Zen Unbound

Rande Brown, Trike CEO, ig­nores en­trench­ed prob­lems in a rosy-worded plea for donations.

Read one of our Dogstar columns:

What Should the Buddha Do About Lama Surya Das, Part II
I'm sitting at my corner table at the Starbucks in the Downtown Mall on K Street when Buddha comes in, looking excited and intense, as he often does. "That Lama Surya Das!," he bellows. "He makes me soo mad!"

A World of You
I am wondering how we think we would get by if suddenly, by no explained means, everybody in the world was "taken over" by exact currentday duplicates of YOU.

The Dalai Lama Applies for a Job at Home Depot
Your resume is impressive, Mr. Lama. You've been a stable employee. And you have a longstanding keen interest in Home Improvement and Interior Lighting. My question, though, is this: Do you know how to work a cash register?

What Would the Buddha Do About Lama Surya Das?
The Buddha flicked a speck of lint off his casual jacket. "I want you to write this down, Dog. I want your Zen Unbound readers to know -- and then all of Buddhadom to know -- that that fellow who claims to be channeling me is a fake!"

That Which Restrains Us
For some Zenists, there is neither the Leather Strap of Karma nor the Motivational Force of Lovingkindness that restrains them from doing bad stuff.

Read one of Tom Armstrong's columns:

In an episode of Star Trek where a planet exploded, it was Mr. Spock that was brought down to his knees, wailing with pain, touched by the enormity of the suffering. It was alien Spock, not humans Kirk and Bones, that felt the disaster.

Follow the Argument Wherever, Like the Wind, It May Lead Us
Socrates, the Avatar of Reason, told us to 'follow the evidence' to find truth. Does Socrates' edict comport to what Buddha tells us, and to what Buddhists seek in the highlands of spiritual pursuit?

I am far from wealthy; I’m even a notch or two beneath middle class. Even so, I have accumulated "stuff," and quite a bit of it, too--more than would fit in a hundred rucksacks. Most of it I would be happy to be rid of, but it’s stuck to me like barnacles. If I move from my apartment, I will haul it with me in box after box after box.

Zen and the Art of Cloning
The Media, the science writers, the political pundits all tell us that we are at the brink of a New Age, when among us there will be human clones. The technology, it seems, is straightforward and simple enough that within a decade—even if outlawed—human clones will be born. The first wave of clones may come secretly, perhaps from Eastern Europe or Caribbean islands, but it is inevitable that men wealthy enough and vain enough will choose to have replicas of themselves created.

(C) Miramax Films

Ganden, the big brother of film star Uma Thurman, offers his insights as to what is different from other directors' mega-violence in her recent pair of auteur Quentin Tarantino blockbusters, Kill Bill Volume 1 and Kill Bill Volume 2.

A report card on the SPRING 05 issue

Grading Trike: Updated Feb. 22, 2005! ZU, your friendly Buddhist consumers' guide, grades and comments on the spring '05 issue of Tricycle: The Buddhist Review.

Some time in the future. Very soon. Art will lurch in a direction that may bring the world with it down the Dharma Path. Author Ken Wilber sketched the outline of this new art in an essay. We draw your attention to Wilber's important insights and start our lookout for early instances of The Next Great Thing: Transpersonal Art.

Having a ball meditating?

Ball Head
Check out this and other ponderous questions in BuddhaWatch, Zen Unbound's window on the clash between BuddhaStuff and Western Culture.
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  • Celebrities who are Buddhists

    ...with an assessment of the degree Buddhism is a part of each of their careers.
    posted Mar. 8, 2005

    Richard Gere and Jennifer Lopez in "Shall We Dance?"

    Buddhism is often tarred with the charge that it attracts a great many celebrities -- the idea being that Hollywoodland is full of glamour pusses whose attraction is a shallow interest in the latest chichi fad. So, the logic goes, Buddhism is itself wildly weird, a concoction made of packaging peanuts and whipped cream with a topping of sprinkles.

    The contrast this past year can seem to prove the charge. The quite serious Catholic, Mel Gibson, makes a bloody serious film -- so serious it is even in Aramaic! -- that shows the TRUE, previously-unrepresented-in-celluloid last days of Chist's life, in all its gory, passionate and antisemitic glory. Meantime, Buddhadom kicks up "I Heart Huckabees," with a goofy icon substituted for the word Heart, Lily Tomlin upsidedown in a dumpster, and a lot of self-indulgent weirdness and with a peevish sense of irony/humor. If you don't laugh heartily enough at Jude Law screwing up his face, or Mark Wahlberg bopping Jason Schwartzman with a red rubber bat on the picnic-table bench, people might guess that you just don't get it -- that you aren't sophisticated enough to see that the Emperor is wearing new clothes, and not no clothes. [Actually, I liked "Huckabees" -- a lot -- but it was still a jokey mess that reflected badly on Buddhism and New Age madness and whatever else got splattered in this slipshod film.]

    Genuine Void (of contract?) and
    Subtle Possession (in violation of constitution?)

    posted Mar. 8, 2005

      It may be that a work of art in the Sacramento Convention Center Sculpture Garden, a statue of the Premordial Buddha titled "Genuine Void and Subtle Possession," has an oddly apt name. The bronze sculpture artist Jun Tsun-Tsun Lai was commissioned to create for the city of Sacramento in 2000 appears not to have been hammered into being in compliance with her contract with the city/county art agency, but was, perhaps, a work moved to the California capitol from the city/nation of Singapore where it met a negative public reaction. In addition, the circumstance of how it was acquired � through a government agency, the Sacramento Municipal Arts Commission, using a tax assessment on new building construction � may violate the U.S. constitutional protection separating church and state.

    What the Tao Tells Us About Enlightened People:
    An examination of the 15th Chapter of the Tao te Ching

    posted Jan. 9, 2005

    "I am interested in what an Enlightened person is like; how we can identify one.  How if we bump into one at Wal-mart we could tell there is One Mind behind those twinkling eyes.  By legend, there are supposed to be thirty-two marks of a Buddha, which include a lower body like an antelope, an upper body like a lion, golden-hued skin, saliva that improves the taste of all foods (but contains no MSG), eyelashes like thickly mascera'ed supermodels' [well, the text says like a that of an oxen], and a penis shaped like a tall maraschino-cherry jar.  Except for Matt Damon, there are none of us who could meet all these physical requirements.  And I don't care if Matt's mouth water is better than tupelo honey, I still don't want his spittle in my tea."

    A BuddhaWatch Special:

    A Beverage called Zen

    A dairy drink called Zen, produced by the French company Groupe Danone, has been introduced in Ireland and Belgium, and if it succeeds there, likely it will be marketted throughout Europe, according to dairy-industry reports.

    Commonplace maltreatment of cows by dairies is causal for great suffering for the gentle animals. With many in the Zen community committed to a vegan diet, and all of us having concerns for the welfare of sentient beings, it is especially troubling that it is a dairy product that has been dubbed Zen.

    Something Funky This Way Comes

    Posted 10/19/04

    Funky Buddha Lounge in Chicago
    Chicago's Funky Buddha Lounge
    What does Shakyamuni have to do with shaking bootys and shaken martinis?

    How is it that in England and America there are five major clubs or bars called "Funky Buddha," no two of which are related?

    Funky and Buddha might seem like two words that would never come together as a label -- but somehow they have, as a name that is exotic, interesting and edgy.

    "For God's sake," we cry out, "give me something, anything, to quickly distract me from the moment at hand." These distractions are plentiful -- abundant beyond count ... and in the long run they don't work! [Read the review]

    Tricycle Gets Ugly

    by Tom Armstrong, editor of Zen Unbound; Posted 4/8/04

    Large increases in fundraising and administration expenses have caused a big jump in losses for the parent corporation of Tricycle Magazine, according to financial information just released by the New York-based non-profit organization.

    Last year, Zen Unbound reported that the parent corporation, Buddhist Ray, was in a debt spiral and that continued publication of the magazine was imperiled. This year, we have to believe that the end for Tricycle is very near and that the organization is throwing in the towel, making ready to abandon its creditors -- comprised mainly of its tens of thousands of subscribers -- to the loses it has accumulated in the last five years due to poor management decisions. Currently, Buddhist Ray has an astonishing debt-asset ratio of 2.51 -- that is, it's debts are more than two-and-a-half times its assets.


    Was Lincoln a Buddha?

    by Tom Armstrong, editor of Zen Unbound

    Writing in 1880, John Caird, looking back at the man's life, wrote these eloquent summarizing words …

    [My overall impression] is that of a man who combined with intellectual originality other and not less essential elements of greatness, such as magnanimity and moral elevation of nature, superiority to vulgar passions, and absorption of mind with larger objects, such as rendered him absolutely insensible to personal ambition, also self-reliance and strength of will – the confidence that comes from consciousness of power and resource – the quiet, patient, unflinching resolution which wavers not from its purpose in the face of dangers and difficulties that baffle or wear out men of meaner mould. Along with these, we must ascribe to him other qualities not always or often combined with them, such as sweetness, gentleness, quickness and width of sympathy.

    A Buddhist's Analysis of "The Great Gatsby" :
    While the Still Eyes of the Witness Watch

    by Tom Armstrong, editor of Zen Unbound

    [O]n a surface level, "Gatsby" is about the opulently rich and their wild, boozy parties. It's about adultery and a chain of events that lead to three deaths. Not the usual fodder to wax polemic on Buddhism, it's more like a plotline to a weekday afternoon soap opera. But here's the thing: "Gatsby" is textured and chock-full of tasty nuggets, written by 28-year-old Fitzgerald at the time when he was brimming with special wisdom and was able to organize complex structure. Strewn through his elaborate concoction, written in lyric prose that came to be known as Fitzgerald's "high style," are touchstones for any Buddhist wayfarer. [more]
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    Updated Feb 2
    The Top Fifteen Media Items in the Zen Unbound Bookstore

    for the month of February, 2005.
    Check it out.