in the footsteps of the buddha

  • Ashoka, Beloved of the Gods Paid Member

    “Asoka, the greatest of kings. . . ,” wrote H. G. Wells in A Short History of the World, “one of the brightest interludes in the troubled history of mankind.” Not being a historian, I presume to write about an Indian emperor who reigned in the third century B.C.E. only because I am an Indian, and modern India defines her sovereign status by two symbols from Ashoka’s reign - the wheel in the center of our flag and the pillar crowned by four lions stamped on our coins. As children, we were often told by our parents that these 2,300-year-old symbols were not mere deference to antiquity; they were to inspire us to create a country governed by righteousness. More »
  • Mahapajapati Gotami Paid Member

    Of all the Buddha’s great disciples, male or female, Mahapajapati Gotami, the Buddha's maternal aunt and stepmother, is the only one whom legend describes as a counterpart to the Tathagatha himself. As an elderly woman she became a zealous follower, attained enlightenment after hearing just a brief discourse on dharma and the Vinaya (the code of monastic discipline), and founded the first order of Buddhist nuns. More »
  • The Wanderer Paid Member

    AFTER I RESIGNED from my post as an abbot in Taiwan, Dr. C. T. Shen [a cofounder of the Buddhist Association of the United States] brought me back to New York to spread the dharma there. My return to the United States did not restore me to my former position of strength, however. There was no room for me to live at the Temple of Great Enlightenment, which was occupied by nuns. I stayed at Shen’s villa, named Bodhi House, on Long Island and traveled back and forth to the city. But I wanted to move out because I was too far away from my students. Shen told me, “If you move out, I can no longer take good care of you.”“That’s okay,” I said. “I will wander.” More »
  • The Life of Ananda, Guardian of the Dhamma Paid Member

    Of all the great monks in the Buddha’s retinue, the Venerable Ananda occupied a unique position. He was born on the same day as the Buddha and in the same caste, the warrior caste of the royal family of the Sakyans. His father, Amitodana, was the brother of the Buddha’s father, Suddhodana, so the two were cousins and grew up together in the Sakyans’ capital city of Kapilavatthu. When he was thirty-seven years old, Ananda joined the Buddha’s order of monks, proving himself a willing and diligent pupil. During his first rains retreat he attained the fruit of stream-entry. During the first years of his life as a monk Ananda was fully occupied with the purification of his own mind; he blended easily into the Sangha and slowly developed more and more resilience and mental strength. More »
  • Crooked Cucumber Paid Member

    I moved to San Francisco in the winter of 1966 and began attending morning zazen at the San Francisco Zen Center. Suzuki-roshi had been away in Japan during my initial visit to the Center, but, despite having been told very little about zazen and Zen, and with very little encouragement from anyone, I resolved to come to zazen every morning and every afternoon for one year. More »
  • City of Screams Paid Member

    In February 2001, Mullah Omer, leader of the Taliban, issued his infamous decree: all pre-Islamic art in Afghanistan was to be destroyed, including the two great Buddhas carved into the sandstone cliffs of Bamiyan. When Rob Schultheis began this article—a history of the ancient monument and the people who built it—the Buddhas were still standing.The first historical account of the Buddhas of Bamiyan—the larger of which is said to have been the tallest Buddha in the world—comes to us from 632 C.E., in the words of the great Chinese pilgrim Hsuan Tsang. Hsuan was in the midst of an epic ten-thousand-mile trek along the Silk Road, to the westernmost outposts of the Buddhist world. Much of what is now Afghanistan consisted of small Buddhist kingdoms then, but the countryside was wild and lawless. Hsuan writes of narrow, precipitous trails, of snowdrifts twenty to thirty feet deep, of demon-haunted passes and murderous bands of robbers. More »