parting words

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    Countdown to the New Millennium: How Many Breaths Do You Have Left? Paid Member

    If you thought focusing on your breath to the count of ten was hard, consider the roughly 770,000 breaths you have left from Thanksgiving Day until the end of the millennium. A person breathes on average 15 times a minute, 900 times in an hour, 21,600 times a day—that’s 151,200 breaths drawn in a week. Here’s how many breaths you can expect to take depending on what you’re doing: More »
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    The Cloud of God Paid Member

    It's just a little Shinto shrine: a strong woman could pick it up and carry it away. It sits in a niche in a wall on a nondescript corner of an alley in Kyoto that I pass by every morning, in an otherwise soulless neighborhood of the kind often seen around train stations in cities, especially that early in the day: monolithic apartment blocks, closed-up shops, empty streets. More »
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    Brushing Up Against the Buddha Paid Member

    I am not a Buddhist although I have enjoyed Buddha’s company for many years. Cast in cement, he sits quietly on the deck outside my painting studio surrounded by lumpy concrete animals all purchased at Pizzarilli’s Lawn Decoratives, Inc. on Long Island. According to Pizzarilli Jr., Buddha was not a popular item. The pond frogs, he explained, kept the family business going. I got Buddha and two guard dogs at half price and loaded my menagerie - encased in bubble wrap - into the trunk of a rented car. My wife shook her head, not believing I’d actually bought these objects-not-art, and we headed back to New York City. More »
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    Mind of Embracing All Things Paid Member

    Reading an early passage of the Kegon Sutra, I came across a poem by the Ho-E Bodhisattva which made me want to cry out, “How Wonderful!” Here it is: More »
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    Parting Words Paid Member

    What goes through the mind of the person who chooses to go to jail rather than betray his spiritual convictions? The person who, refusing to be swept up in the militant patriotism that precedes most wars, chooses loneliness and isolation instead? It is hard enough to imagine how such a person passes the days and weeks—what of the hours and minutes? Isn’t it conceivable that the resolve of the heart might collapse under the weight of even a single moment—a moment when all self-aggrandizing fantasies of heroism have eroded and nothing remains but the fact of confinement, plain and simple as the four walls of a prison cell. Such moments carry a weight that the days and weeks can never aspire to. It is the weight of choice, and choice is always of the moment. It is always here and now. More »
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    Becoming Unbound Paid Member

    FOR NEARLY TWO THOUSAND YEARS, these brittle birch bark scrolls and others like them sat in clay pots in Afghanistan. In the mid-1990s, smuggled out from under the nose of the Taliban, they made their way onto the European antiquities market and eventually into the care of wide-eyed Western scholars. Their excitement was well-founded: recent carbon dating tells us that these are the oldest Buddhist texts ever discovered, the earliest of them dating to 130 C.E. Written in the ancient Kharoshthi script, they are remnants of Gandhara, a kingdom that covered parts of modern-day Pakistan and Afghanistan and where Buddhism flourished from the first through fifth centuries C.E. The texts contain a variety of works, from sutras known in other languages to never-before-seen fables. Indicated below are lines thirteen and fourteen of a Dhammapada-like text, a verse also found in the Sutta Nipata of the Pali Canon and translated here from the Pali by Thanissaro Bhikkhu. More »