Melvin McLeod.

The Deep River of Dharma

Buddhadharma editor-in-chief Melvin McLeod takes a look at the journal’s relaunch, and its mission to support committed Buddhists.

By Melvin McLeod

Melvin McLeod. Photo by Megumi Yoshida.

Buddhism is like a great river. It is, as an old blues song says, “long, deep, and wide.”

The river of dharma has been flowing for a long time: 2,600 years from one point of view, forever from another. Those of us who care about Buddhism’s future in the modern world need to take a long view—to think decades ahead, maybe even centuries.

The wide part refers to spreading the dharma as far as possible, making it accessible to all those who would benefit from it. We publish Lion’s Roar magazine to fulfill this mission. It’s where Buddhists speak to the wider society, offering wisdom, heart, and life-changing practices to benefit people’s lives, our society, and the future of the earth.

The deep part may prove the most important. For Buddhism to maintain its integrity and offer its true benefit, it must rest on a foundation of committed and knowledgeable practitioners and sustainable communities. We publish Buddhadharma to fulfill this mission.

Buddhadharma is where Buddhists speak to other Buddhists, sharing our realization, knowledge, and views. It is where we can deepen our practice, expand our knowledge, and make connections with fellow practitioners of all traditions. It is where we can contribute to a Buddhism that is authentic, complete, sustainable, and successfully integrated into our society.

If you are a committed Buddhist, or aspire to be one, we publish Buddhadharma for you. We know you are already familiar with the principles and terms. That you don’t need to be convinced or sold on Buddhism. That you want to go deeper and you’re willing to put in the work. We hope the relaunch of Buddhadharma in this new format makes clearer that this journal is intended to support you, as a committed Buddhist, on your path.

The dharma is like a great river — it is always flowing and changing, even as it remains the same river.

Of course, there are many sources you can access to deepen your practice and study. As a committed Buddhist, you probably practice in a particular school, and there are excellent books, translations, websites, and journals where you can dive deeper into your own tradition.

What is unique about Buddhadharma is that it’s the one place you can find the best of all Buddhist traditions. We always benefit when we access the wisdom of other Buddhist schools. Even though people talk about “one dharma,” we Buddhists can be surprisingly siloed. But we’re just coming at the same problem from different angles. Buddhadharma helps us benefit from other perspectives on the dharma.

Broadly speaking, Buddhadharma focuses on three areas: practice, study, and community.

We offer profound practice instruction from a full range of wise teachers, both historical and contemporary. You can learn more about the many different Buddhist practices and go deeper into your own. You may be amazed how a teacher from another tradition helps you see your own practice differently.

Of course, practice alone isn’t enough. We need a context and framework. Buddhadharma taps the experts to help you deepen your study of Buddhist philosophy and history. Our expanded review section will keep you informed about the latest developments in Buddhist thought and scholarship.

Finally, there is perhaps the juiciest topic: community. We tackle the challenges, questions, and controversies that arise when Buddhist relate to each other in community, including sustainability, ethics, inclusion, safety, affordability, adaptation versus tradition, activism, and much more. This is where the world can see if we’re really living our values as Buddhists.

There is one other way the dharma is like a great river—it is always flowing and changing, even as it remains the same river. We face the same great challenge that Buddhists have always faced as the dharma manifests in new cultures and times: understanding how the unchanging changes to create benefit in new circumstances.

Buddhism in North America is now in a fertile moment of generational and cultural change. It is open and exciting. We don’t know how the dharma will flow from here, but we know it needs people committed to deep practice, serious study, and creating inspiring, sustainable communities. May Buddhadharma bring together all who are dedicated to this.

Melvin McLeod

Melvin McLeod is the Editor-in-Chief of Lion’s Roar magazine and Buddhadharma.