively cohabit the city. One often hears singing—on sidewalks, pouring out of windows, on construction sites. The melodies persist in the undulating countryside, where men engaged in matches of archery or darts break into congratulatory chants when the other side scores. More »