Gary Thorp (Shelter from the Storm) tells us: “I’ve always looked at Buddhism and nature, not as two separate entities, but as two different ways of seeing the same thing. Descriptive writing about the relationship between Buddhism and nature is part of our long heritage, and it is a great challenge to try to do this kind of writing well. Creating a worthy haiku can be every bit as difficult as producing a multi-paged essay. There are just so many different ways in which this kind of writing can go wrong that, for me, it’s almost always surprising when it turns out well.”

Pamela Gayle White, whose profile on Trinlay Tulku Rinpoche appears in this issue, has been studying and practicing Tibetan Buddhism for over twenty years. A student, translator, writer, and teacher, she lives in Auvergne, France. She explains the inspiration for her essay: “When I heard Trinlay Tulku Rinpoche teach in Dordogne last summer, I remembered seeing him as a child. Thinking that his history and teachings exemplified the spread of the dharma to the West, I asked him if I could interview him for an article. Rinpoche kindly acquiesced. ‘East Is West’ is the result of two lengthy conversations we had in Paris.”

Contributing editor Andrew Cooper, who interviewed Professor Elaine Pagels (Saved by History), writes: “After 9/11 there was much talk about how ‘everything has changed.’ Well, not everything has changed, but some things certainly have. One change is that religion has come in from the purely personal margins to which it had been consigned and has reasserted itself as a primary force in society. And if we thought this applied just to the Islamic world, George W. Bush’s reelection has shown us otherwise. Buddhists have some significant things to say in the current religious conversation, but we are not yet very good at saying them. I think we need to learn from people who, like Elaine Pagels, are both knowledgeable about and practiced at addressing the role of religion in the contemporary world.”

Contributing editor Mark Magill interviewed Matthieu Ricard on the occasion of his exhibition of photography at the Rubin Museum of Art (Beauty Beyond Beauty). Magill writes, “Most of us are passably good at perhaps one marketable skill. Matthieu, on the other hand, is a scientist, an accomplished author, an extraordinary photographer, and a respected monk. I was curious to learn how his well-rounded life, in particular as a devoted practitioner and student of renowned masters, informs his art. I found his answers both lucid and compelling.” Mark Magill divides his time between New York City and the Catskill Mountains, where he keeps bees and is an active member of the North Branch Volunteer Fire Department. His most recent book is Why Is the Buddha Smiling?

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