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    Kuan Yin Paid Member

    Talkative like many old people, she embarked upon a rambling story of her youth, mentioning the name and appearance of her native village, the number and characteristics of her brothers and sisters, and a great many other things More »
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    Renunciation Paid Member

    When people take refuge in the formal ceremony of becoming a Buddhist, they receive a name that indicates how they should work. I've noticed that when people get the name "Renunciation," they hate it. It makes them feel terrible; they feel as if someone gave them the name "Torture Chamber," or perhaps "Torture Chamber of Enlightenment." People usually don't like the name "Discipline" either, but so much depends on how you look at these things. Renunciation does not have to be regarded as negative. I was taught that it has to do with letting go of holding back. What one is renouncing is closing down and shutting off from life. You could say that renunciation is the same thing as opening to the teachings of the present moment. More »
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    An Avalanche in L.A. Paid Member

    MY FRIEND DAN called Thursday morning from Boston and asked if I knew that his son was at USC for the summer. "Worse comes to worst I'll go get him," I said, saying what I thought Dan wanted to hear but not thinking about the consequences. From the little pocket of hills where I live nothing seemed different this Thursday morning, but a short drive up to Mulholland would clue anyone in to the fact that Los Angeles was on fire and there was no putting it out. The Rodney King verdict had been announced on Wednesday around 4:00 P.M. Two black men that I work with had gone ballistic with a silence that was deafening. Right then I knew that we were gonna get into something but even now I'm not sure what it was. More »
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    Dharma Behind Bars: The Paradox of Freedom Paid Member

    In the teachings of the Buddha, perhaps no claim is so radical as this: that liberation is not the special province of the few or the fortunate; that happiness is not dependent upon caste or creed, wealth or status. According to the dharma, true freedom—freedom from greed, hatred, and delusion—is determined by our minds, not by our place in life. Insofar as we are governed by our desires and aversions, we live in a prison of our own making; and insofar as we are free of the bondage of our attachments, we are able to taste freedom, no matter our circumstances. More »
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    Working With Compassion Paid Member

    AT THE TIME of my first Buddhist retreat, in the early eighties, I was quite active in the antinuclear movement. I wrote articles on disarmament, worked with nuclear-freeze groups, and worried, deeply, that my friends, family, and familiar world would disappear in one hot blast. On retreat, the threat of nuclear war seemed far beyond the sunny farmhouse kitchen in which I drank my tea. Indeed, I "forgot" about nuclear war until the last day, when I looked out over the frozen pastures and wondered if anyone had dropped The Bomb in my absence. I wondered, too, if I could escape the pain of the politics of war by meditating, devoutly, for a very long time. More »
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    An Interview With Geshe Kelsang Gyatso Paid Member

    Professor Donald Lopez: What is the importance of dharmapala (Dharma protector) practice in Tibetan Buddhism? Geshe Kelsang Gyatso (GKG): Although dharmapalas appear wrathful, in reality they are the same as buddhas and bodhisattvas. In order to benefit people and spiritual practitioners, buddhas and bodhisattvas emanate in the form of dharmapalas. Each monastery and practitioner regards their own dharmapala practice as very important because they practice this in their daily life and it has been passed down from generation to generation. Lopez: Can you describe what the actual practice might look like? Does it take the form of prostrations, or mantras or visualizations? More »