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    Letters Spring 2009 Paid Member

    SITTING PROUD I was at first a bit dismayed to read that Susan Moon ever felt abashed sitting zazen in a chair (“On the Cushion,” Winter 2008). But then I remembered Zen in the early days at Tassajara and in San Francisco, when some circles and practitioners, in my experience, adopted a macho approach to sitting posture. I also remembered a conversation in the eighties with a Japanese Jungian analyst named Hayao Kawai, who had an interest in Zen practice; he said that by loading Zen on top of our already strict Judeo-Christian culture, American practitioners burden themselves with too much severity. More »
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    Letters Winter 2008 Paid Member

    SCIENCE CATCHES UPIn her article (“Long Journey to a Bow,” Fall 2008), Christina Feldman points out the importance of penetrating the conceit of self, describes its various manifestations, and suggests that liberating ourselves begins with becoming sensitive to those manifestations. As she writes, life is a powerful ally in undermining conceit by providing us with “times when our world crumbles” to the point of realizing that “there is simply no more that ‘I’ can do.” More »
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    Letters to the Editor Fall 2008 Paid Member

    HUMAN NATURE I read the interview with Jack Kornfield in the Summer 2008 edition of Tricycle with an eye toward his new book, The Wise Heart. I have always found attempts to merge Buddhism and Western psychology disappointing. In the same edition of Tricycle, Robert Aitken echoes my suspicions in his response to “The Question”: “As much as I have availed myself of psychological therapy, I can’t get past its purpose to enhance the ego.” More »
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    Letters Spring 2008 Paid Member

    FORGETTING THE FREAKS Andrew Goodwin's review of Christopher Hitchens's God Is Not Great (Fall 2007) is slanted and confused. Although Goodwin applauds the book (except where it applies to Buddhism), he uses the review as a podium from which to preach his own hostile view of theism and religion, two separate if overlapping categories he regularly confuses. More »
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    Letters to the Editor—Summer 2008 Paid Member

    KARMA RULES? David Loy (“Rethinking Karma,” Spring 2008) states that karma has traditionally been used to justify racism, the caste system, economic inequality, or the status quo. The suttas, though, show that the Buddha never used karma to justify any of these things. In fact, he used it to expose these things as empty conventions. Many suttas state unequivocally that a person’s worth is determined by his or her behavior—present karma—rather than by status or birth. Examples include Suttas 93 and 96 in the Middle-Length Discourses, and Sutta 3:24 in the Connected Discourses. The last chapter of the Dhammapada is devoted to the theme that a person is a true brahmin not because of birth but because of his or her present karma. More »
  • Letters to the Editor Summer 2003 Paid Member

    Faith In Faith?Andrew Cooper’s interesting article “Modernity’s God-Shaped Hole” [Spring 2003] concludes with the largely unsupported statement that “we humans are inescapably religious.” This declaration of faith in faith, which puts Cooper in the mythos camp rather than in the logos, or reason, camp, is a fallback position during these times of global multiculturalism and religious diversity. Since we really don’t know what to believe anymore, we’ll just soldier on anyway, by—rather abstractly—believing in belief itself. More »