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    Yasutani Roshi: The Hardest Koan Paid Member

    In Zen at War (Weatherhill, 1997), Brian Victoria examined how the Japanese Zen clergy interpreted Buddhist teachings in ways that made Zen dharma—and themselves—complicit with the Imperial Forces for the success of what was called "The Greater East Asia Co-prosperity Sphere." More »
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    The Spice Of Life Paid Member

    So there i was, speeding down a winding country road on a glorious day last fall, running through yellow lights, completely stressed out, trying to get to the meditation hall on time. I was teaching daily yoga classes at a women’s meditation retreat at Spirit Rock, a Buddhist center in a rural valley north of San Francisco. But my beloved babysitter, Megan—a twenty-something Zen student with beads and small electronic parts woven into her turquoise-and-blonde dreadlocks—had gotten caught in a traffic jam and arrived at my house an hour late, and then I had gotten stuck in the same freeway snarl myself. As I barreled along, I kept imagining a cop pulling me over: “But officer, it’s a dharma emergency!” I burned rubber into the Spirit Rock parking lot, walked to the meditation hall as fast as possible while still appearing mindful and serene, and got there with seconds to spare, just as the bell was ringing to end the last sitting period. More »
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    Blade Over the Heart: American Ninja Paid Member

    Attila S., Captain of Guards at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City, walked into the prison mess hall. Four hundred inmates were sitting quietly, just like a coiled snake before the strike. There was none of the din and clatter of an average mealtime. The sharp taste of tin filled Atilla’s mouth - the flavor of fear. His senses lurched into full alert. “Get out,” he commanded his subordinate guards. “This place is gonna blow.” At…Attila S., Captain of Guards at Rikers Island Correctional Facility in New York City, walked into the prison mess hall. Four hundred inmates were sitting quietly, just like a coiled snake before the strike. There was none of the din and clatter of an average mealtime. The sharp taste of tin filled Atilla’s mouth - the flavor of fear. His senses lurched into full alert. More »
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    A Sangha by Another Name Paid Member

    The black experience in America, like the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, begins with suffering. It begins in the violence of seventeenth-century slave forts sprinkled along the west coast of Africa, where debtors, thieves, war prisoners, and those who would not convert to Islam were separated from their families, branded, and sold to Europeans who packed them into pestilential ships that cargoed 20 million human beings (a conservative estimate) to the New World. Only 20 percent of those slaves survived the harrowing voyage at sea (and only 20 percent of the sailors, too), and if they were among the lucky few to set foot on American soil new horrors and heartbreak awaited them. More »
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    Trying to Speak: A Personal History of Stage Fright Paid Member

    My first bout of stage fright, the one that inaugurated my real problems, occurred when I was sixteen years old and in English class at a boy’s private school, beginning to realize I wanted to be a writer. Our English teacher that year was a tall, vaguely handsome British man, a graduate of Cambridge, who had been a shot putter and discus thrower on the British Olympic team. He was popular around school as a soccer and track coach, an inspiring figure in general. More »