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    Knowing the Tiger's Growl Paid Member

    In late 1936, a student of Ajaan Mun named Thet spent a meditation retreat by himself near a Lahu village on a mountain in northern Siam. He was about thirty-four years old then and had been wandering in the wilds for many years. Hearing a tiger's growl was nothing new, but this time, alone in a hut outside the village, he was stricken with fear: More »
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    The Home Culture of the Dharma Paid Member

    Throughout its history, Buddhism has worked as a civilizing force. Its teachings on karma, for instance—the principle that all intentional actions have consequences—have taught morality and compassion to many societies. But on a deeper level, Buddhism has always straddled the line between civilization and wilderness. The Buddha himself gained awakening in a forest, gave his first sennon in a forest, and passed away in a forest. The qualities of mind he needed in order to survive physically and mentally as he went, unarmed, into the wilds were key to his discovery of the dharma. They included resilience, resolve, and alertness; self-honesty and circumspection; steadfastness in the face of loneliness; courage and ingenuity in the face of external dangers; compassion and respect for the other inhabitants of the forest. These qualities formed the "home culture" of the dharma. More »
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    Buddha in the Wild: The Thai Forest Tradition Paid Member

    Lessons of the Forest: Shakyamuni Buddha was born under a tree, became enlightened under a tree, and died under a tree. Thai forest monasticism emulates the Buddha's lifelong connection to the natural world and is considered the tradition closest in form to the path of the historical Buddha. Now, it has been conveyed to the West. More »
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    What's in the Mix? Paid Member

    Zen Abbot Bodhin Kjolhede Do enlightenment and alcohol mix? No. That's the short answer. But let's define our terms. There are many people who might consider themselves "drunks" who haven't touched alcohol in years. But here I take the definition of "a drunk" to be based on behavior, current behavior—someone who consistently drinks to excess. And when you say "enlightened" I take that to mean someone who's fully enlightened. Not just an awakening experience or two, but someone with the goods. Excessive drinking reveals a craving that would not be there if one were fully realized. Enlightenment is about freedom—not freedom to play out one's cravings, but freedom from one's cravings. If one would uproot the dualistic sense of self and other, then he or she would not feel the compulsion to drink to excess. That person would feel complete without needing a substance that is potentially destructive. Excessive drinking is destructive. More »
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    With Your Hair on Fire Paid Member

    Bill Alexander: 56, New Jersey, sober since 1984, Zen practice since 1991, author of Cool Water Alcoholism, Mindfulness, and Ordinary Recovery Mollie Brodsky: 35, New Jersey, sober since 1981, Zen practice since 1991, program director of a statewide substance abuse care initiative providing treatment for welfare-to-work clients Linda Jones: 41, Massachusetts, sober since 1987, Tibetan practice since 1986, certified social worker and Director of Quality Management for Mental Health Services, Riverside Community Care Lida Sims: 52, Georgia, sober since 1997, Tibetan practice since 1977, founder of the Drepung Loseling Monastery in Atlanta, Georgia Richard Walker: 67, New York, sober since 1970, vipassana practice since 1974, real estate broker Sandra Weinberg: 62, New York, sober since 1974, vipassana practice since 1977, psychotherapist and addiction counselor More »
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    Remembering Roshi Paid Member

    I remember a three-month training period at Zen Mountain Center, when I was the chiden, the caretaker of altars and offerings. It was during the summer months, when the shaded gully of the San Jacinto mountains holds the heat of the surrounding Southern California desert. During a very formal memorial service, as I was carrying a tray of elegant, lacquered wooden offering cups between the Meditation Hall and the Buddha Hall, one of them toppled over. It bounced off the surface of the zendo deck onto some rocks. Scrambling after it, I saw that a chip was missing, exposing the red wood beneath like an angry scar, gashing the polished surface. I was devastated and desperately wanted to repair it, to replace it, to make good the damage done. I decided to order a new one from Japan and that evening in the dokusan room, I told this to Maezumi Roshi. He said, "Why! With the chip it is more valuable. See, just as it is." More »