my view

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    The Groucho Moment Paid Member

    My friend Sid once placed a Groucho Marx mask in a hotel room where the Dalai Lama would be staying during a visit to an Ivy League university. It was a gesture of karmic abandon because, really, who could gauge the terrestrial and spiritual consequences of such an act? And it was also a gesture of friendliness, because His Holiness had once told Sid, one of the main organizers of the Dalai Lama’s visit, that always having to be the Dalai Lama didn’t give him much freedom: so much politics, so much responsibility. Being a compassionate fellow, Sid wanted to help. A disguise—humorous and absurd—he thought, would be just the thing. More »
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    The Nonduality of Good and Evil Paid Member

    If only there were evil people somewhere, insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart? —Alexander Solzhenitsyn More »
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    Dharma Family Values Paid Member

    A Protestant minister I know recently lamented that his congregation seemed to be aging. It’s just too hard to keep teenagers in the church, he explained. They fall away, usually around fourteen or fifteen, after which you’re lucky if you see them on Easter and Christmas. “After that, you’ve basically got only three opportunities to get them back—when they get married, when their children get baptized, or when someone in the family dies.” “But what if your church doesn’t have Easter and Christmas,” I asked, “or if it doesn’t have those marriage, birth, and funeral ceremonies to draw them back in?” He looked at me a little incredulously, then remembered that I was coming from a Buddhist background. “Well,” he said after a moment. “In that case, I guess you’re screwed.” More »
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    The Contenders Paid Member

    I first heard of Marlon Brando’s death in July 2004 while sitting in a cafe a few blocks from my former home in Oakland, California. My daughter, Alana, and I were just getting ourselves settled at our favorite table, and I was making some kind of small talk, when her face darkened in a manner unusual for a seven-year-old—it was a weighty look, a look of concern—and she said, “Daddy, Marlon Brando died.” More »
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    Life or Death Paid Member

    The one thing I have never fully understood about many Buddhists is why they devote so much attention to the individual roots of greed, hatred, and ignorance, yet so little attention to the manifestations of these poisons in social institutions. Is it simply understood that the real work needs to be done on our individual failings, with social greed, hatred, and ignorance being someone else’s problem? Or is it that Buddhists, like so many people, have been deceived into believing that political issues are “none of their business”? Have they been trained to see problems and solutions solely in personal rather than political terms? More »
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    What's the Opposite of Jealousy? Paid Member

    BUDDHIST TRADITION SPEAKS of four "divine abodes," or qualities of an awakened mind to be cultivated and put into practice. Also called the “four immeasurables,” these states—lovingkindness (maitri), compassion (karuna), sympathetic joy (mudita), and equanimity (upeksha)—are to be aroused and radiated outward by the practitioner, without limit or exclusion. Of these, mudita is for many Westerners the least familiar, at least as a term. It refers to the capacity to participate in the joy of others, to take happiness in the happiness of others. Though practice aims ultimately to develop sympathetic joy for all beings, intimate relationships offer everyone—whether Buddhist or not—a precious opportunity to taste its experiential flavor. More »