As another year of pandemic-induced uncertainty, fear, and frustration crescendos into its final days, the teachings, practices, interviews, and essays Tricycle published over the last year feel as timely as ever. Over the last twelve months, we’ve sought guidance for embracing the unknown and managing anxiety, learned about the internal wisdom of our bodies and emotions, and returned to ancient teachings and practices. Though the COVID-19 pandemic persists and our climate crisis still looms, we also remembered the importance of finding joy as we celebrated many great teachers and Tricycle’s 30th anniversary. Catch up on any articles you may have missed as we move forward together into the new year. Here are 21 of our top articles from 2021:

  • The Best Possible Life by Seth Zuiho Segall 
    Zen priest and psychologist Seth Zuiho Segall finds that despite (or because of) decades of dedicated practice, there are some fundamental Buddhist beliefs that don’t ring true to him. Transcending into a state of nirvana is one such belief. But in lieu of this traditional goal for Buddhist practitioners, where does the path lead those who seek a more modest spiritual destination? To answer this question, Segall explores the Buddhist themes that get emphasized in the West and presents an interpretation of awakening based on Aristotle’s view of living an ethical and meaningful life.
  • Bodhisattvas Have More Fun by Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara
    Today’s bodhisattvas must be able to adjust to the changes they see around them, says Zen priest Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara in her dharma talk from the Spring issue. But a life of service is not all hardship. It’s full of delights, too.
  • George Saunders on What Buddhism Can Offer the World Right Now Interview by Daniel Burke
    After the publication of his latest book, A Swim in the Pond in the Rain: In Which Four Russians Give a Masterclass on Reading, Writing, and Life, the author and longtime Tibetan Buddhist practitioner discusses how reading stories reminds us of the “Previous and Better Selves We Have, Briefly, Been.”
  • Thich Nhat Hanh in Paris by Fred Eppsteiner
    A dharma teacher and one of the first Americans to be ordained by Thich Nhat Hanh reflects on his time with the beloved Vietnamese Zen monk in the early 1970s, before he was a household name.
  • Buddhism and the Real World by Donald S. Lopez Jr.
    Scholar Donald S. Lopez weighs in on the place of social action in the dharma. Historically, he argues, Buddhism has had relatively little to offer in the domain of social action, and what’s more is “that’s OK.”
  • Music, Meditation, Painting—and Dreaming with Philip Glass and Fredericka Foster
    Composer Philip Glass and painter Fredericka Foster discuss their shared practices: music, art, and meditation.
  • Just Love Them by Vanessa Zuisei Goddard
    A Zen monastery resident discovers her job has been getting in the way of the real work, which is to forget about things done or left to do, deadlines, milestones, profits and quotas, and just love whatever arises. 
  • How to Read the Sutras (and Enjoy Yourself) by Kaia Fischer
    Translator Kaia Fischer offers six steps for easing into and learning to love these sacred texts, plus recommended reading for getting started. Step one: Find the time (don’t “make” it).
  • A Nation in Flux with photography by Nge Lay, interview by Joe Freeman
    Overlaying archival photography and original portraits, Burmese artist Nge Lay illuminates how Myanmar’s past and present collide.
Endless Story #2, Nge Lay, 2013, 61 x 83 cm | Intersections Gallery
  • A Journey Between Lives by Ann Tashi Slater
    Writer Ann Tashi Slater recounts how a life-threatening illness awakened her to The Tibetan Book of the Dead and the bardo teachings of her ancestors.
  • Bhante Gunaratana on Guiding Meditations via Zoom, Daily Mindfulness, and Facing Death, an interview with Bhante Henepola Gunaratana by Douglas John Imbrogno
    At 93 years old, the Theravada Buddhist monk who goes by the nickname Bhante G reflects on Zoom meditation during the pandemic and offers advice for new practitioners.
  • The Thukdam Project by Daniel Burke
    A reporter spotlights the first-ever scientific study of the post-mortem meditative state known as thukdam, where the bodies of Buddhist masters remain without decay for days after they’re pronounced dead. 
  • A Matter of Life and Death by Sojun Mel Weitsman
    During a talk with his students at the Berkeley Zen Center, the late Sojun Mel Weitsman reflects on the question, “alive or dead?” from a Zen koan. 
  • Trusting the Unknown by Kaira Jewel Lingo
    A meditation teacher and former nun explains how to trust—and find strength in—the unknown when confronting a major life decision. 
  • How to Serve Humanity: His Holiness the Dalai Lama in conversation with Daniel Goleman
    In the Tricycle’s first issue, the Dalai Lama sat down for an interview with Spalding Gray. For our 30th anniversary issue, bestselling author and longtime Buddhist practitioner Daniel Goleman invited His Holiness the Dalai Lama to once again join in a conversation, one that covered Buddhism’s contribution to Western neuroscience, psychology, and education.
  • Helpless, Not Hopeless by Kurt Spellmeyer 
    Embracing interdependence as our hidden common ground is our best hope for the future, argues Zen priest Kurt Spellmeyer.
  • Embodying the Healing Mother by Mindy Newman
    Psychotherapist and meditation teacher Mindy Newman offers an introduction to the wisdom of Mother Tara and explains how the Tara practice can become a form of rapid reparenting even, or especially, for those who don’t have perfect parents.
  • Finding the Voice, Performing the Self, an interview with Stephen Batchelor and Ruth Ozeki by James Shaheen
    In a special 30th-anniversary discussion, writers Stephen Batchelor and Ruth Ozeki explore the rituals and mysteries of creativity.
  • Facing the Four Noble Truths, an interview with Sarah Ruhl by Ronn Smith 
    Playwright Sarah Ruhl explains how Tibetan Buddhism helped her cope with Bell’s palsy and the coronavirus pandemic in an interview shortly after the publication of her new book, Smile: The Story of a Face.
  • Buddhism’s Biggest Open Secret by Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar 
    Tricycle’s editor-at-large takes a closer look at the adverse effects of meditation in Eastern and Western Buddhist practice.
  • Food Is Very Important by Lewis Richmond
    A Zen teacher and author recalls a simple comment by Suzuki Roshi that encapsulates a Buddhist approach to disagreement. 

***

In case you missed any, our most popular podcasts and Dharma Talks are below, along with a handful of new series we ran this year:

Novelist Ruth Ozeki spoke with Tricycle’s editor-in-chief James Shaheen for September’s Tricycle Talks episode, ‘Music or Madness, It’s Up to You’.

Podcasts

  • Dekila Chungyalpa: Becoming a Buddhist Climate Scientist
    The conservation scientist and director of a faith-based, climate-change initiative Dekila Chungyalpa shares how Buddhist teachings on emptiness, impermanence, non-attachment, and compassion sustain her.
  • Sameet Kumar: Grieving Mindfully
    Co-hosts Sharon Salzberg and James Shaheen speak with Sameet Kumar, a psychologist and grief counselor, about practical advice, Buddhist teachings, and meditations to navigate pain and loss.
  • Ann Tashi Slater: Every Moment Is a Bardo
    Writer Ann Tashi Slater joins co-hosts James Shaheen and Sharon Salzberg to discuss near-death experiences, end-of-life rituals, and what the living can learn from The Tibetan Book of the Dead.
  • Joseph Goldstein: Tired of Pretending to Be Me
    After emerging from a three-month silent retreat, Joseph Goldstein discusses the value and challenges of a long retreat, the wisdom of investigation, and why we need joy—on retreat and off.
  • Ruth Ozeki: ‘Music or Madness, It’s Up to You’
    On the release of her new novel, The Book of Form and Emptiness, Ruth Ozeki joins Tricycle’s editor-in-chief James Shaheen to discuss the redemptive power of writing, the interplay between creativity and madness, and relational modes of healing.
somatic mindfulness
January’s Dharma Talk, “The Art of Somatic Mindfulness,” was led by meditation teacher Willa Blythe Baker.

Dharma Talks 

june haiku challenge
The June Haiku Challenge featured poems that included the summer season word “wind chimes,” as illustrated by artist Jing Li.

Series

  • The Monthly Haiku Challenge
    Beginning in January, Tricycle invited readers to take part in the Monthly Haiku Challenge, moderated by Clark Strand, to follow the changing seasons together and share in the joy of haiku.
  • Buddhist Justice Reporter
    From March to June, a community of BIPOC Buddhist teachers, writers, and lawyers formed the  Buddhist Justice Reporter team to cover the criminal proceedings of the George Floyd trials. 
  • Secularizing Buddhism Live Virtual Conversation Series
    In August, Tricycle hosted a week-long conversation series with Shambhala Publications to explore the complex interactions between traditional Buddhism and modern secularism, from the integration of mindfulness into American schools to the question of rebirth. Read an excerpt from the book Secularizing Buddhism here, and a review here.
  • Tricycle’s 30th Anniversary 
    To celebrate Tricycle’s 30th anniversary in April, we brought together some of our favorite Buddhist teachers and longtime contributors for a month-long series of donation-based virtual events—including an exclusive interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, the cover star of Tricycle’s first issue!
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