Wisdom Collection

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    Fragile Bonds Paid Member

    Satellite images of the Palk Strait, which separates the southern Indian state of Tamil Nadu from the Jaffna peninsula in northern Sri Lanka, show a ghostly line linking the two. Below the water's surface is a ridge of limestone that once formed an isthmus joining the landmasses. It is an apt image for the complex yet buried connections between the two provinces. More »
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    The Dignity of Restraint Paid Member

    It’s always interesting to notice how words disappear from common usage. We have them in our passive vocabulary, we know their meaning, but they tend to disappear from day-to-day conversation—which usually means that they’ve disappeared from the way we shape our lives. Several years back I gave a dhamma talk in which I happened to mention the word dignity. After the talk, a woman in the audience who had emigrated from Russia came up to me and said that she had never heard Americans use the word dignity before. She had learned it when she studied English in Russia, but she had never heard people use it here. And it’s good to think about why. Where and why did it disappear? More »
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    As American as Apple Pie? Paid Member

    "This is vulgar," A. pronounced loudly into my ear. "This is vulgarity itself." We were standing under an arch in the gymnasium of a public school in Manhattan in June 1971. Fifteen clean-cut, energetic young men were waving their arms about vigorously, leading the audience in a song called "Have a Gohonzon,"* set to the Jewish song "Havah Nagila": Have a Gohonzon, Have a Gohonzon Have a Gohonzon, Chant for awhile. You'll find your life will be Full of vitality, Watching your benefits Grow in a pile ... *Gohonzon: In Japanese, honzon indicates an object of worship. Go is an honorific prefix. Nichiren Daishonin embodied "Nam Myoho Renge Kyo," as a mandala (Sanskrit for an object or altar on which buddhas and bodhisattvas are represented). The Gohonzon may  More »
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    Five Practices to Change Your Mind Paid Member

    Leave yourself alone!Zen teacher Barry Magid describes the practice of just sitting. Imagine sitting down in front of a mirror. Your face automatically appears. There is no effort required; the mirror is doing all the work. You can’t do it right or wrong. The Zen Buddhist practice of “just sitting” is like that. When we sit, our mind automatically begins to display itself to us. Our practice is to observe and experience what appears moment after moment. Of course, just as when we look in a real mirror, things don’t stay that simple for long. More »
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    Born Again Buddhist Paid Member

    ONE MORNING NOT LONG AGO, I was born again. Though unexpected, this was never outside the realm of possibility. According to the teachings of Pure Land Buddhism, all who call Namu Amida Butsu, Amida Buddha’s name, may be reborn in the “Land of Utmost Bliss,” provided they truly believe that he will save them. That, of course, had been the problem. Try as I might to finesse my way into the Pure Land, it didn’t matter as long as I didn’t believe. More »
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    The Wisdom Of Frogs Paid Member

    Outside the south window of my house is a small patch of weeds that never gets mowed because it lies between the fuel tank and the wall. Every year in early spring, three or four frogs take up residence there, singing at intervals throughout the day, often while I am chanting. A few years ago, when I placed the altar next to the window, I had not yet noticed their song. Now I would never consider moving it. Even though the frogs sing only three or four weeks out of the year, I have the vague feeling that even when I can no longer hear them, they are there all the same. Sometimes when I am chanting late at night, I can sense their seedlike bodies under a foot or more of snow, patiently waiting to be reborn. I know that I am supposed to be chanting to the mandala on the altar, but having come to Buddhism through haiku poetry, the truth is, I am often singing to the frogs. More »