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    A Tree With a View Paid Member

    Orangutans are largely solitary creatures, and because the ingredients of their preferred diet are widely dispersed, they've developed ways to avoid having to rummage through the canopy all day, expending precious energy in a restless search for food. One of these strategies entails little more than sitting quietly on a high branch and peering off into the dense green air until the desired delicacy announces itself to their gaze. Primatologists who study the apes have called this behavior "the fruit stare." I've been doing it a lot myself lately. Midway through last summer, I stepped into the in-between of in-betweenjobs. I'd visited this particular bardo before and had always returned, at the end of my transit, to a mundane realm inhabited by an alarming number of both hungry ghosts and jealous gods: the world of New York journalism. Now I was hoping that time in the in-between might lead me somewhere else. More »
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    The In-between State Paid Member

    The secret of Zen is just two words: not always so.—Shunryu Suzuki Roshi It takes some training to equate complete letting go with comfort. But in fact, "nothing to hold on to" is the root of happiness. There's a sense of freedom when we accept that we're not in control. Pointing ourselves toward what we would most like to avoid makes our barriers and shields permeable. More »
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    Something Strange is Happening Paid Member

    Duane Michals's most recent book is Questions Without Answers (Twelve Trees Press, 2001). His show "Who is Sydney Sherman?" will open this November at Pace/MacGill gallery in New York. More »
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    The Luminous Gap in Bardo Paid Member

    Bardo can have many implications, depending on how one looks at it. It is an interval, a hiatus, a gap. It can act as a boundary that divides and separates, marking the end of one thing and the beginning of another; but it can also be a link between the two: it can serve as a bridge or a meeting place, which brings together and unites. It is a crossing, a stepping-stone, a transition. It is a crossroads, where one must choose which path to take, and it is a no-man's-land, belonging neither to one side nor to the other. It is a highlight or peak point of experience, and at the same time a situation of extreme tension, caught between two opposites. It is an open space, filled with an atmosphere of suspension and uncertainty, neither this nor that. More »
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    Awakening in the Bardo Paid Member

      The bardo—or the "in-between"—has come to describe the transitional state between death and rebirth, but its qualities also characterize the gap arising between any two states. In fact, we live in a continuous bardo, forever suspended between past and future, although we seldom recognize it. While the bardo may bring with it great uncertainty and discomfort, teachers and practitioners in the following essays guide us through the unique opportunity for awakening offers.         Image: "Ghost of a Star" © Sylvia Plachy   More »
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    Back to Basics: What Do Buddhists Mean When They Talk About Emptiness? Paid Member

    Emptiness is a mode of perception, a way of looking at experience. It adds nothing to, and takes nothing away from, the raw data of physical and mental events. You look at events in the mind and the senses with no thought of whether there's anything lying behind them. This mode is called emptiness because it is empty of the presuppositions we usually add to experience in order to make sense of it: the stories and worldviews we fashion to explain who we are and the world we live in. Although these stories and views have their uses, the Buddha found that the questions they raise—of our true identity and the reality of the world outside—pull attention away from a direct experience of how events influence one another in the immediate present. Thus they get in the way when we try to understand and solve the problem of suffering. More »