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    Lessons of History Paid Member

    Nearly thirty years have passed since I first became involved in Buddhism. I was nineteen at the time, dizzy with the optimism of the 1960s and the thrill of having traveled overland from England to India. The Tibetans had been in exile from their homeland for just over a decade. The Dalai Lama was only thirty-seven years old and had yet to visit the West. I remember walking up the mist-drenched hills above Dharamsala into�Nearly thirty years have passed since I first became involved in Buddhism. I was nineteen at the time, dizzy with the optimism of the 1960s and the thrill of having traveled overland from England to India. The Tibetans had been in exile from their homeland for just over a decade. The Dalai Lama was only thirty-seven years old and had yet to visit the West. More »
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    Politics and Prayer Paid Member

    Levine: How did you come to be in a Zen meditation center? Brown: I was visiting Japan some years ago, and I went over to Sophia, the Jesuit university in Tokyo. Through the Jesuits I contacted Koun Yamada Roshi. He was an administrator of a medical clinic, and he invited me to come and practice with him. He had a zendo next to his house and was the roshi for a lay community there. I then came back in the fall of 1986, and I stayed there until March of 1987. Levine: What had led you in this direction? More »
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    Clearing Clutter Paid Member

    In 1968, a couple of months into first grade at St. Mary’s Elementary School in Ayer, Massachusetts, I notice that my desk is looking kind of funky. From where I sit, I can peer into the desk of the little girl in the next row: mainly empty, with a neat stack of construction paper, a pair of blunt scissors, a box of crayons, and a few pencils lined up in a groove. Mine, on the other hand, is overflowing with crumpled, crisscrossed papers—spelling tests, math worksheets, stick-figure drawings, a turkey made from a toilet-paper roll, a laboriously copied excerpt from A. A. Milne, with every p backward: “Christopher Robin went hoppity, hoppity, hoppity, hoppity hop...” When I reach inside to scrabble around for a crayon, my hand lands in a puddle of Elmer’s glue. More »
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    Healing Mind, Healing Body Paid Member

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    Wandering Clouds: The Poets of Ch'an Buddhism Paid Member

    Gnarled pines, wind-blown clouds, jutting mountain pinnacles, exiled scholars, horses, trailing willows. Moonlight on meandering rivers, fishermen, white cranes and mandarin ducks, the eerie screech of a gibbon, tiny white plum blossoms on twisted branches, a battered wooden boat moored in the distance. For more than a thousand years the poets of Buddhist China wandered a landscape that is vast and at the same time intimate, mysterious and deeply familiar: the same mountain peaks, the same villages, the same river gorges. What makes this landscape feel so much like home? The poets of China, many of them Ch’an practitioners, had a way of quickly getting down to elemental things. Using a vocabulary of tangible, ordinary objects, they composed unsentimental poems that seem the precise size of a modest human life - the reflective sadness, the fleeting calm pleasures. More »