Blair Hurley

Blair Hurley is a Boston native and has short stories published in Descant, The Red Rock Review, Quality Women’s Fiction, The Best Young Artists and Writers in America, and elsewhere. A graduate of Princeton University with her MFA from NYU, she is currently at work on a novel.

Work by Blair Hurley

Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Casting Off There are three objects before you: a robe, a bowl, and a pair of sandals. That’s all you get. Cast off everything else: your jewelry, your money, your underwear. These things are not so hard to shed. They go easily. Then go your drawer of wool socks, the house you grew up in, your period — you won’t be having that anymore, with one bowl of rice a day. Now let go of your books — that’s harder, isn’t it? — your relatives, your lovers. You won’t need any of them. Make three vows. Take refuge in the Buddha. ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

The Women An old Hopi proverb says that a man with the red hat will bring wisdom from the East to the West. So in the 1950’s and 60’s, when Tibetan monks were fleeing the Cultural Revolution, burning monasteries behind them, it was natural to set up centers in the Western United States. There in the high dry mountains and deserts not so different from their homelands, they found new followers, the kinds of followers Buddhism had never seen. They were young and angry. They were looking for answers as far and strange as possible, as distant as could be found ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Eating The Tibetans are not vegetarian. This is because nothing will grow on the high arid mountain plains of Tibet. They live on Yak. On the other hand, the Japanese priests may drink wine, and the monks may marry. As for the American practitioners, all bets are off. Most drink; most are not celibate; some eat meat, some don’t. The rules are fluid; always have been. The Americans want to be what they’ve always been, just with a special extra sheen of wisdom. They want to sleep in on Sundays and drink red wine out of too-full glasses. They want bowling and ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Inside the Temple At the mouth of the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, where the roads of SoHo, Little Italy, and Chinatown converge in a mad rush hour mess, the Mahayana Buddhist Temple sits in the delta of commuters and looks out over the steel spires of the bridge to Brooklyn. It is a huge sandy concrete block, a former YMCA converted in the 1962, and its giant red capital letters, like the name of a restaurant or a real estate firm, stare out blankly onto the open air of the overpass, the sky crowded with steel. There is no other external ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Home-Leaver In Japan, they are called Home-Leavers, and are granted a privileged place in society. They are doing the most difficult thing, breaking the scarlet cord, and this is the first and hardest step. It is how the Buddha’s story begins too. In the tales, when he realizes he must go, he stands in the doorway of his wife’s bedroom, and watches her sleep with their newborn son in her arms. He does not approach. He knows that if he were to touch her, his resolve would break, and he would never leave. So he turns; lets the curtain fall; leaves. So ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Karma Siddartha and his monks are walking alongside the road to their retreat in Dharamsala. The rainy season is coming and they have to spend the time meditating; travel is impossible when the roads become mud and disease spreads from house to house. A naked man runs up to them, his hair long and wild, his beard holding burrs and dead insects. He kneels for a blessing. His hair is alive with lice. “Save me, give me sanctuary, I take refuge with you,” he begs. We can’t take this man, says one of the monks. I know him. He’s a murderer. ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Enlightenment Siddartha, certain that he is close to the truth of why people suffer and how to escape from it, sits under the bodhi tree through the night. Depending on which folk tale or epic poem you read, he defeats Mara the deceiver, or he sits by himself; he fights armies and conquers death, or he sees the light coming up through the leaves and finds himself alone and aware. So he’s enlightened. What happens now? Does he look any different? Is there a serene smile on his lips? Does he feel triumphant, sorrowful, special, or is he now above all ...

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Blair Hurley

The Eight-Spoked Wheel

Siddartha and his monks are gathered around the fire. The day's begging is done, the meal is eaten; the moist evening air clamors with insects. The monks are squatting in their yellow robes. Even in the heat, they press close...

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