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  • Tricycle Community 31 comments

    Holding Anger Paid Member

    Anger hinders our liberation from suffering. It takes its toll on our spirit and our health. Stress levels are on the rise. The Harris Poll in 2002 recorded that tension levels in almost half of Americans had worsened over the preceding year. According to the American Institute of Stress, 75 to 90 percent of doctors’ visits are for stress-related ailments. Psychological distress such as anger, anxiety, and depression seems to be a good predictor of high blood pressure, heart attacks, and sudden death. But what is missing from this research is the “first cause,” the damaged self—a belief that manifests as anger projected for the most part onto others. On one level, this projected anger is a defense against one’s “bad self.” On a deeper level, it represents our feelings of vulnerability. More »
  • Tricycle Community 4 comments

    Staying with Boredom Paid Member

    How unsatisfactory desire can feel can be gauged by considering our more obviously neurotic cravings, those emerging out of a dull feeling of frustration, boredom, and emptiness. We look for something pleasurable in order to fill that void and relieve the boredom, at least partially and temporarily. You eat a chocolate or drink a cup of tea or put on a piece of music not so much for the positive enjoyment of such things but more because you don’t know what else to do. It is these kinds of craving that should concern us most, more than those that arise out of a strong, healthy appetite. And the way to deal with them is to regard the boredom itself as a positive opportunity. It is like having to deal with fear, anger, or indeed craving, or any other negative mental state. It is an opportunity to experience the energy that is usually drained away by distractions. When you are really bored, the best thing you can do is sit down and let yourself experience the boredom more fully. More »
  • Tricycle Community 11 comments

    Renunciation Paid Member

    Based on our stubborn belief in a “self,” we become completely overwhelmed by all kinds of emotions. Again and again, this belief in a self leads to our downfall. We feel deeply attached to ourselves and to those whom we associate with ourselves; along with this attachment to self comes its dark companion—a subtle aversion toward all that we regard as “not me” and “not mine.” We also classify objects—our possessions—as belonging to “me.” They are “ours.” This commonly held assumption is weighed down with emotions. Yet if we take the time to really look into this notion, we might just realize that nothing truly belongs to us. When we depart from this world, everything we know and own must be left behind. We can’t even bring along this body that we’ve cherished so intensely year after year. So what do we truly own and where is the presumed owner—this pampered “I”—for whose sake we argue, fight, crave, yearn, indulge, and so forth? More »
  • Tricycle Community 18 comments

    Thoughts Like Dreams Paid Member

    The best way to deal with excessive thinking is to just listen to it, to listen to the mind. Listening is much more effective than trying to stop thought or cut it off. When we listen there is a different mode employed in the heart. Instead of trying to cut it off, we receive thought without making anything out of it. More »
  • Tricycle Community 24 comments

    The Examined Life Paid Member

    I address you now not as your professor, but as Seido, Rinzai Zen monk, caretaker of Hokoku-An Zendo. The semester has come to an end. When I look out at you I see 30 people. When you look at me you see one. But for each one of you I am a different professor. There are 30 different versions of me standing before you in this classroom. It is my job to create a relationship of sorts with each and every one of you. I do that by reading your journals and your papers, by observing how you are in class, whether or not you come prepared, whether or not you take notes, how often you text, and how often you nod off. I’m like Santa Claus. I see you when you’re sleeping and I know when you’re awake; I know when you’re taking notes and when you’re checking your Facebook page. More »
  • Tricycle Community 48 comments

    The Enlightenment Pill Paid Member

    Western society is obsessed with medication. Because medical science has advanced so far so quickly, we are prone to imagine that drugs can cure any illness if only we can find just the right combination of chemicals. So naturally when we hear representatives of Eastern religions describe our normal condition as diseased, we wonder what we can take to fix that. The notion that there might be a pill to make us enlightened seems to make perfect sense. The idea that psychedelic drugs might be able to do in minutes what used to take years of deep introspection and hard practice has recently made a major comeback. As if the 1960s and 1970s taught us nothing, there is a whole new generation promoting hallucination as a substitute for meditation. More »