It takes a while for a new magazine to find its voice. How sad that Tricycle‘s is maturing with the rasp of a feminist tract.
Ann Arbor, Michigan
Too much politics!—referring to the Winter 1993 Environmental Issue with the Zen spin. Cannot Tricycle be a refuge from writers who can’t save themselves much less the earth and universe? Cannot it be a refuge from the tedious woman-as-victim soap opera? I mean, is all that Kate Wheeler can share with us that feminist power politics is not at work in the monasteries in Burma? Hasn’t she missed the point of it all, and isn’t this a waste of our time? Years ago Alan Watts told his Berkeley audience wisely, “If indeed the world is falling apart, perhaps the best thing we could do is not to try to stop it from happening.” I think that’s the cushion I want to sit on.
John F. Levinge
Is the Buddha above reproach? In the Winter 1993 Issue, Joseph Goldstein implies unconvincingly that he is, while Kate Wheeler argues compellingly that he is not. When Tricycle raises the question of whether the Buddha can be faulted for abandoning his wife and child, Goldstein’s response seems a full-heeled retreat away from the challenge of the living moment into the mountains of metaphysics and mythology. As a rule, to invoke reincarnation and destiny regarding a questionable interpersonal action runs a high risk of being a cop-out. Is speaking of someone on the level of the Buddha an exception that proves the rule? The feminist critique goes beyond matters of gender and justice to equally important questions about detachment versus “householders” struggling to maintain a lay practice; there are so many real concerns tied to the Buddha’s departure from home—and no simple answer in sight. In the meantime, is it helpful to view the Buddha as above reproach?
Hastings-on-Hudson, New York
I really appreciated Kate Wheeler’s article—except for her conclusion. Is it really necessary to make the Buddha “wrong”? Can’t issues of feminism or anything else be explored without pronouncing final judgments? We owe ourselves the benefits of inquiry and change, but I don’t see that it takes “courage” to replicate the good/bad dichotomies that inform much of Western thinking.
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