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    Seeing for Oneself Paid Member

    I’m not a dharma brat. This is the term that’s sometimes given to the tiny group of us who grew up in America as the children of Buddhist convert parents. Technically speaking, this title would definitely apply to me: both my parents were serious students in the Tibetan tradition of Shambhala Buddhism for years before I was born. For the first two years of my life, my father was the codirector of a large rural meditation center. My first steps were taken in a large dining hall to the loud applause of a group of American Buddhist lay practitioners eating dinner. My parents tell me I was the unofficial mascot of the retreat center. So whoever came up with the term “dharma brat” definitely had someone like me in mind. More »
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    Raising the Stakes Paid Member

    The World Series of Poker at Binion's Casino in Las Vegas is down to its last five players. After eleven days at the table, little sleep, and ferocious competition, they are the last survivors of the five thousand people who each paid $10,000 to enter this no-limit hold'em tournament. The winner will walk away with $7.5 million. Behind designer shades and $21 million in chips sits Irishman Andy Black, nicknamed The Monk following his five years out of the game living a Buddhist life in the U.K. with the Friends of the Western Buddhist Order [FWBO]. More »
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    Workshops, Seminars & Conferences; The Art of Dying Paid Member

    “There are no dead people,” Bob Thurman says. “No one is going to become a dead person. There is no death.” He's launching the third Art of Dying conference in New York City, cosponsored by Tibet House, of which he's president, and the New York Open Center. He will talk for four hours, without a lull, a rapids of ideas, imprecations, riffs. The truth is, Thurman says, “there's no way out, no lunch break, no nirvana break, no death break.” After forty years of involvement with Buddhism, Thurman says, he is “unintimidated by death.” It's liberation, transformation. The awareness of death “is the door for us to be alive.” More »
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    Dear Pope John Paul Paid Member

    In an open letter, William R. LaFleur, professor of Japanese Studies, criticizes the Roman Catholic Church for its stand against contraception and implores the pope to reconsider the Vatican's position in light of Buddhist ethics. YOUR HOLINESS, Convinced that a fully responsible stewardship of our planet requires that we control the increasingly rapid growth of our population, and that the knowledge and use of effective contraceptives is a proven means to that end, I deplore your opposition to these as both wrong and directly contrary to what would clearly benefit humanity at this time in our history. By contrast, the public position of most Buddhists strikes me as ethical. Buddhist monks in Southeast and East Asia have openly supported programs to implement the responsible control of human birth and held that the use of contraceptive devices was not immoral and ought, in fact, to be encouraged. A Thai study in the 1980s stated: More »
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    Spirit in Exile: TIBETAN NUNS Paid Member

    Prior to their life in exile, many of the nuns in Tibet had demonstrated against Chinese rule. As a result, they were threatened, imprisoned, and tortured. Nuns who remained in Tibet held demonstrations in the late eighties and early nineties in Lhasa. Circumambulating the Jokhang Temple in Barkhor Square, nuns would shout, “Free Tibet!” “Chinese quit Tibet!” and “Long live the Dalai Lama!” During one such protest in 1991, Chinese police arrived, tied the nuns' arms behind their backs, hit their faces, and kicked them to the ground. The nuns were taken to Gurtsa Prison to be interrogated. The police demanded to know why the nuns were protesting and beat them with sticks and electric batons. During imprisonment, which for some was three months and for others five years, they were made to kneel on sharp stones for hours, beaten repeatedly by groups of police, and chased by dogs. Due to these beatings, some nuns have permanent internal injuries, hearing loss, or mental impairment. More »
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    In the Land of the First Noble Truth Paid Member

    We had just opened our building in lower Manhattan when we saw smoke sliding out from under Rooster Vargas's door. My then supervisor, a sultry woman in her mid-twenties who did not know what she was getting into (and who soon became conveniently pregnant and left), pounded on Rooster's door. She got no response. She barged into his room with a fire extinguisher so shiny and immaculate it resembled a religious object. We found a chicken defrosting under a scalding shower. Rooster had gone shopping. Seven years have since past. Rooster's residence is without Rooster. After interminably shooting up, snorting, tormenting staff, inflicting on other residents his bug-laden cart that clung to him like a second body, Rooster was evicted. I am still a case manager at the forty-four-unit independent housing facility run by my agency for people who are mentally ill (there are also rooms for people who are handicapped, either physically or financially). More »