Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly

Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly Fall 2018

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Buddhadharma offers in-depth teachings that reflect the wealth and range of Buddhist traditions, expert book reviews, and first-rate reporting on stories of special interest to Buddhists. It’s a precious resource for readers who want to deepen their understanding of Buddhist practice and philosophy.

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3 min.

JUDY ROITMAN (Zen Master Bon Hae) says she found herself walking into Cambridge Zen Center in 1976, having no idea what she was getting into, and in some sense never left. After moving to Lawrence, Kansas, in 1978 she helped found the Kansas Zen Center with, among others, her husband Stan Lombardo. She was granted authorization as a teacher (inka) in the Kwan Um School of Zen in 1998 and received dharma transmission in 2013. JOSEPH GOLDSTEIN cofounded the Insight Meditation Society in 1975 and the Barre Center for Buddhist Studies in 1989. He has studied and practiced meditation since 1967 under the guidance of teachers from India, Burma, and Tibet, becoming one of the first American vipassana teachers. Currently, he is a core teacher in the new IMS teacher training…

1 min.
about the art

On this issue’s cover, the wrathful deity Mahakala takes a selfie. Ritual objects, once used as a means of communicating with the gods, are replaced with an iPhone, all against a backdrop of quotations from Mao Zedong’s Little Red Book. This is the unmistakable work of Lhasa-based painter GADE, whose work juxtaposes traditional symbolism and iconography with the capitalist culture that has permeated contemporary Chinese and Tibetan society. Born to a Tibetan mother and a Han Chinese father, he straddles two worlds: “My generation has grown up with thangka painting, martial arts, Hollywood movies, Mickey Mouse, Charlie Chaplin, rock ‘n’ roll, and McDonald’s. We still don’t know where the spiritual homeland is.” In the artist CRYPTIK’s paintings (p. 42), Buddhist and Hindu mantras merge with cholo graffiti writing in an attempt…

3 min.
yes, we can have hope

A GOOD PART OF MY LIFE has been spent relating to situations that might be deemed hopeless—as an anti-war activist, a civil rights worker, a caregiver of dying people. I have also volunteered with death row inmates, served in medical clinics in remote areas of the Himalayas—where life is hard, food is scarce, and access to health care is nil—and worked in Kathmandu with Rohingya refugees who have no status, anywhere. You might ask, why bother? Why hold out hope for ending war or injustice? Why have hope for people who are dying, or for refugees fleeing from genocide, or for solutions to climate change? I have often been troubled by the notion of hope. But recently, in part because of the work of social critic Rebecca Solnit and her powerful…

6 min.
ask the teachers

KONDA MASON: The Buddha stressed that the work we choose, how we sustain ourselves, is central to living an ethical life. Within the eightfold path is right livelihood, the teaching that one’s work should be compatible with sound moral principles and should cause no harm. In a less complicated world 2,600 years ago, the Buddha listed five livelihoods he considered unethical: trading in weapons, human beings, meat, intoxicants, and poison. Fair enough. Today, however, we live in a complex industrialized society driven by a hungry market economy; many livelihoods now fall short of the principle of nonharming. In our deeply interconnected world, is it even possible to make a living in a way that is compatible with right livelihood? Let’s consider some hypothetical, yet typical, slices of American life. Imagine a town whose…

17 min.
the new wave of psychedelics in buddhist practice

ON THE FIRST EVENING of her Lotus Vine Journeys meditation retreats, Spring Washam explains the five ethical precepts: to refrain from the taking of life, stealing, lying, sexual misconduct, and intoxicants. Over the next two weeks, Washam, a member of the Spirit Rock Teachers Council, offers guided meditation sessions, compassion and loving-kindness practices, and other foundational Buddhist teachings. And on eight of the fourteen evenings, under her care and the direction of a Peruvian healer (curandero), a group of twenty retreatants drinks ayahuasca, the psychoactive brew made from a vine that grows in the heart of the Amazon rain forest. The group then meditates under the influence of ayahuasca for the next five to eight hours. From Colorado to California, North Carolina to New York, and beyond, Buddhist practitioners are gathering…

2 min.
psychedelics used in buddhist practice

The term “psychedelic” was coined in the 1950s by the psychiatrist Humphry Osmond and championed by Aldous Huxley, Al Hubbard, and Timothy Leary. The Greek roots of the word are psyche, “mind” or “soul,” and delic, “manifest” or “visible,” with a combined meaning of “mind/soul manifesting.” Wanting to avoid the cultural baggage from the 1960s and 70s, the term entheogen was coined in 1979, meaning “generating God within.” The following are the entheogen/psychedelics substances most commonly used by American Buddhists. Ayahuasca is a tea traditionally brewed from a combination of the vine banisteriopsis caapi, a monoamine oxidase inhibitor, and the leaves of the psychotria viridis, which contains dimethyltryptamine, or DMT, a chemical known for radically altering mental states. Shamans in the Amazon offer ayahuasca sacramentally, often with songs of healing, to…