Tricycle Talks

Podcast series featuring leading voices and thinkers in the contemporary Buddhist world

Dying Every Day

With Helen Tworkov
Dying Every Day

Author and Tricycle’s founding editor, Helen Tworkov, discusses the new book that she co-wrote with her teacher, Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, about his four-year wandering retreat and near-death experience. In Love With the World: A Monk’s Journey Through the Bardos of Living and Dying follows the Tibetan Buddhist meditation master as he sneaked out of his monastery in Bodhgaya, India, to live as a beggar and traveling yogi.

Here, Tworkov sits down with James Shaheen, Tricycle’s publisher and editor, to discuss how she helped Mingyur Rinpoche tell his story, the near-death experience that transformed his life and teachings, and how seeing the small deaths we experience each day can help us alleviate our fears of dying. They also discuss the origins of the magazine and how the Western Buddhist landscape has changed over time.

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Is School Mindfulness Bringing Religion into the Classroom?

With Candy Gunther Brown
Is School Mindfulness Bringing Religion into the Classroom?

In recent years, school mindfulness programs have sprung up across the country, setting off a debate about whether the nominally secular programs derived from religious practices violate laws about the separation of church and state.

In her new book, Debating Yoga and Mindfulness in Public Schools, Indiana University Bloomington religious studies professor Candy Gunther Brown takes a look at the history of the separation of church and state and the mindfulness movement and makes the case that mindfulness programs have overstepped their bounds. While she does not recommend that the programs should be banned, she argues that making them mandatory is unconstitutional and that students must be asked to opt-in to the classes. (Even opt-out options, she claims, place an illegal burden on the students.)

Here, Gunther Brown talks with Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen about how her view, the legal precedents set from the school prayer debate, and the claims that mindfulness is a form of “stealth Buddhism.”

This episode is sponsored by Maitripa College.

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Inside Japan as an Outsider

With Pico Iyer
Inside Japan as an Outsider

Acclaimed travel and spirituality writer Pico Iyer has written two new books about his life in Japan, Autumn Light (Penguin, April 2019), and the forthcoming A Beginner’s Guide to Japan: Observations and Provocations (Penguin, September 2019). Iyer views the books as complimentary: while Autumn Light describes his experience within the culture, A Beginner’s Guide offers his perspective as an outsider. Since marrying and moving in with his wife in her home city of Nara three decades ago, Iyer has become one of the foremost translators of Japanese culture to Western audiences. Iyer discusses his latest books as well as the way impermanence colors Japanese life and what it means to try to understand other cultures at a time when the term globalist has become, in many parts, a dirty word.

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When Buddhists Were a “National Security Threat”

With Duncan Ryuken Williams
When Buddhists Were a “National Security Threat”

On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order designating military zones along the West Coast and laying the groundwork for US authorities to remove citizens of Japanese descent from their homes and imprison them in camps. While it is widely acknowledged that racism was central to this shameful chapter of American history, the role of religious discrimination cannot be overlooked, says scholar and Soto Zen priest Duncan Ryuken Williams.

Here, Williams joins Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen to discuss his new book, American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War, how Japanese Americans in internment camps stood up for religious freedom, and how this disturbing legacy of persecution has taken on new relevance.

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Why Do We Still Have Religion?

With Elaine Pagels
Why Do We Still Have Religion?

Acclaimed scholar of religion Elaine Pagels discusses the role of faith today, the practical consequences of religious ideas, and what led her to ask, Why Religion? with Tricycle’s editor and publisher, James Shaheen.

Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University, a MacArthur Fellow, and a best-selling author who won the National Book Award for her groundbreaking 1989 work, The Gnostic Gospels. Her latest book, Why Religion? A Personal Story explores why religion has persisted through a blend of meticulous research and an earnest exploration of her own struggles with faith and grief.

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Beating Burnout by Just Being

With Lawrence Levy
Beating Burnout by Just Being

Feeling burnt out does not make you a failure. That’s the first thing Buddhist teacher and former tech executive Lawrence Levy would want you to know. Burnout, Levy says, is a healthy response when our human needs aren’t being met. As the former Chief Financial Officer of Pixar, Levy knows what it means to have a demanding job. But it was during his many years practicing in the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism that Levy began to find a way to apply Buddhist principles to the difficulties that we face in our everyday lives, leading him to co-found Juniper, an organization devoted to making meditation and the dharma accessible in a modern context. Here, Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen talks to Levy about the importance of continuous self-care in a mutually supportive environment and how meditation, learning, and connection can help us tend to the conditions that lead to burnout.

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Transforming Negativity Through Fierce Feminine Wisdom

With Lama Tsultrim Allione
Transforming Negativity Through Fierce Feminine Wisdom

Women have a lot to be angry about. A history of inequality and violence in the Buddhist world and beyond persists to this day. The question remains: what can we do with that anger? Lama Tsultrim Allione says that we have the ability to transform it into a source of strength and clarity—and that goes for all of us, not just women. Known in good part for her work exploring feminine power in Tibetan Buddhism, she examines the figure of the dakinis, fierce feminine embodiments of wisdom, and how they challenge the dominant role models for femininity in Western culture. Lama Tsultrim, who was once Allen Ginsberg’s meditation teacher, has written a new book called Wisdom Rising: Journey into the Mandala of the Empowered Feminine. Here, Lama Tsultrim talks to Executive Editor Emma Varvaloucas about mandala meditation as well as her personal struggle to rediscover Buddhism’s fierce female role models and advocate for equality in a male-dominated culture.

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How to Fight Hate (Without Your Fists)

With Arno Michaelis & Pardeep Singh Kaleka
How to Fight Hate (Without Your Fists)

In recent years, ethno-nationalist movements have had an apparent resurgence. What can we do to counter the hateful ideologies that have led to so much harm? Arno Michaelis, an ex-neo-Nazi, and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, whose father was murdered by a white supremacist, say that a combination of lovingkindness (Pali, metta) and relentless optimism (Punjabi, chardi kala) is the only path forward. The pair came together after the 2012 Sikh temple shooting in a Milwaukee suburb that left Kaleka fatherless. The gunman, Wade Michael Page was a member of the white power group that Arno had founded years earlier. (Arno had since left the organization and later became a Buddhist.) How Arno and Pardeep met and began working together to spread their anti-hate message is the subject of their new book, The Gift of Our Wounds. Here, they talk to Tricycle web editor Matthew Abrahams about their lives and their mission.

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Double-Edged Empathy

With Roshi Joan Halifax
Double-Edged Empathy

Altruism. Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Engagement. These five psychological states are keys to living a compassionate, courageous life, according to Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, and social activist Roshi Joan Halifax. However, each has the potential to become counter-productive: altruism can become pathological, empathy can prevent you from seeing another’s situation clearly, and engagement can become an endless to-do list. In her latest book, Standing at the Edge, Roshi Halifax likens these states to ecosystems that are the most instructive when we work from their edges. Here, Roshi Halifax speaks to author Sandy Boucher about how “edge states” have been vital to her work as a change-agent, and how they might help us nourish love and justice in society today.

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The Mindful Way to Kick a Craving

With Judson Brewer
The Mindful Way to Kick a Craving

The second of the four noble truths teaches that craving leads to suffering. But that would be obvious to anyone struggling with addiction. Psychiatrist Judson Brewer, who is the director of research at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, brings mindfulness practice to the treatment of addiction. Here, Brewer talks to Tricycle contributing editor Amy Gross about the mechanisms in the brain that activate when we have cravings and how Buddhist teachings can help combat a wide variety of addictions.

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Film Club

Buddhist films and discussion for the Tricycle Community

Tibet: The Trail of Light

Itinerant Tibetan nun Ani Rigsang leaves Lhasa with a thirst for freedom from monastic tradition and Chinese surveillance, embarking on a journey across the rural landscape of eastern Tibet in search of initiation into secret tantric practices. At a hidden nunnery she finds an esoteric tradition kept alive through centuries of isolation.

By Hamid Sardar

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