Forms include chanting, pilgrimage, honoring one's teachers and the teachings, and deity worship
  • A Pilgrimage Among Friends Paid Member

    Chances are you have never heard of the Kumbh Mela. Any coverage of the event on Western television is usually given short shrift, the name translated with a shrug as “The Festival of the Pot.” A crowd shot, and some mention of how many people attended, given in millions. Indians themselves record the numbers in lakh or chror—for in a country of over a billion people isn't it more useful to count in multiples of a hundred thousand or ten million? On the television screen you might see ten seconds of local color: hoards of Naga Babas, warrior ascetics with streaming dreadlocks, storming into the waters clad only in marigolds and ashes. And you think, "How exotic!" but you can have no notion of the event itself. More »
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    The Crown Exit Paid Member

    Last winter I made a pilgrimage to Bodh Gaya for an intensive phowa course with Ayang Rinpoche. This practice, he explained, "is the quickest and most direct path for ending the cycle of rebirth." It involves learning to transfer consciousness out of the body through the crown of the head at the moment of death. Ayang Rinpoche, a Tibetan tulku of the Drikung Kagyu lineage, teaches phowa courses throughout the West and Asia. I had taken this course with him in New York City two years ago. It was extremely detailed and complex, and I had difficulty digesting it. I was also looking for an excuse to go to India. I had not returned since 1974 when I had first taken refuge vows and spent New Year's Eve at the stupa in Bodh Gaya. More »
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    What Does Being a Buddhist Mean to You? Paid Member

    Venerable Daehaeng Sunim Daehaeng Sunim is a famous healer. Born in 1926, she suffered great difficulties under the Japanese occupation of her country. She was ordained in her twenties and spent many years deep in the mountains practicing meditation. During this time she developed healing powers.  "My mind and the mind of a patient are not two. It is similar to electricity; one needs two coils to make light. In the same way, the mind of the patient and my mind combine together so there is energy. Who can we say heals whom? Because the two minds resemble the thread and the lamp that need to touch each other and combine to make light, when there is contact, automatically light comes. For this reason neither side can say they did it. More »
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    Monasticism at the Millennium Paid Member

    This special section looks at monasticism East and West. Here, Westerners challenge the Asian traditions of granting supremacy to monastics over the laity, and of monks over nuns. Contemporary teachers in Europe and North America, influenced by views that go back to the Age of Enlightenment, bring their own heritage to bear on redefining the roles for seekers on the Buddhist path.Image courtesy of Chris Rainier.  More »
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    The Buddha's Robe Paid Member

    I AM SEWING MY FIRST RAKUSU—the rectangular bib-like garment that is worn by Zen Buddhists. It is formally conferred during jukai, the ceremo­ny of taking refuge in the Buddha and receiving the precepts. Unlike many people I know, I have never wanted a rakusu. I do have a narrow black doth band (a wagesa) that I received during my first jukai many years ago, but I keep it folded in a comer of my drawer—my sock drawer. Some­times I feel a pang of remorse that for so long l have allowed it to lie among my socks, socks that slide along the floor and gather dust balls and the smell of sweat and leather. But the truth is that hidden among my socks there are also a few family jewels: an amber bracelet from Poland, a black onyx crucifix that belonged to Great-Aunt Maria, my mother's moonstone bracelet. More »
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    Keys to Happiness Paid Member

    In your booklet “Keys to Happiness & a Meaningful Life,” you speak of the importance of knowing one’s own faults, reducing judgments, and practicing lovingkindness and compassion. And you speak of the eight keys to a meaningful life: generosity, patience, discipline, and the other virtues traditionally called the paramitas [perfections]. You emphasize the importance of these qualities for everyone, whether they are Buddhist or not. This suggests that you can develop these aspects independently of a religious context, which is appealing to those who want some kind of “Buddhist” practice without religion. Buddhism introduces wisdom. That’s the difference. For example, compassion with wisdom doesn’t exactly look the same as compassion without wisdom. Wisdom means to be free from complicated mind. More »