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    Molly's Death Paid Member

    Six of us carried Molly’s body up the narrow, twisting staircase, an embrace so intimate and sweet that the experience remains vivid for me months after her death. Her passing was expected and uneventful, like many I’ve witnessed—a slow withdrawal, a growing acceptance of the inevitable, and a quiet release. Molly had struggled for four and a half years with advancing brain cancer and with the effects of the drugs that slowed its progress. Her body now rested in a hand-built coffin, cut from cedar at a nearby sawmill and reassembled for her only hours ago at the top of the house, in the bedroom that she’d abandoned several months before, no longer able to negotiate the climb. She and her husband, Craig, had built that large room and the attached deck six years earlier—she had loved it there. More »
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    Remembering Ed Softky Paid Member

    I remember picking up the phone on Thursday and hearing my wife Eva’s voice. I could tell she was crying. “Sweetie,” she said, “Ed was in an accident and was killed.” I felt my knees buckle, and I dropped into the chair behind me. My mind couldn’t accept it. This simply wasn’t possible. Ed Softky was the Tibetan translator for Geshe Ngawang Singey, our teacher in Williamsville, Vermont. Ed had orchestrated the camping trip for our sangha to see His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Ed was the one who secretly shoveled our driveway all winter until we finally caught him in the act, shovel in hand, laughing. Ed was the one we all thought of whenever we heard the word bodhisattva. Ed was our dearest friend. More »
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    Faith in Freedom Paid Member

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    If I Were the Buddha Paid Member

      After not voting in several national elections I was forced to admit that my claim to “a position of no position” was pretty much nothing but pretense. I didn’t come to dharma until the middle eighties, but, with no very deliberate intent, I inherited the baby boomer Buddhism of my elders that pervaded the Zen center where I started my practice. The inarticulated presumption was that to vote at all was a vote for samsara, that voting endorsed pathetic delusions of liberty, and furthermore, that those who voted flaunted their hopeless attachment to worldly concerns—not what Zen students most want to advertise about themselves. More »
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    Whose Corruption and Whose Compassion? Paid Member

      As you drive through the smoggy San Gabriel Valley on Highway 60, you crane your neck as you reach Hacienda Heights, the locale of the Hsi Lai Buddhist Temple. Though a concrete wall buffers the temple from the freeway, you see a glint of sweeping yellow roofs and you know that soon you’ll arrive there. The Saturday vegetarian brunch that’s served will fill your stomach, but what you’re seeking is enlightenment on some of the issues surrounding the 1996 Democratic fundraising debacle in which the temple and its Buddhist clergy and nuns were prominently fingered. More »
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    Should Buddhists vote? Paid Member

      A common misunderstanding exists that the Buddha wanted his followers to leave society. This is incorrect. Where can we ever live where we are entirely disconnected from other living beings? In a monastery, in a dharma center, in a family, we are always in relationship to those immediately around us as well as to the broader society and to all sentient beings. Even in a remote hermitage we still live in relationship with each and every living being. Our challenge is to make this relationship a healthy one: physically, verbally, and mentally. With a pure motivation, voting and being politically active can be ways of sharing our vision and values with others, in an attempt to stop harm and create happiness in society. More »