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    Fairy Tales and Zen Riddles Paid Member

    Rafe Martin was born into the perfect training ground for a storyteller. He grew up immersed in told stories, hearing his father’s tales of flying dangerous rescue missions in the Himalayas during World War II, fairy tales read aloud by his mother, and his Russian-Jewish relatives telling entrancing, often hilarious, stories about their lives. His early exposure to stories about Asia, his reading of Alan Watts and other Buddhist authors, and a chance meeting with Allen Ginsberg in a bar in Greenwich Village fueled his interest in Zen practice. In the late ’60’s, Martin found himself becoming disillusioned with graduate school at a time when the Vietnam War and social unrest were peaking. “I made a vow to myself in graduate school that if things got really bad, I’d go practice Zen,” he said. More »
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    A Perfect Balance Paid Member

    Equanimity, one of the most sublime emotions of Buddhist practice, is the ground for wisdom and freedom and the protector of compassion and love. While some may think of equanimity as dry neutrality or cool aloofness, mature equanimity produces a radiance and warmth of being. The Buddha described a mind filled with equanimity as “abundant, exalted, immeasurable, without hostility, and without ill-will.” The English word “equanimity” translates two separate Pali words used by the Buddha, upekkha and tatramajjhattata. Upekkha, the more common term, means “to look over” and refers to the equanimity that arises from the power of observation—the ability to see without being caught by what we see. When well developed, such power gives rise to a great sense of peace. More »
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    Practical Advice Regarding Spiritual Teachers Paid Member

    The Initial Interaction The phenomenon of Western Dharma centers—and the arrival of many Tibetan teachers—began in the mid-1970s. The Chinese Cultural Revolution was raging in Tibet, and destruction of the monasteries that had begun in 1959 was nearly complete. Many Tibetan refugees had witnessed India's border war with China in 1962 and its wars with Pakistan in 1965 and 1971. Indian authorities, unable to support the millions of Bangladeshi refugees they had initially accepted, had sent them back and might easily do the same with Tibetans. Due to tensions in Nepal, Sikkim, and Bhutan, Tibetan refugees felt insecure there and looked for safer havens in case of emergency. More »
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    Nagarjuna's Verses from the Center Paid Member

    Although Nagarjuna is arguably the most important figure in Buddhism after the Buddha himself, very little is known about him. All that can be said with any certainty is that he lived at some time around the second century C.E. in India and is the author of a Sanskrit work of 448 verses, divided into twenty-seven chapters entitled: Verses from the Center (Mulamadhyamakakarika). The first known account of Nagarjuna’s life was composed from Indian sources by Kumarajiva, the Central Asian scholar who translated Verses from the Center from Sanskrit into Chinese in 409 C.E. More »
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    Moving Zen Paid Member

    Bodhidharma, the twenty-eighth in line of succession from Shakyamuni Buddha, traveled to the Shaolin Monastery in China to spread the word of Buddhism in 520 C.E. During his self-imposed nine-year period of meditation there, he developed a series of physical movements used both for exercise and for defending himself against wild animals. These techniques of moving meditation were passed on to the Shaolin monks who incorporated them into their spiritual training. This was the origin of martial arts, a powerful and complete way of being. More »
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    The Psychology of Awakening Paid Member

    When I first encountered Zen in the 1960s, I found myself particularly drawn to the mysterious satori—that moment of seeing into one’s own true nature, when all the old blinders were said to fall away. In such a moment, I imagined, one became an entirely new person, never to be the same again. I found the prospect of this kind of ultimate realization compelling enough to turn my life in that direction. More »