Many of us struggle to silence our inner critic on a daily basis. According to meditation teacher Tara Brach, that’s because we are living in a “trance of unworthiness,” and are addicted to self-judgment. In her new book, Radical Compassion, Tara offers a path to overcoming our most entrenched negative self-talk.
Tara is the founder of the Insight Meditation Community of Washington, D.C., and a clinical psychologist who has been at the forefront of blending Buddhist meditation and therapeutic methods. She is also a best-selling author and hosts the popular Tara Brach meditation podcast.
Tara is perhaps best known for her teachings on RAIN, an acronym that stands for Recognize, Acceptance, Investigation, and Nurturing, and describes a method for applying mindfulness to difficult emotions. In Radical Compassion, she focuses on using RAIN to cultivate compassion—beginning with compassion for ourselves.
For Zen monk Haemin Sunim, helping regular people with low self-esteem, feelings of loss, or career failure is an integral part of his monastic duties, and a way to spread the dharma in his home country of South Korea, where Buddhism has been on the decline. Dubbed the “Twitter monk” after his account garnered more than 1 million followers, Haemin Sunim in 2015 founded the School of Broken Hearts in Seoul, where he offers both traditional Buddhist instruction and classes designed to help people with the painful parts of life—such as bullying, bereavement, anger management, and dating violence. His latest book, Love for Imperfect Things: How to Accept Yourself in a World Striving for Perfection, is an international bestseller.
Haemin Sunim sits down with Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen to discuss his journey from US college professor to Korean household name, and how he teaches people to let go of their ideas about perfection.
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So often we succumb to our narratives about the people in our lives without taking a moment to examine what’s really going on, and this mindset leaves us feeling isolated. Koshin Paley Ellison calls this state of existence “zombieland,” and says that the habits that keep us locked in our mental stories—and glued to our devices—are rooted in a deep-seated fear of awkwardness and discomfort.
Koshin is a Zen chaplain and teacher and co-founder of the New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, a non-profit that offers training programs in clinical chaplaincy meditation and spiritual counseling. His recent book Wholehearted: Slow Down, Help Out, Wake Up, is a reflection on how the 16 Zen precepts can apply to life today and help us enter into compassionate relationships with ourselves and others.
Here, Koshin sits down with Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen to discuss his journey from “lone wolf” to Zen chaplain and how being with people who are dying has taught him to live a more meaningful life.
Read an excerpt from Wholehearted in our Summer 2019 issue.
The Lotus Sutra is one of the most important Buddhist texts, but for the uninitiated reader, it can make little to no sense. With its cumbersome prose and ostentatious scenes, this ancient sutra evades any of our contemporary efforts to interpret it in simple terms. Yet so much in this sutra—the teaching of the one vehicle, the Buddha’s use of skillful means, and the revolutionary idea that there can be more than one buddha in the world at a time—has become fundamental and foundational material for the Mahayana Buddhist traditions in East Asia.
Our guests are two of the foremost scholars in Buddhist studies, Donald Lopez, Jr., Arthur E. Link Distinguished University Professor of Buddhist and Tibetan Studies at the University of Michigan, and Jacqueline Stone, who recently retired from her position as Professor of Japanese Religions at Princeton University. They have written a chapter-by-chapter guide to the Lotus Sutra called Two Buddhas Seated Side by Side: A Guide to the Lotus Sutra (October 2019, Princeton University Press). The book is a highly readable commentary and introduction to the sutra that flips between ancient India, when the sutra was written, and medieval Japan, when it took on a new meaning for the Buddhist priest and reformationist Nichiren.
Here, Stone and Lopez sit down with Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen to discuss the issues, such as religious meaning, reinvention, and adaptation, that this book brings to the surface.
Law professor and mindfulness instructor Rhonda Magee says the recent resurgence of overt racism shows that we failed to address its root cause—our own racial biases. Magee is a professor at the University of San Francisco’s School of Law, where she teaches about racial justice and uses mindfulness to help students surface their own prejudices. She has written about her work in a new book, The Inner Work of Racial Justice: Healing Ourselves and Transforming Our Communities Through Mindfulness.
Writer and longtime Zen student Lawrence Shainberg joins Tricycle Editor and Publisher James Shaheen to discuss his new book, Four Men Shaking: Searching for Sanity with Samuel Beckett, Norman Mailer, and My Perfect Zen Teacher. They talk about Shainberg’s struggles as a practitioner and an author and how he brings them together in his new memoir, which recounts his conversations with his literary heroes, Samuel Beckett and Norman Mailer, along with his teacher, Roshi Kyudo Nakagawa.
You can read an excerpt from Four Men Shaking in our Fall 2019 issue.
Ronald Purser is a professor of management at San Francisco State University and a longtime Buddhist practitioner who popularized the term McMindfulness in a piece he wrote for the Huffington Post in 2013. In it, he argued that mindfulness practice has been commercialized, and reduced to a mere “self-help technique.” His new book, McMindfulness: How Mindfulness Became the New Capitalist Spirituality, offers an argument against the mindfulness movement, claiming that corporations have embraced the practice in order to advance a neoliberal agenda.
In this episode, Purser strikes a more balanced tone and discusses the good and bad of the mindfulness movement, explains what he means by the catch-all term McMindfulness, and presents his view that mindfulness has an untapped potential to bring about real social change.
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.
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.
Afghan archaeologists and villagers fight to save the ancient Buddhist city of Mes Aynak, one of the most significant archaeological discoveries of recent times, from destruction by a Chinese copper mine.By Brent Huffman
A glimpse of the latest in Buddhist books for kidsBy Sumi Loundon Kim
Tibetan New Year festivities cut back over coronavirus risk, the two claimants to the title of Karmapa will jointly identify the Shamarpa’s reincarnation, and a project showcasing Buddhist women shut down. Tricycle looks back at the events of this week in the Buddhist world.By Emily DeMaioNewton and Karen Jensen
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