special section

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    Psychedelics: Help or Hindrance? Paid Member

    Psychedelic use is on the rise again, yet there are unanswered questions from the periods of heavy use in the sixties and seventies. The conversation wasn’t even possible in the political climate of the eighties, and now, in the nineties, we hope to do some truth-telling. Buddhism and psychedelics share a concern with the same problem: finding that which frees the mind. While psychedelics lurk in the personal histories of many (perhaps most) first-generation Buddhist teachers in Europe and America, today we find many teachers advising against pursuing a path they once traveled. Few Buddhists make the claim that psychedelic use is a path itself; some maintain that it is a gateway, and others feel strongly that Buddhism and psychedelics don’t mix at all. More »
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    Satyagraha Special Section: Unbending Intent, An Interview with Philip Glass Paid Member

    Philip Glass’s opera Satyagraha, written in 1979, depicts the early years of Mahatma Gandhi in South Africa. Born in India in 1869, Gandhi studied law in England before accepting a job to mediate a dispute between two Indian businessmen in South Africa. Here he remained for the next twenty years (1893–1914), developing his strategies of nonviolent transformation, which he called satyagraha. The entire text for Glass’s Satyagraha comes from the Bhagavad Gita, which is a part of the great Indian epic The Mahabharata. More »
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    Satyagraha Special Section: The Psychology of Nonviolence Paid Member

    I AMUSE MYSELF speculating what Sigmund Freud would have made of Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi, had he gotten him on his couch. The two lives did overlap in time, if not in geographic or intellectual space. Gandhi seems like a Freudian feast, starting with his lifelong guilt over having been engaged in sex with his wife at the moment of his father’s death. His life was a constant illustration of Freud’s thesis that we cannot be happy because our inherent nature is contrary to the demands of our conscience or, as Freud put it, our ego is at war with our superego. More »
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    Satyagraha Special Section: Where We Go From Here Paid Member

    Solidarity march for Burmese monks and nuns in San Francisco on October 1, 2007. IN THE FALL of 2007, engaged Buddhism made the nightly news. Monks in Burma (Myanmar) were taking to the streets in defiance of the country’s military rulers. On September 24, a large demonstration in Rangoon included ten thousand monks robed in maroon, carrying multicolored flags and posters of the Buddha. The risks were real: the last time a pro-democracy movement challenged the ruling military junta, in 1988, thousands of people were killed. Though the Burmese sangha managed to retain a trace of autonomy, the jails are filled with monks.More »
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    Satyagraha Special Section: Blueprints of Freedom Paid Member

    FAR FROM THE police dogs, jail cells, and hostile crowds, Martin Luther King, Jr., stands in his office with his arms crossed in front of a portrait of Mohandas Gandhi. The juxtaposition of these two spiritual titans in this photograph reminds me that Gandhi’s “experiment with truth” was at the heart of King’s work for justice and equality. For King as well as Gandhi, the methods of satyagraha, far from being neutral tools devoid of cultural values, contained precise, challenging blueprints for leading a moral life. More »
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    Satyagraha Special Section: Introduction Paid Member

    IN DECEMBER 2005, the annual Tricycle pilgrimage to Buddhist India started off in a hotel lobby in New Delhi, where twenty-two pilgrims gathered. Our first destination was Patna, a city in the lands of the historical Buddha, but the bus to the airport stopped at Birla Bhavan, the site of Mahatma Gandhi’s assassination. In 1948, after more than fifty years of agitating for change through nonviolence, Gandhi was gunned down by a Hindu fanatic, a member of a group opposed to his sympathetic negotiations with Muslims. Only six months earlier, the Mahatma had led India to its independence from British rule. More »