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    Zen Flies Paid Member

    In San Francisco during the early fifties fly fishing was an important part of the Beat scene. Widespread interest in Buddhism and nature naturally led to Zen Flies. It was admittedly a passing phenomenon—as one angler-poet later explained in City Lights Review: "It got to where 'the perfect cast' meant 'no cast.' Eventually we just went swimming." Influences from the Zen Fly period can be traced on into the sixties. For example, the lyric "Fly Jefferson Airplane" was taken from a fishing poem by Richard Brautigan. Then there is the lettering carved deeply into a cliff above Muir Beach: "First there was a fish, then there was no fish, then there was." But of course the primary and most eloquent record is the remarkable flies (we have included four examples here) that have made their way into the hands of collectors over the years. More »
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    A Buddha in the Woodpile Paid Member

    A Buddha in the Woodpile lf there had been only one Buddhist in the woodpile In Waco Texas to teach us how to sit still one saffron Buddhist in the back rooms just one Tibetan lama just one Taoist just one Zen just one Thomas Merton Trappist just one saint in the wilderness of Waco USA If there had been only one calm little Gandhi in a white sheet or suit one not-so-silent partner who at the last moment shouted Wait More »
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    A Quality of Light: The Monks of Sera Jeh Monastery Paid Member

    I came to Sera Jeh monastery by accident. My boyfriend and I were planning a trip to India and Sri Lanka. A woman from his church in Suffolk, England, had sponsored a young monk at Sera, and she asked if we would deliver a gift to him. But it turned out to be more than a gift to him—it was a gift to us, because we just found it the most extraordinary place. More »
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    Study and Laugher: Portraits of Temple Life Paid Member

    In his quiet portraits of monasticism in Southeast Asia, Vietnamese photographer Tri Luu captures the casual, unadorned interactions of temple life: moments of study and play, of silence and laughter. In its intimacy, the work reveals a closeness between the photographer and his subjects: Tri lives for weeks at a time, sometimes months, with different sanghas. “I don’t really have an objective when I’m living in the temples,” he says. “I don’t know what I’m going to photograph when I’m there. I live with the monks, I study with them, cook with them. I just watch, and I photograph what I see. And I usually go to the same few temples, so the monks are very comfortable with me.” More »
  • The Rabbit in the Moon Paid Member

    This tale, retold by Zen monk-poet Ryokan (c. 1758–1831), draws on an old Chinese legend of a rabbit who lives in the moon. It is one of many Jataka tales, stories of Shakyamuni Buddha’s previous lives that illustrate acts of selflessness.  It took place in a world long long ago they say: a monkey, a rabbit, and a fox struck up a friendship, mornings frolicking field and hill, evenings coming home to the forest, living thus while the years went by, when Indra, sovereign of the skies, hearing of this, curious to know if it was true, turned himself into an old man, tottering along, made his way to where they were. “You three,” he said, “are of separate species, More »
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    Free Expression Paid Member