my view

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    Lotuses and Lilies Paid Member

    On the central wall of the Guest House at the monastery where I lived during the 1980s, there was a mural painted by the Japanese Jesuit priest Father Maxima depicting a scene from Buddhist legend. Once when Shakyamuni’s disciples had gathered on Vulture Peak to hear a sermon, he simply stood in their midst and, holding a single flower aloft so all could see, twirled it between his thumb and forefinger. At this, all were puzzled. Mahakashyapa alone, among all the disciples, broke into a smile, indicating that he had understood the final truth of Buddhism. Father Maxima’s mural was a faithful depiction of all this. At the center stood Buddha holding up a lotus blossom. About him were the various monks and animals, bodhisattvas, devas, and other heavenly beings normally to be found when Shakyamuni delivered a sermon. But Mahakasyapa wasn’t smiling—at least not like any smile I’d ever seen. Rather, he wore an expression approaching horror. More »
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    Genesis Run Paid Member

    IT HAD BEEN a long dry spell for Dallas, even for the summer. Little in the way of significant rainfall had happened since early June, and the ground was cracked and dry, the lakes and creeks fading. Until about a couple of weeks ago, that is, when storm clouds quietly moved into the sky with little of the drama that often accompanied past rains in this part of the country. The air filled slowly with grayness. After brooding silently for a while, like old actors preparing to perform on a longvacant stage, the clouds finally stepped forward and cleared their throats with a few barely perceptible gurgles, and it began to rain. And rain. More »
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    Religious Thais Paid Member

    MY FIRST venture into learning Theravada-style meditation was through a New York Insight Meditation Center class, held in a barren room in a nondescript building in a dreary Manhattan neighborhood. While I enjoyed the sessions, the setting was a far cry from the gilt-covered temples of my ancestral Thailand, where ornate prayer halls are graced with tier upon tier of golden Buddha statues, and the grounds teem with saffron-robed monks and lay devotees. More »
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    Rethinking Karma Paid Member

    Incremental Bliss, Karen Tompkins IN WRITING OF Sigmund Freud, one master diagnostician of human suffering, the psychoanalyst and philosopher Erich Fromm observes: More »
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    Taking Flight Paid Member

    BEHIND THE APARTMENT building where I grew up, on the northeast side of Paris, there was a concrete block that we nicknamed le carré, or the square. Its real purpose, as far as I can remember, was to provide ventilation for the building. From time to time, hot dusty air would come out of it. When you sat on le carré, you would have a view of the building that faced ours, with its tiny windows and parking lot. But for my friends and me, it was the concrete nest of our unfinished selves, a silent observer of our gregarious, insecure teenage lives. It was there that we created love stories and dramas. More »
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    Sunset Boulevard Paid Member

    Wednesday evenings, on our way to our weekly meditation group in Los Angeles, my wife and I must traverse the section of Sunset Boulevard that runs from Hollywood to Beverly Hills. Our approach to this famous strip is signaled by an enormous billboard—it used to be the Marlboro Man, now it’s a fifty-foot silhouette of an Absolut Vanilia Vodka bottle—jutting up at the point where Sunset first starts to bend, before snaking along the foot of the Hollywood Hills. Once past the Absolut bottle, it’s 1.9 miles of sex, money, power, glamour, glitz, and sleaze. Okay, perhaps it’s not the prelude most conducive to an evening of meditation, but I think it serves as an apt metaphor for some of the challenges facing American Buddhists on the path to enlightenment. You can look, or you can look away, but you cannot avoid the impact of our culture. More »