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Tuesday
Aug122014

Two Truths—Indivisible

Softly Goes the Day, 2014, Private Collection. Paintings by Vicki Smith.

When we enter the path, we are working at the level of relative truth, and with practice we may gain insight into the absolute. But we don’t enter the final stage of practice, says Tsoknyi Rinpoche, until we realize these truths were never separate.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

No Shortcut to Awakening

Nakazora #1083 by Masao Yamamoto

Ross Bolleter guides us through the Cycle of Merit, the ancient Chan master Dongshan’s map showing us the way to enlightenment and back to where we are.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Why Do Buddhists Pray?

A. Jesse Jiryu Davis.

Who are we praying to? What are we asking for? Three Buddhist teachers explore what prayer means in a nontheistic tradition and the best way to approach it in your practice.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Oh Tara, Protect Us

Green Tara, Tibet, nineteenth century. Collection of Shechen Archives.

Vajrayana practitioners supplicate deities and buddhas to help clear obstacles on the path. In this teaching, Thubten Chodron comments on a prayer to the buddha Tara to protect us from the eight dangers.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Forum: Milestones and Dilemmas

Two leaves of the Divyavadana, or Divine Stories, written in Sanskrit. Collected in the Buddhist Sanskrit Manuscripts, by Cecil Bernard, 1883. Courtesy Cambridge University Library.

The Buddha, as recorded in the Pali canon and especially as expanded upon in the Mahayana sutras and tantras, was always surprising in his deeds. Upon complete enlightenment, he acknowledged being a buddha, awakened from the sleep of ignorance and perfect in his knowledge of reality, life, death, and nirvana. He at once assured us that such a liberating and blissful ultimate reality could not be translated into any language or captured by any conceptual scheme, law, or theory. While the “dharma jewel” holds us free from suffering, we cannot hold it under our conceptual control. Liberating knowledge can be experienced, but not translated.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Being Shaken

Edward Brown.When Edward Brown first began meditating, his body shook and rocked on the cushion. But he refused to give up. Instead, he found a way to release the childhood trauma at the root of it.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Commentary: Which River Will You Cross?

A. Jesse Jiryu Davis

Whether buying products on the Internet or Skyping with our students and teachers, we instantly recognize our interdependence, and yet how about when we walk outside our door?

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Ask The Teachers

Zenkei Blanche Hartman, Geshe Tenzin Wangyal Rinpoche, and Narayan Helen Liebenson

Q:A friend of mind is considering getting an abortion. She asked me for advice, but as a Buddhist, I don’t really know what to say. I’m concerned that it violates the first precept and will have negative karmic consequences, but in my heart, it feels more complicated than that. How would you counsel someone in my friend’s situation?

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Was the Buddha Ecumenical?

Nearly forty years ago, at a meditation course I attended in Nashville, Indiana, Lama Thubten Yeshe was asked by a Christian woman in the audience, “Are God and dharmakaya the same?” Lama remained silent for several minutes, rocking back and forth on his cushion, pondering, as we sat in suspense. Finally, he simply said, “Yes.” I have never known quite what to make of his answer, but it has remained a sort of interreligious koan for me in the years since as I’ve tried to puzzle out how my identity as a Buddhist did or did not intersect with the identities, ideas, and practices of people in other religious groups.

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Tuesday
Aug122014

Book Briefs

Zen Master Sengai (Scheidegger & Spiess 2014) showcases the paintings of Sengai Gibon (1750–1837), the famous abbot of Shofukuji, Japan’s first Zen temple. Peter Jaeger’s John Cage and Buddhist Ecopoetics (Bloomsbury 2013) explores the ecological and Eastern dimensions of the work of the late American composer, writer, and artist John Cage (1912–1992). Himalayan passages (Wisdom 2014), edited by Benjamin Bogin and Andrew Quintman, presents papers written in honor of Hubert Decleer. Ian Harris’s Buddhism in a Dark Age: Cambodian Monks Under Pol Pot (Hawaii 2013) investigates the fate of Cambodian Buddhism under the brutal Khmer Rouge regime. Check out Sangyes Nyenpa’s Tilopa’s Mahamudra Upadesha (Snow Lion 2014), translated and introduced by David Molk. The Senjusho (Kanji Press 2014) is a collection of Buddhist stories from early medieval Japan dealing with questions of impermanence, karma, and renunciation of secular life. In The Backward Step (Whitlock 2014), Ben Howard incorporates fiction, poetry, social media, snow shoveling, and U.S. politics into his reflections on Zen practice, offering short and perceptive essays that are a pleasure to read.

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