Tuesday, February 28, 2006
wise older sister,
teach me your ways,
help me learn your strength.
I strive to follow in your path:
traversing the thicket of samsara
to offer help and comfort to my fellow beings;
giving up my coat to protect them
from the howling winds of dukkha;
gladly filling my satchel
to lessen the burden of their pain;
offering 100,000 lifetimes to ferry them
across the stormy waters of samudaya to nirvana
(original poem by Dharmasattva)
The survey, conducted by the Barna Research Group, also found that 73 percent of Americans believe that a person can become holy, regardless of his past, while half of those surveyed said they knew someone whom they considered holy.
The study also asked Americans to define holy. The largest category of respondents (21 percent) admitted they didn't know how to. The highest number that had an idea said "being Christ-like'' (19 percent), while 18 percent said "making faith your top priority.''
Within the bodies of sentient beings.
Like the sun, it is essentially bright,
Perfect, and complete.
Although vast and limitless,
It is merely covered by the layered clouds
Of the five skandas.
Like a lamp inside a jar,
Its light shines nonetheless.
- Sutra of the Ten Stages
Monday, February 27, 2006
Don’t be surprised,
Sunday, February 26, 2006
Matisyahu, Live at Stubb's: This is a great live album by a Chasidic Jewish reggae singer (really!) with a lot of talent and spirit. This is real reggae, folks, with a Yiddischer zing.
Steven Gorn, Colors of the Mind: I was looking for some nice meditation music that was interesting enough to listen to on its own merit. This is truly a beautiful album that weaves a tapestry of flute punctuated by sitar-like slide guitar sound of Barun Pal and the haunting voice of Falguni Shah.
Check 'em out, friends.
Saturday, February 25, 2006
Friday, February 24, 2006
May they be joyous and live in safety.
All living beings, whether weak or strong,
in high or middle or low realms of existence,
small or great, visible or invisible, near or far, born or to be born,
may all beings be happy.
Let no one deceive another, nor despise any being in any state;
let none by anger or hatred wish harm to another.
Even as a mother, at the risk of her own life,
watches over and protects her only child,
so with a boundless mind should one cherish all living things,
suffusing love over the entire world --
above, below, and all around without limit.
(From the Metta Sutta)
Wednesday, February 22, 2006
As I Develop The Awakening Mind I Praise The Buddha As They Shine
I Bow Before You As I Travel My Path To Join Your Ranks,
I Make My Full Time Task
For The Sake Of All Beings I Seek
The Enlighted Mind That I Know I'll Reap
Respect To Shantideva And All The Others
Who Brought Down The Darma For Sisters And Brothers
I Give Thanks For This World As A Place To Learn
And For This Human Body That I'm Glad To Have Earned
And My Deepest Thanks To All Sentient Beings
For Without Them There Would Be No Place To Learn What I'm Seeing
There's Nothing Here That's Not Been Said Before
But I Put It Down Now So I'll Be Sure
To Solidify My Own Views And I'll Be Glad If It Helps
Anyone Else Out Too
If Others Disrespect Me Or Give Me Flack
I'll Stop And Think Before I React =
Knowing That They're Going Through Insecure Stages
I'll Take The Opportunity To Exercise Patience
I'll See It As A Chance To Help The Other Person
Nip It In The Bud Before It Can Worsen
A Change For Me To Be Strong And Sure
As I Think On The Buddhas Who Have Come Before
As I Praise And Respect The Good They've Done
Knowing Only Love Can Conquer In Every Situation
We Need Other People In Order To Create
The Circumstances For The Learning That We're Here To Generate
Situations That Bring Up Our Deepest Fears
So We Can Work To Release Them Until They're Cleared
Therefore, It Only Makes Sense
To Thank Our Enemies Despite Their Intent
The Bodhisattva Path Is One Of Power And Strength
A Strength From Within To Go The Length
Seeing Others Are As Important As Myself
I Strive For A Happiness Of Mental Wealth
With The Interconnectedness That We Share As One
Every Action That We Take Affects Everyone
So In Deciding For What A Situation Calls
There Is A Path For The Good For All
I Try To Make My Every Action For That Highest Good
With The Altruistic Wish To Achive Buddhahood
So I Pledge Here Before Everyone Who's Listening
To Try To Make My Every Action For The Good Of All Beings
For The Rest Of My Lifetimes And Even Beyond
I Vow To Do My Best To Do No Harm
And In Times Of Doubt I Can Think On The Dharma
And The Enlightened Ones Who've Graduated Samsara
My comment: That's some pretty good rap on the Dharma. Adam Horovitz provides a pretty good summary of what Buddhism is all about. I'm impressed.
.: Namaste :.
Tuesday, February 21, 2006
Believe nothing because a wise man said it.
Believe nothing because it is generally held true.
Believe nothing because it is written.
Believe nothing because it is said to be divine.
Believe nothing because someone else believes it.
But believe only what you yourself judge to be true."
Monday, February 20, 2006
The home of the wave is all the other waves,
and the home of the wave is water.
If the wave is capable of touching himself and the other waves very deeply,
he will realize he is made of water.
Being aware that he is water, he transcends all discrimination, sorrows and fears."
Thich Nhat Hanh, Taming the Tiger Within
Friday, February 17, 2006
May all beings be healthy, happy and free, and may they acquire the clarity of mind to alleviate their own suffering and that of others.
Have a good weekend, everyone.
Thursday, February 16, 2006
February 17, 2006
(from The Australian)
The Bush administration has criticised SBS's decision to broadcast new pictures of the US military abusing prisoners at Iraq's Abu Ghraib prison, saying it could further inflame Middle East violence.But John Bellinger, a legal adviser at the US State Department, acknowledged that the images were further proof of the "reprehensible conduct" of US military personnel at Abu Ghraib.
Initial photos of detainee abuse first aired in 2004, provoking international outrage.
The release of additional images comes at a sensitive time as the Muslim world protests against the cartoon depictions of the prophet Mohammed, first published in Danish newspapers.
"It's unfortunate, though, that the photographs are continuing to come out because I think it simply fans the flames at a time when sentiments on these issues are raw around the world," Mr Bellinger said of the images aired on Wednesday night on SBS's Dateline. "But the photographs show conduct that is absolutely disgusting."
The publication of these photos is important. Ironically, their importance is inseparable from their repulsiveness. These photos--one of which shows a gravely wounded prisoner bleeding and left to die in the prison yard, and another shows a naked prisoner smeared with human feces--are proof of the inhumane treatment of Iraqi prisoners by U.S. forces. To withhold these photos would be to silence critique of U.S. policies in Iraq. By publishing them, SBS shows the world the truth and makes it possible for the international community to demand the U.S. change the way it treats Iraqi prisoners. Therefore, I believe the publication of these photos--as awful as they are and even though such publication may trigger violent protests--is an example of Right Speech.
Wednesday, February 15, 2006
More and More, Favored Psychotherapy Lets Bygones Be Bygones
By ALIX SPIEGEL
For most of the 20th century, therapists in America agreed on a single truth. To cure patients, it was necessary to explore and talk through the origins of their problems. In other words, they had to come to terms with the past to move forward in the present.
Thousands of hours and countless dollars were spent in this pursuit. Therapists listened diligently as their patients recounted elaborate narratives of family dysfunction — the alcoholic father, the mother too absorbed in her own unhappiness to attend to her children's needs — certain that this process would ultimately produce relief.
But returning to the past has fallen out of fashion among mental health professionals over the last 15 years. Research has convinced many therapists that understanding the past is not required for healing.
Despite this profound change, the cliché of patients' exhaustively revisiting childhood horror stories remains.
"Average consumers who walk into psychotherapy expect to be discussing their childhood and blaming their parents for contemporary problems, but that's just not true any more," said John C. Norcross, a psychology professor at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania.
Professor Norcross has surveyed American psychologists in an effort to figure out what is going on behind their closed doors.
Over the last 20 years, he has documented a radical shift. Psychotherapeutic techniques like psychoanalysis and psychodynamic therapy, which deal with emotional conflict and are based on the idea that the exploration of past trauma is critical to healing, have been totally eclipsed by cognitive behavioral approaches.
That relatively new school holds that reviewing the past is not only unnecessary to healing, but can be counterproductive.
Professor Norcross says he believes that cognitive behavioral therapy is the most widely practiced approach in America.
The method, known as C.B.T., was introduced in the late 1960's by Dr. Aaron T. Beck. The underlying theory says it is not important for patients to return to the origins of their problems, but instead to correct their current "cognitive distortions," errors in perception that lead them to the conclusion that life is hopeless or that everyday activity is unmanageable.
For example, when confronted with severely depressed patients, cognitive behavioral therapists will not ask about childhoods, but will work with them to identify the corrosive underlying assumptions that frame their psychic reality and lead them to feel bad about themselves. Then, systematically, patients learn to retrain their thinking.
The therapy dwells exclusively in the present. Unlike traditional psychoanalytic or psychodynamic therapy, it does not typically require a long course of treatment, usually 10 to 15 sessions.
When cognitive therapy was introduced, it met significant resistance to the notion that people could be cured without understanding the sources of the problems. Many therapists said that without working through the underlying problems change would be superficial and that the basic problems would simply express themselves in other ways.
Cognitive advocates convinced colleagues by using a tool that had not been systematically used in mental health, randomized controlled clinical trials.
Although randomized controlled trials are the gold standard of scientific research, for most of the 20th century such research was not used to test the effectiveness of psychotherapeutic methods, in part because psychoanalysis, at the time the most popular form of talk therapy, was actively hostile to empirical validation. When research was conducted, it was generally as surveys rather than as randomized studies.
Cognitive behavioral researchers carried out hundreds of studies, and that research eventually convinced the two most important mental health gatekeepers — universities and insurance companies. Now the transformation is more or less complete.
"There's been a total changing of the guard in psychology and psychiatry departments," said Dr. Drew Westen, a psychodynamically oriented therapist who teaches at Emory University. "Virtually no psychodynamic faculty are ever hired anymore. I can name maybe two in the last 10 years."
Insurance companies likewise often prefer consumers to select cognitive behavioral therapists, rather than psychodynamically oriented practitioners. In the companies' view, scientific studies have shown that cognitive therapy can produce results in less than half the time of traditional therapies.
But is it really the case that understanding the past is not necessary to healing? Could thousands of people have saved time and money by skipping over conversations about parents and cutting straight to retraining their thoughts and behaviors?
Richard J. McNally, a professor of psychology at Harvard, said reviewing the past could be therapeutically important because it could help patients construct narratives of cause and effect.
He pointed to cases of panic disorder. Many people have panic attacks, but a small percentage develop full-blown panic disorder, he said. Those who do not can usually find a rational explanation for their disturbing experience.
"They say, 'That's because I am about to take a midterm exam or I had too much coffee this morning,' explanations that de-catastrophize the bodily symptoms," Professor McNally said.
The rationalizations are effective, he said, even when the explanation is not correct. Merely asserting a logical sequence of cause and effect lets people feel that they have some control, that they are not victims of unexplained forces.
In the same way, people who experience depression can benefit from an explanation for their feelings, an interpretation that allows them to feel that they are able, based on their understanding of the cause, to predict and control their emotions. This is a function of therapies that focus on the past, Professor McNally said.
"Detailed narratives about the past can be assumed under a larger rubric of trying to find meaning or trying to impose order, and thereby controlling one's world and experience," he said. "People say, 'At least I know why I'm unhappy in life.' "
New research suggests that psychodynamic therapy exploring the past can be as effective as cognitive work. In the last three years, psychodynamic therapists have started to subject their approach to same vigorous research as that used for cognitive therapy. The studies show similarly good results.
The basic assertion that it is not absolutely necessary to review the past is now generally accepted. Even Professor Norcross, who says he regularly guides patients to the past when it is warranted, acknowledges that the data are not entirely solid.
"At the moment," he said, "there is no evidence that understanding the origins of your problems is necessary for effective psychotherapy. And there is some evidence that a preoccupation with the past can actually interfere with making changes in the present.
"Obsessive rumination about past events can trap patients in a self-defeating cycle from which they cannot extricate themselves. It can actually retard healing."
(From the New York Times, 2/15/06)
Tuesday, February 14, 2006
"Husband & wife, both of them
living by the Dhamma,
addressing each other
with loving words:
they benefit in manifold ways.
To them comes bliss...
Having followed the Dharma here in this world,
both in tune in precepts & practices,
they delight in the world of the devas,
enjoying the pleasures they desire."
Monday, February 13, 2006
So I went down to my local Whole Foods and picked up a Pelargonium sidoides tincture along with some echinacea lozenges, chamomile tea and Emergen-C powder. After having some of the P. sidoides and Emergen-C, I feel better already!
Don't let anyone tell you that modern technomedicine and its megapharmacopeia has all the answers. Human beings have survived for millenia without the benefit of Bayer, Glaxo-Smith Kline, et al.
Now, I think I'll have a cup of chamomile tea and go to bed.
Sunday, February 12, 2006
The bereaved woman went from door to door, asking the occupants for a mustard seed and hearing from each family a different story of suffering. She gradually came to understand the universality of suffering. She laid her child to rest, became a nun, and eventually achieved nirvāna.
Would you rather be safer and less free...
or freer but less safe?
It seems that much of the debate in the U.S. right now about the domestic surveillance program, boils down to this question. In some countries, like Israel, they have decided that it is worth it to be a little (or a lot) less free in order to be more secure. For whatever reason, the debate has not been framed in this way. Perhaps because our present administration would rather simplify the issue by creating an atmosphere of fear (an atmosfear?), thereby silencing dissent.
I, for one, would rather be freer but less safe. Safety and security are transient anyway. Life is too short to live in fear.
wonderous aggregations of particles
curious chemical cocktails
swirling and pulsing
thinking and speaking
colliding and repelling
you and i, we are each unique
separate and distinct
yet integrated and merged
coalescing and intertwined
with one another
and the Everything
Saturday, February 11, 2006
Maine Sunday Telegram
August 6, 1995
BACK DOWN TO EARTH
by Carolyn Chute
This is another in a series of guest columns that examine the forging of public policy in the nation's capital. Carolyn Chute has written "The Beans of Egypt, Maine," "Letourneau's Used Auto Parts" and, most recently, "Merry Men."
Congress, we were told when we were in our formative years, is where the senators and representatives go to represent us. We live in a democracy which means when it comes to the sovereign power of our government, we are that power. Not a king. Not a queen. Not a dictator. But us, THE PEOPLE. Through our votes we have our voice. And through our freedom of speech and the rights to assemble and to petition.
Also those fiery idealistic ingenious hardworking radicals of our past cooked up another wonderful idea for us: state govenunent. This was nice. More personal. More handy. More part of the local grapevine. Easier to keep tabs on.
But the best thing of all about state government was its job of approving or disapproving and revoking corporate charters. For years and years, if corporations didn't do things in the best interests of communities, but treated their workers like animals, made nasties in the rivers, bullied', cheated or lied, THE PEOPLE made a racket and their legislators tore those charters up into confetti.
Meanwhile, rich folk were paying income taxes and property taxes like the rest of us and life went on.
Have you had a queer feeling lately that the sovereign power of THE PEOPLE has shifted? Have you felt as though corporations have become people and you are just a concept? Seems nobody in government even recognizes the existence of "employees," small farms or small business today. Or small anything. (Oh, excuse me. Today your small business is called micro-biz.) Welfare, real welfare, goes to corporations instead of your family or neighbors when they need it. Your grown kids can't afford a house. Lucky if they can afford a camper. (But then try living in a camper and the government will fine you.)
Meanwhile, your local and state tax bases aren't stretching because the people who pay the taxes are losing their jobs or working part time, and the people who make mountains of money pay NO TAXES. Your little squeaks of dismay are unheard. Your values are being called "provincial." Your grandfather's 32 Special hanging on the wall is being called "dangerous." Your kids are being called "unprepared." Your fears are being called "silly," "neurotic" or "fringe." Hundreds of articles are telling us that America is cynical . . . that cynicism is naughty, is unpatriotic, is ungrateful. "Look" they say, "just look at the starving masses in Bookibimmi. Look at the country that has the wild-man ruler and women who wear things over their faces and aren't allowed to show off their legs. Feel lucky!!!"
So you feel chastened. You hang your head. But you don't have a job! Or your job is in a place with no windows. No benefits. Practically no pay. Or just no variety, a job where one day is the predictable echo of the last, a living-death job. Your nghts in the shadow of corporate rights are only a notch above animal rights and you are aware that animal rights are dismal. Inflation is dogged. Government deficits billow. Advertisers expand our children's minds with all that they shall covet in the guise of all that they shall NEED. You dismantle your TV. But now TV is in the schools! Two paper companies own the state of Maine, two hog companies own Iowa, one chemical company owns Wisconsin.
Three hundred percent profit on your heart medicine. Machines answer the telephones wherever you call. Machines have all the jobs. Machines are getting all the trees, all the fish, shipping all your state's resources off to Wakakawasakimawa and there's nothing left but stumps and highways and Wal-Much and Video-Grab-N-Go. Your babies are in day care, then school, then colleges, then gone. Gone where? To Ploontooki, Minn., or San Crisco, Calif., or some "neighborhood" of the vast global corporate village, yes, your children gone, raising your Polaroid grandchildren and keeping the Mother's Day card corporations joyously dancing.
"But listen!" the articles remind you. "You are not the starving Bookibimmians! You have food! Pretty food. And supermarkels with aisles as wide as city streets. And you can show off your legs. Stop complaining. In this country you have opportunities everywhere. Stop thinking negatively. You make your own luck.
"What do you mean every five years things are worse so therefore in five years it'll be worse and then in five more years . . . You need therapy maybe? Or one of the publishing industry's books on how to breathe differently in order to control your thoughts? You say you are worried there won't be enough money for basics like breakfast. And the computer which soon will be required to keep you in touch. Hogwash. Things are getting better. The recession is over! Congress is fixing things! And the president . . . if only we can find the right president, he'll FIX it all for us!!"
Yeah, I've been reading these articles and, my friends, I'm a little tired of this double-think bull.
First of all I should confess to you that I read only articles and newsletters that don't have pictures. And I have no TV. So if Bill Clinton, Jesse Helms, Bob Dole and O.J. Simpson all walked into this room right now, I would not know which was which. I consider their faces and their three-line quotes to be as trivial as sports stars and sports scores. I'm not the kind of radical that believes in blowing up government buildings. In the 1990s if you think for yourself, you're a radical.
I have a solution. Hear me out. Shut off the TV a minute. Listen. I would like to see the doors to Congress locked. For 10 years. Yes with our elected officials inside. They can't get out. We'll keep them comfortable. Lots of nice foods. Music. Movies. The ballet. Comedians. Big bands. Big orgies if they want. I don't care what they do in there. As long as MEGATROPOLIS INSURANCE MUTUAL AND TRUST and DUOTRON FOODS and MATRIX COMMUNICATIONS and CHEVASAKI AUTO and MONSANTDUPONZINCMECURICO CORP. can't get in.
Same with the State Houses. Doors locked.
Meanwhile, THE PEOPLE get busy as bees. ALL TVs are off. Instead we MEET. We get educated on what our sovereign rights really are. We learn the real history of business and business-charter making, where it's been and where it is now. There would be a great stir in all our households and meeting places and in the streets. We would be writing up proposals to our state legislators that would sound somcthing like this:
"We urge local and state elected officials to adopt this Resolulion: `Whereas only citizens have sovereign authority to grant charters of incorporation: now, Therefore, be it resolved, that the legislature of this state redefine, the process and criteria for granting corporate charters to our specifications; restore civic authority over the governance of existing corporate charters to our specifications; and finally, revoke the charters of harmful corporations and revoke the certificatcs of authority of harmful foreign and alien corporations operating in our state.'"
Then we write out our demands of Congress that the rich be taxed . . . REALLY taxed.
We decide also to challenge the prevailing judicial doctrines
And we strengthen ourselves against the blackmail that corporations always use on us if we don't let them do anything they want: They'll leave the state and take all our jobs. Good riddance! Where the great oak falls, many little cheery saplings will sprout.
Now THE PEOPLE surround the State Houses and Congress in huge mean-looking mobs, vast masses of Americans filling filling the streets.
"Silently, our eyes stare straight at the doors that are being unlocked. Out steps the Congress men and women, slightly older. They look down from the doorways and see THE PEOPLE. We are shoulder to shouder, rank and file. We call out, "HELLO THERE SENATORS! REPRESENTATIVES! WE HAVE SOMETHING WE WANT YOU TO DO!"
The senators and representatives, of course, are all smiling. They say happily. "Anything you want, you can have! It's really such a great idea, this democracy idea . . . once you give it a bit of thought."
View from the south rim of the Grand Canyon, Arizona
My voice falls into the canyon
melting away into the earth
My spirit soars through the canyon
carried by the wind
untouched by winter's chill
My heart opens to the canyon
embraced by love for all beings
who have passed this way
(original poem by Dharmasattva)
Friday, February 10, 2006
It's very simple, but I decided it was finally time to have a little altar at home.
Don't laugh at my little stone Buddha or my little candles.
This is the best I could do for now. I will add to and improve my little altar as my practice advances.
In the meantime, I have my little stone Buddha in my funky orange office to help me focus my meditations.
In his influential 1993 book The Clash of Civilizations, Harvard political scientist Samuel P. Huntington wrote that, in the aftermath of the Cold War, future global conflicts would be cultural, not ideological or economic. We can argue whether Huntington was prophetic or stating the obvious, but nonetheless the book's thesis has been proven correct time and again.
We are watching that clash of civilizations in real time as Muslims across Europe and the Arab world take to the streets to protest twelve editorial cartoons that appeared in a Danish newspaper in September. One cartoon in Denmark's Jyllands-Posten showed the Prophet Mohammed with a headdress shaped like a bomb. In another, Mohammed says that paradise is running short on virgins for suicide bombers. That’s both funny and sad. In other words, a good editorial cartoon.
After death threats began arriving at the offices of J-P, newspapers in Germany, Netherlands, Spain, France, and Italy decided to reprint the cartoons in a spirit of solidarity and in the name of freedom -- both of the press and of expression. Germany's Die Welt editorialized that the "right to blaspheme" is firmly anchored in Europe's democratic freedoms.
Since then the furor has increased considerably. On Thursday, February 1, Palestinian gunmen surrounded the offices of the EU in Gaza. European embassies across the Arab world shuttered their doors while Arab embassies in Europe recalled their ambassadors. Muslims are boycotting Danish goods and Danish flags have been burned in nearly every Arab city. Syria demanded that those responsible for the cartoons be punished. The offices of Jyllands-Posten closed Thursday after two bomb threats. The staff at the Norwegian newspaper Magazinet has also received death threats, and more threats seem likely.
Many are curious why the protests have begun now, more than four months after the cartoons' original publication. The Brussels Journal reports that the pot was stirred by a band of Danish Muslim clerics that have been touring Arab countries handing out copies of the offending cartoons (and even more denigrating cartoons that did not appear in any European paper, such as one's depicting a praying Muslim being raped by a dog, and Mohammed with a pig snout.) Apparently September's relatively mild reaction to the cartoons, largely confined to Denmark, was not sufficient for the rabble-rousing clerics.
Westerners, watching the scenes of protest and mayhem unfold, are doubtless wondering why these Arabs are so riled up over some silly cartoons published in a Danish paper. Many Arabs, meanwhile, see this incident as a deliberate provocation against Islam, a faith in which it is not just the content of an image of the Prophet that is potentially blasphemous, but the very act of depiction. It doesn't matter whether the images appear in a newspaper in Riyahd or on the planet Mars. Any image is sacrilege, so someone must pay.
Someone already has. On Thursday, the Egyptian owner of the newspaper France Soir, Raymond Lakah, sacked the paper’s managing editor for reprinting the cartoon, under the headline, "Yes, We Have the Right to Caricature God." The paper's staff rallied to their editor's defense, publishing a front page editorial which said in part that "religious freedom gives people the right to practice their faith or not, but should not become a means to impose the rules of a single religion on society as a whole."
It now seems the death threats and armed protests are beginning to have their desired effect. The editors of Jyllands-Posten have apologized for offending the Muslim religion and promise to consider Muslims' feelings before they run anything that might be considered offensive. Some European governments, notably the French, have criticized the press for publishing the cartoons. But the fact is there is a lot of truth in the Danish cartoons. Suicide bombers do find justification in the words of their prophet. The protests, however, have not concerned the content of the cartoons, so much as the simple depiction of Mohammed. The question now becomes whether Western societies decide to adopt Islamic traditions at the expense of its own traditions -- such as satire -- so as not to give offense.
Westerners do lots of things that are antithetical to various world religions. They eat pork and beef and drink gallons of booze. They fornicate freely and dress like floozies. They keep their stores open on the Sabbath. All of this offends the fundamentalists of one tradition or another.
It is not uncommon that great conflicts begin over trivial incidents. The Great Indian Mutiny of 1857 began after Muslims and Hindus were ordered to use rifle cartridges supposedly greased with pig and cow fat. The loss of a ship captain's auditory appendage sparked the War of Jenkin's Ear (1739-1742). This cartoonish row may blow over soon, but its consequences may echo for years to come.
Western observers are undecided whether the editors of European newspapers have been courageous or foolhardy. Why publish the cartoons in the first place? Carsten Juste, the Jyllands-Posten editor, said the cartoons were a test of whether the threat of Islamic terrorism had limited the freedom of expression in Denmark. "We wanted to show how deeply entrenched self-censorship has already become," he told Der Spiegel. But if thousands of Danish workers are laid off because of the boycotts, or if a newspaper office or embassy is attacked and hundreds of innocent people are killed will the "test" be worth it? On Thursday Der Speigel asked Jyllands-Posten's political editor that very same question.
"Yes, it was worth it," he said.
Christopher Orlet, a columnist for The American Spectator Online, runs the Existential Journalist website.
Sometimes, when I practice tonglen, I imagine that I am a prayer flag.
As the unpredictable winds of everyday life blow past me, I try to hang on, even though I may flutter somewhat in the breeze.
As I flutter, I try to spread the blessings of compassion, love, humor and good karma to those downwind of me.
In that way, I try to be resilient yet flexible, all the while giving to others to make their lives better.
Thursday, February 09, 2006
However, the offensiveness of the cartoons has no bearing on whether or not the newspaper had the right to publish them.
Part of the price of living in a free society is that one must be prepared to tolerate the expression of views you find objectionable or offensive. Only when we are all willing to tolerate other people's opposing and/or offensive views can any of us really be free. Even the most offensive speech must be allowed expression. The classic example of this is a march by the white supremacist/Neo-Nazi group, National Socialist Party of America, through the streets of the predominantly Jewish Chicago suburb of Skokie, Illinois. The American Civil Liberties Union defended the right of the Neo-Nazis to march through Skokie in a case called Collin v. O'Malley, and the courts ruled that the Village of Skokie could not prevent the National Socialist Party of America from marching there.
It is easy to defend the speech that you agree with, but the legal protection of free speech is necessary to protect our rights from infringement by those who disagree with us. Even if some of the controversial cartoons were patently offensive, they are no less deserving of the protection of free expression.
This idea--that the rights of an unpopular minority are to be protected from encroachment by a majority--is the cornerstone of a free society.
"Every religion emphasizes human improvement, love, respect for others, sharing other people's suffering. On these lines every religion had more or less the same viewpoint and the same goal."
The Dalai Lama
Here are some statements of the Golden Rule from different spiritual traditions:
"Ascribe not to any soul that which thou wouldst not have ascribed to thee, and say not that which thou doest not." "Blessed is he who preferreth his brother before himself." Baha'u'llah
"And if thine eyes be turned towards justice, choose thou for thy neighbour that which thou choosest for thyself." Epistle to the Son of the Wolf
Brahmanism: "This is the sum of duty: Do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you". Mahabharata, 5:1517
"...a state that is not pleasing or delightful to me, how could I inflict that upon another?" Samyutta NIkaya v. 353
Hurt not others in ways that you yourself would find hurtful." Udana-Varga 5:18
"Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets." Matthew 7:12, King James Version.
"And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise." Luke 6:31, King James Version.
"...and don't do what you hate...", Gospel of Thomas 6. The Gospel of Thomas is one of about 40 gospels that were widely accepted among early Christians, but which never made it into the Christian Scriptures (New Testament).
"Do not do to others what you do not want them to do to you" Analects 15:23
"Tse-kung asked, 'Is there one word that can serve as a principle of conduct for life?' Confucius replied, 'It is the word 'shu' -- reciprocity. Do not impose on others what you yourself do not desire.'" Doctrine of the Mean 13.3
"Try your best to treat others as you would wish to be treated yourself, and you will find that this is the shortest way to benevolence." Mencius VII.A.4
"Do for one who may do for you, that you may cause him thus to do." The Tale of the Eloquent Peasant, 109 - 110 Translated by R.B. Parkinson. The original dates to 1970 to 1640 BCE and may be the earliest version ever written. 3
"One should not behave towards others in a way which is disagreeable to oneself." Mencius Vii.A.4
"This is the sum of the Dharma [duty]: do naught unto others which would cause you pain if done to you." Mahabharata 5:1517
"(5) Humanists acknowledge human interdependence, the need for mutual respect and the kinship of all humanity."
"(11) Humanists affirm that individual and social problems can only be resolved by means of human reason, intelligent effort, critical thinking joined with compassion and a spirit of empathy for all living beings. " 4
"Don't do things you wouldn't want to have done to you, British Humanist Society. 3
Islam: "None of you [truly] believes until he wishes for his brother what he wishes for himself." Number 13 of Imam "Al-Nawawi's Forty Hadiths." 5
"Therefore, neither does he [a sage] cause violence to others nor does he make others do so." Acarangasutra 5.101-2.
"In happiness and suffering, in joy and grief, we should regard all creatures as we regard our own self." Lord Mahavira, 24th Tirthankara
"A man should wander about treating all creatures as he himself would be treated. "Sutrakritanga 1.11.33
"...thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.", Leviticus 19:18
"What is hateful to you, do not to your fellow man. This is the law: all the rest is commentary." Talmud, Shabbat 31a.
"And what you hate, do not do to any one." Tobit 4:15 6
Native American Spirituality:
"Respect for all life is the foundation." The Great Law of Peace.
"All things are our relatives; what we do to everything, we do to ourselves. All is really One." Black Elk
Roman Pagan Religion: "The law imprinted on the hearts of all men is to love the members of society as themselves."
Shinto: "The heart of the person before you is a mirror. See there your own form"
Compassion-mercy and religion are the support of the entire world". Japji Sahib
"Don't create enmity with anyone as God is within everyone." Guru Arjan Devji 259
"No one is my enemy, none a stranger and everyone is my friend." Guru Arjan Dev : AG 1299
Sufism: "The basis of Sufism is consideration of the hearts and feelings of others. If you haven't the will to gladden someone's heart, then at least beware lest you hurt someone's heart, for on our path, no sin exists but this." Dr. Javad Nurbakhsh, Master of the Nimatullahi Sufi Order.
"Regard your neighbor's gain as your own gain, and your neighbor's loss as your own loss." T'ai Shang Kan Ying P'ien.
"The sage has no interest of his own, but takes the interests of the people as his own. He is kind to the kind; he is also kind to the unkind: for Virtue is kind. He is faithful to the faithful; he is also faithful to the unfaithful: for Virtue is faithful." Tao Teh Ching, Chapter 49
Unitarian: "We affirm and promote respect for the interdependent of all existence of which we are a part." Unitarian principles.
Wicca: "An it harm no one, do what thou wilt" (i.e. do what ever you will, as long as it harms nobody, including yourself). One's will is to be carefully thought out in advance of action. This is called the Wiccan Rede
Yoruba (Nigeria): "One going to take a pointed stick to pinch a baby bird should first try it on himself to feel how it hurts."
"That nature alone is good which refrains from doing unto another whatsoever is not good for itself". Dadistan-i-dinik 94:5
"Whatever is disagreeable to yourself do not do unto others." Shayast-na-Shayast 13:29
...And from some non-spiritual sources:
Epictetus: "What you would avoid suffering yourself, seek not to impose on others." (circa 100 CE)
Plato: "May I do to others as I would that they should do unto me." (Greece; 4th century BCE)
Socrates: "Do not do to others that which would anger you if others did it to you." (Greece; 5th century BCE)
Seneca: "Treat your inferiors as you would be treated by your superiors," Epistle 47:11 (Rome; 1st century BCE)
Wednesday, February 08, 2006
Images like these remind me that there is only one world, and within it we are all inextricably linked.
Not only do we share finite natural resources (air, water, forests, etc.) but our individual actions have a rippling effect on others around us.
Karma is the force behind our shared destiny.
What we do to others, we do to ourselves. We have no option but to understand one another, because "understanding is the key that unlocks the door to love," and unless we can love one another, we are doomed to suffer.
Justice Louis D. Brandeis, 1856-1941
Coretta Scott King was a great woman, and her passing is a great loss for America and the world.
A civil rights leader in her own right, she was a longtime activist for social equality for all races, genders, creeds and orientations, and she was active in anti-war causes. (In fact, she came out against the war in Vietnam two years before her husband, Martin Luther King, Jr.)
The Washington Post published a great obituary here.
Namaste, Mrs. King.
Tuesday, February 07, 2006
"Pain is inevitable, suffering is optional." - Sylvia Boorstein in It's Easier Than You Think : The Buddhist Way to Happiness
The Buddha articulated this idea using the term "dukkha," which refers to feelings of anguish, suffering, anxiety, despondence, sadness, sorrow and discomfort. The first of the Four Noble Truths states that "All of life involves dukkha."
This sounds terribly hopeless and depressing, but the Buddha's teachings provide techniques for minimizing dukkha. This is why the second, third and fourth of the Four Noble Truths provide a roadmap to happiness.
The Four Noble Truths are:
Dukkha: All of life involves suffering.
Samudaya: Suffering is caused by unnecessary (unhealthy) attachment and desire.
Nirodha: The is a way out of suffering is to eliminate attachment and desire.
Magga: The path that leads out of suffering is called the Noble Eightfold Path.
Pain is an evitable part of life, yes, but there is relief, and each of us can achieve such relief. It is a matter of changing our way of thinking, letting go of thoughts of consumption and acquisition and instead embracing thoughts of love, giving and acceptance.
This is what I aspire to do.
When a house is on fire,
the vessel salvaged
is the one that will be of use,
not the one left there to burn.
So when the world is on fire
with aging and death,
one should salvage one's wealth by giving:
what's given is well salvaged.
What's given bears fruit as pleasure.
What isn't given does not:
thieves take it away, or kings;
it gets burnt by fire or lost.
Then in the end
one leaves the body
together with one's possessions.
Knowing this, the intelligent man
enjoys possessions & gives.
Having enjoyed & given
in line with his means,
unfettered he goes
to the heavenly state.
— SN I.41
"There are these five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained. Which five?
"'I am subject to aging, have not gone beyond aging.' This is the first fact that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained.
"'I am subject to illness, have not gone beyond illness.'...
"'I am subject to death, have not gone beyond death.'...
"'I will grow different, separate from all that is dear and appealing to me.'...
"'I am the owner of my actions (karma), heir to my actions, born of my actions, related through my actions, and have my actions as my arbitrator. Whatever I do, for good or for evil, to that will I inherit.'...
"These are the five facts that one should reflect on often, whether one is a woman or a man, lay or ordained."
Monday, February 06, 2006
Dr. Lin Yutang explained it this way: " 'Non-Self' does not mean that entities as they are commonly perceived do not exist; it means that the concept of 'self' has no referent which has absolutely independent existence. The contents of all our experiences are phenomena resulting from a combination of various conditions; these phenomena change following changes in their constituent conditions, hence they have neither absolutely independent existence nor autonomy. Any denotation or labeling is just a relative cognitive activity of artificial naming and delimitation in the inseparable entirety of our experiences."
To put it a little more simply, the human brain lumps together perceptions into groups, and categorizes these aggregations of sensations in such a way that we think they are actually separate, when in fact, they are interrelated and inseparably linked. These aggregations of the physical body (or "form"), feelings, ideas, impressions and consciousness are transient and ever-changing, and can be known only in relation to other forms/feelings/ideas/etc. There is no permanent self or soul.
The practical importance of non-self is the principle of interrelatedness. Since you and I, and all beings, are part of the same swirling, everchanging mass of phenomena that make up the universe, we can never really think of our"selves" as separate from other beings. We are the universe. We are the earth. Whatever I do to myself, I do to everyone and everything. All actions (and inactions) will affect subsequent events.
John Donne said it well:
- "No man is an Iland, intire of it selfe; every man is a peece of the Continent, a part of the maine; if a Clod bee washed away by the Sea, Europe is the lesse, as well as if a Promontorie were, as well as if a Mannor of thy friends or of thine own were; any mans death diminishes me, because I am involved in Mankinde; And therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls; It tolls for thee."
- —from "Meditation XVII" of Devotions Upon Emergent Occasions
>< >< >< Namaste.
HINDUS CONSIDER it sacrilegious to eat meat from cows, so when a Danish supermarket ran a sale on beef and veal last fall, Hindus everywhere reacted with outrage. India recalled its ambassador to Copenhagen, and Danish flags were burned in Calcutta, Bombay, and Delhi. A Hindu mob in Sri Lanka severely beat two employees of a Danish-owned firm, and demonstrators in Nepal chanted: ''War on Denmark! Death to Denmark!"In many places, shops selling Dansk china or Lego toys were attacked by rioters, and two Danish embassies were firebombed.
It didn't happen, of course. Hindus may consider it odious to use cows as food, but they do not resort to boycotts, threats, and violence when non-Hindus eat hamburger or steak. They do not demand that everyone abide by the strictures of Hinduism and avoid words and deeds that Hindus might find upsetting. The same is true of Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons: They don't lash out in violence when their religious sensibilities are offended. They certainly don't expect their beliefs to be immune from criticism, mockery, or dissent.
But radical Muslims do. The current uproar over cartoons of the Muslim prophet Mohammed published in a Danish newspaper illustrates yet again the fascist intolerance that is at the heart of radical Islam. Jyllands-Posten, Denmark's largest daily, commissioned the cartoons to make a point about freedom of speech. It was protesting the climate of intimidation that had made it impossible for a Danish author to find an illustrator for his children's book about Mohammed. No artist would agree to illustrate the book for fear of being harmed by Muslim extremists. Appalled by this self-censorship, Jyllands-Posten invited Danish artists to submit drawings of Mohammed, and published the 12 it received.
Most of the pictures are tame to the point of dullness, especially compared to the biting editorial cartoons that routinely appear in US and European newspapers. A few of them link Mohammed to Islamist terrorism -- one depicts him with a bomb in his turban, while a second shows him in Heaven, pleading with newly arrived suicide terrorists: ''Stop, stop! We have run out of virgins!" Others focus on the threat to free speech: In one, a sweating artist sits at his drawing board, nervously sketching Mohammed, while glancing over his shoulder to make sure he's not being watched.
That anything so mild could trigger a reaction so crazed -- riots, death threats, kidnappings, flag-burnings -- speaks volumes about the chasm that separates the values of the civilized world from those in too much of the Islamic world. Freedom of the press, the marketplace of ideas, the right to skewer sacred cows: Militant Islam knows none of this. And if the jihadis get their way, it will be swept aside everywhere by the censorship and intolerance of sharia.
Here and there, some brave Muslim voices have cried out against the book-burners. The Jordanian newspaper Shihan published three of the cartoons. ''Muslims of the world, be reasonable," implored Shihan's editor, Jihad al-Momani, in an editorial. ''What brings more prejudice against Islam -- these caricatures or pictures of a hostage-taker slashing the throat of his victim in front of the cameras?" But within hours Momani was out of a job, fired by the paper's owners after the Jordanian government threatened legal action.
He wasn't the only editor sacked last week. In Paris, Jacques LeFranc of the daily France Soir was also fired after running the Mohammed cartoons. The paper's owner, an Egyptian Copt named Raymond Lakah, issued a craven and Orwellian statement offering LeFranc's head as a gesture of ''respect for the intimate beliefs and convictions of every individual." But the France Soir staff defended their decision to publish the drawings in a stalwart editorial. ''The best way to fight against censorship is to prevent censorship from happening," they wrote. ''A fundamental principle guaranteeing democracy and secular society is under threat. To say nothing is to retreat."
Across the continent, nearly two dozen other newspapers have joined in defending that principle. While Islamist clerics proclaim an ''international day of anger" or declare that ''the war has begun," leading publications in Norway, France, Italy, Spain, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Hungary, and the Czech Republic have reprinted the Danish cartoons. But there has been no comparable show of backbone in America, where (as of Friday) only the New York Sun has had the fortitude to the run some of the drawings.
Make no mistake: This story is not going away, and neither is the Islamofascist threat. The freedom of speech we take for granted is under attack, and it will vanish if it is not bravely defended. Today the censors may be coming for some unfunny Mohammed cartoons, but tomorrow it is your words and ideas they will silence. Like it or not, we are all Danes now.
Jeff Jacoby's e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org. © Copyright 2005 The New York Times Company
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all convictions, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity..."
(William B. Yeats, "The Second Coming")
I am wondering...
How does one stay hopeful amidst all the chaos, tragedy and badheartedness around us?
That is what our president wants to do:
"President Bush submitted a $2.77 trillion budget plan to Congress today that calls for cutting the growth of Medicare and putting tight limits on most spending not related to national security. Mr. Bush also repeated his call for Congress to make tax cuts passed earlier in his administration permanent. In his message to Congress, Mr. Bush emphasized money allocated to the departments of defense and homeland security, which would see increases of 7 percent and 8 percent if the budget were adopted (from the New York Times, 2/6/2006).
Ours is a society rife with need and poverty. 15.7% of Americans have no health insurance. 11% of American children have no health insurance, and approximately four million low-income children under the age of 12 experience hunger each year. A recent study of 27 U.S. cities found that in 2004, 23% of all requests for emergency shelter went unmet due to lack of resources. For families, the numbers are even worse: 32% of emergency shelter requests from families were denied (U.S. Conference of Mayors, 2004). 3.5 million Americans experience some period of homelessness each year, and most of these are working families or individuals. And it goes on and on...
So why are we allowing our government to turn its back on the poor and needy?
We are mortgaging our future and starving our people. Why do we not question what our leaders are doing? Why do we follow, thoughtlessly, like sheep?
This is insanity.
The Buddha taught the principle of Right Speech, which he defined as "Abstaining from lying, from divisive speech, from abusive speech, & from idle chatter."
We are taught to avoid any form of speech which is harmful to other sentient beings.
"One should speak only that word by which one would not torment oneself nor harm others. That word is indeed well spoken ... One should speak only pleasant words, words which are acceptable (to others). What one speaks without bringing evils to others is pleasant" (Thag XXI).
The cartoons published by the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten (http://www.jp.dk) were obviously viewed as offensive by millions of Muslims all over the world. The Jyllands-Posten cartoons were very likely an example of Wrong Speech.
However, does the publication/republication of these cartoons justify the violent response we have seen in recent days?
The Buddha would say no. We are taught to avoid actions that harm others. This is the principle of Right Action.
"And what is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from unchastity. This is called right action."
— SN XLV 8
There are no words offensive enough to justify a violent response. The torching of the Danish embassy in Beirut is wrong, no matter how offensive the cartoons may have been. Mob violence is mob violence, and it is not justified regardless of the motive or trigger.
The responsibility for this violence lays at the feet of the protesters and their governments, not with Jyllands-Posten or the Danes. It is simply self-delusion for the governments of the Muslim world to weakly blame Jyllands-Posten or the government of Denmark for the riots, arsons and other forms of violence seen this week on the streets of the Muslim world.
In this world, we are all responsible for the words we speak and the things we do.
>< ><>< >< Namaste.