Since its inception, Tricycle’s mission has been to make Buddhist teachings and practices available without expressing a bias for any particular teacher or community. From the outset, this has presented a challenge. As I wrote in a recent blog post on tricycle.com, one of the difficulties of undertaking Buddhist journalism is that we are advocates for the very thing we are writing about. We seek to promote Buddhism even as we try to write discerningly, and sometimes critically, about it. Sometimes it’s as easy as pie; sometimes the contradictions are absolutely maddening. We’re always in the process of evaluating how best to regard those who represent Buddhist traditions both with the respect of religious practitioners and the critical eye of journalists.
The endings have not always been happy. Students of a particular school or teacher have cried foul, while others have concluded that we’ve let someone off too easily. I once heard someone say of Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Robert Fisk, the Middle East correspondent for Britain’s Independent, “Everyone in the Middle East has a beef against him—the Jews, the Arabs, the Muslims, the Christians; he must be telling the truth.” This is not to say we aspire to criticism, just that it’s not necessarily a bad thing. I’ve come to learn that some flak is inevitable if we’re doing our job well.
But there is another challenge, one that arises from the first part of our mission—to make the teachings available. It’s never easy to strike a balance between exploring the depth of Buddhist teachings and presenting them accessibly to a readership that includes plenty of newcomers. The casual newsstand browser who’s curious about Buddhism seeks an introduction, while established practitioners write to say they are interested in deepening their practice and reading more about particular issues facing Buddhist communities. Often we present a menu of items, some for beginners and others for longtime practitioners; occasionally, however, we manage an article for everyone. In this issue, for instance, Sherab Gyaltsen Rinpoche offers a Tantric visualization practice of Chenrezi, the Bodhisattva of Compassion (see “The Form of Compassion“). His student Pamela Gayle White thought it made sense to present an otherwise esoteric practice in a way that anyone might understand, and her teacher agreed. The practice Sherab Gyaltsen offers is inviting to both longtime practitioners—especially to longtime Buddhists who do not practice in the Tibetan tradition—and to newcomers, who can get a taste for practice without having to wade through preliminary practices or unfamiliar beliefs. And in a continued effort at community-building and keeping the teachings accessible, we’ve asked White to answer any questions our readers have about the practice online at tricycle.com.
Tricycle was founded by laypeople who valued independence and nonsectarianism, but who also knew that to safeguard both, it would need to gain the trust of its readers. As the most widely read Buddhist publication, we believe we have succeeded in doing just that. Reader contributions and support have kept Tricycle independent—and growing—into our seventeenth year. I hope you consider it your magazine and continue to offer the feedback that has allowedTricycle and its readers to grow together.
—James Shaheen, Editor and Publisher
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