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    The Knife of Compassion Paid Member

    Once upon a time a young Tibetan lama was living in the West. He was a very high-ranking tulku. In addition, he had always manifested an unusual inclination for the wisdom and compassion of the dharma; and the crazy wisdom masters of his lineage had nurtured him with special attention and unbounded affection.He lived humbly in a small house with two Western students, a man and a woman. The two Westerners did not get along. The woman was always irritated with the man. She scolded him for the careless way he left his boots, for putting dishes in the sink without washing them, for not folding his towel in the bathroom, not putting away the bread knife, using too much hot water for his own bath and on and on. The lama never commented on this situation. More »
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    Yagé and the Yanas Paid Member

    With more than a little trepidation, my girlfriend Marion and I boarded a flight to Hawaii. Once buckled in, I fell into a deep and unusually restful sleep. Hours later, I raised the shade and, overcoming a blast of near-blinding light, peered out the small window. The palm-fringed handful of islands strewn in a random arc in the middle of the blue Pacific looked like the last grains from a weary sower’s hand. I remembered that it wasn’t for the black sand beaches and helicopter rides over volcanoes that I had made this journey. It was 1987, and my moment with a shaman was coming near. I had an appointment with yagé, the “vine of the soul.” More »
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    The Economy of Gifts Paid Member

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    Confessions of a Buddhist Political Junkie Paid Member

    In the late seventies and early eighties I would escape every few months from my political work in Jimmy Carter’s White House to play chess with my old friend and Buddhist teacher, Geshe Wangyal, in Washington, New Jersey. From dawn till night the long silences, laughs, and wild accusations of cheating could be heard throughout the house. Meditative serenity sought by those looking for the “Wisdom of the East” was hard to find in his retreat center. More »
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    Born in Tibet Paid Member

    In the summer of 1951, Heinrich Harrer began writing his classic Seven Years in Tibet in a hotel room in Kalimpong, India, only months after fleeing the Chinese invasion of Tibet. A newly independent India, fearing the Red Army now at its border, soon ordered Harrer home to Austria and a war-devastated Europe. In his native Alps, the renowned mountaineer completed his dramatic story: trapped by the outbreak of war while mountaineering in India, Harrer escapes a British prisoner-of-war camp, and survives a two-year flight through the Himalayas to Lhasa. There he becomes friend and teacher to the young Dalai Lama. Since its publication in 1953, Harrer's story has unwittingly contributed to the myth of Tibet as an exotic and inaccessible Shangri-la. More »
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    Death, Sex, Enlightenment & Money Paid Member

    The first time I came to the Tibetan center the teachings were just beginning and I found a place on the floor in the back of the shrine room. Had I arrived five minutes earlier, I might have had time to inspect a gaudy altar, or to inspect the dead-eyed devotees and spiritual show-offs, and I would have had my first opportunity to recoil from an officious caucus of administrators whose every fawning gesture exuded an extravagance of modesty. Only the master himself could have held me. And, thankfully, he did. More »