Inquiring Mind —Editor's Notes

Fall 1996 (Vol. 13 #1)
By Any Skillful Means: An Issue on Practice

Some call it practice and others call it ritual or ceremony. Some people say that they are cultivating awareness, others describe a process of stabilizing insight, and still others understand what they practice as an expression of our intrinsic enlightenment. In this Inquiring Mind, we explore various ways and means of Buddhadharma. (You may notice in this issue that the Buddha images start out seated, then begin to walk and to dance.)

We hear from vipassana teachers Joseph Goldstein, Sharon Salzberg, Christina Feldman and Anna Douglas, each with his or her own perspective on Theravada practices. Ayya Khema challenges the standard Western vipassana approach and advocates teaching the deep concentration states, the jhanas. In a discussion moderated by Gil Fronsdal, senior teachers Jack Kornfield and Reb Anderson exchange insights into the differences and similarities between vipassana and zazen. Arnie Kotler and Therese Fitzgerald discuss the embodied teachings of Thich Nhat Hanh: breathing, walking, hugging. Buddhist scholar Steven Goodman takes us on a joyful romp through Vajrayana practices. We go on a Rivers and Mountains Retreat with Patrick McMahon.

In our expanded Poetry section, we present the Buddha’s Birthday Celebration at Green Gulch Farm Zen Center—through photographs, reflections from the creators, and the poem/script around which the pageant revolves.

In preparing this issue, we were reminded that although there are many skillful means—practices, styles, schools, metaphysics—there is truly only one Dharma. As the Lotus Sutra proclaims: "Buddhas use countless numbers of expedient means, various causes and conditions, and words of simile and parable to expound the doctrines for the sake of living beings. These doctrines are all for the sake of the one Buddha vehicle. And these living beings, by listening tot he doctrines of the Buddhas, are all eventually able to attain wisdom embracing all species."*

*translated by Burton Watson, Columbia Press, 1993