insights

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    Heaven in a Bowl Paid Member

    A spiritual seeker, so the story goes, wanted to know about heaven and hell. An angel offered the answers. First, the seeker was shown a room full of people gathered around a pot of food. They held spoons with handles so long that none of them could raise the food to their mouths. They were starving, and suffering terribly. This was hell. Then, another scene: same room, same people, same food. Same spoons. But here, the people fed each other. This was heaven. More »
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    Coffinman Paid Member

    My new job starts today, washing corpses and coffining them. It made me nervous just thinking about it, and I wanted to back out, except I’d already gone and told everybody a few days ago. Finally, I decided, hell, I’ll just do it. There’s more to washing corpses than meets the eye. It’s not just bathing them. You’ve got to wipe them down with alcohol, put them in their white “Buddha-robes,” fix their hair and faces, put their hands together with an ojuzu [rosary]—all of this in preparation for coffining. More »
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    A Question of Heart Paid Member

    J. Krishnamurti (1895-1986), one of the great spiritual teachers of the twentieth century, conducted lengthy dialogues with  curious Buddhists in the 1970s. Participants included renowned Sri Lankan scholar and monk Walpola Rahula and physicist David Bohm. The following is an excerpt from Can Humanity Change? an edited record of the conversations, which took place in London. More »
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    Shaving Siddhartha Paid Member

    From Life of Buddha, vol. 2, The Four Encounters, © Osamu Tezuka. Reprinted with permission of Vertical, Inc. More »
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    Aging Into Dying and Death Paid Member

    Buddhist writer Larry Rosenberg maintains that “we’re not really afraid of dying—we’re afraid of the idea of dying.” The discussion of ideas about dying has become quite fashionable—though they are not usually recognized as anymore than ideas. The Tibetan Book of the Dead and its famous variant, Sogyal Rinpoche’s Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, have become bestsellers. At any public meeting on Buddhism you can be sure of at least one question about rebirth. In meditative inquiry it is important to distinguish between ideas and personal experience. Buddhist ideas about death are an expression of the experience of highly evolved yogins, raised in or living in traditional, spiritually saturated cultures. Such ideas can sustain faith. They are also valuable in that they may contain specific meditation and visualization instructions, which, in gifted and advanced practitioners, can lead to altered states of consciousness. More »
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    A Very Long Walk Paid Member

    “Three steps, one bow—three steps along the side of the highway, then a bow to the ground, so that knees, elbows, hands, and forehead touch the earth, then rise, join the palms together, and take three more steps, then begin another bow. Hour after hour, day after day, for two and a half years, this was how they made their pilgrimage . . .”—from the opening of News From True Cultivators: Letters to the Venerable Abbot Hua May 29, 1977 More »