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The Gift of Giving

Happy Thanksgiving!  I recently learned that when the Puritans landed in Massachusetts,  they discovered that the Indians had a strange feeling about the giving and receiving of gifts.   Having experienced nothing like it, they misunderstood it, ran it down.   In 1764,  when Thomas Hutchinson wrote his history of the colony, he explained that the already […]

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The Angel and the Animal

“At the beginning of the third millennium, the human race is in the process of forgetting what it means to be human,” writes Charles Upton in a vivid, chilling essay in the current “Future” issue of Parabola.  “We don’t know who or what we are; we don’t know what we are supposed to be doing […]

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Woodenfish

Pock! Pock! Pock! Pock!  The Japanese “woodenfish” drum makes a sharp, hollow  sound, like a huge, deliberate woodpecker in still air.    In Zen monasteries it is used to establish a tempo so that an assembly of people can chant in unison.   Last weekend, I heard it used to call a group to meditation, to […]

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Conscience Flowing Into the World

One evening this week,  I visited a loft in downtown Manhattan for an event called “Turning Back the Tide: the Sacred Dimension of Compassionate Action.”  It was the inaugural event of Buddhist Global Relief, an organization founded by Bhikkhu Bodhi.  It was beautiful hearing Ven. Bodhi express what he has called “a distinctly Buddhist sense […]