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    The Phone Rings Paid Member

    Returning home from work or from a morning of household errands, we pause on the front porch, holding bags and packages in one arm while trying to work the door key, so absorbed in daydreams that we hardly know what the body is doing—when we hear the telephone ringing within. At once, our automatic motions are speeded up until, hopping and stumbling, we shove our way inside and drop our burdens on top of the table in the hall. There really is no time for reflection, but somehow, in the agitated moment before we seize the telephone on the table, we feel a worrisome sensation of coercion or dependence, as if we were not acting out of our own will at all but being pushed, being accelerated incomprehensibly through a series of habitual motions. Neither looking nor listening with any attentiveness, we have arrived home today just as a thousand times before, and now when the telephone signals us, we are not to any degree awakened but only stung to a quicker obedience. More »
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    Brown Rice Is Just Right Paid Member

    How do you like zazen? I think it may be better to ask, how do you like brown rice? Zazen is too big a topic. Brown rice is just right. Actually, there is not much difference. When you eat brown rice, you have to chew it, and unless you chew it, it is difficult to swallow. When you chew it very well, your mouth becomes part of the kitchen, and actually the brown rice becomes more and more tasty. When we eat white rice, we don’t chew so much, but that little bit of chewing feels so good that naturally the rice goes right down our throats. More »
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    A Mind with a Mind of its Own Paid Member

    The late Tibetan Buddhist master Chögyam Trungpa once said, “The spiritual path is insult after insult,” and that became more clear as I began to meditate. What I found most disturbing, even embarrassing, especially during my first few meditation retreats, was that my mind so often insisted on singing to me. I would be sitting there meditating, and suddenly, triggered by a random image or thought, a song would start up and begin playing over and over again inside my head. Other meditators have reported similar musical intrusions, which might be called “jukebox karma.” More »
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    Carried From Here Paid Member

    Tsering Wangmo Dhompa grew up in the Tibetan communities of India and Nepal, and moved to the United States to attend college and graduate school. Her collection of poems, Rules of the House, the first book of poetry published in English by a Tibetan woman, describes her coming-of-age during the Tibetan diaspora. Due to early monsoon rain, Saturday’s class is dismissed. Seven nuns abandon their books on the roof. Raindrops, I say in English. They want to learn functional words: immediately, enlightenment, conversion. More »
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    Does a Cat Have Buddha-Nature? Meow. Paid Member

    It’s just another day at a remote monastery in western Thailand as the resident monks rise before dawn, make their alms rounds, then take their tigers for a walk. Aside from providing Buddhist training, the six-year-old jungle monastery now acts as an sanctuary for some of Thailand’s few remaining wild tigers. It all started three years ago when a local man found an injured tiger cub abandoned in the wild and took it to the monastery to be cared for. The monks’ vocation took root, and today there are seven young rescued tigers at the monastery, most likely orphaned by poachers. More »
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    The Practice of Harmonica Paid Member

    Teaching a group of nonmusicians to play blues, rock, and classical music on the harmonica might seem an impossible day’s work, but David Harp, author of Instant Blues Harmonica and The Three-Minute Meditator uses the humble “Mississippi Saxophone” as a route to mindfulness rather than as an end, however pleasurable in itself. After all, what better way to focus on the breath, Vipassana-style, than through the inhalations and exhalations of a catchy blues/rock rhythm? By the end of this inspirational and transformative workshop, you’ll be playing Beethoven’s Ode to Joy, Delta blues, Pachelbel’s Canon, and rock ’n’ roll. More important, you’ll learn a set of meditational tools that can be used anywhere, anytime, with or without a harmonica. From the New York Open Center course catalog, June 2000. More »