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Conversations with contemporary Buddhist leaders and thinkers

Conversations with contemporary Buddhist leaders and thinkers
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Conversations with contemporary Buddhist leaders and thinkers




Duncan Ryuken Williams: When Buddhists Were a “National Security Threat”

On February 19th, 1942, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt issued an executive order designating military zones along the West Coast and laying the groundwork for US authorities to remove citizens of Japanese descent from their homes and imprison them in camps. While it is widely acknowledged that racism was central to this shameful chapter of American history, the role of religious discrimination cannot be overlooked, says scholar and Soto Zen priest Duncan Ryuken Williams. Here, Williams...


Elaine Pagels: Why Do We Still Have Religion?

Acclaimed scholar of religion Elaine Pagels discusses the role of faith today, the practical consequences of religious ideas, and what led her to ask, "Why Religion?" with Tricycle's editor and publisher, James Shaheen. Pagels is the Harrington Spear Paine Foundation Professor of Religion at Princeton University, a MacArthur Fellow, and a best-selling author who won the National Book Award for her groundbreaking 1989 work, "The Gnostic Gospels." Her latest book, "Why Religion? A Personal...


Lawrence Levy: Beating Burnout by Just Being

Feeling burnt out does not make you a failure. That’s the first thing Buddhist teacher and former tech executive Lawrence Levy would want you to know. Burnout, Levy says, is a healthy response when our human needs aren’t being met. As the former Chief Financial Officer of Pixar, Levy knows what it means to have a demanding job. But it was during his many years practicing in the Gelug lineage of Tibetan Buddhism that Levy began to find a way to apply Buddhist principles to the difficulties...


Lama Tsultrim Allione: Transforming Negativity Through Fierce Feminine Wisdom

Women have a lot to be angry about. A history of inequality and violence in the Buddhist world and beyond persists to this day. The question remains: what can we do with that anger? Lama Tsultrim Allione says that we have the ability to transform it into a source of strength and clarity—and that goes for all of us, not just women. Known in good part for her work exploring feminine power in Tibetan Buddhism, she examines the figure of the dakinis, fierce feminine embodiments of wisdom, and...


Arno Michaelis & Pardeep Singh: How to Fight Hate (Without Your Fists)

In recent years, ethno-nationalist movements have had an apparent resurgence. What can we do to counter the hateful ideologies that have led to so much harm? Arno Michaelis, an ex-neo-Nazi, and Pardeep Singh Kaleka, whose father was murdered by a white supremacist, say that a combination of lovingkindness (Pali, metta) and relentless optimism (Punjabi, chardi kala) is the only path forward. The pair came together after the 2012 Sikh temple shooting in a Milwaukee suburb that left Kaleka...


Roshi Joan Halifax: Empathy's Double-Edge

Altruism. Empathy. Integrity. Respect. Engagement. These five psychological states are keys to living a compassionate, courageous life, according to Buddhist teacher, anthropologist, and social activist Roshi Joan Halifax. However, each has the potential to become counter-productive: altruism can become pathological, empathy can prevent you from seeing another’s situation clearly, and engagement can become an endless to-do list. In her latest book, Standing at the Edge, Roshi Halifax likens...


Judson Brewer: The Mindful Way to Kick a Craving

The second of the four noble truths teaches that craving leads to suffering. But that would be obvious to anyone struggling with addiction. Psychiatrist Judson Brewer, who is the director of research at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society at the University of Massachusetts Medical School, brings mindfulness practice to the treatment of addiction. Here, Brewer talks to Tricycle contributing editor Amy Gross about the mechanisms in the brain that activate when we...


Johan Elverskog: How Buddhist & Muslim Stereotypes Conceal the Real History

In the 13th century, Muslim soldiers attacked the Buddhist monastery Nalanda in India. This event is held up as an example of how Muslim invaders were responsible for the eventual destruction of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent. But it is far from the full story. Here, history professor and Chair of Religious Studies at Southern Methodist University, Johan Elverskog, talks to Tricycle editor and publisher James Shaheen about common misconceptions about the history of Islam and Buddhism,...


Mark Epstein: The Task Is Being You

The Buddha had a prescription to end suffering—the eightfold path. But can the Western tradition of psychotherapy build upon these essential steps? Here, Buddhist psychotherapist and bestselling author Epstein talks with Tricycle contributing editor Amy Gross about how the two realms of wisdom view the idea of self as both problematic and helpful. Drawing from his new book, Advice Not Given: A Guide to Getting Over Yourself, to discuss the ways meditation illuminates aspects of ourselves...


Guy Armstrong: What Do Buddhists Mean When They Talk About Not-Self?

The foundational Buddhist concept of "no-self" can be a headbanger. What does it mean that our self is fundamentally empty? And if that’s true, who are we? In our latest Tricycle Talks podcast, Insight meditation teacher Guy Armstrong explains the concept to Tricycle contributing editor Amy Gross. Drawing from his book Emptiness: A Practical Guide for Meditators, he breaks down what happens when we stop constructing a sense of “I, me, mine” and begin to let go of the extraneous mental...


(Part 2) Mindfulness in Prison and Beyond: On Retreat at the Engaged Mindfulness Institute

Tricycle’s web editor, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, speaks with Acharya Fleet Maull at the Engaged Mindfulness Institute in Deerfield, Massachusetts, about his work, and why he’s moving beyond prisons to train the next generation of mindfulness teachers. In the second part of this Tricycle Talks episode, you'll go behind the scenes at a recent retreat with Fleet Maull and hear from four people going through the training about why they practice mindfulness and how it helps the populations they...


(Part 1) Mindfulness in Prison and Beyond: with Fleet Maull

In this two-part Tricycle Talks episode, Tricycle’s web editor, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, speaks with Acharya Fleet Maull at the Engaged Mindfulness Institute in Deerfield, Massachusetts, about his work, and why he’s moving beyond prisons to train the next generation of mindfulness teachers. Facing 30 years on a drug smuggling conviction, Maull viewed prison as his “monastery time,” devoting himself to practice and serving others.


Robert Wright: Why (Science Says) Buddhism Is True

In this episode of Tricycle Talks, best-selling author Robert Wright speaks with Tricycle’s web editor, Wendy Joan Biddlecombe, about how evolutionary psychology supports what the Buddha taught us about suffering and not being satisfied in the present moment. In the talk, Wright explains why we haven’t evolved past difficult emotions such as anxiety and how mindfulness meditation can provide a way to work through—and maybe even free us from—them.


Shozan Jack Haubner: When Your Sangha’s Sex Scandal Goes Viral

Shozan Jack Haubner, the pen name of a Zen monk, went to the monastery in search of wisdom—and left with a sex scandal. Haubner joins Tricycle’s executive editor Emma Varvaloucas in this podcast to discuss how writing helps him unravel the “big things” in life; the patterns of behavior commonly seen in communities where sexual abuse occurs between teacher and student; and his advice for any group that has a problem that’s been driven underground. “It’s alive,” he says, “and it’s calling for...


Michael Kinnamon: How Religion Can Bring Peace to a Fearful World

We live in a world of fear. But need we be driven by it? In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Dr. Pilar Jennings, a Tibetan Buddhist practitioner and psychotherapist, speaks with Michael Kinnamon, former Dean of the Lexington Theological Seminary and author of the The Witness of Religion in an Age of Fear, about the restlessness, anxiety, and even panic characteristic of contemporary society. Tune in to learn about the differences between healthy and unhealthy fear and the role that each of us...


Sharon Salzberg: Breaking Down Love

Love isn’t just a feeling, says meditation teacher Sharon Salzberg. It’s an ability. This ability to love is inherent in all beings, but it’s up to us whether we develop it or not. Listen in to our newest Tricycle Talks podcast for a conversation with Sharon, author of the just-released Real Love, about the keys for cultivating this innate, indestructible ability, which can help deepen and open up our relationships with everyone from our partner to a stranger on the street—not to mention...


Arun Gandhi: The Gift of Anger and Other Lessons from My Grandfather Mahatma Gandhi

“Anger is like electricity: it is just as powerful and just as useful, but only if you use it intelligently.” So told Mahatma Gandhi to his grandson Arun Gandhi, who lived with the political and spiritual giant on his ashram between the ages of 12 and 14. In our latest podcast, Tricycle's executive editor Emma Varvaloucas sits down with Arun to discuss the lessons that he’s learned from his grandfather about working with anger and cultivating peace.


Frank Ostaseski: Learning to Living Fully

A pioneer in end-of-life care, Frank Ostaseski brings his Buddhist practice—and a startlingly respectful compassion—to the bedsides of people who are face to face with dying. In his new book, The Five Invitations: What Death Can Teach Us About Living Fully, he has learned lessons that “are too important to be left to our final hours”: By turning away from death, he says, we also turn away from the preciousness of life and our ability to live fully. Ostaseski guides us through what is...


Mark Epstein: Buddhism and Psychotherapy

In the debut episode of Tricycle Talks, contributing editor Amy Gross speaks with practicing psychiatrist Mark Epstein on Buddhism and psychotherapy. Epstein emphasizes that there is dukkha (suffering)in every place at every time, and that psychotherapeutic practices can help alleviate this suffering. Epstein's new book, The Trauma of Everyday Life, also explores this topic.


Katy Butler: A Life Too Long

Tricycle contributing editor Amy Gross speaks with author Katy Butler about modern medicine's often misguided approach to end-of-life care. Butler's bestselling book, Knocking on Heaven's Door: The Path to a Better Way of Death, chronicles the author's own experience of her father's slow decline following a devastating stroke. "There comes a point," Butler says, "when death becomes a blessing and living becomes a burden." In this episode of Tricycle Talks, Butler tells us what we need to...