by Kiley Jon Clark
The five years I’ve been spreading the dharma among the homeless grew out of hitting rock bottom myself in a dingy apartment in Texas. Hung over after losing yet another battle with the bottle, I headed into San Antonio, intent on staying sober. There, in a used book store, I found a cheap Zen manual, and I couldn’t put it down. That was the start of my journey into building supportive sanghas among the homeless. Some of the folks on the street joined me to talk and practice in parks, alleys, and under bridges, and we started calling ourselves the HMP, for Homeless Meditation Practitioners. Soon we were granted access to two downtown interfaith chapels and attracted some media coverage, including an article in Buddhadharma (Summer 2011). And HMP Street Dharma groups keep on growing even though it’s obvious to me and everyone else that I have no idea what I’m doing. On top of all this, I’m with the love of my life, all our kids seem to be doing fine under one roof, and I’ve got a job at a homeless facility.
by Kiley Jon Clark
The Promise of Amida Buddha: Honen’s Path to Bliss
Translated by Joji Atone and Yoko Hayashi
Wisdom Publications, 2011
504 pages; $39.95 (hardcover)
Cultivating Spirituality: A Modern Shin Buddhist Anthology
Edited by Mark L. Blum and Robert Rhodes
SUNY Press, 2011
256 pages; $75 (hardcover)
Reviewed by Mark Unno
In the past two decades, there has been increasing awareness in America of Pure Land Buddhism as a major development of East Asian Mahayana Buddhism. While Zen Buddhism is still better known in the West, Pure Land Buddhism and the practices involving the Buddha of Infinite Light, or Amida Buddha, have long been far more prevalent in East Asia, and also widespread in other areas, including Tibet and Vietnam.
After years of treating her depression with medication and therapy, Kiera Van Gelder turned to Buddhist practice to heal. But when her depression and suicidal thoughts returned, she was forced to reevaluate her view of an unmedicated spiritual path.
When I lived at the dharma center, I slept in a room directly above the kitchen. Our center also had a meditation hall, a shrine room and a dining room on the bottom floor, but it was here, in my room above the kitchen, that I felt the deepest pulse of the community.
Introduction by Melvin McLeod
If the Buddha ever ran for political office, I think this would be his platform:
May all beings enjoy happiness and the root of happiness.
May they be free from suffering and the root of suffering.
May they not be separated from the great happiness devoid of suffering,
May they dwell in the great equanimity free of passion, aggression, and ignorance.
After twenty-one years of intensive study, Kelsang Wangmo, a German-born Tibetan Buddhist nun, has become the first woman to receive the prestigious geshe degree. Amy Yee reports on her unlikely and courageous journey.
The courtyard thronged with the commotion of more than a hundred red-robed, foot-stamping, hand-clapping, logicshouting Tibetan Buddhist monks in Dharamsala on a brisk afternoon in March 1994. In the midst of this cacophonous debate in northern India was Kelsang Wangmo, a Germanborn Buddhist nun. She was twenty-three, it was her first debate—and she didn’t speak Tibetan. Had she felt nervous or overwhelmed? Not at all, she recalls, exclaiming, “I loved it!”
One helped transform American society, the other is helping to transform the lives of Buddhist nuns. In an event at the Rubin Museum of Art, feminist trailblazers Gloria Steinem and Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo talk candidly about the personal challenges they’ve faced, the progress they’ve seen, and why there’s still more to be done.
Gloria Steinem: In reading about your life, I’ve been astounded by the degree to which we share certain parallels. We both had mothers who were very supportive of us and also very interested in spirituality. My mother was a theosophist. And so were both of my grandmothers. We both went to India, though in very different ways. I went to India for a couple of years after I graduated from college, mainly because I was trying not to get married.
Dzogchen and Mahamudra, the Great Perfection and the Great Seal, are powerful meditative systems for revealing the nature of mind, explains Adeu Rinpoche. While their methods may differ, their essence is the same.
The meditation approach of Mahamudra as found in the Tibetan Kagyu tradition and the Dzogchen approach from the Nyingma tradition are identical in essence—you may follow one or the other—however, each has its own unique instructions. In each system, Mahamudra and Dzogchen, various methods are used to reveal the nature of bare awareness itself.
Dogen’s seminal teaching, translated by Robert Aitken and Kazuaki Tanahashi
1 When all dharmas are buddhadharma, there are delusion, realization, practice, birth and death, buddhas and sentient beings.
2 When the myriad dharmas are without a self, there is no delusion, no realization, no Buddha, no sentient being, no birth and death.
3 The Buddha Way, basically, is leaping clear of abundance and lack; thus there are birth and death, delusion and realization, sentient beings and buddhas. Yet in attachment blossoms just fall, and in aversion weeds just spread.
The lifetime teaching of Dogen can be found in one phrase: Genjo koan, says Nishiari Bokusan, the late head of the Soto school. When you come to know it intimately, you will see why it encompasses everything.
This fascicle, Genjo koan, is the most difficult of the entire Shobo genzo (Treasury of the True Dharma Eye). Even the teachers of old made mistakes and developed distorted views. All of you should open the great vital eye and penetrate Dogen Zenji’s words without sparing body or life.
There are many interesting and important voices that aren’t always heard in the mainstream dharma discourse. So in this issue we’re launching a new department—Let’s Talk—welcoming a broad spectrum of writers and readers to share their diverse experiences of American Buddhism. Lodro Rinzler kicks things off with his thoughts on why it’s essential to cultivate and support young dharma leaders.
The other day I received a call from a friend who had run a query on the Shambhala Buddhist database looking for authorized teachers under the age of thirty-five.