To celebrate our 25th year of publishing, we turn to the heavenly messengers that set Siddhartha Guatama on his path to becoming the Buddha. As Bhikkhu Bodhi explains: “If, in this process of awakening, we must meet old age, sickness and death face to face, that is because the place of safety can be reached only by honest confrontation with the harsh truths about human existence.”
Buddhist scholar Bhikkhu Bodhi recounts the legend of young Siddhartha transformed by his meetings with four “divine messengers”—an old person, a sick person, a corpse and a wandering ascetic—and relates it to the stark encounters of modern life.
Interview with Yvonne Rand: The Critters Project
By Dianne Dubler, John Bigelow Taylor, Barbara Gates
In this interview with Yvonne Rand, the Zen teacher describes her practice of contemplating the carcasses of animals in various stages of decay and talks about her ”critters” book project featuring photographs by John Bigelow Taylor and Dianne Dubler.
”A dead body, left to decompose, constitutes a unique and complex ecosystem,” writes environmental educator Joanne Lauck, as she reveals the enthusiastic frenzy of a body breaking down.
Bingo! Twenty-year-old Peter Fernando is transformed by his penetrating encounters with the fourth heavenly messenger—in a photo, in a film and in person.
On a beach in Java, a divine being points the way for the young Ajahn Amaro.
After leading Year to Live groups for ten years, Bonnie O’Brien Jonsson is diagnosed with breast cancer and faces her own up-close experience of death in what she comes to see as a yearlong cancer retreat.
In the voice of the Hag, Naomi Newman delivers a tirade on the indignities of aging, reminding us that we are all doing it!
Wise elders Ajahn Sumedho, Toni Packer, Ram Dass and Lou Hartman offer some words on getting old and the serendipitous delights of living.
Working in a nursing home, Debra Kerr realizes that old age does not change the essence of who we are.
Former Buddhist Peace Fellowship director Alan Senauke challenges Western students of Buddhism to examine our responsibilities to the suffering of the Burmese people—and offers a few possibilities for action.
Intrigued by the altars of the Mexican Día de los Muertos, Barbara Gates takes a fresh look at the deaths (and lives) of her two fathers and finds a new acceptance of the unrequested turns of life and death.
At SF Zen Center, David Chadwick comes across the original manuscript and editors’ notes for this beloved classic, with a flood of memories.
Dancing with Life: Buddhist Insights for Finding Meaning and Joy in the Face of Suffering, by Phillip Moffitt
Reviewed By Phil Catalfo
(306 pp., Rodale Books, 2008)
(287 pages, Random House, 2008)
(400 pp., Shambhala Publications, 2008)
(160 pp., Wisdom Publications, 2008)
(373 pp., Shaye Areheart Books, 2008)
Focused and Fearless: A Meditator’s Guide to States of Deep Joy, Calm and Clarity, by Shaila Catherine
Reviewed By Richard Shankman
(276 pp., Wisdom Publications, 2008)
Dismantling Discontent: Buddha’s Way through Darwin’s World, by Charles Fisher, Ph.D.
Reviewed By Wes Nisker
(442 pp., Elite Books, 2007)
Ajahn Sumedho contrasts death contemplation and his mother’s funeral.
Wes Nisker’s study of the “Hard Sutra” brings his evolutionary reflections to the sufferings of growing older.