Tricycle, the Buddhist
review, was founded in 1991 as a non-profit
quarterly journal devoted to spreading awareness of Buddhism
and Buddhist teachings. The journal
is supported primarily by subscriptions, rather than advertising, and is published out of New York City. While it does include some coverage of Buddhist-related news from Asian
nations, the journal focuses primarily on Buddhism in the West (Europe
and the United State), and primarily on the USA at that. Standard fare includes interviews with with Buddhist teachers and scholars, such as Thich Nhat Hanh
or Robert Thurman
, excerpts of translations from Buddhist texts, reviews of English-language books, and coverage of social or political events that relate to Buddhism in the world.
Many of Tricycle's issues are 'theme' issues, where a single issue or theme is the organizing principle of the majority of the features. Prevous 'theme' issues have included Hollywood Buddhism, death and dying practices, drug use and abuse, and Buddhism and depression. Interviews, special features, and passages from Buddhist religious texts will be selected that relate to this issue.
The choice of issues and the perspective presented often reveals Tricycle's roots in the counterculture of the 1960's and 70's. While the magazine usually does a good job of presenting some representation from multiple view points, it can't be ignored that most of the editors and contributors are Western converts who often came to Buddhism as part of a rejection of more traditional Western religious practices. In the issue on drug use, for instance, only one of several responses to the issue (that presented by Vietnamese monk Thich Nhat Hanh) pointed out that the Five Precepts, the basis of both lay and monastic Buddhist morality seem to directly contradict the efficacy and propriety of using drugs as part of one's Buddhist practice. The publication caters primarily to educated, middle-class and above middle aged Americans, who, though they may be quite sincere in their beliefs, have perspectives and concerns regarding Buddhism that are often distinct not only from so-called 'ethnic' Buddhists, but from Buddhists from different generations and socio-economic backgrounds. But of course, you can't be everything to everyone.
To their credit, Tricycle has been quite willing to address in depth a number of issues shrouded in controversy within the Western Buddhist community, and has, in most cases, given them a good and open airing. Abuses on the part of religious teachers (particularly in the Zen tradition), the Dorje Shugden controversy, the place of reincarnation in Buddhist belief and teachings, substance abuse, depression, religious authority, and the generation gap in the Western sangha have all been raised at one time or another, and often addressed in some depth. Exploration of 'ethnic' Buddhism has also increased, with articles about the Pure Land communities in California and Hawai, and the saga of a group of besieged Theravada monks in Freemont, CA. The articles run the gamut from the intensely personal to the scholarly. Tricycle has also published a number of books on issues such as meditation or mindfulness, usually in the form of collections of short essays or remarks by well-known teachers.
So, why the name Tricycle? According to their website (www.tricycle.com), the choice was influenced by the prevelence of the number 3, and the concept of the wheel and vehicle in Buddhist thought. There is the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha (the Three Jewels), the three vehicles (Hinayana, Mahayana, and either Vajrayana or Ekayana, depending on your interpretation), the wheel of the Dharma (dhammacakra). The choice was also influenced by the Zen concept of the 'beginner's mind', a mind that is open to new experiences and learning. The phrase 'the beginning vehicle for advanced minds' occasionally follows the name.