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Thursday
Feb142013

Profile: Boundless Way Zen 

by Andrew Merz

We must carry an iron yoke with no hole,
It is not a slight matter, the curse is passed on to our descendants;
If you want to support the gate and sustain the house,
You must climb a mountain of swords withbare feet.

When asked about the challenges of teaching Zen, Josh Munen Bartok sensei, one of the four guiding teachers of Boundless Way Zen (BWZ), recalls these rather severe lines from The Gateless Gate, a thirteenth-century koan col­lection compiled by the Chinese master Wumen.

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Thursday
Feb142013

On Second Thought

by Shayne Larango

Things were not good with me, but little did I know they were about to get worse. Some­thing was pulling me from a self-destructive relationship with my job. I had started wearing flip-flops to my corporate office, I developed an eye twitch, and my blood pressure was ris­ing. Every day, I felt as though I was walking underwater against the current. But instead of taking all the pills my doctor had recommended, I started seeing an acupuncturist who gently sug­gested I try meditation.

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Friday
Jan182013

Buddhadharma Book Reviews: From the Editor's Desk

In this installment of From the Editor's Desk, Review Editor Michael Sheehy looks at the art of the 10th Karmapa, Buddhist trees, and early Sakya visions of tantra.

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Monday
Jan072013

Buddhadharma Book Reviews: From the Editor's Desk

In this installment of From the Editor's Desk, Review Editor Michael Sheehy looks at new books on not why, but where Bodhidharma went; the new Buddhist hybrid of "Zen lojong"; and pure land literature in Tibet. 

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Wednesday
Dec192012

The Best Buddhist Books of 2012: Selections from the Review Editor’s Desk

By Michael Sheehy
Review Editor, Buddhadharma

There was a harvest of good Buddhist books published in 2012. So what makes a "Best Buddhist Book"? This question has become something of a koan for Buddhadharma's review editors, and while we have not unriddled it, we've managed to come up with a rationale for selecting this year's Best Buddhist Books:

(1) They inform Buddhists about their practice
(2) They advance our understanding of, or shatter our preconceptions about, Buddhism
(3) They are well written or translated, and accessible

The ultimate litmus test, though, is if we like it!

Some of the books and collections that made this year's list were obvious choices while others were surprising gems. Since translations of Buddhist books are essential to the long-term reception of the Buddhist traditions and are primary sources for study and practice, we've created a separate category for translations into English, underscoring their importance.

Below is our selection of Best Buddhist Books for 2012.

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Friday
Nov232012

What's In a Name?

Ajahn Amaro presents two helpful meditation practices you can do while listening to the inner sound.

One practice that can help free the heart from the compulsions of self-view is to meditate upon your own name. Begin by taking a moment to listen to the inner sound. Focus on that until the mind is clear and open and then simply voice your own name internally. Listen to the sound of silence before your name, then to the sound of silence within and then behind your name, and finally to the sound of silence after you repeat it: “A-ma-ro,” “Su-san,” “John.” See and feel what qualities that sound brings. It’s only the sound of your own name, something so familiar, so ordinary. See what happens when it’s dropped into the silence of the mind and really felt and known for a change. Notice what quality it brings, how it opens up the habit of seeing ourselves in a particular way, how it loosens the boundaries.

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Thursday
Nov082012

The Sound of Silence 

Ajahn Amaro explains how to practice nada yoga and why this simple act of listening to inner sound can help you realize emptiness.

Along with the more well-known meth­ods designed to help practitioners of Buddhist meditation ground their attention in the present moment— such as focusing on the rhythm of the breath, paying attention to the feeling of foot­steps, or internally repeating a mantra—is a less familiar method known as nada yoga. Nada is the Sanskrit word for “sound,” and nada yoga means meditating on the inner sound, also referred to as the sound of silence. (Interestingly, nada is also the Spanish word for “nothing.”)

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Thursday
Nov082012

Pure, Clear, and Vibrant 

Visualization practice sometimes involves traditional symbolism that Westerners have trouble relating to, says Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche. He shows us how we can make the most of this powerful method for transforming perception.

The technique of visualization is employed throughout the Vajrayana practices of Tibetan Buddhism. Its use of our imagination makes it quite different from other meditations, such as shamatha, or calm abiding. Imagination also plays a major part in our deluded experience of life. Everything we encounter and perceive in our daily life is a product of our imagination, but because we believe in the illusions we create, they become such deeply rooted mental habits that we completely forget they are little more than fantasy.

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Thursday
Nov082012

You Are Already Enlightened 

Guo Gu, a longtime student of the late Master Sheng Yen, presents an experiential look at the Chan practice of silent illumination.

Silent illumination is a Buddhist practice that can be traced back not only to Huineng (638–713), the sixth patriarch of Chan, and other Chinese masters but also to the early teachings of the Buddha. In the Chan tradition, silent illumination is referred to as mozhao, from the Chinese characters mo (silent) and zhao (illumination). It’s a term that was first used by a critic of the practice, Dahui Zonggao (1089–1163), an advocate of the method of “observing critical phrase” (huatou in Chinese; wato in Japanese). Hongzhi Zhengjue (1091–1157), the Chinese master most often associated with the practice of silent illumination, liked the term and adopted it.

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Thursday
Nov082012

Meditating on the Mind Itself

A teaching on the practice of Mahamudra by Kagyu master Traleg Kyabgon Rinpoche, who passed away in July at the age of 57.

According to the Buddhist Maha­yana tradition, practitioners need to eradicate certain defile­ments and obscurations of the mind in order to realize ultimate truth, or ultimate reality, and the most effective way to achieve this is through the practice of meditation. Generally speaking, two types of meditation are engaged in: shamatha, the “meditation of tranquillity,” and vipashyana, the “meditation of insight.” Through the practice of shamatha, the meditator learns to quiet the mind so that it becomes more focused, resilient, and aware—and therefore less suscep­tible to distractions.

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