From Spalding Gray’s interview with the Dalai Lama to Philip Glass and Khyentse Rinpoche, I have come to eagerly anticipate Tricycle‘s excellent interviews. But Harold Talbott on Thomas Merton is the very best yet! As something of a Merton nut, I am familiar enough with the growing body of material on Merton to know that much of it is repetitious and pious. How refreshing then to have Talbott’s fearless descriptions of Merton the man and Merton the monk. And to read them with the rare luxury of knowing that for a change, a beloved hero has met up with a trustworthy raconteur. Thank you Harold Talbott!

Providence, Rhode Island

Thank you for publishing Stephen Batchelor’s excellent article on Russian Buddhism and the life of Bidiya Dandaron. Batchelor may have erred, though, in presenting only the “official” story of Dandaron’s death as a result of a brain tumor and pneumonia. According to an earlier account, Dandaron was trampled during a food riot in the labor camp where he was being held and then was thrown—with several broken bones—into a punishment cell where he was held in isolation without medical treatment, and where he finally died. Whatever the circumstances of his death, he deserves to be remembered. 

Gaithersburg, Maryland

I found “What Does Being Buddhist Mean to You? Re: rats, mice, and cockroaches” in the Summer Issue very depressing. The healthcare worker in Atlanta would trade poisons for creatures in hospitals, hospices, and clinics. If I were a patient there, I would prefer not to be poisoned in her efforts to eradicate “pests.” The Taiwanese nun calls using chemicals “rational,” saying we must think of our neighbors. If she were my neighbor, I would prefer that she think this through more rationally, and not poison my ecosystem with deadly chemicals. Live-trapping and removal, organic chemical solutions (that break down in the ecosystem before they create wholesale broad-spectrum killing), and many old household remedies prove to be more effective and compassionate methods for dealing with rats, mice, and cockroaches.

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