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    A Green and Gold Place Paid Member

    On the day of my ordination, I arrive at Wat Phra Singh, the Royal Temple of northern Thailand, slightly hungover, fighting a losing battle with my clothes. I am draped in yards of heavy white cotton that indicate little intention of adapting to Western body movement. How do I stand? I wonder. Where do I put my hands? What if the entire outfit falls to the ground, leaving me naked before the crowd?More »
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    Evolution's Body Paid Member

    In the Samyutta Nikaya, the Buddha says, “This body is not mine or anyone else’s. It has arisen due to past causes and conditions.” The Buddha intuited some type of evolutionary process that creates our bodies, and his essential point is that they are neither formed nor owned by us. We now have evidence that our bodies arise from the forces and elements that make up the entire universe, through a complex chain of interdependent events. Internalizing this understanding can help liberate us from the powerful sense of ownership and attachment we have to the body, which is a cause of tremendous suffering, especially as the body grows old and we must face its inevitable destiny. More »
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    Ikebana Paid Member

    Beyond the fringe of urban farmland, where radish and rice fields meet pine-forested hills, stands an ancient temple in northwestern Kyoto called Daikaku-ji, or Big Enlightenment Temple. This venerable site is the birthplace of the Shingon sect, founded in the ninth century by Kukai, the famous saint, scholar, and poet. Daikaku-ji is also the former summer palace of Emperor Saga, a ruler of the same era who loved and preserved the arts. Together with Kukai, Emperor Saga is credited with ushering in the Heian Period, a golden era of artistic and cultural achievement lasting three hundred years. Today, eleven hundred years later, Daikaku-ji is not only a prominent historical temple, but also the international headquarters of the Saga Goryu School of Ikebana. More »
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    Above and Beyond Rangoon Paid Member

    Tell me, are you Western yogis really interested in nibbana? The Burmese interpreter’s piercing brown eyes looked into mine as he waited for an answer. U Mya Thaung was a dignified, precise man of seventy-three, with a mischievous smile. He would interpret for the retreat I would be attending. In the sweltering waiting room of the Rangoon airport, Burmese men wearing sarongs looked at me curiously. I, too, was wearing a traditional longyi, but my Voit high-top sneakers stuck out conspicuously beneath the blue-checked material. We waited for the dilapidated 1950s prop plane to refuel for our flight to Mandalay. In response to U Thaung’s question, I mumbled something like “Some of us are and some are not” - but it continued to haunt me throughout my three-week retreat at the fourteenth-century monastery called Kyaswa. More »
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    Economics, Engagement, and Exploitation in Ladakh Paid Member

    There can be no compassion without wisdom. Indeed Buddhism teaches that wisdom and compassion are the two wings of the bird of enlightenment. By nurturing a compassionate heart which supports and is supported by an awareness that all “things” are empty of inherent existence, we can transcend our narrow sense of self and experience ourselves not as limited static entities but as part of a web of relationships. Few have combined compassion and wisdom with the brilliance of the great ninth-century Buddhist sage Shantideva, who taught that all the joy that exists in the world comes from wishing for the happiness of other sentient beings, and all misery from narrow egotism. To the extent that we care only for ourselves, he assured us, our lives will be filled with suffering. Could this, the heart of Buddhist teaching, ever be more relevant than it is today? More »
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    Confessions of a Dharma Punk Paid Member

    Noah Levine, born in 1971 in Garberville, California, began dharma practice while institutionalized - having been arrested for drugs and violence - in Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall in 1988. He has been practicing since then, primarily in the Theravada tradition. The son of Patty Washko, and of Stephen and Ondrea Levine who are dharma teachers and pioneers in the field of conscious dying, Noah directs the Spirit Rock Teen and Family Program in Woodacre, California. For the last…Noah Levine, born in 1971 in Garberville, California, began dharma practice while institutionalized - having been arrested for drugs and violence - in Santa Cruz County Juvenile Hall in 1988. He has been practicing since then, primarily in the Theravada tradition. The son of Patty Washko, and of Stephen and Ondrea Levine who are dharma teachers and pioneers in the field of conscious dying, Noah directs the Spirit Rock Teen and Family Program in Woodacre, California.   More »