insights

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    Bite-Sized Buddhism Paid Member

    If you can practice even when distracted, you are well trained. If you are a good horseback rider, your mind can wander but you don’t fall off your horse. In the same way, whatever circumstances you encounter, if you are well trained in meditation, you don’t get swept away by emotions. Instead, they perk you up and your awareness increases.Abandon any hope of fruition. The key instruction is to stay in the present. Don’t get caught up in hopes of what you’ll achieve and how good your situation will be some day in the future. What you do right now is what matters.Two activities: one at the beginning, one at the end. More »
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    Buddha Buzz Spring 2004 Paid Member

    The Envelope, PleaseMonks at Sherab Ling Monastery in India may soon have a new statue to add to their collection. Their album, Sacred Tibetan Chant, has been nominated for the 2003 Grammy award for best traditional world music album. The album records Karma Kagyu lineage prayers, Mahakala pujas (a ritual to overcome obstacles in one’s life), and merit dedications for all sentient beings. Other “Buddhist” songs that have been past Grammy nominees include Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” and Bob Dylan’s “Gonna Change My Way of Thinking.” Breathing Out, I Scrum More »
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    Meditation 101: Less is More Paid Member

    My instructions to first-time meditators are becoming more and more minimalist. These days, it’s something like “Sit quietly and notice what’s going on.” It used to take longer—when I was the meditation instructor at a Soto Zen sangha in Mountain View, California, I would spend thirty to forty minutes telling newbies how to sit, how to breathe, how to bow—not to mention how to enter and leave the zendo, how to ask a question, and (talk about setting them up!) what to expect. More »
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    It Takes Guts Paid Member

    As I walked the long driveway to the Alpert family estate, I didn’t know what to expect. A friend had heard Ram Dass lecture at Columbia University and suggested that I go to New Hampshire to meet him. At the time I knew very little about Ram Dass except that he had recently returned from India, and that when he was known as Richard Alpert, he was a counter-culture figure who knew a lot about LSD. I also knew nothing about meditation, yoga, or Buddhism and was not the least bit interested in learning. More »
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    Insights & Outtakes Fall 2005 Paid Member

    I'LL DRINK TO THATBeer connoisseurs may be familiar with Singha, one the most popular beers in Thailand. Less well known is that the singha is a venerable Thai Buddhist symbol: a sort of combination lion and snake frequently seen guarding the entrances to Thai temples. And even more obscure is the way in which Singha beer acts as a sort of guardian for Thai Buddhism: Singha's parents company, Boon Rawd, is a major donor for the restoration of important cultural treasures at Wat Po, one of Thailand's most important royal temples. TEMPLE TARTS More »
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    Surfing the Brain Paid Member

    THAT NIGHT MARKED the beginning of a blizzard of coincidence. There were a few at first and then by the dozen. I would get the notion in my head to call Joe, and the phone would ring and it would be Joe. And then Michael, Micah, Adam, Andrea, Shannon, Sheerly, Terena, Tess, Howard, Kevin, Chad, Jori, and everyone else and over and over. I got very good at thinking of a song and turning on the radio to find it playing; I got better at thinking of someone and running into that person an hour later. These coincidences were the first of a long string of down-the-rabbit-hole experiences too numerous to recount. More »