This issue of Inquiring Mind is the first in a series focusing on what the Buddha called “the three characteristics of existence.” We begin with an exploration of impermanence (anicca), with subsequent journals to focus on unsatisfactoriness (dukkha) and nonself (anatta). As you will see, our examination of impermanence evolved with a special emphasis on the stages of life, especially the process of aging and death (perhaps reflecting the current stage of life of many of those in our community).
The theme is introduced by Joseph Goldstein and Robert Thurman exploring impermanence and its role in the Buddha’s teaching. Interwoven throughout are scriptural quotations on impermanence translated from their original Pali by Buddhist scholar Andrew Olendzki. Continuing are two very moving accounts of people facing major physical changes:
Sandy Boucher confronting cancer and Ram Dass adjusting to life after his stroke. Richard Mahler speaks with elders at Jubilados, a spiritual community for the aging, forming in New Mexico.
We then travel back to birth with Robbie Pfeufer Kahn, who offers a reflection on both being a baby and giving birth to one. For a completely different experience of impermanence, Terry Vandiver describes her fiftieth birthday, millennial belly dance for the Buddha. Next, we turn to yet another segment of life, featuring Norman Fischer’s work with young people in ritual and initiation. Diana Winston presents a lively roundtable discussion with teenagers who meditate, and thoughts and stories from those who teach them.
Gil Fronsdal reports some interesting findings regarding the teaching of the precepts in our community.
On our poetry pages Peter Dale Scott shares selections from his forthcoming title, Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000.
About the cover:
Ginger Beringer is an illustrator living near the Oakland, California, rose garden, where she has spent long hours observing roses in all stages of florescense and decay. The idea for this cover came about from a class on roses given by Yvonne Rand and Wendy Johnson: the rose as a metaphor—from bud to full flower to rose hip—of the potential, richness, beauty, fragility, hardiness, interdependence and impermanence of life.
For budgetary reasons, we are focusing on archiving Inquiring Mind’s original articles, interviews and poetry. For the most part, we are leaving out anything that was adapted or excerpted from a book or other publication.
“Nothing Happens” by Sandy Boucher, excerpted from Hidden Spring: A Buddhist Woman Confronts Her Life-Threatening Illness (Wisdom Publications, 2000)
“Long Live Impermanence!” by Thich Nhat Hanh, excepted from The Heart of the Buddha’s Teaching (Parallax Press, 1998)
“The Impermanence of the Outer Universe in Which Beings Live” by Patrul Rinpoche, excerpted from The Words of My Perfect Teacher (AltaMira Press, 1998).
“Retreat Poems” by Peter Dale Scott, excerpted from Minding the Darkness: A Poem for the Year 2000 (New Directions, 2000)
“Mother of All Buddhas” by Joanna Macy, excerpted from Widening Circles: A Memoir (New Society Publishers, 2000)
“The Supreme Addiction” by Larry Rosenberg (this issue’s Practice column), adapted from Living in the Light of Death (Shambhala Publications, 2000)