Joan Halifax, Zen teacher and Abbot of Upaya Zen Center in Santa Fe, New Mexico, brought her experience as a pioneer in end-of-life field care to this issue’s “The Lucky Dark.” She says, “My work with dying people reminds me of Zen Master Keizan’s words, means not finding fault with the present moment.'” Her new book, Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death (Shambhala), will be available in June 2008.

Travis Duncan, a first-time contributor to Tricycle, writes about the opening of a new dharma center at the U.S. Air Force Academy (“Salute to Buddhism“). He says, “While I’ve never called myself a practitioner, I’ve always turned to Buddhist thought in times of stress or change. In talking with the cadets, I realized that they needed Buddhism and regular meditation practice for many of the same reasons as I do: it provided a sense of calm they could not experience anywhere else. It was heartening to see an institution often criticized for its intolerance begin to give its members the tools to understand and meet the challenges of their own lives.”

Mariane Pearl‘s personal essay “Taking Flight” is excerpted from the anthology The Buddha Next Door. She tells us of her latest book, In Search of Hope: The Global Diaries of Mariane Pearl (PowerHouse Books, 2007): “It features twelve women from around the world, everyday heroes who are trying to identify legitimate and genuine sources of hope.” Pearl’s far-ranging profiles include a Mexican journalist, a Moroccan cleaning lady living in Paris, and the president of Liberia. Yet, Pearl says, “what all of these women have in common is the understanding that in order to create change in the world, you need to start with yourself.”

Robert N. Bellah‘s “The R Word” reflects the author’s lifelong interest in religion in the context of human evolution. He tells us, “I have been at work for ten years on a book dealing with religion from the Paleolithic to the Axial Age. Having completed chapters on ancient Israel, Greece, and China, I am now at work on ancient India. All this is ultimately in the service of trying to understand where we are today and where we are going.”

David Schneider met Buddhism and calligraphy at the same time in the same place: Reed College, 1969-1970. For this issue, he discusses the relationship between the two in “Sacred Seeds.” Schneider recalls of his time at Reed, “The fact that both traditions were alive and well—Zen in the neighborhood, calligraphy on campus—goes back to the presence of the extraordinary teacher Lloyd Reynolds. For fifty years Reynolds taught literature, art history, calligraphy, and printmaking. Many of his students—poets and Zen men Philip Whalen, Gary Snyder, and Lew Welch among them—regarded Reynolds as one of the greatest teachers they’d met.”