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The Biological Boon Behind Incense May 20, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in General, Meditation, News, Random Notes.
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A new study reveals one reason why incense and spiritualism go together like zendos and zafus. Beyond the symbolic tradition of burning incense lies a biological benefit: it can help ease anxiety and depression. When scientists administered incensole acetate, a compound found in incense, to mice, the compound affected them in “brain areas known to be involved in emotions as well as in nerve circuits that are affected by current anxiety and depression drugs.” Adds Gerald Weissmann, M.D., Editor-in-Chief of The FASEB Journal, “This study also provides a biological explanation for millennia-old spiritual practices that have persisted across time, distance, culture, language, and religion–burning incense really does make you feel warm and tingly all over!” Read all about it over in Science Daily.

Lynda Barry in the Times May 12, 2008

Posted by Sarah Todd in Art, Books, News, Random Notes.
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Not to brag or anything, but I think The New York Times may have a bit of a crush on us. Hot on the heels of columnist Wendy Johnson’s profile last week comes an article about artist/author Lynda Barry, whose drawings of meditating monkeys, along with an original essay, are featured in our Summer 2008 issue. Sure, Lynda Barry’s an extremely successful cartoonist with multiple books and an off-Broadway play under her belt, as well as a weekly comic strip, “Ernie Pook’s Comeek.” And it’s true that she’s got a new book on her creative process, What It Is, coming out this month. But still! Did you see the way The Gray Lady was looking at us? It’s flattering, really. I think we may ask them out for a milkshake sometime.

Lynda Barry’s Tricycle profile, “Monkey Business,” is available–for free!–here.

The Buddhist Cellphone April 18, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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Not sure why it’s gold-plated, exactly. And it’s available only in China.

The best religious cell phone in the world is made for Buddhists. This highly modified and rare Nokia N70 is currently available only in China. Like other religious cell phones, the Buddhist phone has Buddhist ring tones, software and other trappings. What sets this phone apart from the pack is the sheer beauty and detail of the customization.

8 killed in Kardze April 5, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Burma, Dalai Lama, Meditation, News, Random Notes, Tibet.
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Police fired on monks and civilians in Kardze in eastern Tibet, killing eight. Radio Free Asia has a lot of info on this. The monks objected to a re-education program they were forced to undergo, and the government objected to their objections. Some sources say as many as fifteen were killed, and there are also reports of at least two monks in Sichuan province committing suicide:

On Saturday, the Tibetan Center for Human Rights and Democracy, based in India, said two monks committed suicide last month in Sichuan’s Aba County following government oppression. Aba County has been the scene of large protests involving hundreds of monks and citizens.

One monk, identified as Lobsang Jinpa, from the Aba Kirti Monastery killed himself March 27, leaving a signed note saying, “I do not want to live under Chinese oppression even for a minute,” the human rights group said.

The group said the second suicide occurred March 30 at the Aba Gomang Monastery, when a 75-year-old monk named Legtsok took his life, telling his followers he “can’t beat the oppression anymore.”

It was impossible to verify the information since Chinese authorities have banned foreign reporters from traveling to the region.

From Precious Metal: Outspoken activist Hu Jia arrested Thursday.

The Wall Street Journal on ethnic tensions in non-Tibetan areas of China, such as the Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang.

The government of India draws sharp criticism from its own citizens and is accused of placating China.

Rebecca Novick of the Huffington Post on why the 2008 Olympics are good for Tibet: because they expose China’s abysmal human rights to the world.

Video-Game Monks March 24, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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Well, monks may need some visualization training to help with on-the-street situations in China (and Burma):

One of the five precepts for living a Buddhist lifestyle is that followers “do not kill,” but that doesn’t seem to extend to the world of video games.

“I never thought I’d see a monk pull out his knife and hack someone to death because he’d run out of ammo!” remarked trekker Chris Lynch to Multiplayer in an e-mail exchange. “The monks I saw were mostly teenagers, dressed in dark maroon robes, but otherwise pretty much the same as boys everywhere. They were quieter, but not in an intense, competitive way — they were having a lot of fun shooting each other, and chatting among themselves while they did.”

Nirvana defined March 20, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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Courtesy of BoSacks:

 “NIRVANA, n. In the Buddhist religion, a state of pleasurable annihilation awarded to the wise, particularly to those wise enough to understand it.”

– Ambrose Bierce  (American Writer, Journalist and Editor, 1842-1914)

H-Buddhism Pwns the Pew Study; Paris plays with our affections March 4, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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Another great post by Danny Fisher on The Buddhist Scholars Information Network (H-Buddhism)‘s take on the Pew Study. Check it out, it’s a great piece of work, and points out some major failings of the study as it relates to Buddhists.

Please read some of the Samadhi Sutta in l33tspeak on the Level 8th Buddhist. This is the best synthesis of Buddhism and the web in a long time!

And The Worst Horse points out that the rumors of Paris Hilton being spotted with a Buddhist monk were greatly exaggerated (deliberately.)

Stephen Malkmus March 3, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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Ok, we were prepared to poo-poo one mention of Stephen Malkmus being a fan of Tricycle, maybe even two. But three? No, we can no longer stay silent! Besides, Pavement rocked. Here he is in index, Rolling Stone, and the Toronto Globe and Mail (purchase required for this last one.) A sharp=eyed reader in Toronto spotted the mention and wrote us a very thoughtful letter, for which we thank him.

Diacritic or diacritical marks; Zen Zone February 28, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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A great post on those pesky diacritic marks that trip up so many of us over at the Level 8th Buddhist. These things always slow me down when I’m trying to write Pema Chödrön. A small o with the umlaut is & # 246 ;

Also, be sure to visit the Zen Zone (“pleasure island”) if you go to Disney World. It’s a mecca of massage. Thanks to Zen Filter for this one.

Rapping Monk in Japan February 28, 2008

Posted by Philip Ryan in Random Notes.
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There’s crazy stuff going on in Buddhism in Japan. Here’s a rapping monk, Shaka Munibutsu, with some rhymes to slap you out of samsara and guaranteed to decrease your dukkha. He’s on a mission to bring the dharma to young folks. Hope he’s on YouTube soon!