Gregory Shepherd looks back on his Zen training in Japan with the late Yamada Roshi and the difficult lessons he learned.
Ezra Bayda, Judith Simmer-Brown, and Kamala Masters discuss how to identify obstacles in your practice, apply antidotes that work, and deepen your meditation in the process.
After caring for his ailing mother for nine years, Ajahn Viradhammo reflects on self-sacrifice and the importance of cultivating a strong and expansive heart.
Zen priest and professional facilitator Catherine Toldi examines the painful conflicts that can arise in sanghas and offers practical advice on how to deal with them.
By Andrew Olendzki
In classical Buddhist teaching, meditation (samadhi) has always been sandwiched between integrity (sila) on the one hand and wisdom (pañña) on the other. Indeed, this is what makes it Buddhist. As a technology for the attenuation of consciousness, meditation had been practiced by yogis for centuries before the Buddha, but in his hands it became a tool for the deep transformation of character that results in liberation of the mind from the toxins that cause suffering.
My teacher died twenty-two years ago. Since then I have maintained my connection to the sangha and still practice in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. But that’s only two of the three jewels. Am I doing myself and the tradition a disservice by trying to practice Buddhism without a guru? Would I be better off opting for another practice—perhaps secular mindfulness—that I can do without a teacher?
Reviewed by Annabella Pitkin
Imagine opening a book about what we would today call Buddhism and reading that it is an Egyptian religion and that the Buddha was a former Egyptian priest exiled from his country during a Persian invasion twenty-three hundred years ago. Or think of reading, in a different treatise on the Buddha, that “We are compelled therefore to believe... that Buddha and [the Norse god] Woden are the same deity, and consequently that the theology of the Gothic and Saxon tribes was a modification of Buddhism...”
Reviewed by Koun Franz
Oxford University Press, 2013 240 pages; $27.95
When I was a novice at Shogoji monastery, every day I passed by some framed calligraphy by the main doors of the dharma hall, excerpts from the Ten Examples of Suchness (junyoze). For weeks, I gave it no attention at all; the schedule was strict, and there was always somewhere else to be. Then one day I looked at it and almost jumped—every Chinese character was also a picture in itself. Instead of the two-stroke character for “person,” there was an intricate painting of an actual man; the character for body, intended in the text to mean “substance,” was crafted out of a butterfly in flight. I don’t know how many times I came back to this bit of writing on the wall, but every time I did, every time I looked closer, I found some small detail that had always been there, some subtle new way in which the text had always been revealing itself.