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    Faith in Awakening Paid Member

    THE BUDDHA NEVER PLACED unconditional demands on anyone’s faith. For people from a culture where the dominant religions do make such demands, this is one of Buddhism’s most attractive features. It’s especially appealing to those who—in reaction to the demands of organized religion—embrace the view of scientific empiricism that nothing deserves our trust unless it can be measured against physical data. In this light, the Buddha’s famous instructions to the Kalamas are often read as an invitation to believe, or not, whatever we like. More »
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    Clouds and Water: The Monastic Imperative Paid Member

    It has been said that without monasticism there is no Buddhism. When the first Sangha began to grow around the Buddha there was, of course, no distinctly “Buddhist” form of monastic practice. The history of the Buddhist monastic conventions begins with Shakyamuni’s modifications of the matrix provided by Indian monasticism. The changes he made in the models he received reflected his appreciation of his students’ needs of as well as the realities of his culture… More »
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    Friends of the Western Buddhist Order: Friends, Foes, and Files Paid Member

    It’s Tuesday night in Moseley, a suburb of Birmingham, in the heart of England. People are streaming into a large white house, a former synagogue, now the Birmingham Buddhist Centre. The shrine room and its gallery are packed: A crowd of 250 have come to hear Sangharakshita speak. A small academic figure, gray-haired, in gray suit and glasses, he takes up his position behind a lectern. The talk, lasting nearly two hours, is about Atisha, the 10th-century Indian adept who helped bring Buddhism to Tibet. Here and there the speaker offers a sprig of wisdom about how to apply the tale to one’s own life. More »
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    The True Human Paid Member

    “WHAT DO YOU THINK OF when you hear icon?” I ask at the dinner table a few days before my fifteen-year-old daughter and I visit Frederick Franck, a ninety-six-year-old Dutch-born artist who is the author of The Zen of Seeing and about thirty other books. “I think of Carl Icahn, the corporate raider,” says my husband, Jeff. “I think of a computer icon,” says Alexandra. “Nobody thinks of a religious icon,” I comment. “Do you mean like the Dalai Lama?” asks Alex. “A celebrity or someone who embodies particular qualities can be a kind of icon,” I say. “Carl Icahn could be considered a celebrity icon,” says my husband. “Plus, I have pictures of celebrities on my website, so technically they can also be computer icons,” adds Alex. More »
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    Washing Out Emptiness Paid Member

    After my mother-in-law's recent funeral, my husband Bob and his two sisters, Bonnie and Val, took her ashes to the bank of her favorite creek and sprinkled them in. They hiked back with ash-dusted hands. “I hate to wash,” said Val, rubbing her mother’s powdered body into her palm. “It’s Mom, you know?” I could see the dusty gray ash on her knuckles. “Were there any big pieces?” I asked. “A few chunks,” she answered, as she turned toward the sink. More »
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    Land of Identities Paid Member

    The headline of the article in the major Israeli newspaper read, “My Name is Hannah Greene and I’m a Tibetan Nun.” Interesting, I thought, those are two labels I don’t usually apply to myself. “Hannah” is my Jewish name, not one many people know me by, and I’m not Tibetan. At least I was able to answer when the journalists asked, “What is your Jewish name?” Their second question stumped me. “Are you Jewish?” More »