Buddhism’s Biggest Open Secret

Taking a look at adverse effects of meditation in Eastern and Western Buddhist practice By Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar  I began moping around in a dark, melancholy state. I was always nervous and afraid, weak and timid in mind and body. The skin under my arms was constantly wet with perspiration. I found it impossible to concentrate on what I was doing. I sought out dark places where I could go to be alone and just sat there motionless like a dead man. Neither acupuncture, moxacautery [burning dried flowers on or near the skin], nor medical potions brought me any relief. These are … Continue reading Buddhism’s Biggest Open Secret

Please Enjoy Your Food

It could be the best meditation you do all day. By Edward Espe Brown From time to time, Tricycle features articles from the Inquiring Mind archive. Inquiring Mind, a Buddhist journal that was in print from 1984–2015, has a growing number of articles from its back issues available at www.inquiringmind.com (help Inquiring Mind complete its archive by donating here). Today’s selection is from the Fall 1994  issue, On Having a Body. When we break for lunch at my Saturday meditation retreats, I often tell people, “Please enjoy your food.” All morning I have been offering various instructions in sitting and walking meditation, and by lunchtime we have also had … Continue reading Please Enjoy Your Food

Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects

A study in Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app may be more likely to develop what’s known as “meditation sickness.” By Wendy Biddlecombe Agsar Anew study published in the journal Psychotherapy Research indicates that people who started meditating using an app have a higher likelihood of developing the adverse effects that can result from meditation practice.   This finding was included in “Prevalence of meditation-related adverse effects in a population-based sample in the United States,” which was published in June 2021. The study’s authors conducted what they believe to be the first population-based survey of the adverse effects of meditation (participants, it should … Continue reading Should Beginners Use Meditation Apps? A New Study Warns of Adverse Effects

What Happens If We Recognize the Love Inside of Grief?

Accepting grief as a way to honor loss can help us open into a more intimate and heartfelt union with life itself. By Sharon Salzberg At times, pain can reach such a powerful level that it can be devastating. In spiritual life, we might call it the dark night of the soul. In interpersonal life, we call it grief, and this intense emotional experience does not limit itself to the loss of someone who has died. It can occur as the experience of nearly any kind of deep loss. I learned that in a poignant way from a man who was … Continue reading What Happens If We Recognize the Love Inside of Grief?

Freedom From Illusion

Simple steps to awakening to the true face of reality By Pema Düddul A shooting star, a clouding of the sight,a lamp, an illusion, a drop of dew, a bubble,a dream, a lightning’s flash, a thunder cloud:this is the way one should see the conditioned. —trans. Paul Harrison This revered verse from the Diamond Sutra points to one of Buddhism’s most profound yet confounding truths—the illusory nature of all things. The verse is designed to awaken us to ultimate reality, specifically to the fact that all things, especially thoughts and feelings, are the rainbow-like display of the mind. One of the Tibetan words … Continue reading Freedom From Illusion

The Karma of Now

Why the present moment isn’t the goal By Thanissaro Bhikkhu Have you ever wondered why Buddhist meditation focuses so much attention on observing the mind in the present moment? It’s because of the way the Buddha taught karma (Pali, kamma), or action.  His teachings on karma were so central to all of his teachings that when he classified himself as a teacher, he used the label kamma-vadin: someone who teaches action. This was to distinguish himself from the many contemporary teachers in India who taught that action was unreal or had no consequences. But he also found it necessary to distinguish himself from other kamma-vadins, and he emphasized … Continue reading The Karma of Now

We Are Our Relationships

Zen priest Norman Fischer explains how we are more than the people we seem to be and that compassion is already part of the equation. By Norman Fischer Who are we really?  We’re not anyone in particular. Every moment, in response to the conditions in front of us, another person, the sky, the flowers, we are created again. That’s who we are: our relationship in this moment. Yes, of course, conventionally, we all have identities, commitments, loves, hates, and preferences. No one avoids that, and we wouldn’t want to. But that’s not all of who we are. That’s the point of … Continue reading We Are Our Relationships

Contemplate the Body, Free the Mind

A challenging teaching on letting go of attachment to the body By Phra Ajaan Suwat Suvaco When meditators’ minds have reached genuine happiness in the dhamma through their mindfulness and discernment, clearly seeing the four noble truths, none of them—not one—will revert to looking for happiness in the world or in material things. That’s because happiness in the dhamma is a lasting happiness: solid, refined, and genuinely pure. If you compare worldly happiness with the happiness of the dhamma, you’ll see that there’s not even the least real happiness to it. It offers nothing but stress, nothing but drawbacks. So why … Continue reading Contemplate the Body, Free the Mind

The Art of Solitude: Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Stephen Batchelor on Contemplative Practice and Creativity

“Here lies the paradox of solitude. Look long and hard enough at yourself in isolation and suddenly you will see the rest of humanity staring back.” BY MARIA POPOVA “Give me solitude,” Whitman demanded in his ode to the eternal tension between city and soul, “give me again O Nature your primal sanities!” In those primal sanities, we come to discover that “there is no place more intimate than the spirit alone,” as May Sarton wrote in her stunning 1938 ode to solitude — her hard-earned testimony to solitude as the seedbed of self-discovery, for it is in that intimate place that we see … Continue reading The Art of Solitude: Buddhist Scholar and Teacher Stephen Batchelor on Contemplative Practice and Creativity

There’s Someone Who Isn’t Busy

Two Zen students enter the arena of dharma combat. By Stephen Mitchell Dharma combat is a dialogue between a Zen student and a Zen master, or two masters or advanced students, that demonstrates their understanding of the truth. The old dialogues contain many marvelous exchanges of this sort. Let me unpack one of them so that you can experience the thrill of dharma combat. (I chose this one, Case 21 from the Book of Serenity, because it is a particularly clear example, but there are hundreds of dialogues that would have served my purpose just as well.) Dramatis personae: Yün-yen and Tao-wu, … Continue reading There’s Someone Who Isn’t Busy