sangha spotlight

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    Being Time Paid Member

    EVERY SUNDAY AFTERNOON, in a basement corner in one of America's most infamous prisons, a transformation begins with the simple sweep of a broom. Here, on the rocky banks of the Hudson River, beneath Sing Sing Correctional Facility's chapel auditorium, a small group of prisoners enter an angular, pale-yellow classroom and swiftly clear away the desks and chairs. In their place, the men set zabutons and zafus—meditation mats and cushions—in facing rows. Soon, incense smokes on an altar positioned to catch the sunlight blazing through a narrow, barred window. In moments, a drab prison classroom becomes the zendo for Sing Sing's Dharma Lotus sangha. More »
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    Buddhism on the Other West Coast Paid Member

    It’s tough being a Buddhist in Alaska. Too much darkness, too much daylight, far too much cold. The cost of living is high, the economy is depressed—and so are many Alaskans: The state has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. So what could motivate a Buddhist priest to move halfway around the world to settle in a place that makes Tibet look tropical by comparison? In a word: love. Rev. Yuho Van Parijs,…It’s tough being a Buddhist in Alaska. Too much darkness, too much daylight, far too much cold. The cost of living is high, the economy is depressed—and so are many Alaskans: The state has one of the highest suicide rates in the country. So what could motivate a Buddhist priest to move halfway around the world to settle in a place that makes Tibet look tropical by comparison? In a word: love. More »
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    Holding The Lotus To The Rock Paid Member

    To travel to the small Costa Rican city of Santo Domingo de Heredia you need three things: a good map, a good cabbie, and a good measure of luck. On this afternoon, I’m grateful to have two of the three. Santo Domingo, fifteen miles north of the capital city of San José, is like most Costa Rican towns in that it abjures the need for road signs; travelers get from Point A to Point B using landmarks, as well a significant amount of gesturing and shouting. The directions I’ve been given to Casa Zen, Costa Rica’s lone residential Buddhist center, are laughably vague: “Make a left at the church, a right on the big road, another right after the telephone booth, and a left on the calle de tierra,” or dirt road. After twenty minutes of driving in circles, Cesar, my driver, has passed two churches and innumerable roads that probably qualify as de tierra, and his patience is growing thin. More »
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    Southern Sisters Paid Member

    "I have dreams," Charlotte Sudhamma Bhikkhuni admits. It’s a sweltering day late in the South Carolina summer, but here in the shrine room of the Carolina Buddhist Vihara (residential temple) there’s enough air conditioning to relax and imagine the future. A larger-than-life white Buddha statue sits serenely on the altar, and a mural covers the walls and ceiling, with bald eagles and elephants frolicking in a charming—if ecologically somewhat confused—scene. “I’d like to see the bhikkhuni lineage well established in the States,” she continues, referring to the order of Theravada Buddhist nuns. “Whether that can ever happen through my work or not it’s hard to say, and maybe it just won’t ever happen. Or maybe it will. It’s still a very tender little thing.” More »
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    Shambhala Mountain Center Paid Member

    “Being a pioneer is not always the most wonderful thing,” says Jeff Waltcher, executive director of the Shambhala Mountain Center (SMC), in Feather Lakes, Colorado. He ought to know. As administrative head of one of the country’s largest Buddhist retreat centers, Waltcher has to juggle the headaches of budget, staffing, maintenance, and program development—not to mention making sure bears don’t eat any meditators and forest fires don’t burn down the stupa. These are all part of daily life at this growing center, founded in 1971 in the mountains of northern Colorado. Not that Waltcher is one to complain: “Something about being in the middle of the country is powerful. Our environment is reflective of the wilderness of the mind.” More »
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    A Small Town Does Good Paid Member

    Standing before the two hundred people assembled at the defunct elementary school of Clatskanie, Oregon (pop. 1,528), one woman didn’t mince words about her opinions. “The aura of Satan is taking a foothold. We do not want Buddhism in here.” Many of the others shared her views. Soon the suspicions of some residents of this small town ninety minutes from Portland would bring it into the public eye, forcing it to wrestle with difficult issues of religion, freedom, and community in an age of fear and uncertainty. More »