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    Healing Trauma with Meditation Paid Member

    Many Buddhist practitioners who have experienced trauma seek relief, consciously or unconsciously, in their meditation practice. The range of traumatic experiences is broad and can include being the victim of or witness to violence, such as sexual or physical abuse, rape, assault, torture, or military combat. Trauma can also occur following a serious illness or accident. Victims of trauma may experience feelings of powerlessness, low self-esteem, and self-blame. Trauma can also affect the ability to trust, form intimate relationships, and find motivation and meaning in life. More »
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    Competing With The Incomparable Paid Member

    When comparing yourself with others, do you usually find that you compare favorably or unfavorably? If you compare favorably, do you feel proud? If you compare unfavorably, do you feel devastated? Either of these reactions will keep you from seeing things as they are. If you are feeling competitive, the real question is, Who is it who compares? Don’t repress this feeling or tell yourself how bad it is, but study it as a foolish trait for which you have some affection. Master Dogen, the thirteenth-century founder of Soto Zen in Japan, was asked by a student, “What should you do if you find yourself in an argument? Should you try to win the argument or should you concede, even though you feel you’re right?” Dogen advised neither path. Become disinterested, he told the student, and the argument will lose its energy. The same advice can be applied to feelings of competitiveness in practice: Let go of your attachment to appearances of one who wins or has “got it right.” More »
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    Does Race Matter in the Meditation Hall? Paid Member

    In late spring, Tricycle contributing editor Tracy Cochran met with Vipassana teacher Gina Sharpe for a frank discussion on race and the dharma. Sharpe is co-leader of the People of Color retreat, a semi-annual gathering that has drawn plenty of attention—and some criticism—since it first appeared in retreat catalogs in 2003. Sharpe, who serves on the boards of Insight Meditation Society, in Barre, Massachusetts, and New York Insight, in New York City, was interviewed at her home in northern Westchester County, New York. More »
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    Chanting for Stuff Paid Member

    A common criticism I hear of Nichiren Buddhists, and of Soka Gakkai International members in particular, is that we practice Buddhism for material gain, to get stuff. Well, we do, but it’s a good thing. Really. I was raised a Buddhist and, as such, have a pretty good grasp on the idea of the impermanence of all things. I try to look beneath the surface and identify deeper significance and the connections between things. But even with this perspective, I still live in human society. I am still a human being, subject to all the potential emotional entanglements and flare-ups that brings. Try as I may to focus on the fact that the jerk who cut me off on the freeway is really a manifestation of my own sense of helplessness about my environment, on a bad day he remains the jerk who cut me off. More »
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    Vaisali: First Stop To Enlightenment Paid Member

    “Pleasant is Vaisali,” the Buddha reportedly remarked to his attendant Ananda. “Pleasant are its shrines and gardens.” The first thing you notice about Vaisali, Siddhartha’s first stop on his quest for enlightenment, are the trees, tall and with immense parasol foliage. They bestow a sense of peace and majesty upon this lovely village north of the Ganges. Indeed, during the time of the Buddha, Vaisali was renowned as one of the most beautiful cities in India, counting among its many charms hundreds of lotus ponds and ten square miles of broad lanes lined with mango and banana trees. The trees of Vaisali are memorialized in an image carved almost two thousand years ago on the great stupa at Sanchi, three hundred miles to the south. In the carving, a monkey offers honey to Shakyamuni Buddha under these very same mango trees, rooted in soil that nourished the foundations of democracy as well as Buddhism. More »
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    The Transcendent Imperative Paid Member

    The truth is that the more ourselves we are,the less self is in us.                                      –Meister Eckhart In a glowing passage from Anna Karenina, Tolstoy describes an experience of self-transcendence with such color and detail that one feels its living quality as though from the inside. Oppressed by worry, the ruminative Konstantin Levin decides one day to work in the fields alongside the peasants, a highly unusual thing for a landowner, even one as eccentric as Levin, to do. Although unaccustomed to the hard physical labor, Levin eventually falls into a rhythm that washes away extraneous thoughts and brings his senses to life. More »