The Worstest Buddhist Magazine. ~ John Pappas

Via on Dec 14, 2009

Update: for 21 comments (and counting on this post, see ZenDirtZenDust’s original post on the below subject, “Which Buddhist Magazine is Best?”).

Well, I can’t say no to a “special request,” can I?

First off, I rarely read The Big Three. Occasionally I get the chance to go sit down at a bookstore and work on my thesis. On these days I will grab a copy of Tricycle, Shambhala Sun or Buddhadharma to get me through thesis-writing and then the rewriting and the further rewriting. Think of it as an academic grocery-line…

Lets look at Tricycle’s mission first:

Mission Statement of Tricycle Magazine: The mission of The Tricycle Foundation is to create forums for exploring contemporary and historic Buddhist activity, examine the impact of its new context in the democratic traditions of the West, and introduce fresh views and attainable methods for enlightened living to the culture at large. At the core of the Foundation’s mission is the alleviation of suffering that Buddhist teachings are meant bring about. Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.

I agree with Tricycle not being overtly affiliated with a specific lineage and/or sect but they do align themselves firmly with advertisers and the “Get Enlightened Fast Dharma School of Western Buddhism (for only a one-time payment of 199.95″ crowd (and what an ugly crowd it is becoming).

The first things that I notice about this particular Buddhist magazine is that it has more glossy advertisements for crap then Cosmo. “Do you need a new zafu? New malas? What does your mala say about your practice? Perhaps a brand new meditation timer is what you need? Big Wallet, then Big Mind©®™ is for you!” Advertising is the lifeblood of any periodical but readers need to understand that the Dharma and views represented are tainted by this relationship. What kills me is that this filtered and distilled version of the Dharma is marketed as the “Official Western Perspective” of Buddhism. This is limited and false.

As far as “fresh views” and “creating forums“, I think Tricycle fails miserably. They limit engagement to a lame blog that, for the most part, posts little original material. Most posts consist of snibbets of older magazine articles. I hardly find them inspiring and the views are hardly “fresh”. At best the Tricycle Magazine comes off as canned and processed. Look to this magazine for the next “Big Thing” that is sure to drain your wallet and leave you a samsara-ridden husk-of-a-person. Pandering and condescending; most editorials are disconnected from the practicing community and articles borderline on fluff (at best! At worse, I would say they are more in line with the National Inquire or People. This is not to say that they don’t have an occasional interesting article or some worthwhile content online (A recent webpage on Shin Buddhism).

I recall one time reading through a bunch of miscellaneous quotes that they had at the beginning of one edition and thinking “Wow, they gave every ethnicity a line on this page and left the rest to middle-upper class, white men.”

On to Number 2 – Shambhala Sun and BuddhaDharma (Both published by Shambhala Sun Foundation)

Our Mission: The Shambhala Sun Foundation promotes the growth and development of genuine buddhadharma as Buddhism takes root in the West. Through the publication of magazines and other media, conferences and educational forums, we will support all traditions of dharma that teach the three marks of existence and nontheism, and are based on meditation practice and cutting through spiritual materialism. In these endeavors, the Shambhala Sun Foundation will work with and support all those who share the values of wisdom, sacredness and compassion.

Shambhala Sun and BuddhaDharma do a better job of representing the Dharma w/o hideous amounts of advertisements. Although most of the comments that I made about Tricycle Magazine also apply to Shambhala Sun; they apply to a lesser degree. I find the articles broader in scope and not as Zen-centric as Tricycle but largely revolve around the Tibetan Buddhism instead. That being said, Shambhala Sun is more global in their features. Stories tend towards personal narratives and insight. This is fine but I would like to see practices, sects and viewpoints that are new and exciting; as tantalizing as my first reading of “Cutting Through the Spiritual Materialism” or “The Three Pillars of Zen”. Shambhala Sun gets you there but like most men (including myself) in bed, doesn’t seal the deal. Like a blowjob with braces ~ It works but there are snags *ouch*.

One major snag is that Shambhala Sun tends towards the “self-help” Buddhist revolution. This is not a revolution that I have any quams with but I have no interest in reading about how Buddhism will help me “Overcome Shyness” or how to get through a “Mindful Divorce”. If that is your bag, then great! Roll with it. I’m just not that interested. If I want to better myself, I like to go closer to the source.

Shambhala Sun publication’s strength lies with its blog. Shambhala SunSpace posts new and original material. Posts are engaging and the writers excited about what they are producing. Bloggers on SunSpace actually encourage a conversation and comments. Several blog posts recently even addressed us directly about our practice. Imagine that!

On to my Favorite!

Buddhadharma: The Practitioner’s Quarterly is the in-depth, practice-oriented journal for everyone with a serious interest in Buddhism. It’s the one place you’ll find in-depth teachings from all the Buddhist traditions, presented in a way that applies directly to your practice. No matter what Buddhist path you follow, Buddhadharma offers you relevant and helpful teachings in every issue.

Okay, I say this one is my favorite but I still usually only pick it up rarely. However, Buddhadharma directs its efforts toward the actual practice of the Dharma. This obviously appeals to me being primarily a Home-Practitioner and needing all the support I can get. It remains very Zen and Tibetan-centric and I would enjoy a bit more exploration into some other less popuar realms.

The Clincher:

There is one huge glaring problem with these publications though – the lack of inclusion of Asian Practitioners (as well as any minority) in the ranks of their staff-writers and advisors of these magazines. They all do a horrible job of this. For a detailed description of this go over to the Angry Asian Buddhist. Arun has spent plenty of time on these issues and can present it with more passion that I can. Just a brief view at any of these magazine will show you that Asians are not well presented. Arun even did a graph! It is sweet.

This says one thing to readers ~ Western Buddhism is for Whites and is White dominated.

These magazine are slated towards White, Middle Class, Middle-Aged men. That is fine. They can have whatever demographic they want to target and they can market their magazine however they want. But if they truly want to be as diverse as they claim they need to branch out and include a more varied cast of characters. Don’t include it in your mission statement if you don’t plan on following it.

A Picture is Worth a Thousand Words - The Shambhala Sun Foundation

This one picture says it all to me. According to the Shambhala Sun Foundation, diversity marked by which “come-hither” pose you prefer to make in your glamour shot. That is one big long line of White people presenting the Dharma to you – take it with a grain of salt.

To quote Rod Meade Sperry, Editor of Web Publications, Shambhala Sun Foundation

Once the mud’s been wiped away, one thing can be seen clearly: everything that the Shambhala Sun (or any Buddhist magazine or entity) does can only be made better by – if you’ll excuse the motivational poster-speak – embracing diversity. Without dialogue and different points of view, there is no progress.

I think you need to embrace diversity by letting that diversity drive the direction the magazine takes, not just sit in the front seat. Maybe then we will see some progress.

Cheers,

John

These are my opinions and mine alone. I encourage you to pick up each of these three magazines and determine for yourself whether you like them. Whatever you do, don’t take my word for it! In the long run, some representation on the magazine rack is much better than none.

For a real introduction to Buddhism my suggestions would be to read “What the Buddha Taught” as a general introduction, “The 3 Pillars of Zen” or “Zen Mind Beginners Mind” to get a handle on Zen practice and “Cutting Through Spiritual Materialism” to get a feel for Tibetan/Western Buddhist thought. You should explore and practice.  Have fun with it.

UPDATE:

Well thanks to @supalaze I was made aware of a fourth “big” Buddhist publication ~ Buddhism Today. I am honest in saying that I have never seen this one but it makes sense. There’s USA Today so why not Buddhism Today? All I know about it is that it is produced by Diamond Way Buddhism (Karma Kagyu lineage). So….if you’ve read this one, what do you think?

Shall we call them The Big Buddhist Four?

UPDATE PART DEUX:

NellaLou posted over at Enlightenment Ward about another Buddhist Publication that I missed – The Inquiring Mind.

Inquiring Mind is available, without a set subscription fee, to anyone who wishes to be placed on our mailing list. While the journal is freely distributed, almost all of the funding to produce and publish Inquiring Mind comes from donations by our readers. This is in accordance with the Buddhist tradition of dana, or generosity—the means by which the teachings of the Dharma have been offered for nearly 2,500 years.

If you are disappointed in your standard Buddhist publication how about getting this one for free and donating what you feel comfortable with?

The Great Big Buddhist Five?

John is a failing and stumbling Zen home-practitioner that drinks far too much, engages in pagan rituals, reads the Necronomicon (in the original Arabic), yells at Jehovah’s Whitnesses and spends too much time on the Dharma and his personal blog – www.zendirtzendust.wordpress.com.

About John Pappas

John Pappas is a struggling Zen practitioner with a slight Vajrayana palate (but he won't admit it) stumbling between the relative and absolute through the Buddhist Purgatory otherwise known as the Great Plains of South Dakota. Emerging writer, librarian and aspiring hungry ghost, John spews his skewed perception of the dharma all over his personal blog, Subtle Dharma Mouth Punch as well as on the ephemeral Elephant Journal and occasionally (while having no artistic ability to speak of) on Dharma/Arte. John also loves tacos, homebrew, yoginis and obscure Cthulhu references. You can follow him on twitter under the handle @zendustzendirt

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45 Responses to “The Worstest Buddhist Magazine. ~ John Pappas”

  1. Cliff says:

    Hi. I miss the old "Sangha Journal" which came out for a few issues before it was folded into Buddhadharma. It was particularly and explicitly for the practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism and Bon. I would love to see that focus. I am not looking for a little bit of everything Buddhist.

    I don't care for much of the get more-have more-be more advertising that fills Tricycle and Shambhala Sun. I do look for information about upcoming teaching programs. Often times I find it more satisfying to carefully read through each newsletter from Snow Lion Publications…

  2. John Pappas John says:

    Yes! Cliff, I agree that some niche marketing would be a great focus of some Buddhist publication rather than the "shotgun" approach of many Buddhist Mags. I don't think that the wide-practice "little-piece-of-everything" is bad but many practitioners are looking for something else entirely.

    Many zendos and centers have their own publications that one can subscribe to. I love this approach because it gives the focus I want and none of the ads. However, very few publish great ones.

    Cheers,

    John

  3. Comments from John's original post on his site (hope that's okay, John, one of them is mine, it's long, and I wanted folks to be able to see it here? If no, we can delete pronto).

    +++
    Kyle

    LOL, Well John Shambhala Sun is located in Halifax, Nova Scotia……Have you ever been in to Nova Scotia? That is diverse for them. LOL

    Oh, and I can pick out 5 females from those photo’s, who, if I were not already dating a Canadian, I would so ….ummm….bang. :-P

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:12 pm | Reply 108zenbooks

    careful, m’by… Halifax was the end of the Underground Railroad which… damn, makes your point even more… pointy. OK, the only defense I can muster is that we sent all the diversity to Louisiana who never bothered to thank us for giving them Cajun spices.

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:10 pm | Reply Kyle

    Well, just from Wiki, if we were going on race alone as a detrimination of diversity, I think, though certainly the staff could go “Quota” style affirmitive action, I think the agrument against them being diverse based on a staff photo collage is a bit unfair

    Race Population Pct (%)
    White 341,620 92.51%
    Black 13,270 3.59%
    Asian 8,890 2.41%
    Arab 3,840 1.04%
    Other 1,655 0.45%

    And yes, I have a thing for Canadians….my Canadian. :-)

    +
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:52 pm Jack Daw

    Percentage of Asians that practice Buddhism in the west would be the matrix I use. Race alone is not a determination but lets face it – The Big Three are not representing themselves or the Buddhist community well or accurately. Throwing a Shunryu Suzuki quote does not constitute diversity. Having a wide and diverse governing board does. Or at least some staff-writers.

    That picture is of the Board of the Shambhala Sun Foundation, what I assume to be the governing body of both Shambhala Sun and BuddhaDharma. Do I think token Asians to solve the problem? No. But some engagement with the Asian practicing community would be called for and some decent representation. If not then change your mission statement.

    I am fighting this on some other levels (outside of Buddhism) too so I get a bit preachy. But I will say that when creating a Board for a publication that is committed to diversity and to not have any non-whites on it is silly.

    Shit, I’m going all “Arun” in this post. Back to something else.

    Hey! I saw your Canadian. Very nice. Where is her parka and can of Molson?

    Cheers,

    John

  4. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Got a thing for Canadians, eh? Is it the “earmuffs”?

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Reply Kyle

    I don’t know, the guy in the third row, third in, really is more dark pink than white.

    Any Canadian will tell ya, Molson is for us Yanks. :-)

    +
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:16 pm Jack Daw

    Must be photoshopped. Molson is even considered by your entry-level ‘merican to be swill. Now Heiniken, thats good beer *gag*.

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply marguerite manteau-rao

    Great review Jack. Like you, I do not read any of those magazines, as I barely have enough time for the Buddha’s Discourses . . . Maybe you should start something, Jack?

    Deep bow, and thank you for the solidity in your writing. You have become quite a resource in the online Buddhist world!

    marguerite

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    This review is extremely well-written and highly informative, especially for someone like me who doesn’t intend to practice Buddhism (because I’m more than satisfied with Yoga) but want to know about what’s going on, since it’s so closely related to ancient Yoga.

    Thanks for all the recommendations. You have been most helpful with both this and your other writing.

    Here’s a related question for you. In Yoga there are three ancient texts that tower above all others in defining Yoga–The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra. They are powerful works and are quite sufficient to define original Yoga.

    Are there any equivalent set of works that do the same for Buddhism?

    Thanks again for this great blog.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    In Yoga there are three ancient texts that tower above all others in defining Yoga–The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra. They are powerful works and are quite sufficient to define original Yoga.

    Are there any equivalent set of works that do the same for Buddhism?

    Great question and very difficult. I would say the answer is “No” since dependant upon school of thought, your primary texts will differ. I refrain from saying the Pali Canon (closest thing to the actual words of the Buddha) since it is sooooo…huge in scope. Even for just Mahayana Buddhism it is a tough question but I would go with “The Heart Sutra with commentary”, “Lotus Sutra”, “Diamond Sutra” and “Dhammapada” but they hardly “tower” over the rest -they just give a good broad understanding of it.

    You bring up, I think, the most difficult task in beginning a Buddhist practice.

    I actually picked up a copy of the Yoga Sutra and plan on starting it once my time clears up a bit. Also check out my Yogacara link on my Zen Resources page.

    Cheers,

    John

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Reply 108zenbooks

    John, all good points – and I wonder why we’d be surprised that the Holy Trinity of Buddhist glossies would be anything but. They are, afterall, about selling Western and primarily American (talk about ethno-centric!) Buddhism.

    It may be related to my own development over the years but I find the premise of articles the the Holy3 cowardly and lacking in conviction. They don’t take risks – theoretical or otherwise. They are based on a statistical mean of “being Buddhist” – which to me seems more about drinking the Kool-Aid than about challenging the self.

    That being said, I do like BuddhaDharma and find SS just an old boys/girls club. Never sure about Trike… it still has a way of piquing my interest.

    Genju

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    They are based on a statistical mean of “being Buddhist” – which to me seems more about drinking the Kool-Aid than about challenging the self.

    Very well said. Statistical is the approach. What will provide the largest readership is the bottom line. More challenging and deep articles would be a plus!

    I’m not surprised but somewhat dismayed when conversations on Buddhism start with “I just read in Tricycle…”. It is just as annoying as hearing “I just read in so-and-so’s Buddhist blog…” :D

    Cheers,

    John

  5. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:18 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Got a thing for Canadians, eh? Is it the “earmuffs”?

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 3:16 pm | Reply Kyle

    I don’t know, the guy in the third row, third in, really is more dark pink than white.

    Any Canadian will tell ya, Molson is for us Yanks. :-)

    +
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:16 pm Jack Daw

    Must be photoshopped. Molson is even considered by your entry-level ‘merican to be swill. Now Heiniken, thats good beer *gag*.

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 11:40 am | Reply marguerite manteau-rao

    Great review Jack. Like you, I do not read any of those magazines, as I barely have enough time for the Buddha’s Discourses . . . Maybe you should start something, Jack?

    Deep bow, and thank you for the solidity in your writing. You have become quite a resource in the online Buddhist world!

    marguerite

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 11:44 am | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    This review is extremely well-written and highly informative, especially for someone like me who doesn’t intend to practice Buddhism (because I’m more than satisfied with Yoga) but want to know about what’s going on, since it’s so closely related to ancient Yoga.

    Thanks for all the recommendations. You have been most helpful with both this and your other writing.

    Here’s a related question for you. In Yoga there are three ancient texts that tower above all others in defining Yoga–The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra. They are powerful works and are quite sufficient to define original Yoga.

    Are there any equivalent set of works that do the same for Buddhism?

    Thanks again for this great blog.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:17 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    In Yoga there are three ancient texts that tower above all others in defining Yoga–The Upanishads, the Bhagavad Gita, and the Yoga Sutra. They are powerful works and are quite sufficient to define original Yoga.

    Are there any equivalent set of works that do the same for Buddhism?

    Great question and very difficult. I would say the answer is “No” since dependant upon school of thought, your primary texts will differ. I refrain from saying the Pali Canon (closest thing to the actual words of the Buddha) since it is sooooo…huge in scope. Even for just Mahayana Buddhism it is a tough question but I would go with “The Heart Sutra with commentary”, “Lotus Sutra”, “Diamond Sutra” and “Dhammapada” but they hardly “tower” over the rest -they just give a good broad understanding of it.

    You bring up, I think, the most difficult task in beginning a Buddhist practice.

    I actually picked up a copy of the Yoga Sutra and plan on starting it once my time clears up a bit. Also check out my Yogacara link on my Zen Resources page.

    Cheers,

    John

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:05 pm | Reply 108zenbooks

    John, all good points – and I wonder why we’d be surprised that the Holy Trinity of Buddhist glossies would be anything but. They are, afterall, about selling Western and primarily American (talk about ethno-centric!) Buddhism.

    It may be related to my own development over the years but I find the premise of articles the the Holy3 cowardly and lacking in conviction. They don’t take risks – theoretical or otherwise. They are based on a statistical mean of “being Buddhist” – which to me seems more about drinking the Kool-Aid than about challenging the self.

    That being said, I do like BuddhaDharma and find SS just an old boys/girls club. Never sure about Trike… it still has a way of piquing my interest.

    Genju

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    They are based on a statistical mean of “being Buddhist” – which to me seems more about drinking the Kool-Aid than about challenging the self.

    Very well said. Statistical is the approach. What will provide the largest readership is the bottom line. More challenging and deep articles would be a plus!

    I’m not surprised but somewhat dismayed when conversations on Buddhism start with “I just read in Tricycle…”. It is just as annoying as hearing “I just read in so-and-so’s Buddhist blog…” :D

    Cheers,

    John

  6. #
    on December 12, 2009 at 12:42 pm | Reply Waylon Lewis

    Man, have you got guts. Most folks “in the Buddhist community” are more concerned with stirring a tempest in their tea cup (the refrain in my Shambhala Buddhist community when I was growing up—despite that community’s motto being ‘The Proclamation of Truth is Fearless’ and said community being founded by Trungpa Rinpoche, from the crazy wisdom lineage of bold, brash, humorous and gentle truthsayers…was “Have a complaint? Perhaps you should practice [meditation] more).

    My main problem with the three above mags is not the ads, at all. I think that’s an unfair criticism. The mag business is tough: unless subscribers want to pay a fair price, say $5 each instead of $1 each or whatever, and magazine distributors being paying for the mags they take, not just sell…well the more ads, the merrier. Think fashion magazines: no one complains about 100 pages of ads and 50 pages of editorial there, partially bc the readers want to see the fashion ads. So, my challenge would be to the advertisers: practice more! Make your products and ads revolve around actual practice, not be bullshit add-ons that on one needs. Mandate the reading of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by all Buddhist ad designers! (Seriously).

    My main problem with the above magazines is that I wish they’d do more, more, more. Print more copies. When the new owner of Yoga Journal, in 1998 I think, something like that, bough YJ, it was printing 30,000 copies. Puny. My mag, elephant, was that big. He bought it and printed 300,000, distributed ‘em and waited to see what happened. They sold—and the yoga fad was on.

    Fads are good starts. Fads are signals that our “for the benefit of all sentient beings” work is reaching beyond our core, or choir, and to the masses who may not have known that yoga or in this case meditation practice was applicable, relevant, helpful to them and their daily lives.

    That’s why elephant went online—to reach the masses. After a year online, we’re at 85,000 unique readers monthly. Next year, we’ll be at 800,000. Why not? Treehugger.com, a great green publication, is at 1,000,000, and still hardly anyone in my hometown, Boulder, knows what “Treehugger” is. We need to grow our mindful media outlets if we want to engage with those who aren’t middle class white honkies (like yours truly).

    The other problem I have with magazines: elephant magazine, for two years, chose not to grow our distribution because we couldn’t figure out how to distribute and grow the mag in an eco-responsbile manner. Buddhism ought to be eco-responsible. Karma, anyone? Eventually, elephant gave up and went online. But Trike and Shambhala Sun don’t need to give up: they have more resources, staff and money-wise, than elephant did or does. They could direct distribute to zendos, yoga studios, meditation centers, cafes—cutting out the middleman distributors. You probably don’t realize this, but magazines are incredibly wasteful: only 3 or 4 out of 10 magazines, typically, are bought. The rest are recycled. Recycling paper with ink is energy-intensive. Shipping the magazines, after printing ‘em, and milling ‘em, is energy intensive. The least our Buddhist publications can do is figure out a way to distribute 8 or 9 out of 10 of those magazines—and, it’d be better business-wise.

  7. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Wow! Just wow. That is alot of comment. I appreciate the input into the Magazine Publishing industry. No doubt that I am “in the dark” (read: ignorant) of much of what goes on in the background of mass media production but I would like to counterpoint abit…

    My main problem with the three above mags is not the ads, at all. I think that’s an unfair criticism. The mag business is tough

    No doubt. My problem isn’t with ads. However, with the fashion mags, if Buddhist readers are picking up a Buddhist mag for the newest meditation timer ads or whats new in fancy buddha t-shirts then they lost me as a reader and definately as a subscriber. I have nothing against Buddha T-shirts. I love them and own a few but its not why I pick up a mag in the first place.

    So, my challenge would be to the advertisers: practice more! Make your products and ads revolve around actual practice, not be bullshit add-ons that on one needs. Mandate the reading of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by all Buddhist ad designers! (Seriously).

    Great idea but isn’t that just lobbing the ball into the other court? At the same time those mags should be searching out some advertisers that follow their ideal. I do like the mandatory reading though. And what about a commitment to the ENTIRE Buddhist community in the West? Asians are obviously under-represented. It has to be pretty obvious if I am agreeing with Arun on this. That dude rubs me the wrong way but he/she (I just don’t know) is right on target with this one.

    Waylon, I wish I had time to say more but I gotta boss breathing down my neck (ah…samsara). I will say thank you for your insider viewpoint on the Magazine Biz and it helps to shine the light a bit for us not “in the know”. I will say that I was wondering why elephant didn’t print anymore and I can appreciate the reasons for it. If The Big Three just took a fraction of the drive you got, they would be much better publications. Maybe they do. Who knows?

    Cheers,

    John
    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    Thanks, Waylon. Your comment is like a very informative blog in itself. I learned a lot.

    Jack, if you’re going to read the big three ancient Yoga texts, please take a look at my highly considered recommendations at:

    http://yogademystified.com/recommended-yoga-resou

    There is also a very new translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutra which declares it to be much, much closer to Buddhism than most previous versions have allowed, so much so that it is actually published by Shambhala Classics:

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/ISBN/

    In my opinion the Yoga Sutra, wonderful as it is, is the least of the three–a nut-and-bolts manual compared to the soaring poetic inspiration of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Thanks Bob! I will check those links. The yoga sutra is still sitting in my “To-Read” pile.

    It just gets bigger and bigger. I requested a copy of the Upanishads (I think) from the Library and it is HUGE!

    Cheers,

    John

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    You want a version that says “The Principle Upanishads”, of which there are 10-11 and not very long. The accessibility of the Upanishads varies greatly with the version.

    Bob

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Reply Casket

    Thank you for the suggestions in the end of the post. I’m just getting into Buddhism, i’m still in the stage where i’m yearning for knowledge and dont know much about Buddhism. I’ll check out the books Definately. If there is any other suggested readings let me know.

    *

  8. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Wow! Just wow. That is alot of comment. I appreciate the input into the Magazine Publishing industry. No doubt that I am “in the dark” (read: ignorant) of much of what goes on in the background of mass media production but I would like to counterpoint abit…

    My main problem with the three above mags is not the ads, at all. I think that’s an unfair criticism. The mag business is tough

    No doubt. My problem isn’t with ads. However, with the fashion mags, if Buddhist readers are picking up a Buddhist mag for the newest meditation timer ads or whats new in fancy buddha t-shirts then they lost me as a reader and definately as a subscriber. I have nothing against Buddha T-shirts. I love them and own a few but its not why I pick up a mag in the first place.

    So, my challenge would be to the advertisers: practice more! Make your products and ads revolve around actual practice, not be bullshit add-ons that on one needs. Mandate the reading of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by all Buddhist ad designers! (Seriously).

    Great idea but isn’t that just lobbing the ball into the other court? At the same time those mags should be searching out some advertisers that follow their ideal. I do like the mandatory reading though. And what about a commitment to the ENTIRE Buddhist community in the West? Asians are obviously under-represented. It has to be pretty obvious if I am agreeing with Arun on this. That dude rubs me the wrong way but he/she (I just don’t know) is right on target with this one.

    Waylon, I wish I had time to say more but I gotta boss breathing down my neck (ah…samsara). I will say thank you for your insider viewpoint on the Magazine Biz and it helps to shine the light a bit for us not “in the know”. I will say that I was wondering why elephant didn’t print anymore and I can appreciate the reasons for it. If The Big Three just took a fraction of the drive you got, they would be much better publications. Maybe they do. Who knows?

    Cheers,

    John
    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    Thanks, Waylon. Your comment is like a very informative blog in itself. I learned a lot.

    Jack, if you’re going to read the big three ancient Yoga texts, please take a look at my highly considered recommendations at:

    http://yogademystified.com/recommended-yoga-resou

    There is also a very new translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutra which declares it to be much, much closer to Buddhism than most previous versions have allowed, so much so that it is actually published by Shambhala Classics:

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/ISBN/

    In my opinion the Yoga Sutra, wonderful as it is, is the least of the three–a nut-and-bolts manual compared to the soaring poetic inspiration of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Thanks Bob! I will check those links. The yoga sutra is still sitting in my “To-Read” pile.

    It just gets bigger and bigger. I requested a copy of the Upanishads (I think) from the Library and it is HUGE!

    Cheers,

    John

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    You want a version that says “The Principle Upanishads”, of which there are 10-11 and not very long. The accessibility of the Upanishads varies greatly with the version.

    Bob

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Reply Casket

    Thank you for the suggestions in the end of the post. I’m just getting into Buddhism, i’m still in the stage where i’m yearning for knowledge and dont know much about Buddhism. I’ll check out the books Definately. If there is any other suggested readings let me know.

    *

  9. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Wow! Just wow. That is alot of comment. I appreciate the input into the Magazine Publishing industry. No doubt that I am “in the dark” (read: ignorant) of much of what goes on in the background of mass media production but I would like to counterpoint abit…

    My main problem with the three above mags is not the ads, at all. I think that’s an unfair criticism. The mag business is tough

    No doubt. My problem isn’t with ads. However, with the fashion mags, if Buddhist readers are picking up a Buddhist mag for the newest meditation timer ads or whats new in fancy buddha t-shirts then they lost me as a reader and definately as a subscriber. I have nothing against Buddha T-shirts. I love them and own a few but its not why I pick up a mag in the first place.

    So, my challenge would be to the advertisers: practice more! Make your products and ads revolve around actual practice, not be bullshit add-ons that on one needs. Mandate the reading of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by all Buddhist ad designers! (Seriously).

    Great idea but isn’t that just lobbing the ball into the other court? At the same time those mags should be searching out some advertisers that follow their ideal. I do like the mandatory reading though. And what about a commitment to the ENTIRE Buddhist community in the West? Asians are obviously under-represented. It has to be pretty obvious if I am agreeing with Arun on this. That dude rubs me the wrong way but he/she (I just don’t know) is right on target with this one.

    Waylon, I wish I had time to say more but I gotta boss breathing down my neck (ah…samsara). I will say thank you for your insider viewpoint on the Magazine Biz and it helps to shine the light a bit for us not “in the know”. I will say that I was wondering why elephant didn’t print anymore and I can appreciate the reasons for it. If The Big Three just took a fraction of the drive you got, they would be much better publications. Maybe they do. Who knows?

    Cheers,

    John
    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    Thanks, Waylon. Your comment is like a very informative blog in itself. I learned a lot.

    Jack, if you’re going to read the big three ancient Yoga texts, please take a look at my highly considered recommendations at:

    http://yogademystified.com/recommended-yoga-resou

    There is also a very new translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutra which declares it to be much, much closer to Buddhism than most previous versions have allowed, so much so that it is actually published by Shambhala Classics:

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/ISBN/

    In my opinion the Yoga Sutra, wonderful as it is, is the least of the three–a nut-and-bolts manual compared to the soaring poetic inspiration of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Thanks Bob! I will check those links. The yoga sutra is still sitting in my “To-Read” pile.

    It just gets bigger and bigger. I requested a copy of the Upanishads (I think) from the Library and it is HUGE!

    Cheers,

    John

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    You want a version that says “The Principle Upanishads”, of which there are 10-11 and not very long. The accessibility of the Upanishads varies greatly with the version.

    Bob

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Reply Casket

    Thank you for the suggestions in the end of the post. I’m just getting into Buddhism, i’m still in the stage where i’m yearning for knowledge and dont know much about Buddhism. I’ll check out the books Definately. If there is any other suggested readings let me know.

    *

  10. *
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:26 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Wow! Just wow. That is alot of comment. I appreciate the input into the Magazine Publishing industry. No doubt that I am “in the dark” (read: ignorant) of much of what goes on in the background of mass media production but I would like to counterpoint abit…

    My main problem with the three above mags is not the ads, at all. I think that’s an unfair criticism. The mag business is tough

    No doubt. My problem isn’t with ads. However, with the fashion mags, if Buddhist readers are picking up a Buddhist mag for the newest meditation timer ads or whats new in fancy buddha t-shirts then they lost me as a reader and definately as a subscriber. I have nothing against Buddha T-shirts. I love them and own a few but its not why I pick up a mag in the first place.

    So, my challenge would be to the advertisers: practice more! Make your products and ads revolve around actual practice, not be bullshit add-ons that on one needs. Mandate the reading of Cutting through Spiritual Materialism by all Buddhist ad designers! (Seriously).

    Great idea but isn’t that just lobbing the ball into the other court? At the same time those mags should be searching out some advertisers that follow their ideal. I do like the mandatory reading though. And what about a commitment to the ENTIRE Buddhist community in the West? Asians are obviously under-represented. It has to be pretty obvious if I am agreeing with Arun on this. That dude rubs me the wrong way but he/she (I just don’t know) is right on target with this one.

    Waylon, I wish I had time to say more but I gotta boss breathing down my neck (ah…samsara). I will say thank you for your insider viewpoint on the Magazine Biz and it helps to shine the light a bit for us not “in the know”. I will say that I was wondering why elephant didn’t print anymore and I can appreciate the reasons for it. If The Big Three just took a fraction of the drive you got, they would be much better publications. Maybe they do. Who knows?

    Cheers,

    John
    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 1:01 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    Thanks, Waylon. Your comment is like a very informative blog in itself. I learned a lot.

    Jack, if you’re going to read the big three ancient Yoga texts, please take a look at my highly considered recommendations at:

    http://yogademystified.com/recommended-yoga-resou

    There is also a very new translation and commentary on the Yoga Sutra which declares it to be much, much closer to Buddhism than most previous versions have allowed, so much so that it is actually published by Shambhala Classics:

    http://www.shambhala.com/html/catalog/items/ISBN/

    In my opinion the Yoga Sutra, wonderful as it is, is the least of the three–a nut-and-bolts manual compared to the soaring poetic inspiration of the Upanishads and Bhagavad Gita.

    Bob Weisenberg
    http://YogaDemystified.com

    *
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:42 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    Thanks Bob! I will check those links. The yoga sutra is still sitting in my “To-Read” pile.

    It just gets bigger and bigger. I requested a copy of the Upanishads (I think) from the Library and it is HUGE!

    Cheers,

    John

    o
    on December 12, 2009 at 5:30 pm | Reply Bob Weisenberg

    You want a version that says “The Principle Upanishads”, of which there are 10-11 and not very long. The accessibility of the Upanishads varies greatly with the version.

    Bob

    #
    on December 12, 2009 at 4:29 pm | Reply Casket

    Thank you for the suggestions in the end of the post. I’m just getting into Buddhism, i’m still in the stage where i’m yearning for knowledge and dont know much about Buddhism. I’ll check out the books Definately. If there is any other suggested readings let me know.

    *

  11. on December 12, 2009 at 4:41 pm | Reply Jack Daw

    I would say check out anything by John Daido Loori. I really do like his writings. His books “Bringing the Sacred to Life” and “Invoking Reality: the Ethical Teachings of Zen” were both easy to read and very approachable…

    I was never a huge Trungpa Rinpoche fan but I am getting more and more drawn to his writings so I thinkanything be him.

    “Essential Buddhism” by MacQuire (sp?) is another one that I recommend b/c it gives a nice, basic and comprehensive survey of Buddhism. Not perfect but it will get you on your feet. “Buddha for Beginners” by Asma is the life of Buddha plus awesome pictures/illustrations. Very nice intro.

    There is always Buddhanet.net

    They have a ebook library that is very helpful. Also check out my man-crush Gil Fronsdal over at AudioDharma. He has fantastic podcasts on all the basics. Some are even organized into classes taht you can “take”.

    Cheers,

    John

    o
    on December 13, 2009 at 6:09 pm | Reply Casket

    Thank you, i’ll definately check them out when i get some money. I’m not big on checking books out of the library.

    #
    on December 14, 2009 at 2:53 pm | Reply TMcG

    Just wanted to mention which is published by the Nalandabodhi group and is quite similar to Bodhidharma in it’s tone (meaning serious practitioners who love more sutras and less Cosmo-style copy will love it).

  12. Bob, you should do a blog just on basic required reading for those, like me, who practice but don't know shiiiite about yoga!

  13. John Pappas John says:

    Absolutely fine! Love to see the reactions!

  14. John Pappas John says:

    I second that. Many, myself, included have no real idea about where yoga came from or why. Having a little primer would be very helpful.

    I am planning on marketing my own version of yoga. I like to call it "Extreme Yoga ~ Yoga on crack and Red Bull". I'm kidding, of course but I expect someone did or will do it eventually if we don't learn about the origin.

  15. Don says:

    It's all about the accessorizing. Cool bells to ring, statuary, mats, cushions, clothing, jewelry, meaningless music and chants, stuff for the shrine. Oh man, talk about the American Spiritual Dream: Shopping for enlightenment….. couldn't get any better.

  16. John Pappas John says:

    I agree Don. For me enlightenment only costs time. I made my own zafu and zabuton, I use a free online meditation timer, I attend free online retreats. I request Dharma books from the local library. I find free, legal copies of music and chanting online. I download free Dharma talks. My shrine consists of gifts and pictures. One's practice should be of a minimal monetary cost and more about the time and effort put in.

    This is not what the Magazines above try to sell you. You need those things to practice. You need the DVD/CD set to tell you the "secret" of practice. You need to spend 500-1000 dollars on a retreat with an "authentic" Zen master.

    What kills me is that I still get that urge to purchase and consume…

    Cheers,

    John

  17. Carol Ann says:

    First time caller, er commentor :) I'm a newbie Buddhist and am reading everything I can get my hands on. Good list, going to check all of it out. <<<HOW WAS MY COMMENT JOHN aka @zendirtzendust ?>>

  18. Hey Mike! Thanks for commenting. To set the record straight, I am not judging anyone for reading anything. I actually stated that I think anyone reading this should explore and see what they like and then roll with. I never state that by reading one (or all) of these Mags (or liking them) made someone a "bad" Buddhist….

    I disagree in the statement that my post was not useful. I was asked by a friend on Twitter to express my opinion by comparing and contrasting the Mags that are out there that I have experience with. That is what I did. I did it honestly and honesty is useful.

    Thank you for your advise – I do not currently purchase any of these Mags. And I am a bit confused about what is "un-Buddhst" by me giving an honest opinion (granted my language is colorful). It is a choice and I think anyone should explore what is avaliable, no matter what my opinion is.

    Cheers and with much Metta!

    John

  19. John Pappas John says:

    You comment is lovely, Carol Ann! I stand by my recommendations for books at the end of the post and I encourage you to read the Mags! Make your own choice in what you want to read.

    Cheers,

    John

  20. NellaLou says:

    "I am not standing in judgement of anyone's opinion, but it does seem a bit un-Buddhist like to criticize really what should be a choice"

    This statement contains an internal contradiction.

    "This is not about any social issue."

    The social issues defined are consumerism, classism and racism, ethics in terms of conflict of interest and sectarianism.

    " ..that which was truthful, but also what which was useful. "

    Who has the monopoly on truth?

    If you wish to define truth for me it would be appreciated.

    Who gets to decide what is useful for someone else?

    One cannot anticipate the needs of others. And the need of the writer is as relevant as the need of the reader. John, an individual and not a corporate entity or brand (at least not yet!), may have needed to write this in order to assist his own decision process. And others may feel that John's presented comparison may be a model for their own decision making process. There are plenty of uses for anything is one applies a little creativity to the issue.

  21. mike says:

    Re-reading your post, I may have been a little more pointed than I would have liked. Marketing & self-help, Dr. Phil like crap has me frustrated.

    • John Pappas John says:

      No problem, Mike! I just made sure to include in the post when I wrote it that anyone reading this should discover for themselves whether or not these publications speak to them and aid their practice.

  22. mike says:

    Besides, it's not about agreeing or disagreeing. It's about getting people to read and comment on the blog. There is a very old, time tested technique of making sure the topic is controversial. It brings out emotions on all sides of the issue, not to mention helping advertising with the clicks. Waylon has a mortgage to pay!

    • Yes, I do, and my mortgage company calls every day.

    • integralhack says:

      Like yourself, I was a little pointed with John on Twitter (via @IntegralHack) and I didn't think much of the post as it seemed to be a rather sketchy review (the dubious "Tricycle has more adverts" claim), but then it degenerated all the more with Tricycle blocking John from following on Twitter (which might be childish, but apparently John doesn't want to read it anyway) and then John grousing about the fact that he was blocked. Frankly, I found the complaint worse than the block–I mean, complaining about the offense to a few hundred people over the loss of one follower which would otherwise go unnoticed seems to trump the initial act in terms of childish behavior. It was at that point that I chirped in.

      Like Elephant Journal, Tricycle also has bills to pay, so I think we do need to be mindful of our "right speech" and make sure that if you are writing a review that is critical, that you are at least making an effort to be truthful and make a skillful effort to back up your claims with facts. I don't see this review as doing that.

      That said, we all fall short sometimes in this way. John usually has great, insightful writing on topics–I look forward to reading them and I also look forward to reading the occasional good article in Tricycle and Elephant Journal. It's all about the periodical content, after all . . .

      • John Pappas John says:

        No problem! @integralhack, I enjoyed the conversation. But as far as grousing though. I tweeted (one tweet) that I was blocked and people wanted to talk about it. I responded to questions and I was more than respectful in my content even when people dissagreed with me.

        I stand by my critique. If the worst part was that I mentioned that Tricycle is advert-heavy, then I am not worried. I encouraged everyone that read my article to make their own decisions concerning these perdiodicals.

        Most of my critique was on lack of engagement from Tricycle. Something that Shambhala Sun is doing well and Tricycle (since they block people that disagree with them) is failing at.

        Cheers,

        John

        • integralhack says:

          John, I can't say you aren't engaging! I would love to see more articles re: Engaged Buddhism, which is probably different than the engagement you are referring to here (online communication). I know that you appreciate both.

          Re: grousing tweet–true. Social networking is itself sometimes as much of an engagement problem as it is a conduit. Retweets and comment dogpiles sometimes skew the issues involved.

          Best wishes,

          Matt

          • John Pappas John says:

            Thanks Matt! To be clear – I enjoy these conversations, even when they put me in a negative light. What better way to learn. Funny you should mention that "Engaged Buddhism" post. I was planningto write one for Elephant yesterday but got sidetracked by Twitter!

            Cheers,

            John

          • integralhack says:

            John, like my wife says about me: you're worth the trouble! These conversations are only edifying when the parties involved are intelligent and wise enough to grok the arguments. You're one of the smart ones, obviously. Also, with a common Dharma core–I care about what you say. If I didn't care, I wouldn't comment. So even if you seem to be cast in a negative light by criticism, it is ultimately a compliment when it comes from friends.

            I learn a lot too!

  23. I highly recommend The Deeper Dimensions of Yoga and The Yoga Tradition, both by Georg Feuerstein. Deeper Dimensions is more readable, TYT more scholarly.

  24. Ah, but how can such a frugal, diligent practice compare with Genpo Roshi's $50,000, 5-day all-access pass to the rock-star zen guru? (Now half off at only $25,000!)
    http://www.bigmind.org/BigHeartCircle.html

    • John Pappas John says:

      Extended warranty?! How can I lose?

      Rock Star is the key word there! People sometimes attach worth to $worth$ so if it costs a hefty dollar amount then it must be worth it. I would rather sit myself into a monestary and actually work (if I had the 50,000) to shell out then I could probably afford to take a "vacation" at a reputable Zen Center.

  25. Christianity is typically funded by weekly donations and fundraising drives, which support physical buildings as well as a minimum of staff, with a minimum of a f ew hundred regular community members attending weekly services. Historically, a 10% tithe was encouraged, and this is still a common practice in some sects, like the Mormons. How many Buddhists regularly donate 10% of their income to their sangha or retreat center?

    Barring such financial support, Buddhist organizations go capitalist and sell ads, zafus, malas, incense, and other accoutrements for signaling to others that you are a good Buddhist, or perhaps a badass one: http://www.elephantjournal.com/2009/12/sickest-bu

    Much of the popularity of Eastern religions and spiritual practices comes from the rejection of Christianity and it's associated abuses. Yet we should ask ourselves if we are coming up with worse solutions than the original problem, with the history of abuses of power, sex, and money within Western Buddhism and Hinduism.

    Perhaps things like weekly services, tithing, etc. are acceptable in this light if we wish to have less capitalism in our spirituality.

    • John Pappas John says:

      "How many Buddhists regularly donate 10% of their income to their sangha or retreat center? "

      How many indeed? How many actually have a sangha or retreat center. I practice with a small group (6-12 a sitting sometimes as many as 20!) and we just work on donations. When you feel like dropping some change, then do so. It keeps us in nice smelling stuff and can "rent" out a master from Great Mountain Zen Center every year (sometimes twice!).

      I prefer the grass-roots aproach myself but it has its drawbacks as well (no pretty buildings)

  26. mike says:

    Back in the early 70's, Buddhist magazines were all but non-existent (and not in Buddhist kind of way). Bulletin boards in the incense filled (I think it was incense?) local east-west bookstore and a few brief, fleeting newsletters and papers, were how I got much of the info about Buddhist news and events back then. As the popularity of Buddhism emerged here, so did some magazines. The demand and competition drove these publishers to put out a slick, high gloss product which nice eye candy. Cost of manufacturing and distributing a national/ international high end publication has gone up and thereby the ever increasing amount of advertising. I get the quarterly edition of the Snow Lion News and Catalog. It is printed on newspaper stock and in black and white. The Inquiring Mind is printed on newspaper stock and other than the cover is black and white. MUCH less advertising. MUCH more enjoyable. I would pay for a Buddhist publication that was low cost and earth friendly. Save the high gloss for Madison Avenue.

    • John Pappas John says:

      "I get the quarterly edition of the Snow Lion News and Catalog. It is printed on newspaper stock and in black and white. The Inquiring Mind is printed on newspaper stock and other than the cover is black and white. MUCH less advertising. MUCH more enjoyable."

      Agreed! I subscribe to a few eNewsletters from Zen Centers and the contents are far superior to the published Buddhist Mags.

  27. mike says:

    "I subscribe to a few eNewsletters from Zen Centers and the contents are far superior to the published Buddhist Mags."

    Is the cost of doing business going to send it this way permanently? I tend to think so. I like blogs and enews etc. but still like to sit an a comfortable chair and turn the pages…

    • John Pappas John says:

      Well, to be honest, I was never a huge magazine reader (although I loved comics). But I don't see me changing until the content and responsibilities of the magazine publishers catch up to where I think they should be.

      Some I think are getting there or maybe it just takes some enterprising individuals to get something started. Look at the Buddhist Geeks podcast. They get amazing interviews and exposure. They had to grow so they asked for support from their audience (I and many others try to help out) and they still provide quality interviews and are expanding more.

      Now they do have commercials but they (I think) are aware of what those commercials say about them as Buddhists, them as an organization and them as people. When something doesn't fall in line with that they remove it.

      Is Mindful Advertising easy? No. Does it bring in as much money as profit-driven advertising? No. But sometimes one has to put themselves above the bottomline.

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