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Buddhadharma: The Practitioner's Quarterly Spring 2019

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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Shambhala Sun Foundation
2 Issues

in this issue

3 min

KONJIN GAELYN GODWIN is the abiding teacher and abbot of Houston Zen Center. In 2003, after eighteen years of training at San Francisco Zen Center, Green Gulch Farm, and Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, and six months at Hosshinji in Japan, she moved to Texas to help establish HZC. Last year, she was appointed director of the Soto Zen Buddhism International Center, becoming the first woman and the first Westerner to hold the position. RICHARD SALOMON is the director of the University of Washington Early Buddhist Manuscripts Project and general editor of the Gandharan Buddhist Texts series published by University of Washington Press. Since 1981 he has taught Sanskrit and Buddhist Studies in the Department of Asian Languages and Literature at University of Washington, where he is now professor emeritus. His latest…

1 min
about the art

The cover illustration by Juan Gatti comes from his series of collages, Ciencia Naturales (Natural Sciences), which blends nineteenth-century anatomical drawings with studies of plants and animals, creating a kind of dialogue between humans—fully exposed—and the natural world. Gatti is an Argentina-born illustrator who has worked as an art director for the record label CBS, collaborated with fashion icons such as Kenzo Takada and Karl Lagerfeld, served as creative director of Vogue Italia, and designed the graphic art for most of Pedro Almodóvar’s films. He works out of Madrid, Spain. In her series The Bound (page 72), Elizabeth Heyert wrapped people in bandages, rendering them, in her words, “physically powerless and emotionally isolated.” An internationally acclaimed art and architecture photographer, she has said this series was the most emotionally difficult of…

3 min
the way of repentance

SINCE THE KAVANAUGH hearings last fall and the flood of painful stories that emerged across the country—both of harm and of people refusing to admit wrongdoing—I find myself thinking about the power of repentance ceremonies. In the Soto Zen ceremony, we repent, take refuge, and recite the sixteen bodhisattva precepts, all reminders that every behavior of body, speech, and mind, can be beneficial—or not. The ceremony originates with the earliest wandering followers of the Buddha, who gathered at the new and full moons to take refuge in the Buddha, dharma, and sangha, confess their lapses, and deeply question each other on fine points of practice. They would then disperse, renewed, to continue their efforts. We have this same opportunity today. The ceremonial movements of offering, chanting, bowing to the ground, verbalizing our…

7 min
ask the teachers

Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo is a distinguished nun in the Kagyu school of Tibetan Buddhism and the founder of Dongyu Gatsal Ling Nunnery in India JETSUNMA TENZIN PALMO: In traditional Buddhist countries, the concept of punya has always played an important role. Usually translated as “merit” or even as “goodness,” punya represents the positive karmic results of good intentions and actions. This belief in the power of meritorious actions is perceived as an ethical force that can be directed toward any chosen object. So people set about “making merit” and rejoicing in it; the merit is then dedicated to others and thus shared. This serves as an encouragement to perform acts of goodness such as generosity and kindness. We can also rejoice in and share the goodness we see others perform. At the…

17 min
can buddhism meet the climate crisis?

IT IS NO EXAGGERATION to say that today humanity faces its greatest challenge ever: in addition to burgeoning social crises, a self-inflicted ecological catastrophe threatens civilization as we know it and (according to some scientists) perhaps even our survival as a species. I hesitate to describe this as an apocalypse because that term is now associated with Christian millenarianism, but its original meaning certainly applies: literally an apocalypse is “an uncovering,” the disclosure of something hidden—in this case revealing the ominous consequences of what we have been doing to the earth and to ourselves. Climate issues are receiving the most attention and arguably are the most urgent, but they are nonetheless only part of a larger ecological crisis that will not be resolved even if we successfully convert to renewable sources…

13 min
lessons of the gandharan manuscripts

MORE THAN TWENTY YEARS have passed since twenty-eight fragile birch bark scrolls, now known to be the oldest surviving Buddhist manuscripts in the world, came to light. Dating back to as early as the first century BCE, the scrolls—originating in the ancient kingdom of Gandhara, which once straddled the border between present-day Pakistan and Afghanistan—predate the earliest Pali manuscripts by several centuries. Since that initial discovery, hundreds of similar manuscripts and fragments have been recovered, all from the same region. Buddhist academics in several countries in North America, Europe, and Asia have engaged in arduous study of the Gandharan manuscripts, the contents of which have been the subject of eight books and innumerable articles. But what does the discovery of these relics mean for Buddhist practitioners? Are they merely a matter…