Linda Heuman (“Whose Buddhism is Truest?”) is a freelance journalist based in Providence, Rhode Island. Heuman has practiced Tibetan Buddhism (in the Gelug, Kagyu, and Nyingma traditions) for two decades under the guidance of Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche and Ven. Christine Skarda.
Heuman’s dharma story began in India and Nepal. In the early 1990s, she practiced in both countries, traveling between Bodhgaya, Dharamsala, Dehra Dun, and Kathmandu. She served in India as retreat attendant for Skarda and continues to work closely with her.
Heuman has traveled extensively and worked recently as a cultural liaison in Nepal for an American trekking company. In her writing, too, Heuman thinks of herself as an explorer and guide who specializes “in entering the often forbidding intellectual territory of scholarly fields, learning the lay of the land, and then leading nontechnical readers to its salient landmarks.” Heuman believes that a good travel guide encourages clients to identify their own attitudes and question assumptions and prejudices that might distort their appreciation of new places and people. In writing about Buddhism, her concern is both cautionary and liberative: “I want to help readers recognize how our values and beliefs filter our encounter with the dharma—how they might obscure the richness of the Buddha’s teaching, or even more dangerously, distort its meaning and thus block its efficaciousness. I want to free us from constraints of problematic thinking.”
Poet Anne Waldman (“Sleeping with the Hungry Ghost”) grew up on MacDougal Street in the heart of Greenwich Village, where she still lives. In 1974, in Boulder, Colorado, she cofounded with Allen Ginsberg the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa Institute, now Naropa University, the first Buddhist-inspired school in the West. During their long friendship and work together, Allen Ginsberg referred to Waldman as his “spiritual wife,” and since his death in 1997 she has spiritedly continued their vision of keeping the world “safe for poetry.”
Waldman is a recipient of the Poetry Society of America’s Shelley Memorial Award and was recently appointed a Chancellor at the Academy of American Poets. She has published more than 40 collections of poetry—her poems have been translated into French, Italian, German, Turkish, Spanish, and Chinese—and she has collaborated extensively with a number of artists, musicians, and dancers, including her son, musician and composer Ambrose Bye. Their new CD, The Milk of Universal Kindness, is due out this summer.
A student of Buddhism for many years, Waldman began her Buddhist studies with Chöygam Trungpa Rinpoche in the 1970s. She is the cotranslator of Songs of the Sons and Daughters of Buddha, an anthology of poems from the Indian Buddhist tradition of the Therigatha.
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