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    Bread and Stone Paid Member

    IT IS THE MIDDLE OF December, the last day of classes. Outside, the sky is darkening and the wind is rattling the windows. I am meeting with students in a course called “The Nature of Religious Experience.” We have been reading from the Upanishads, the Life of the Buddha, the Zen Buddhist Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, the Tao Te Ching, the books of Job, Isaiah, Matthew, the sermons of Meister Eckhart, and the� More »
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    Jeweled Demise Paid Member

    I HAVE A TYPICALLY Protestant take on relics: I’m skeptical. I mean, how many pieces of the true cross can there be? I had come to Bodh Gaya, India, scene of the Buddha’s enlightenment, for the Kalachakra initiation given by the Dalai Lama in 2003. I had a few hours to kill, and I came across a display of relics in the middle of an otherwise empty field. A small statue of the seated Maitreya--the� More »
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    Man-Made Monk Paid Member

    In the summer of 1958, Michael Dillon stumbled up a mountain path in Kalimpong, India, gasping in the thin air. He was a British gentleman gone to seed, with an unkempt beard and a pipe stuffed into one pocket of his rumpled suit. He often glanced over his shoulder, as if someone might be chasing him. Dillon was on his way to a monastery run by an Englishman. He guessed it would be the kind of place where you could become invisible. Hidden on a mountaintop in the Himalayan foothills, you could lose your identity and start a new life. More »
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    Mothers of Liberation Paid Member

    THE RADIANT WISDOM-MOTHER Prajnaparamita, golden and serene, represents the transcendent understanding of reality that crowns the spiritual quest. The savioress Tara, sparkling emerald green, nurtures beings to the full flowering of joy and perfection. Vajrayogini, a red female Buddha, dances in a ring of yogic fire that consumes all negativity and illusion. In the Buddhist pantheon of India and the Himalayas, goddesses preside over childbirth, agriculture, prosperity, longevity, art, music, and learning. There are goddesses who specialize in protection from natural and supernatural dangers; others directly support practitioners in their quest for spiritual awakening. More »
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    Memories of Thailand Paid Member

    ISAN, OR NORTHEASTERN THAILAND, is a region known among Thais mainly for its poverty and grim heat—in contrast with the idyllic beaches of the south or the temperate hill forests of the north. Bangkok DJs and soap operas often mock Northeasterners as bumpkins, and northeastern Thai music corresponds roughly to American country music—rustic, easily derided, but infectious. Geographically and culturally isolated, Northeastern Thai life feels far removed from the world of art films celebrated in Berlin and Cannes. So in June 2004 everyone was surprised when a young director from Isan named Apichatpong Weerasethakul took the Cannes festival's Jury Prize for his film Tropical Malady. More »
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    The Mahabodhi Express Paid Member