This issue, we feature the work of legendary photographer Richard Avedon in “The Coconut Monk” and of his grandson, Michael, whose portraiture complements our interview with Nichiren Buddhist artist Aretha Busby. Buddhist connections run deep in the Avedon family. John Avedon, Michael’s father and Richard’s son, is an author of several books on Tibetan Buddhism; he’s also responsible for introducing monk-photographer (and abbot) Nicholas Vreeland to the tradition. Michael’s mother, Maura Moynihan, supports Tibetan refugees and is a former consultant to the Rubin Museum of Art and the International Campaign for Tibet. Michael told us, “It was a pleasure photographing Aretha, whose Buddhist practice I find particularly inspiring.”
DUNCAN RYUKEN WILLIAMS
“American Buddhism,” Duncan Ryuken Williams told Tricycle, “is the lineage of extraordinary and ordinary people who maintain their Buddhist practice and faith in the midst of personal and societal karmic challenges, however difficult they may be.” Williams, a Soto Zen priest and the director of the Shito Ito Center for Japanese Religions and Culture at the University of Southern California, has spent nearly two decades researching the lives of Japanese Americans during World War II. His work culminates this year in American Sutra: A Story of Faith and Freedom in the Second World War (Harvard University Press). In an excerpt, Williams describes the experiences of those American citizens whose Buddhist faith was once deemed a threat to national security.
Journalist Carolyn Gregoire took a look at a unique form of generosity for this issue: she introduces us to BuddhaLand, a 200- acre plot of land in rural Kentucky purchased by a retired engineer, Nam Do, specifically for Buddhists to build upon freely. “I left our conversation feeling so inspired to put my practice into action,” Gregoire said. Gregoire, a yogini, is the coauthor of Wired to Create: Unraveling the Mysteries of the Creative Mind, and a former senior writer at Huffington Post.
Tanaka, a minister as well as an emeritus professor at Musashino University in Tokyo, Japan, invites us onto the Shin Buddhist path of liberation in “To The Pure Land and Back”. “If we are truly honest with ourselves,” he wrote to us, “we can’t help but realize the Shin view that we are indeed foolish and imperfect, and that we can find profound solace in the teaching that we are spiritually accepted just as we are.”