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  • Tricycle Community 6 comments

    Keys to Happiness Paid Member

    In your booklet “Keys to Happiness & a Meaningful Life,” you speak of the importance of knowing one’s own faults, reducing judgments, and practicing lovingkindness and compassion. And you speak of the eight keys to a meaningful life: generosity, patience, discipline, and the other virtues traditionally called the paramitas [perfections]. You emphasize the importance of these qualities for everyone, whether they are Buddhist or not. This suggests that you can develop these aspects independently of a religious context, which is appealing to those who want some kind of “Buddhist” practice without religion. Buddhism introduces wisdom. That’s the difference. For example, compassion with wisdom doesn’t exactly look the same as compassion without wisdom. Wisdom means to be free from complicated mind. More »
  • Tricycle Community 44 comments

    A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Enlightenment Paid Member

    At 7,000 feet, the Zen monastery where I live is level with the clouds, which should give you some idea of where my head usually is—not to mention the heads of those who visit our grounds. Let’s talk about them. Occasionally, college students from the basin below appear through wispy nimbi on our gravel driveway. I first catch sight of them via their hairdos—which are dazzling and neon, like art projects—bobbing spikily through the dull gray mist. They travel in brightly colored, body-buttered, scantily clad, cologned and perfumed packs, like wolves with iPods. They are everything I’m not: still in their twenties, hopped up on caffeine and red meat, and eager to talk about Zen. More »
  • Tricycle Community 25 comments

    A Special Transmission Paid Member

    Legend tells us that Chan Buddhism began in India, specifically when the Buddha transmitted his true dharma to one and only one disciple, Mahakashyapa. History, however, tells us a different story, namely that Chan originated in China some time around the 6th century. Over time, the Chan school spread throughout most of the Chinese sphere of cultural influence—to Korea, Vietnam, and of course Japan, and it is by its Japanese name, Zen, that Westerners recognize it best. Of course, it is not just the name; the Japanese tradition is by far the most familiar and visible of Chan’s various cultural manifestations, though Korean and Vietnamese traditions as well have gained sizable footing in the West. All of which makes for a certain irony: while Chan originated in China, and while China, after the Indian subcontinent, has been the most historically influential home for Buddhism, Westerners tend by and large to have very little working knowledge of contemporary Chinese Buddhism. More »
  • Tricycle Community 12 comments

    Losing My Religion Paid Member

    I would have made a good 17th-century melancholic. Even as a child I was dreary. I remember my mother yelling at me to smile more, like the other kids. I tried, but secretly I didn’t see the point; grinners just didn’t understand the world. Even waking up to a sunny summer day could fill me with dread. A beautiful day only underscored the impermanence of happiness. Beauty today meant rain and wind would get me later for sure. Becoming a writer was a good-enough cover for bouts of nihilism, depression, and black apparel. But when I had a child, J, who turned out to have serious health problems and autism, I had to look straight into the darkness, with no place to hide, no pose to hold, and really figure out how I believed the universe worked and how I was going to continue to live in it. More »
  • Tricycle Community 4 comments

    The World is Places Paid Member

    In Gary Snyder’s essay “Re-inhabitation” he asks, “How does knowledge of the place help us know the Self?” First posed in a 1976 talk, the question feels even more pertinent today. With the ordinariness of air travel and online technology, it can be all too easy to forget the significance of specific physical places. In the following interview about his recent book, Dixie Dharma: Inside a Buddhist Temple in the American South, religious studies scholar Jeff Wilson does his part to remind us. (“You don’t breathe online,” he told me.) By looking at a multidenominational Buddhist temple in Richmond, Virginia, Wilson shows us why understanding region is crucial to understanding American Buddhism. More »
  • Tricycle Community 26 comments

    Buddhist Nationalism in Burma Paid Member

    For those outside Burma, the broadcast images of the Theravada monks of the “Saffron Revolution” of 2007 are still fresh. Backed by the devout Buddhist population, these monks were seen chanting metta and the Lovingkindness Sutta on the streets of Rangoon, Mandalay, and Pakhoke-ku, calling for an improvement in public well-being in the face of the growing economic hardships afflicting Burma’s Buddhists. The barefooted monks’ brave protests against the rule of the country’s junta represented a fine example of engaged Buddhism, a version of Buddhist activism that resonates with the age-old Orientalist, decontextualized view of what Buddhists are like: lovable, smiley, hospitable people who lead their lives mindfully and have much to offer the non-Buddhist world in the ways of fostering peace. More »