Tricycle: The Buddhist Review

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Tricycle: The Buddhist Review
Summer 2015 Cover.jpeg
Editor & Publisher James Shaheen[1]
Former editors Helen Tworkov
Frequency Quarterly
First issue 1991
Company Tricycle Foundation
Country United States
Based in New York City

Tricycle: The Buddhist Review is an independent, nonsectarian Buddhist quarterly that publishes Buddhist teachings, practices, and critique. "A beacon for Western Buddhists," the magazine has been recognized for its willingness to challenge established ideas within Buddhist communities and beyond.[2] It is based in New York City.

The magazine is published by The Tricycle Foundation, a not-for-profit 501(c)(3) educational organization established in 1990 by Helen Tworkov, a former anthropologist and longtime student of Zen and Tibetan Buddhism, and chaired by composer Philip Glass.[3] James Shaheen is the current Editor and Publisher of Tricycle.

According to the Tricycle website,

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 to bring about. Tricycle is an independent foundation unaffiliated with any one lineage or sect.

The name Tricycle refers to a three-wheeled vehicle symbolizing the fundamental components of Buddhist philosophy. Buddhism is “often referred to as the ‘vehicle to enlightenment,’ and the tricycle’s three wheels allude to the three treasures: The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, or the enlightened teacher, the teachings, and the community. The wheels also relate to the turning of the wheel of dharma, or skillfully using the teachings of the Buddha to face the challenges that the circle of life presents.”[3]

According to Notre Dame's American Studies Chair Thomas A. Tweed, Tricycle, based on surveys, "estimated that half of the publication's sixty thousand subscribers do not describe themselves as Buddhist."[4] The vast majority of Tricycle’s readership is politically active and considers social engagement to be most appropriate to, even a key component of, Buddhist practice.[5]

Tricycle also hosts a blog, film club, monthly video dharma talks with Buddhist teachers, and in-depth online courses. It was one of the first organizations to offer online video teachings, which are now common. The blog, Trike Daily, covers topics ranging from the history of same-sex marriage in the sangha to climate change as a moral issue.


In 1991, The Tricycle Foundation launched Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, the first Buddhist magazine in the West. Helen Tworkov, the first Editor-in-Chief of Tricycle, founded the magazine along with Rick Fields, a poet and expert on Buddhism’s history in the United States.[6] Mr. Fields served as a contributing editor to the magazine.

During her editorship, Helen Tworkov said, “The original vision [of Tricycle] was simply to disseminate the dharma. That remains the essential mission and the most inspiring aspect of my work.”[7]

Tricycle has made a concerted effort to feature content about all the Buddhist traditions, not just those that Americans are most familiar with, such as Tibetan, Theravada, and Zen Buddhism. For example, Tricycle has highlighted Nichiren Buddhism and Pure Land (Shin) Buddhism, both in the magazine and on its website.[8]

The Buddhist scholar Stephen Batchelor writes that until Tricycle was published,

Buddhist periodicals in English had been little more than newsletters to promote the interests of particular organizations and their teachers. Tricycle changed all this. Not only was the editorial policy of the magazine strictly non-sectarian, Tricycle was also committed to high literary and aesthetic standards. It became the first Buddhist journal to appear alongside other magazines on newsstands and in bookstores, thus presenting Buddhist ideas and values to a general public rather than committed believers. I very much shared the vision of Tricycle’s founders and began writing regularly for the magazine.[9]


Tricycle has twice garnered the Utne Media Award, most recently in 2013.[2] The 2013 Award was for “Best Body/Spirit Coverage.” The Utne Reader described why it chose Tricycle:

Since its founding in 1991, Tricycle has become a beacon for Western Buddhists, attracting a variety of other spiritual seekers along the way. In the past year, the pages of Tricycle have considered serious topics from addiction to aging, challenged widely accepted notions of the historical Buddha, and recounted spiritual quests that have not led to Buddhism. This openness to difficulty and uncertainty suggests a living-out of the words the magazine puts to print… After much deliberation, some back-issue rereading, and more than one impassioned speech, we're very pleased to announce Tricycle as the winner of Utne's 2013 Media Award for Body/Spirit Coverage. With a wealth of exceptional titles to choose from, the decision was difficult to make. Tricycle stood out for great writing and presentation—but most important was a noted willingness to surprise, even challenge, readers. Through this atmosphere of lively dialogue, Tricycle offers Western Buddhists (and many more) a point of entry to a community of thoughtful spiritual seekers.

Tricycle has also been awarded the Folio Award for “Best Spiritual Magazine” three times.[3]


Articles in Tricycle cover a range of Buddhist traditions, practices, and types of meditation, as well as general topics viewed through a Buddhist lens. This includes family, community, work, arts and culture, politics, social justice, the environment, aging, and death.

Contributors have included the Dalai Lama, Peter Matthiessen, Philip Glass, Thich Nhat Hanh, Curtis White, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Stephen Batchelor, Pema Chödrön, Robert Aitken, Spalding Gray, John Cage, Laurie Anderson, Martin Scorsese, and Tom Robbins.

According to Sallie Dinkel from New York Magazine, “Tricycle has functioned as a kind of tugboat of awareness, pushing and pulling traditional Buddhism in a direction that will make sense for the worldly American mainstream… The magazine has published articles on abortion, euthanasia, AIDS, and the Los Angeles riots.”[10]

Buddhism in the United States[edit]

Helen Tworkov has said she has “seen a growing acceptance of Buddhist practice throughout the country, although not without a degree of misunderstanding, like a belief among some people that the Dalai Lama is a sort of ‘Buddhist pope,’ in a tradition that lacks such an office.”[11] However, Ms. Tworkov has also expressed worry about whether American Buddhism is evolving into “simply another projection of the white majority.” This touches on the tensions that have existed around the definition(s) of American Buddhism, and how race and nationality fit into that definition.

Change Your Mind Day[edit]

In 1993, Tricycle created “Change Your Mind Day,” an afternoon of free meditation instruction held in New York City’s Central Park. The event was designed to introduce “the general public to Buddhist thought and practice.” During the first Change Your Mind Day, newcomers and seasoned Buddhists meditated, listened to performances by Philip Glass and Allen Ginsberg, and did tai-ch’i.

Ms. Tworkov described the event: “We invite teachers from different traditions to give instruction on meditation. The miracle, if you get into it, is you can have a couple of thousand people in New York City and it can get very, very quiet. It takes on a kind of tranquillity and collective consciousness, and everybody notices it.” Rande Brown, a former member of Tricycle’s board, estimated that 300 people attended the first event, and that 10 times that number attended in 1998. She said, “Enough people wander by and are serendipitously drawn into the silence.” The event has grown in popularity, as has mindfulness meditation. Starting in 2007, Tricycle began also hosting a virtual Change Your Mind Day to provide international and remote access to the event. The last Change Your Mind Day was held virtually in 2010, although many other organizations continue to host versions of the event.


The Tricycle Foundation has published several books, including Big Sky Mind: Buddhism and the Beat Generation, Breath Sweeps Mind: A First Guide to Meditation Practice, Buddha Laughing: A Tricycle Book of Cartoons, Commit to Sit: Tools for Cultivating a Meditation Practice from the Pages of Tricycle, and Stephen Batchelor’s Buddhism Without Beliefs, a founding text of Secular Buddhism. Tricycle has also published numerous e-books on topics ranging from happiness to addiction.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ About The Tricycle Foundation
  2. ^ a b "2013 Utne Media Awards: The Winners". Utne. Retrieved 2015-08-11. 
  3. ^ a b c "About The Tricycle Foundation | Tricycle". Retrieved 2015-08-11. 
  4. ^ Prebish, Charles S.; Baumann, Martin (2002). Westward Dharma: Buddhism Beyond Asia. University of California Press. p. 20. ISBN 0-520-22625-9. 
  5. ^ "Politics: What Do Tricycle Readers Think?". Tricycle: The Buddhist Review. The Tricycle Foundation. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  6. ^ Nick, Ravo (June 11, 1999). "Rick Fields, 57, Poet and Expert on Buddhism". The New York Times. Retrieved August 11, 2015. 
  7. ^ Farrer-Halls, Gill (2002). The Feminine Face of Buddhism. Wheaton, IL: Quest. p. 34. 
  8. ^ "Understanding Nichiren Buddhism | Tricycle". Retrieved 2015-08-11. 
  9. ^ Batchelor, Stephen (2011). Confession of a Buddhist Atheist. New York: Spiegel & Grau. 
  10. ^ Dinkel, Sallie (June 6, 1994). "In with the Om Crowd". New York Magazine. 
  11. ^ Niebuhr, Gustav (1998-05-23). "Religion Journal; In New York, 2 Buddhist Celebrations". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2015-08-12. 

External links[edit]