Mahayana

The bodhisattva path of seeking complete enlightenment for the sake of all beings
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    Cave With a View Paid Member

    I sit in a pink plastic lawn chair in front of my borrowed meditation cave. The afternoon is perfect, a warm cedar-scented breeze sighing through the branches of the deodar cedars on the hill. Tiny birds chirp in the underbrush. My rosary drops onto my lap, my mantra recitation slurs to a halt. Past my bare toes is a gulf of bluish, haze-softened air. Far below, the sacred lake glints like dull-green jade. The high Himalayas are visible today, low and pale across the horizon. I’ve wanted to meditate in a cave ever since reading those first hyperbolic yoga books as a teenager. But I thought I’d be eating weeds, fighting off leopards and even a demon or two. Privation and loneliness would be the whole enlightening deal. I’d end up luminous and scrawny, wearing nothing but a diaper. More »
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    Entering the Lotus Paid Member

    ALTHOUGH I WOULD NOT have described it as such at the time, looking back, I'd say that my first decade or so of Zen practice was focused on self-improvement, especially on discipline. I think I learned a lot, but most of what I learned centered on me—my strengths, my weaknesses, that sort of thing. During this time, I spent three years in monastic training at Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and when I returned, I felt strangely adrift. I'd spent a lot of time examining and working on personal matters, but I was not particularly happy and in fact felt quite disengaged from my life. Something seemed to be missing from my practice. I began to wonder, Well, what now? More »
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    Revealing a World of Bliss Paid Member

    WHEN BUDDHA WAS on Vulture Peak he twirled a flower before the assembly. Everyone was silent. Only Mahakashyapa smiled. Buddha said: "I have the eye treasury of the true teaching, the heart of nirvana, the true form of non-form, and the ineffable gate of dharma. It is a special transmission outside the teaching. I now entrust it to Mahakashyapa." More »
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    The Second Buddha Paid Member

    Image: Nagarjuna receives the Perfection of Wisdom scripture from a nagini. Beside him is Aryadeva, who elaborated his teaching. In the sky, astride a lion, is the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Manjushri, in human guise.  More »
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    This is Your Brain on Buddhism Paid Member

    SOMETIME IN THE 1980S while residing at a meditation center in Cambridge, Massachusetts, I heard of Tibetan yogis being tested with rectal thermometers for increased body temperature, a side effect of the meditation called tumo, the inner heat that burns up subtle obscurations. The yogis, apparently, were uncomfortable with the experiment; someone told me one of them had died not long after returning to India and that the pool of tumo practitioners willing to participate in Western research had dried up for several years as a result. These were merely rumors, yet they revealed the beliefs and prejudices of both sides, as rumors tend to do, making the Westerners sound crude and ruthless, the yogis ignorant and superstitious. More »
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    Questioning The Question Paid Member

    Real questioning has no methods, no knowing—just wondering freely, vulnerably, what is it that is actually happening inside and out. Not the word, not the idea of it, not the reaction to it, but the simple fact. Toni Packer, The Work of This Moment Who’s Asking the Question?  Gil Fronsdal In my first question to a Buddhist teacher I asked, “What kind of effort is needed to practice zazen?” He questioned back, “Who is it that makes the effort?” His response made no sense to me; the conversation came to an immediate end. As I mulled over this exchange, I concluded that I would have to answer both my own question and his counter-question for myself. In doing so I discovered that there are certain spiritual questions that we only answer through our own direct experience. More »