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    Living With The Devil Paid Member

    In popular mythology, devils are quixotic and cruel tyrants who relish tormenting their victims. Their vitality obscures how the demonic is subjectively experienced as a state of existential and psychological paralysis. When seized by a demon, one feels suffocated, oppressed, and fatigued as one struggles to be free from what entraps one. The devil is a way of talking about that which blocks one’s path in life, frustrates one’s aspirations, makes one feel stuck, hemmed in, obstructed. While the Hebrew “Satan” means “adversary,” the Greek diabolos means “one who throws something across the path.” In India, Buddha called the devil “Mara,” which in Pali and Sanskrit means “killer.” In an early discourse entitled “The Striving,” Gotama recalls: More »
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    The Transcendent Imperative Paid Member

    The truth is that the more ourselves we are,the less self is in us.                                      –Meister Eckhart In a glowing passage from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy describes an experience of self-transcendence with such color and detail that one feels its living quality as though from the inside. Oppressed by worry, the ruminative Konstantin Levin decides one day to work in the fields alongside the peasants, a highly unusual thing for a landowner, even one as eccentric as Levin, to do. Although unaccustomed to the hard physical labor, Levin eventually falls into a rhythm that washes away extraneous thoughts and brings his senses to life. More »
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    Modernity's God-shaped Hole Paid Member

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    The Yoga Journey Paid Member

    I hadn’t been in Dharamsala, India, more than two days before I started dreaming about where to go next. While the rain overflowed the sewers and wet cows bunched under the running eaves of the bakery next door, I sat with the other travelers around the wood stove at the Green Restaurant, eating dense slabs of Tibetan bread and butter, drinking mug after mug of ginger lemon tea, and discussing the options. Kullu, Manali, Gangotri, Kathmandu...the names, repeated like mantras, hung shimmering and hopeful in the smoky air, conjuring visions of mystery and magic (as the word Dharamsala had, just a week before). At night, alone in my room, I lit amber incense and consulted the oracle of the Lonely Planet, whose every page hinted at a new adventure. I spread out my atlas and traced, with a cold finger, the dotted gray ribbons of railways, the bright yellow bands of roads. More »
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    Meeting a Man of the Way Paid Member

    In meeting a man along the way, greet him neither with words nor with silence. Now tell me, how will you greet him?— An old Zen koan In the late 1960s, Minor White was fondly known as the Eastern guru of photography because of his unusual teaching methods, which included techniques borrowed from Eastern spiritual traditions. Over six feet tall, with a wild mane of silver hair, Minor was a magnetic and fascinating presence in the world of the arts. More »
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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 »