Sunday, December 18, 2005

Roundup for Dec 12 - 18, 2005

It was a week rich with interesting posts in the blangha.

The Stream . . .

William of Integral Options Café writes about “memes” – rhymes with dreams, defined as "a package of several ideas that can be passed onto others" – a useful word and complex and variated concept. Meantime, Jayarava of Bricolage writes about blangha – a portmanteau [blog + sangha], coined by Nacho of Woodmoor Village Zendo last September, and defined as “the online community of Buddhist bloggers” – and about meta-blog, “a blog that only blogs other blogs.” Blogmandu, then, is a meta-blog of the blangha. In the blangha post, Jayarava links to a piece about blangha in Will's In the piece, Will also writes about meeting and having lunch with his crosstown neighbor, Gareth of Green Clouds. Smallish, wordy world, this -- online and off!

Nick of The Lotus and the Magnolia weaves together Herman Hesse’s The Glass Bead Game and Buddhism’s insight about our interconnectedness for an interesting essay that pulls the threads of 'topics of knowledge' together into a glorious tapestry.

After hearing a passage of Thich Nhat Hanh’s book Old Path White Clouds read at his sangha, James of The Buddhist Blog, is eager to get the book. His post sparks a stream of comments in support of the book and with suggestions on what to snack on while turning its pages.

Muan writes of the importance and meaning of “Other Power” in Beneath the Clouds. “Rennyo Shonin refers to this overturning of our self-centred consciousness or our awakening to Other Power faith as the ‘oneness of the heart of the Buddha and the heart of an ordinary being.’”

John in My Zen Life tells us that ordinary mindfulness isn’t good enough. He writes of the point in a quote that is provided, “prajna must permeate our mindfulness throughout the day in order for us all to live in harmony.”

Sean of Wandering the Pathless Land offer sage advise of how to live life, providing us with a 9-item list of things he's learned in 2005. The items are all thoughtful, useful and off the well-worn path. Here's one: “From awareness follows action. But an intellectual awareness — what I call a shallow awareness — is insufficient to inspire action. The reality of the awareness must be felt.”

Kimberly of this zen life writes about issues related to interconnectedness and the victims and perpetrators of atrocities: “i always have had a strong identification with the victim, whatever species. and i nearly always struggle with intense anger, sometimes even rage, at the perpetrators. so, one of the interesting and challenging issues that arose in that discussion was the idea of oneness. as a buddhist trying to live the truth of nonself, how is it that i can create a sharp distinction between me and the perpetrator, while professing a oneness with the victim?”

Time constraints and other pressures have F. Kwan of foot before foot examining her commitment to blogging in a post titled “There’ll Be Some Changes Made.” While, by the end of her post, she seems not to have decided what she’ll need to do, one sentence seems starkly determinant: “I no longer can write about what I wish without it adversely affecting someone, so this has outlived its usefulness.” Cycling Sam of sam i am has already hung up his old blogging shoes, moving shop to MySpace, which is where you must now go to "know what is up in the world of Sam." While the human once known as Andi, who months ago ditched her Ditch the Raft blog to go to South Korea and become a nun, has started a new blog as Soen Joon haeng-ja, One Robe, One Bowl. Here is her welcoming post: “Brush and Inkstone.” [Thanks, Dave, for the heads up re Soen Joon haeng-ja!]

Justin of American Buddhist Perspective, Tyson of and Mark of Writing to Reach You all wrote about attending the Dalai Lama’s teachings a few months or weeks ago. Justin and Tyson were each in Arizona to see HH at different times last September. Tyson quotes Snow Lion newsletter: “His Holiness is sitting on a dais in front of an unusual black thangka depicting a Buddha floating above what appears to be an Arizona mountain. Tall pink flowers lean out of vases arrayed across the stage, rather like indiscrete desert flamingos.”

Justin quotes from his journal, stating his reactions to his private teaching. Here are a few lines from poetically rendered remarks:
It is death
the feathery clouds
dimly illuminated by the city below
which draws one's eyes and wonder.

For death is none other than life itself
with its awesome beauty and devastating tragedy.

And I thought to myself last night
"that's it
I'm a changed man
I get it."

But I was wrong.

Mark writes in a post titled “The Wisdom of Forgiveness,” “Seeing the Dalai Lama some weeks back and being [physically near] to him has done something to me. I'm not saying I'm suddenly some perfect being cum superhero, but I'm noticing changes in myself.”

Via Negativa's Dave links to a lengthy must-read article in the NY Times about a generation gap in Tibet. The younger Tibetans favor resistance against the Chinese government and continual efforts to integrate the plateau. The older Tibetan leaders are staunchly committed to non-violence. Dave's assessment: "I tend to side with H.H. and Samdhong Rinpoche about nonviolence and nationalism, the need to include all ethnicities in any future Tibetan state or autonomous region, etc. But I don't understand why, if they truly accept the possibility of a generations-long exile as they say, they continue to scale back their demands for sovereignty."

Dagme of auspicious coincidence uses advice from Pema Chadron on how to handle an insult. "Basically, the instruction was to simply say, 'Thank you very much for your concern.'”

Fame: You’re gonna live forever …

In recent weeks, many blagha members have achievements they cannot help but be proud of: Moose, The Contemporary Taoist, had an article published in Living Now magazine. Foguiera of foot before foot began the month with news that she is beginning to get work published. Trev of the Sound of Diesel Musing has openned the doors of "The Parachute" EP is coming out in January. Trev would like you to swing by and sample some audio.

fragments of consciousness's David Chalmers gave a paper/presentation on “Ontological Indeterminancy” at a meeting of the Australasian Association of Philosophy. Justin of ABP will be giving a presentation in January at the Hawaii International Conference on Arts and Humanities, titled “Buddhist Ethics: A Kantian Analysis.” He will also be on the panel for a 'Philosophy Topic Area' discussion.

More ID, Less Ego and Superego

Ajahn Punnadhammo’s Dec 3 column in the Toronto Star newspaper, mention in Blogmandu last week, got more attention this week. [The monk, who writes Bhikkhu’s Blog, cites an article, "Teaching alternatives to evolution: How to distinguish the Buddhist 'Infinite Causes' and Christian 'Intelligent Design' theories", that could enliven the discussion.]

Amadeus cites PunnaDhammo's Star article in his blog, dharma::vision, endorsing the idea that the ID debate is not relevant to Buddhists. Contrariwise, Woodmoor Village's Nacho thinks the issue is one of great importance: “It is indeed very relevant to our public lives, to the nature and future of public education, to how we understand constitutional separation issues, to continued animosity or amicability between opposing sides, to significant questions for liberal democratic notions of civic virtue, to the value of Buddhism in helping us make sense of these dilemmas, and more.”

Greg of The Roost weighs in on the ID matter with a recommendation that his readers hear an audio snippet from NPR that “is a really good look at ID.”

Holiday Fun

It’s holiday time, and we are all kids at heart [well, I am, anyway]. Here is some online fun stuff the Buddhist blogosphere has kicked up recently.
  • Play the Game of Rebirth found on the links page at the Arrow River Forest website where Ajahn Punnadhammo’s Bhikkhu Blog is found.
  • Dorian of Electric Blue Moodiness and Justin of American Buddhist Perspective have been making pictures on Lite Brite. Justin thinks his picture can't be beat.
  • A poll by Ryan of Integral Awakening asks “Have you been in the presence of enlightened, awakened, etc. individual? If so, how did you know?”
  • Robert of Beginner's Mind links us to SwarmSketch where anyone who wants to contributes a bit to a collective work of online art.

The Massive Light Weight of Insight

Atlas-like Gareth of Green Clouds writes about “Carrying the Universe.” “Rather than trying to generate a specific state of mind, I use the time to practice intimacy, a very careful mindfulness, and Samadhi. It comes and goes, and as soon as I begin to label the practice it falters.”

Michael of one foot in front of the other tells us he has had a flash of insight, a breakthrough. Finally, a mindmeld between he and his karate instructor has been achieved. And this direct connection set the conditions for a second thunderclap. Writes Michael, “A former karate instructor of mine who is still a mentor and one of my dearest friends used to tell me that insight can happen in an instant, like a bolt of lightning. Neat description, I thought. But now I truly feel what he was telling me.”

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Roundup for Dec 5 - 11, 2005

The blogmandu -- that is, the Buddhist blogsophere -- is posting hot and heavy on these cold wintry days. Topics of interest include the tug-of-war between "holiday" and "Christmas" as the proper word to describe this season's shopping and the season's decorated trees; Bodhi Day; "real" Buddhism; Intelligent Design; an article about Western Buddhism in National Geographic; "Can you prove you love your wife?"; a Buddhist Miss Manners; focused topic discussions; and peckerwoods.

This Week's Spiffy Blog Posts :

Morgannels of the eponymous blog, didn’t like John Lennon’s song Imagine, but puts up a quick post on the day this week that is the 25th anniversary of Lennon’s death. Scott of Scott Wichmann Online posted a very straightforward Buddhist tribute to Lennon: A picture and lyrics to Instant Karma. "Why in the world are we here? Surely not to live in pain and fear. Why on Earth are you there? When you're everywhere ..."

Ruby of lotusmedia 2.0 targets Target this week, wanting a guarantee that their pharmacists "will fill all prescriptions for birth control” including emergency contraception.

William of Integral Options Café is lobbying for votes for Bono. While it’s too late to get him the Noble Peace Prize, Beliefnet’s “most inspiring person of 2005” was, as of Dec 8, still to be had from a vote of its readers. In a post two days later, William tells us that Bono lost the Beliefnet vote, but U2 won the Amnesty International's 2005 Ambassador of Conscience Award.

Beesucker of Authentic Personality lets us know of a new website,, The Official Website of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama. It was launched on Dec. 10, "the 16th anniversary of the conferment of the Nobel Peace prize on the Dalai Lama." According to the story at The Buddhist Channel Beesucker links to, "The website features information on the Dalai Lama's teaching dates, speeches, meetings with dignitaries, life in exile, photo gallery, contact details and news."

Justin of American Buddhist Perspective, Morgannels of the same-name blog and Sean of Wandering the Pathless Land praise [as morgannels deems it] “a great article about Buddhism” in the latest issue of National Geographic. All three bloggers link to a multimedia show at the Nat’l Geo website. Justin writes of the web show, “[It] gives a good impression on why Buddhism is picking up here [in the West] these days, and a tiny bit of what it is that goes on in meditation.” Morgannels spots his classmates, pictured in the spread, and says, “it’s odd for me to see them dressed up.”

Sean’s post is peripherally about the magazine article; it is mostly about Rohatsu [which, he tells us, means 'December 8' in Japanese], traditionally, the anniversary of Buddha’s enlightenment. The Buddhist Blog celebrates Bodhi Day or Enlightenment Day [aka Rohatsu]. Says keyboarder James, “Bodhi Day is a great opportunity for us to be a part of the holiday season.” Shokai of Water Dissolves Water put up a “Happy Bodhi Day” post, wishing well those of his Zen Center who will be sitting all night.

A short, kind “Happy Bodhi Day” post was also written by Corax of Ow, My Blog. Corax is back to blogging after an unannounced hiatus of a couple months. In another post this week, Corax reminds us of a great post in Ow from a year ago, “The Scrooge Sutra.” Amy of Beliefnet’s Chattering Mind blog caught the post and, upon reading “The Scrooge Sutra,” deemed it brilliant, lavishing praise and posting a long quote from it in her blog. [Full disclosure: Your Blogmandu reporter, loving “The Scrooge Sutra,” posted a version of it in Zen Unbound eMag a year ago.]

Dave Bonta of Via Negativa goes off into the Big Woody Woody in pursuit of peckerwoods – aka, “the Holy F***ing Shit Bird.”

James of Genius of Insanity gathers information on how unwanted the American soldiers are by the Iraqi citizenry.

Nick of The Lotus & the Magnolia has questions about Buddhist etiquette: “i certainly don't want to DIS anyone, especially the Buddha or my teacher, but if no one tells me how to behave, i won't know what's good or bad.” … “is there a buddhist Miss Manners anywhere?!?”

After beginning with the startling question “Can you prove you love your wife?” The Roost’s Greg cleves the universe into its subjective, objective and real aspects. In the comment thread to his post, Greg/tsychoduk writes, “If you allow your feelings, hope and faith to rule you, then they are in fact more real then the rest of the Universe.”

In a pretty much a day-and-a-half-in-the-life post by Brad Warner of Hardcore Zen he rehearses with two bands, gives an interview about his movie, does a book signing, writes his blog post, all the while focusing on telling us about zazen, what it’s done for him – and oh yeah – it is “Jesus God Almighty COLD in Ohio.”

In Woodmoor Village Zendo, Nacho discusses the “war on Christmas” at length, coming down hard on the Christian Right. He writes, “There is a certain chauvinism in believing that one holds special rights to the celebration of this season. This certainly applies to Christian Conservatives that see ‘their’ Christmas under attack.” Paper Frog's Kit weighs in on the topic to say that Christmas is under attack, yes, but it's from the end-of-the-year consumer frenzy. Dave of Via Negativa takes off the woolly mittens and puts on the brass knuckles in his post on the same topic, “To hell with Christmas.” Blending cutting humor with damning evidence, he writes, “Who killed Christmas? … it was you - all you so-called Christians, masters of the pious shell game…”

But WVZ’s Nacho gets his dander up and borrows Dave's brass knuckles for a second holiday-shopping post, regarding the American Family Association which, by threatening a boycott, has succeeded in getting Ford Motors to cease creating advertising directed toward gay and lesbian consumers for its domestically made products.

Kimberly [now using her ‘real’ name, having abandoned the psuedonym ‘haiku’] of this zen life writes of our consumerist culture – with special attention placed on shopping for Zen – in a post called “last night at the zendo.”

Atanu Dey is hard on organized religion this week in a post that discusses Marx and the Opium Wars. He agrees with words of Karl Marx regarding the clutch of religion on the poor: “The criticism of religion is, therefore, in embryo, the criticism of that vale of tears of which religion is the halo.” Later, Atanu writes, “Spirituality, on the other hand, arises within people only when they are freed from a miserable existence and have the luxury to search for truth and meaning in [an] attempt to fully comprehend their own selves.”

Will of cuts to the heart in a post called “Legitimacy” that asks “Who are the real Buddhists?” and then questions the need for the question. “If you look hard enough into the texts of most schools you can find more or less virulent and vituperative condemnations of other fellow-Buddhists who do things differently.” he writes. Later in his post, he concludes, “perhaps the best thing is to dispense with the chimerical myth of ‘real Buddhism’ altogether.”

Fudo, the ScurrilousMonk, writes a long, open, blunt letter with this central message: “what ever is in front of you is your practice”

Jeb of Wondering on the Way looks at the variety of blogs and considers something different “for expressing and discussing ideas” involving “focused topic discussions.” Thoughts on how to do this get further expression in the comments section of the post.

A post on Intelligent Design on Dec. 2 gets extended discussion with 29 comments to date in Justin’s American Buddhist Perspective. WVZ’s Nacho, yours truly and Justin look at many aspects of why ID is and is not legitimate as part of teaching evolution to children. In the process of all this, Nacho, who has posted about the topic twenty times in his blog, WoodMoor Village Zendo, cites an October post of his that has some good exchanges on the topic; Yours Truly, starts a new blog, Thoughts Chase Thoughts, that begins with an ID entry; and Justin cites a recent opinion piece in the Toronto Star by Punnashammo Bhikkhu that says for Buddhism, the ID issue is “pretty much irrelevant.”

Here’s a snatch of what Justin wrote in the long comment thread of his 12/2 post: “ID doesn't present anything like 'evidence' that would let it be 'in contrast to evolution'. That's my qualm about it: when you examine ID (as pushed by the Discovery Institute) you find empty rhetoric about complexity and statistical improbability. These issues are addressed in the teaching of evolution (as I know it) and 'alternatives' need not be introduced.”

Greg of The Roost also posts on ID, taking interest in ID's proponents who think "in all the billions of earth-like planets out there - and possibly billions of universes" we are somehow special. Writes Greg, "To claim humanity's specialness because the universe is so suited for us is to have it backwards. We are suited for the universe."

After five weeks of no posts, the Blog Heaven-honored Paper Frog came back big, with three posts in one day, including these two, about Access to Insight’s 2006 Uposatha Calendar and news about a book, Hungry Planet, which looks at what earthlings eat. Says a review of the book that blogger Kit cites: “…we are rushing headlong toward an economy … in which we identify a piece of food by its logo rather than by its biology.”

Mumon in Notes in Samsara writes about the Catholic League taking offense from this week’s episode of “South Park.” In the episode, a Virgin Mary statue is spraying blood. “The program in question actually was more a righteous bashing of the ‘powerlessness’ philosophy of those in AA and the denial of the necessity of ‘discipline.’” writes Mumon. “That message outweighs any faux outrage coming from bleeding statues and locker-room humor. Yes, bash Buddhism [too] if you want; ... Cultivation of discipline, and being skillful is more important than sacred cows - or statues.”

Nirodha of Steps along the path posts a statement that links to his revision of the Ahara Sutta [Food for the Factors of Awakening]. This very readable and flowing revision uses Thanissaro Bhikkhu’s original translation and Jhanananda’s revision as bases. Writes Nirodha, “The text basically … deals with the fourth frame of mindfulness (Sati), mental states/phenomena, as listed in the Magga-vibhanga Sutta (Analysis of the Path).”

The great, sexy & cute Chalip of Zen Under the Skin put up two posts on Whining this week. Don't be repulsed by the subject matter, Chalip makes some good points about this shameless practice and doesn’t whine … much. In “Stop Whining,” she writes, “It’s not sexy. It’s not even cute. I’m getting to the point where I can see my whining mind and just notice it… being present to the fact that I am having an internal tantrum.” In her second post, “It Could be Worse,” she uses a technique that may be controversial: taking things that bug you, and then thinking about how what's merely awful could be worse.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

Roundup for Nov 21 - 27, 2005

Thanksgiving was celebrated, so gratitude is back for a second week as a topic in the Buddhablogosphere. Sum of the Sum of All Years is posted, all on a single webpage. Chalip has a birthday, while haiku has a pouting daughter. Hardcore Zen meets the Longhorns while Green Clouds bump into reality. Meantime in the creamy blogosphere, there is an auspicious coincidence involving soy eggnog.

Last week, one
Top Ten Buddhism-tagged blogs, per Technorati *
1The Buddhist Blog
2this zen life
3Dharma Path
4The Roost
5My Zen Life
6auspicious coincidence
9Green Clouds
* After eliminating sites with 8 or more tags when no more that 25% are, in a broad sense, Buddhism-related.
of our featured posts was Jeb of Wondering on the Way’s “Ecology of Gratitude.” This week was graced with more gratitude musings. Whiskey River offers up wisdom from Albert Schweitzer: “The greatest thing is to give thanks for everything. He who has learned this knows what it means to live. He has penetrated the whole mystery of life: giving thanks for everything.” And M of Zen Filter quotes Dogen’s perspective on gratitude and links to a page at the Spirituality & Health website filled with quotes on the topic.

Nacho of WoodMoor Village Zendo, in a post titled "A Practice of Gratitude," writes about a conversation with his young son about the security and comforts their family has, especially as compared to most others in the world. But their talk quickly broadened:
We also spoke about how we can think broadly about gratitude by following a chain of links that we often forget or dismiss too easily. It makes for a great conversation with kids: [W]e are grateful to have clean water, but how do we get clean fresh water in our homes? We are happy not to live in filth and garbage, yet how does garbage collection and sewage treatment work? How is it that we can walk into grocery stores and see such abundance of items when others are dying from hunger? How [can our practice] contribute to the quality of our lives and those of others? ... It is a benefit that as we touch on those issues, we also talk about civic virtue, about the common good. A practice of gratefulness need not be, and in fact is not, separate from anything else we do.
Engaged Buddhism – or at least, the issue of how mature compassion should flow into the world – is often a topic in Buddhist blogs. Tyson serves up quotes of Sogyal Rinpoche in his blog One long, single-sentence post this week addresses the “compassionate desire to serve all beings.”

Cliff Jones, blogmeister of This is this, is cool beyond belief, giving us his Sum of All Years autobiography all in a single post!! It is sort of a Sum of Sum of all Years, and it’s truly sumthin’! [I hope others of you will write your own sum-of-all-years autobiographies. The rule is that for each year of your life you post an entry about that year with a word count equivalent to your age at that time. Me, I’ve started mine, but I can’t complete chapter 1 until I can choose between poop and googoo.

In the two of his blogs Blogmandu follows, keyboarder James Ure gives a generous helping of holiday thanks … to his readers! In The Buddhist Blog, he writes, “[To all those who] read this blog [be aware] that I love you deeply and hope that on this day you reflect on the good things in your life.” In the lefty politics-oriented Genius of Insanity, he thanks the people in the military and their families for their sacrifices and then writes, “I am also very grateful for this blog and those of you who read my crazy ranting and raving.”

Chalip of Zen Under the Skin had a birthday this week and reflects, glowingly, on wonders in her life: “a beautiful child, good friends, my family, a great sangha, and all of the wonderful people out here in the blogosphere”

In her blog this zen life, haiku tells us about her pouty six-year-old daughter, a little diva who complains constantly. On a beautiful day, the family takes a walk through the woods, and troubles ensue, but there is no scolding in store for the unhappy girl – instead, there is a mirror to life held up to haiku's eyes.

Zen Rhetoric: Paradox and Puzzles is a “class blog” for Jiki Sen Peg Syverson’s Zen Rhetoric class at the University of Texas in Austin [Go Horns! Rah, Team!] This past week, the students have been reviewing the first 98 pages of Brad Warner’s book Hardcore Zen: Punk Rock, Monster Movies, & the Truth about Reality. I know many Blogmandu readers are crackers* over this book [including chalip & Gareth & M & John Soper], so they and others of you will be interested to read the students’ reviews/analyses of what they’ve read thus far. Here are some “write bites,”** that link to the lucky thirteen reviewers’ assessments: Anyone who has played with the Meat Puppets...doesn't have to twist my arm…to bend my ear.” “He explains things as they are…in the most efficient and comprehensible manner.” “I like Warner's honesty…but kind of hate the tone [he] uses.” “[H]is writing can be very crude and perhaps unacceptable at times.” “I was tired of being talked to like I was a completely uninformed young kid.” “I absolutely love the in-your-face, no b*llsh*t approach.” “I especially love, love, that he comes clean from the get-go that he himself has not been enlightened, and probably never will be.” “could it be said there is no wrong interpretation of zen and no interpretation is more right than another?” “I thought [the part about Utopia] must be something the enlightened tell the unenlightened to really piss them off.” “one word to describe his style of writing:…blunt.” “I…appreciate how he calls Dogen one of the coolest guys ever.” “Who wouldnt want to make crazy Godzilla movies and practice Buddhism while doing it?” “He wasn't big on any sort of flowery language; on the contrary, he used tons of slang.

Illustrating his point with a picture of a blue bowl full of Cheerios, Will Buckingham of doesn't believe the story making the rounds that a lad in Nepal, who, supposedly, hasn’t had a bite or a sip in six months, is a new Buddha [qv, The Buddha Channel]. Will writes, “I disbelieve the story because ... there is no evidence that a human being can go for six months without food or water. There is, however, ample evidence that human beings are credulous, greedy and prone to deception.”

Dagme, who keyboards auspicious conincidence, was about to walk away from the pricey soy eggnog in the dairycase [soycase?] at the health-food store, when the voice of Nyima – the inside the banana blogger – “talking up the wonders of eggnog” entered her noggin. Indeed, Nyima/Gabrielle posted re nog that very day: “I have to take this moment to thank the good people that came up with EGG NOG!” Synchronicity!

Clarity, a Slovenian Shambhala Buddhist, shares his “wisdom and confusion” in Clarity’s Blog. This week he had the interesting experience of having a reaction and seeing that of persons outside his sangha when a "wrathful" Buddhist teacher screamed “fuck you” in a talk.

Gareth of Green Clouds and his dharma teacher are at loggerheads over the existance of external reality. If the teacher is right -- that reality is inexistent – then the Gareth-teacher conversation didn’t take place. Gareth is holding on to an external reality that is “merely unknowable.” But by the end of the post, Gareth’s grip is slipping as a wise man, dead for many centuries, weighs in with his thoughts, backing the teacher. “You must strive to realise emptiness to attain even solitary liberation.” concludes Shantideva, wagging his finger at Gareth.

[Footnotes in a blog is oh so PoMo***&*****.]
*Wallace of the cartoon combo ‘Wallace and Gromit’ uses the term, which means intense affection, as in this sentence from their most-recent film, which has perhaps been uttered in all of their films: “I’m just crackers about cheeeese!”
**as opposed to “sound bites”
****which means 'just after modern'
*****You readers may be interested to know I was raised [post Tulsa] in Pomona******
******which means 'postmodern not applicable'

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Roundup for Nov 14 - 20, 2005

Change is a theme that appears in different Buddhist guises this week. In politics, hatred, letter writing, Bush and Iraq get attention. We also give you information on what to put in your Buddha statue and give you a jumpstart on your midterm.


In a post, follow-up to another asking about the nature of change and our ability to affect change in the world, chalip of Zen Under the Skin delves deeply into the issue in a post "Always Ripe for Change," making use of earlier feedback. She leads off with this sentiment, "I'm still trying to figure out how to carry the dharma into my daily life with consistency. I'm still trying to figure out how to bring my meditation off the cushion. Who am I to say what other people need to do when it is all I can do to stumble through my own attempts at right action? I've also been of the opinion that such attempts to consciously sway a person... to get them to do a certain thing or be a certain way... are often futile."

By the end of her post, after filtering through the offerings of others, feelings of futility have lifted:
The world is always ripe for change. The world is always responding to who we are and what we are doing. And so are people and everything else in the world. This is what Thich Nhat Hanh's word Interbeing is pointing to. Everything exists because of everything else. As subtle changes happen in one person, subtle changes happen everywhere. This may be hard to quantify. Everyone may not cause the global impact that Buddha, Ghandi, or Martin Luther King, Jr. did in the world... but everyone can have the same impact right where they live.
Jeb of Wonderings on the Way writes about extending gratitude to “the entire milieu of existence” in a post titled "The Ecology of Gratitude." He begins by looking at gratitude from our in-the-house animal friends and the prefunctory “thank you”s of our grudgingly civil society, and then expands the vision multidimensionally. Following are words from the middle of a wonderful post:
Whether one is talking about life sciences and their extremely complex interactions, or physics with its Bell’s Theorem and quantum entanglement, the conclusion is that we live in a world where interconnections far exceed our ability to understand them. ... We are gradually learning not to be as naive as primitive man about destroying things we don’t understand. In a larger sense, I can reach a conclusion that all of existence is worthy and somehow is not separate from my own existence or sustenance. I can reach a conclusion of reverence for life – all life.

A real ecology of gratitude begins to arise when one begins to understand that even those things or people or groups one does not like are an integral and valuable part of existence that sustains us all.
Fogueira of foot before foot is up to many changes this week. One post, about reversing her decision to not purchase a spiffy camera begins, “I reserve the right to change my mind about just about anything. The mind, after all, is the most impermanent conditioned thing there is.” But it is the positive effects of her healthy diet that get the most attention in posts titled “Quality of Life Report,” and “Ch-ch-ch-changes.” Fogueira now eats healthy, natural foods and is a committed vegetarian: “I could never cry enough or ask pardon enough to every animal for every minute I spent exploiting them. To eat animals to me would be like murdering my family, literally. … I have to admit it's wonderful to do the right thing and literally feel great doing it. … May all beings experience such a phenomenon.”

Cliff Jones of This is this finishes [for now] his one-post-per-year, number-of-words-equaling-the-age-he-is-in-each-post autobiography. Here is the last chapter, The Sum Of All Years - 33:

Bad things happen - they'll bother you more if you're always holding out for the good stuff. What you want will come and go, but what you need will find you in the end.

"The girl" who blogs auspicious coincidence wrote a post this week called "change." In it, each of the seven paragraphs begin with these words: "Some people say that people don’t change..." The first six paragraphs reference herself, but the final one is a global observation: "Some people say that people don’t change, but I think that they just want to see the world as constant and unchangeable because it makes life simple. Let’s face it, we are who we are, not who we were or who we want to be. We just are."

The 11th Century Vietnamese poet Van Hahn wrote of changes. At the moment of his death, he wrote a poem -- presented by Amadeus in his blog dharma vision. Please, please follow this link to read the translation Amadeus has and has presented so wonderfully. Following is a different translation of Van Hahn's words, found at the online site of Boston Review:
Our life is a lightning flash, here and gone
Spring plants blossom, to be bare in fall
Mind not the rise and fall of fortunes
They're dewdrops twinkling on the grass

Political Stuff

Amadeus is a political researcher and consultant residing in Oregon. This week, in his blog dharma vision, he tackled the issue of Politics and Hatred. “Lately, I have begun to again study the notion of hatred.” he writes. “It really is a hard thing to understand. We often hold such deep feelings about issues that they could sow seeds of hatred within us. I know mine sometimes do and although I have become a little better at recognizing it, I still have a long way to go.”

Mumon of Notes in Samsara writes about Bush's miscues in Japan, where he is slashing back at domestic critics of his war, bumfuzzling his hosts. [In one stop on the island nation, Bush insisted he wasn't there speaking for the US government, while at another stop, he thanked the prime minister for sending troops to Iraq.] "Nixon [could handle diplomacy]; he was venal but talented." observes Mumon. "George W. Bush, miserable failure that he is, is venal but not talented."

Congressman Duncan Hunter's fake cut-and-run legislation, written in an effort to undermine Congressman Murtha's stern assessment that the war isn't going at all well, is rebuked by James of Genius of Insanity: "This resolution introduced by House Republicans is a sham, a typical smear ploy, dirty politics and a political stunt."

Ruby Sinreich, of lotusmedia consultants in North Carolina’s Orange County [the other OC], blogs lotusmedia 2.0 [formerly, Ruby’s Rants and Randomness]. In a post this week, “Blog to Congress,” she has a bead on code [currently just for Bloxsam] to turn blog entries into letters to congress. She is eager for the code to be written for additional blogging software/platforms.

DID YOU EVER WONDER WHAT 2000 LOOKS LIKE? At his blog Dharmavidya Web, in a post titled “November 2005: Iraq Item,” David Brazier has links to a short flash video every American should see.

Buddhist Stuff

In a fascinating post, titled “Buddha Statues – Imagining Buddha,” Gareth of Green Clouds tells us, firsthand, of steps involved in the ritual preparation of a Buddha statue for its place on a shrine. An early paragraph explains what is expected …
Within [my] tradition, and others I think, the statues are filled with dried (and blessed) rose petals, mantra rolls and precious objects. The statue can then be painted and dressed, if wished, and set upon the shrine. Before the statue is filled, it needs to be checked for flaws and repaired, and washed down and rinsed with saffron water.
… but unexpected challenges are encountered!

Dave Bonta of Via Negativa passes out the mid-term on his way out of town. [I am not sure if the test is meant for congressfolk, Buddhists or alchemists.] There are five questions. Here’s #2
2. From dreaming about salamanders, can you remember how it felt to breathe through your skin & listen with the bones in your feet? Use both sides of the paper if necessary.
Iain Sinclair’s blog Jinijik is an always-fascinating virtual lobby to the museums and the salvaged crumbling texts of our religion. Finds this week are (1) an article, “Conservation and Digitisation of Rolled Palm Leaf Manuscripts in Nepal” and (2) the new website of The Research Institute of Sanskrit Manuscripts & Buddhist Literature based in Peking University.

In a post called MR. ANGRY, Brad Warner of Hardcore Zen writes about a longtime crazy-mad student of his teacher. Here is a central paragraph, after the teacher advises the unhappy student that one of his options is simply to leave:
Lotsa people ask me how to recognize a real Buddhist teacher. You can recognize them by this attitude. A real Buddhist teacher never tries to draw you in or convince you of anything. He (or she, but I'll stick w/ male pronouns) just says what he says. If you like it, you can stay and listen some more. If you don't like it you can go away.

The girl who writes auspicious coincidence has written a true-to-life tanka that come with a burst of steam. Go read.

Blog Harvest

Jeb of Wondering on the Way filed his fifth Blog Harvest at the end of this week, titled "Chump Change." He recommends the following blog posts and miscellany:

  • The post "Always Ripe for Change" in Zen Under the Skin, with especial kudos for its emphisis on personal change.
  • The movie Dead Man Walking, where the condemned man takes direct responsibility for his actions
  • The post "Going Beyond Belief" in Green Clouds, "because it speaks to the willingness and courage to look at one’s own mind and beliefs"
  • The post "alternatives" in Jack/zen which touches on problems with forms of engaged Buddhism
  • The post "Rumi, FLOW and Love" in FLOW, here again, because the post touches on problems with forms of engaged Buddhism.
  • The organizations Greyston Foundation, Human Kindness Foundation, and Human Impact for their better methods of addressing changes in society

Truth, Revealed

We close with a quote this week offered by the delicious whiskey river:
    “We are hidden in ourselves, like a truth hidden in isolated facts. When we know that this One in us is One in all, then our truth is revealed.”
    --Rabindranath Tagore in his 1917 book Personality.

    Sunday, November 13, 2005

    Roundup for Nov 7 - 13, 2005

    A not-so-simple hello, hot sex, lotto millions, postmodernity, keeping your zafu in reach, death, non-violence and golden leaves in a pear tree were all touched upon in the Buddhism-flavored blogosphere this week.

    Practice, Practice, Practice

    Zataod of Zen and the Art of Dreaming dreams of winning multi-megamillions in the lotto. His fantasies end up being very tame – more Buddhist than hedonist. “The more I think about it,” he writes, “the more that I realize there won't be a lot of changes due to this newfound wealth.”

    Meditation thickens the brain in delightful ways, we are told. Several blogs picked up on this interesting story, originating in the November issue of NeuroReport. Writes eeksypeeksy for Zen Filter, "Brain imaging of regular working folks who meditate regularly revealed increased thickness in cortical regions related to sensory, auditory and visual perception, as well as internal perception -- the automatic monitoring of heart rate or breathing, for example." Amadeus of Dharma Vision quotes a co-author of the study: "The study participants were people with jobs and families. They just meditated on average 40 minutes each day. You don't have to be a monk."

    "Buddhists and Hot Sex" is the title of a post over at Woodmoor Village. No, it's not the annual invitation to Nacho's orgy on the grounds of the zendo, though Nacho does appear to be feeling a little randy. What the post is is a Thought Train that cho-chos through some blogs, some TV watching and a high school auditorium.

    Another good one from the intoxicating whiskey river:
    "We (that indivisible divinity that operates in us) have dreamed the world. We have dreamed it as enduring, mysterious, visible, omnipresent in space and stable in time; but we have consented to tenuous and eternal intervals of illogicalness in its architecture that we might know it is false."
    - Jorge Luis Borges, Other Inquisitions
    John of My Zen Life is going to keep a zabuton and zafu handy in his car. “What is it going to take to change my life such that I can allow zazen to be the root of all my daily actions?” he writes.

    This in a The Buddhist Blog post by James called "The Ocean of Delusion":

    If you live the sacred and despise the ordinary, you are still bobbing in the ocean of delusion. ~Lin-Chi
    Cliff Jones of This is this is soooo Buddhist. He is more than a little self-conscious just in saying hello.

    Heady Stuff

    An Xiao Mina is thinking about death, for several reason: a book, a cemetery, a loved one at death’s door. In her blog That Was Zen, This Is Tao: A Journey in Haiblog, she writes, “We begin, we end, we continue, we do not, and all is the same and yet distinct. …Waves rise, waves fall, and we crash upon the rocky shores and sandy beaches before becoming waves once more.”

    Justin Whitaker of American Buddhist Perspective has a three-pronged series of posts on the meaning of the combo ‘Postmodernity [qv] and Buddhism’ [See I & II & III]. Here’s one thing Justin wrote:
    The Buddha, and Buddhism itself (as its own grand narrative) is not the foundation of Truth (though we often cling to each as if they were) in Buddhism. Yet Buddhism does provide the grand narrative and the Buddha as exemplar, because the Dhamma alone is pretty vague for us normal folk. With these we are moved toward ever more abstract notions of truth, the 8-fold path, the 3 marks of existence, etc. Somewhere along the way we quit grasping to these as if they are true, as if everything else is false. We now see the truth and potential falsehood in everything, including the Buddha's teachings.
    Jeb of Wondering on the Way gets into the whys and hows and makes some wise points about how how and why, a pair often confused as near-identical twins, differ. “For the lack of why, we must descend into a graspable ‘how.’” he writes. Why is there suffering? becomes How does suffering arise?

    William Harryman of Integral Options Café looks through the prism of Spiral Dynamics to address his personal 'meme vs. meme' battle in a two-post series, with a third post as an addendum. William explains things so well, readers can follow what is written without a grounding in the SD scheme. [But if it helps, think of a Blue Meme person as someone like Bush and a Green Meme person as being someone like the average American lay Buddhist.]

    In a long, rich post, Will Buckingham of tackles ahimsa, the Buddhist view of non-violence, and the question of what needs to be done to counter powerful, cruel dictators like Hitler or Saddam. He writes, "A true pacifism would deal not only with crises, but also with the systems that lead to them, systems that are already a part of the logic and machinery of war. "

    Sean of Wandering the Pathless Land continues thoughts on the conflict between Science and Spirituality in a new, long, idea-rich post. Here’s the concluding paragraph:
    So the impasse is superficial. We’re arguing over beliefs, which are, in themselves, nothing more than concepts defined by words. It’s language, really, and it’s inane. Does God exist? I don’t know. What does “God” mean? What does “know” mean? Let’s discuss but let’s not argue. And then, when we’re all done, let’s go back and do something real. Let’s redefine what it means to be “beyond belief.”

    Lefty Politico Musings

    James of Genius of Insanity puts forward what must be the week’s most important piece about the Bush Administration: An article in the Washington Post shows that Bush’s Veterans’ Day-speech assertions that “Congress saw the same intelligence the administration did before the war, and that independent commissions have determined that the administration did not misrepresent the intelligence” are not wholly accurate. Per usual, the Bushies take facts and twist 'em.

    Mumon of Notes in Samsara likes the idea of seeing Bruce Springsteen in the Senate and shows how this is truly a slight possibility. Jon Corzine, elected New Jersey governor last Tuesday, has to pick his own replacement to fill out the remainder of his term in the senate. Mumon links to a Daily Kos post, which links to a Philadelphia Daily News blog entry. The idea is making the rounds. In another post, Mumon finds, in a New York Times report, evidence that the Republican Party is ripe for disintegration. Maybe Springsteen will be part of a Democrat-majority Senate that can prevent the complete disintegration of Roe, should Bush get a third Court appointment in 2007 or 2008.

    Via Negativa’s Dave Bonta writes of “Seven things that make me happy right now.” Dave passes through the pristine arctic wilderness and Dover, Pennsylvania, and bedazzles us with marvels and wonders, and then – like the Twelve Days of Christmas – ends up in a pear tree.

    Blog Harvests

    There is just one Buddhist blog recommendation over at Zen Filter this week. M’s words re tinythinker’s peaceful turmoil are quick and direct: “Another nice Buddhist blog worth visiting.”

    Nacho of Woodmoor Village Zendo is effusive in rambling praise for Haiku’s This Zen Life. Here’s a snippet:
    Reading This Zen Life is truly like participating in dharma discussions in a sangha: the space is open, people bow in and say here's where I find myself in my practice, it challenges me this way, or it brings me joy in this other way, sometimes both. That's the feeling I get.

    Sunday, November 06, 2005

    Roundup for Oct 31 - Nov 6, 2005

    Bloggery should stick close to the razor edge of time -- even
    though worms and rot and yellowing don't afflict electrons.

    Buddha not being Buddhist, the unbearable pain of a world in unbearable pain, loneliness, and Death are some of the topics that captured the attention of Buddhism-loving bloggers and their readers this past week. The blogha had a rough week, feeling hurt in the belly from undigestible candy, perhaps.

    Thoughts Chase Thoughts

    In his post “Buddha was not a Buddhist,” Douglas Imbrogno, in his blog Hundred Mountain Journal, asks, words poetic, what is [or should be?] the central epistemological [qv] question of Western Buddhism: Is Buddhism – as it is practiced, and perhaps as it has always been practiced, or by its nature – a diversion from its supposed goal of becoming a Buddha? and is this goalseeking itself a diversion? and do then, the diversions keep coming like tumbling bricks?

    Writes Douglas at the conclusion of his poetic post,

    We flash our badges at passersby: 'Buddhists At Work!'
    But what is that strangeflavor in the mouth, a gun-metal taste?
    Have we soured the teachings by clutching them as our own?
    The Buddha stands, sits, reclines, never once a Buddhist.
    A reminder of what we do not need to become

    a Buddha.

    Will Buckingham of the blog quotes a Mary Oliver poem, “the Moths” that ends with these words:

    If I stopped and
    thought, maybe
    the world
    can’t be saved,
    the pain
    was unbearable.
    Will agrees, but soldiers on through the hurt, writing, “It is a relief to remember that the belief we can fix the world is a delusion. The world is beyond fixing: suffering is woven into its very fabric. We are born with bodies that are vulnerable to harm, with hearts that are fragile and easily wounded, with limited capacities and with only short spans of life. How could we even begin to fix the world?”

    Fluffy Green Clouds are again blooming at Gareth’s blog. In this post-Halloween period, Gareth explores Death, a subject of fascination for him. He tells us, citing The Guide to the Bodhisattva’s Way of Life [qv], that we should always be aware of the Lord of Death at our side. Gareth then looks at personifications of Death: Yama, Shantideva’s Lord of Death; and Cerridwen, The White Lady of Celtic lore, who may appear as The Crone and is the model of Halloween’s pointy-hatted witch.

    Writes Gareth, “Perhaps we should not fear death, but we must accept it. Maybe we can use the plastic pumpkins and cardboard witches as a reminder. Death walks with us.”

    Chalip of Zen Under the Skin also picks up The Guide to the Boddhisattva's Way of Life, but for her it is an aid to help with a difficult time at work. "This week sucked." she writes. " I think it mostly sucked because I've been mired in a state of unforgiveness.

    "The Guide frequently reminds us that we should be grateful for all difficult people and situations because they are occasions for us to lift our spiritual muscle and be about the business of bringing dharma to life."

    In an enormously powerful post, Fogueira of foot before foot looks at loneliness -- first, that of a nineteen-year-old suicide victim in a Yahoo News report, and then unblinkingly at her own. She writes, "I think it is safe to say that the pathology of loneliness drove me mad. It peppered me with delusions, the first, and worst of which was that my situation was somehow wrong and wanting. When one is alone, one has a lot of time to think. And frequently when that happens, one thinks wrongly, and dangerously."

    Dave Bonta of Via Negativa loves the poetry of Paul Zweig. A poem of Zweig's he posted this week has a kinship with Fogueira's "Loneliness" post. Here are two of the short stanzas from the poem "The Art of Sacrifice":

    The faucet bubbling with anxiety
    And the mirror fishing for loneliness,

    The worm we cut into lengths and serve,
    Calling it day by day, are offered in love.
    Yet another blog and another poem found kinship with Fogueira's "Loneliness." Here, two two-line stanzas from "Ready for Silence," by Rumi, posted in whiskey river this week:
    When the heart has a Friend like
    you, the universe cannot contain

    their pleasure. Anyone warmed
    by sun feels courage coming in.

    The Buddhist Blog's James quotes Longchenpa, a 14th C. Tibetan Buddhist:

    Since everything is but an apparition, having nothing to do with good or bad, acceptance or rejection, one may well burst out in laughter.

    James then advises, "...Look around, be mindful and laugh from time to time.

    "In fact, laugh a lot."

    Political Buddhists

    William Harryman of Integral Options Cafe asks Is Hillary Clinton the First Integral Politician? In Buddhaspeak, this is roughly asking if Hillary is the first enlightened politician -- someone who sees the value of [or at least, the framework of] all worldviews and acts to do good unblinkered by an oppressive ego. [William's blog is devoted to his great interest in Integral Psychology (qv) and Spiral Dynamics (qv). He uses the terminology of those systems of thought.] William cites the words of Jean Houston, a Spiral Dynamics lecturer/expert, and an article in The Nation to explain the speculation.

    Writes William, " if [Hillary] can think politically in second-tier ways--meaning that she can perceive and value each of the vMemes--then she's probably second-tier enough to defeat any politician who doesn't share that skill.

    "The 2008 presidential election could be very, very interesting."

    Second-tier means Hilliary thinks "globally" rather than being centered in self-interest.

    James's Genius of Insanity blog focussed this week on the myriad ways the Bush administration is struggling. In one post, titled "Rove Still Under Investigation," James asks, "What's that saying, 'Where there's smoke (Libby) there's fire (Rove)?'" In a post at the end of the week, James reported on Bush's fading popularity with his job approval rating now at 35%, according to a CBS poll.

    Matthew of the blog looks at Bill Gates's staggering wealth and compares it in various ways to the impoverished conditions of a billion of the world's citizens. Matthew cites the Bill Gates Wealth Clock, telling us that he has $61.7 Billion, currently, and contrasts this to World Bank figures which report per capita annual Gross National Income in the poorest countries at $510 in 2004.

    Blog Harvest

    M of Zen Filter has five Buddhist blog finds this week: That was Zen, This is Tao [ZF]; Dharma Vision [ZF]; Breath by Breath [ZF]; My Zen Life [ZF]; and Beneath Buddha's Eyes [ZF].

    Sunday, October 30, 2005

    Roundup for Oct 24 - 30, 2005

    Meaning, purpose, ego, anger and yearning were important subjects in Blogmandu posts last week -- and this is before getting to the politics-focused posts! In the political sphere, Plame and 2,000 Deaths were prime topics.

    Meaning and Purpose

    In a series of posts, Jeb of Wondering on the Way has targetted the very heart of religion. The group of posts is categorized as Analogs of Reality. This week, Jeb posted Number 6, "Meaning and Purpose."

    Almost immediately, following a warning to readers, Jeb posted questions central to any human's existance:
    1. Does life ultimately have meaning?
    2. Is there some ultimate purpose to life?

    Acting as our most excellent guide, Jeb hacks through the thick growth of ideas to essential elements that allow a confrontation with these questions. He identifies and explains the four approaches an individual can take to face meaning and purpose: Teleological, Existential, Abandoned Search and Denial.

    Jeb shows how these approaches manifest in Christian and science-orientated individuals before he comes to the more-interesting Buddhist confrontation with these perennial questions. Jeb has put up a masterpiece of a post that will benefit all those who carefully read it.

    Another dazzling philosophy-centered post of the week was put out there by Justin in his blog American Buddhist Perspective. Justin writes about the tension between being ordinary and among the ordinary in opposition to becoming a philosopher or being philosophical and, by necessity, looking at the world from on-high and objectifying it. How can one be in the world and of the world at the same time? How can one avoid being in two places at once and not anywhere at all?

    Writes Justin, "But the philosopher may also reenter the world, gently; in the words of one of my teachers, 'he becomes fully human, fully normal.' He sees the divinity/enlightened nature of others as reflections of his own. He does not see and recoil from the flaws of the world. He acts fluidly within the world. "

    Practice leads in the direction of Perfection

    Haiku of this zen life writes of ego loosening its death grip and finding she is becoming more authentically herself. “[M]y desire to be thought of in certain ways, my fear of embarrassment, my concern for what people think are becoming less prominent.”

    John of My Zen Life has a burst of maddog anger coming from the inundation of suffocating gimme-gimme advertising pitches. At the end of his post, he laments, “It’s times like these that just make me want to abandon this world and go live off the grid up in the hills somewhere.” He must be referring to the electrical grid. Electrons are a blogger’s heroine.

    Miranda of Mt Metta Journal writes of working with Kuan Yin to adjust her life and actions and improve her orientation toward others. She is finding that, ironically, her developing compassion is turning her toward seclusion. "I don't want to become a total recluse; I like people the way I like jazz - when the mood hits, and in limited doses." she writes.

    James, The Buddhist Blog blogger, quotes the Dalai Lama who tells us, essentially, to forget yearning for Nirvana, “lead a good life, honestly, with love, with compassion, with less selfishness,” and THAT will put you on the path to your forgotten goal. James concludes, “Stick to [these] basics and you cannot go wrong in my opinion.”

    The Plame Game

    Early this week, Zataod of Zen and the Art of Dreaming colorfully predicted “coal for Fitzmas” with regard to Plamegate. “Cheney and Bush are the key players here. Their henchmen are just following orders, but I think it's those underlings that will take the fall.” As we now know, only one “henchman” ended up taking a hit – from a multicount indictment.

    James of Genius of Insanity reported on the Republican effort to discredit Fitzgerald in advance of any issuance of indictments. One point of hypocracy: “Even though Republicans nailed Clinton to the wall over perjury when it comes to one of their own it's a ‘technicality.’”

    Neolotus of Free Thinker reposted a piece from Geopolitical Intelligence Report explaining the importance of the Plame affair. A couple of cogent sentences: “Rove and Libby had top security clearances and were senior White House officials. It was their sworn duty, undertaken when they accepted their security clearance, to build a ‘bodyguard of lies’ -- in Churchill's phrase -- around the truth concerning U.S. intelligence capabilities.”

    Terrance of Republic of T still thinks bad times may be ahead for Karl Rove, identified as Official ‘A’ in the indictment of Scooter Liddy.

    Mumon of Notes in Samsara wrote several posts the day the indictments where handed down. One ended happily and piercingly: "I wish all of you a safe and merry Fitzmas. May we remember it's true meaning."

    Two Thousand

    The Buddhist blogha took note of the milestone of two thousand American deaths in Iraq.

    Ryan of Ryan’s Lair looked at the cold statistics. “The current war is costing America roughly 63 KIA per month. This war is vastly cheaper, in terms of American lives, than nearly all of our previous conflicts.” And parsed meaning from pathos-ladened reporting on the milestone as, “the incredible isolation of Americans from war and other forms of suffering, and our ability, perhaps not unrelated, to dwell in an ethical or emotional space utterly free of context and history.”

    Too, genkaku in an Oct 22 post to his eponymous blog, looked at the statistics of the war, somberly. “I don’t care much where anyone stands. Whether a person believes the cause to be ‘just’ or ‘unjust,’ still there are the facts – or the best guess at the facts. … The premise is that based on facts, people can make informed decisions.”

    James of Genius of Insanity dedicated a post to the fallen soldiers, and later presented an excerpt of an AP report that says the Iraqi death toll in the war is 30,000 – or, possibly, much higher. Says James, “The Iraqi's have sacrificed much. Let's hope that things continue to improve for them.”

    Terrance of Republic of T linked to a political cartoon in an Atlanta paper that formed the 2,000 names of the dead soldiers into a question: WHY?

    Harvests and Kudos

    New in the Blogmandu firmament is Hardcore Zen, keyboarded by Brad Warner, author of a book that also uses that in-your-face moniker. The book is greatly admired by several Buddhist bloggers.

    Warner’s blog gets recommendations this week by both John of My Zen Life and M of Zen Filter. Writes John, in opening words to a short post loaded with exclamation marks, “Hey! I just found Brad Warner in the blog-o-sphere! He’s blogging now, very cool!!” Writes M: “You've read the book, here's the blog.” In a post a few weeks ago, Chalip of Zen Under the Skin wrote that one of the book’s chapters was helpful at “uncovering the mystery of the [Heart] sutra” for her.

    Blog posts recommended in Zen Filter this past week: A post by marlaine of it is in me about anger and an inspirational post from the blog Inspirations, comparing words of Stephen Covey and Thich Nhat Hanh.

    Zataod of Zen and the Art of Dreaming names his “Cool Blog of the Week” which is [drumroll and eggroll, please] OneManBandwidth: An American Professor in China. It may not be Buddhist, but it is east Asian – which almost counts. Written by Dr. Lonnie B. Hodge, who is a business consultant, among his many professions, the blog is always interesting and has amazing graphics.

    Sunday, October 23, 2005

    Roundup for Oct 17 - 23, 2005

    Blogging is, if anything, more like the kind of pamphleteering the framers
    had in mind when they guaranteed "freedom of the press" than is the New York
    Times or Washington Post.
    -- Michael
    Kingsley in Slate, 10/20/05

    If not an altogether happy week, it has certainly been an interesting one in the blogoBuddhaspere. A guaranteed successful retreat, depression, death and Gross National Happiness have all left their mark.

    This is This … unusual autobiography technique.

    Cliff Jones, blogmeister of This is This, is doing something pretty damn spiffy. He’s writing his autobiography, called “The Sum of All Years” in daily blog entries, with each entry telling the story of a year in his life – starting at age one. Cliff tells us, “The Sum Of All Years is an autobiography where the word count for each post is [equal] to the corresponding age for that entry.” His first three entries are: “The Sum of All Years – 1”: Born. “The Sum of All Years – 2”: Stood up. The Sum of All Years – 3”: We moved south. This week, Cliff completed years eight to fourteen. According to his profile, Cliff is 33 years old. By the time he’s done, Cliff’ll be writing short paragraphs. [Afterthought: In China, babies are born at age one; but elsewhere, other than American racehorses, the age at birth is zero. Shouldn't Cliff have a "The Sum of All Years - 0" entry?]

    Modest Requirements

    Vincent Horn writes in his eponymous blog of accomodations during a three-month silent retreat at Insight Meditation Society's Retreat Center in Massachusetts: "Bedrooms are simple and small, with a pillow, two blankets and a foam mattress on a low bed frame. ... Very simple and spare. Just like I like it…" Vincent is near completion of the first month of his stay. BUT this entry, like the others during the past month, are preceded by a note which tells us, "This is a post I prepared before going on retreat, so I could keep a small flow of content on while I'm gone..."

    Now, I hate to be a stickler for journalistic ethics, but How can Vincent know in advance that he hasn't been given a second pillow? or that the mattress isn't giving him a sore back? or that the place isn't infested with rats?

    I will be eager to read Vincent's blog two months from now to read how wonderful he knew the retreat was before he left for it. That Vince: I think he already had that "insight" thing down pat.

    Up Close and Personal

    James of The Buddhist Blog put up an astoundingly well-written and interesting post about his mental health difficulties. Samsara for James comes with being buffetted by schizoaffective disorder, which carries all the symptoms of schizophrenia and bipolar disorder (inc. mania and depression). Following is a snippet from the post where James describes dealing with an episode of depression:

    The prevailing way to deal with depression in Buddhism seems to be meditating on compassion and and loving-kindness towards our depression. It is very easy for me to have compassion and loving-kindness toward others but often I forget to have compassion and love toward myself. This is probably one of the reasons that my physiological depression becomes worse with a lack of self-love and compassion.

    So this morning I sat with my depression and just showed it love and compassion. I talked to it and told it that I understood it was warning me to "stop and listen." I told it that I loved it and thanked it for being so concerned about me and my life but that it could now go. I understood the lesson it was trying to teach me. I no longer needed it to fertilize the seeds of happiness that would soon grown and blossom out of the depression.

    Reports from the Buddhist Frontlines

    gendaku tells us that, according to an internet bulletin board post, Buddhism has been voted the most-tolerant religion, but the blogger warns, "As Buddhists, we pay attention and take responsibility. Taking responsibility does not mean basking in false, if much-supported, notions. Being encouraged is one thing. But falling into the belief trap is like shooting yourself in the foot."

    JackZen of the blog jack/zen is impressed with the New Orleans Vietnamese community. "In the midst of widespread fragmentation, victimizing government dependency, bureaucratic finger-pointing, and chaos, this tiny community is fast becoming the story of what happens when healthy social networks encounter disaster."

    In a wonderful post, Justin in American Buddhist Perspective, listening to a movie score, finds he’s not engaging his loving-kindness meditation practice quite so often as he thinks he should. He then muses “Eventually, so the story goes, our love and our awareness become boundless, and nothing in the world can break that. We become walking emanations of joy and understanding. We still live in the real world, but things 'out there' no longer dictate how we feel 'in here'.” The sweet music plays on, getting "a little deeper, a little richer."

    Atanu Dey [At a new day?] of the blog Atanu Dey on India’s Development explores the national measurement GNH, or Gross National Happiness, that Bhutan’s government uses to understand how things are going there. Bhutan is a mostly Buddhist nation in the Himalayas. The GNH is somewhat like America’s Consumer Confidence index, but it attempts to be a measurement of personal well-being rather than one of feelings of economic security of a populous. Atanu is not impress with this measurement tool, preferring something fully objective. See Atanu’s posts GNH is Grossly Silly and GNH: The Cat’s Meow.

    A Child and the Question of Death

    Nacho of WoodMoor Village Zendo writes of his effort to explain death to his young son in a long post “Death and the Child, Part II,” a follow up to a post three months ago. Both now and three-months past the boy told his father at bedtime, “Dad, I don't want to die, but I know I have to.”

    Nacho writes, "We talked a bit about how our love, our goodwilll, our deeds, survive our physical death. But this is understandably a difficult concept, and I don't expect it will bring him comfort immediately. ... We also talked about how many people believe in some kind of heaven, paradise, or afterlife where we meet again, and how he is likely to hear much of that, because it brings comfort and solace to people. I did tell him that I did not believe in such places."

    Nacho asks readers, “How do you handle these conversations?”

    genkaku had a similar experience -- though much less onerous -- with his boy, when, on the way to football practice, he was asked, "Papa, if you could be dead or alive, which would you pick?" Writes genkaku, "How nice it is to hear someone address one of those elephants in the living room, one of those questions which, when unaddressed, keeps shrinks in business."

    Manufacturing Future Shock

    Terrance of Republic of T often asks his readers for thoughts on books he should read. This week, he asks them for something by Noam Chomsky, whom he’s never read. Meanwhile, John of Inveterate Bystander has written a post called “Manufacturing Consent VIII: European Public & Media” which tells us there has been a decline in good information and news analysis. At the same time, meditateNYC’s Wednesday Blogma leads us to genkaku who finds wisdom in Paul Simon’s lyrics to “59th Street Bridge Song” [Slow down, you move too fast; you gotta make the morning last …]. Genkaku says, “This is a wily world, I imagine: Even ‘faster than a speeding bullet’ cannot catch up.” And then, there’s this: Kristian of Wandering where you will is in an angsty place, writing, “[It’s gotten] to the point where I'm not really sure whether this input is real, or whether it's something I've created over the years, slowly evolving and changing, some times this, some times that.. some times good, some times bad.. some times encouraging, some times devastating.. Am I becoming nothing at all?” This is also a week where it was revealed that TV Guide, for many years the top-selling magazine in America, stopped providing program listings, since that had all gotten too woolly and complex for a nationwide zine, reincarnating itself as a TV fan-mag.

    The links in the paragraph above fit together, somehow. Each is a wonderful blog entry [except for the TV Guide thing], still I’m going to have Patrick Fitzgerald look into it and issue indictments. As to Kristian's angsty post, it's titled "The best is yet to come," so at least K's life is or will be on an upward path; he's not metamorphosing into a bug, like Georg Samsa [or, is it Samsara?], or otherwise is stuck in some Halloween-goulish Kafkaesque castle.

    Harvests and Other Kudos

    This week’s meditateNYCWednesday Blogma” recommends posts in, gendaku and The Buddhist Blog. M of Zen Filter is keen on blogs this zen life, citing the wisdom in a recent post there, Kirin Pal because of its nice quotes, and My Zen Life which is clever and interesting.

    Republic of T, Terrance Heath’s mostly-political blog, where T bills himself as “Black. Gay. Father. Vegetarian. Buddhist. Liberal.,” has been honored twice recently (1) with a big, fat quote in the Washington Post Express and (2) by prominent mention in Daily Kos, an uber important liberal political blog. Said Daily Kos in the leadoff to their report, “Kossack TerrenceDC of the excellent Republic of T, had a diary on this subject [the Millions More March] that scrolled off very quickly yesterday and it deserved more exposure; I've excerpted snippets in this diary.”

    And, finally, Douglas Eye of Hundred Mountain Journal recommends Blogmandu to his readers: “It's a good way to discover and stay atop what's up in the blogoBuddhasphere.” Thanks, Doogie.

    Sunday, October 16, 2005

    Roundup for Oct 10 - 16, 2005

    Guilt, euthanasia, emptiness, compassion, peace, bike rides, watermelon and Swedish are on Buddhism-flavored bloggers' minds this week.

    From the Blog Sangha...

    Foguiera, in her blog foot before foot [formerly known as f. kwan and before that Fogdux], tells us she is beginning to learn Swedish. She writes, "There are few things, regretfully, that cause a true ecstatic thrill in me. One of them is photography. The other is learning a new language. It truly is better than sex, because it's the alleged reason for it: intimacy. You're actually meeting the person speaking the target language on a brain cell level. It doesn't get any more up close and personal than that.

    Wondering on the Way explored guilt this week. Jeb writes, “To believe that being interconnected with others means somehow we are collectively guilty or responsible for everything that goes on the world, and all the acts of violence committed isn’t rooted in Buddhism at all.”

    Emptiness is on Gareth of Green Clouds mind. Early in the week, he quotes Tenzin Palmo re the nexis of emptiness and merit. Later, in a series of three posts -- Emptiness Part I, Emptiness Part II, and More Emptiness -- he contrasts the Geluk and Nyingma schools' teachings, peers into the nature of Ultimate Reality and takes some instruction from Nargajuna.

    Rumi and Thich Nyat Hahn help out as Hundred Mountain's Douglas eyes a snakey grey tree trunk of a thing and gleans an elephantine helping of wisdom. "We harm ourselves day-by-day, [by] large and small infractions and infarctions. No god can save us, although protector spirits abound."

    Via Negativa's Dave finds peace in a watermelon and writes the week's most provocative opening paragraph in a wonderful entry called "Holes." That paragraph follows:
    If only the personal weren't, as they say, so political. If only the person-holes called leaders were a bit less personable. If only the suction from those walking vacuums weren't always so goddamn difficult to resist.
    Adela, the mercurius blogger, quotes lyrics from Bowie's "Planet of Dreams" and tells us, "Our planet is facing the greatest problems it's ever faced so don't get bored in solitude. A dream we dream alone is only a dream. A dream we dream with others can become a reality."

    Cycling Sam of sam i am checks in to update us on his situation after a month away from bloggery. Money (lack of), Work at the bike shop (too much of), School and Career Choosing exert pressures, but the open road beacons. “I’ve been doing many of the shops' group rides and I am continually the one setting the pace or being attacked ‘to test me.’ Today I rode like a man possessed up to Bee Caves …”

    Reading by Lamplight

    The blogger of everything is illuminated is indefatigable, pulling together delicious long and heavily-researched entries on rather esoteric topics that are Zen related or about works of European philosophers from the distant past.

    This week, Peace speaks in a book the eii blogger found, written by Erasamus, a German humanist, in his 1506 book ‘Plea of Peace.’ “The dominant tenor of Peace’s talk is the complaint of being recklessly treated, devalued and demoted, while humans lavish endless praise and honors on warfare, the source of death, destruction and misery.”

    An entry, “Poetry inspired by the shakuhachi [a Japanese flute],” introduces us to poems little known in the West and to some of the peccadilloes of 15th Century Zen poet and priest Ikkyu Sojun. “Ikkyū was among the few Zen priests who argued that his enlightenment was deepened by consorting with pavilion girls. He entered brothels wearing his black robes, since for him sexual intercourse was a religious rite.”

    Another entry, “Shobogenzo and online resources” is, as its title suggests, an introduction to Dogen’s great work with a bounty of links to the book from a project at Stanford engaged in completing a full translation of this work and other great Soto texts.

    Reconciling Buddhism and Euthanasia

    Euthanasia is examined this week in The Buddhist Blog. Writes James, "How much suffering must someone go through before our compassion allows them to pass on peacefully? What lessons can be learned in slowly watching yourself (or a loved one) die from cancer ... wracked in pain? You might say that the terrible suffering teaches that suffering is inevitable, but what if you have already learned this great teaching? Or, you might answer that modern drugs allow the patient to be quite comfortable during the dying process. [B]ut I would argue then, 'Isn't that already a form of voluntary euthanasia?'"

    James cites an entry in Nacho's WoodMoor Village Zendo last March and utilizes a very helpful article on the topic by Buddhism guide Anthony Flanagan at the webspace to explore the contentious topic.

    Bill Bennett redux

    Chalip of Zen Under the Skin has added a perhaps-final word on a topic that has roiled the Buddhist cybersangha since Bill Bennett made some disturbing comments on his radio show September 2 that included these words [that Bennett would object are out of context]: "if you wanted to reduce crime ... if that were your sole purpose, you could abort every black baby in this country, and your crime rate would go down."

    Chalip agrees in large degree with sentiment by Nacho in WoodMoor Village Zendo and by Terrance in Republic of T that sentiment in the Black community is widely on the order of "What else is new?" Chalip explains – to which Nacho and Terrance would likely agree – that that remark does not imply that Bennett’s words were innocuous. “This does not mean that we [Blacks] are not disgusted when public figures (or any other figures) make these statements. We simply bump up against racism in our daily lives. We might not have fire hoses or dogs turned upon us, but we share common experiences that remind us that racism is alive and well.”

    Chalip then comes to her central point [directed at Nacho, but truly a more-open and general question]: Nacho seems to be looking at this through the lens "You're either a part of the solution or you're part of the problem" and is (quite passionately) trying to be part of the solution. I applaud his motives. But the sum of his argument is the belief that people need to change. They need to change what they say. They need to change what they believe. They need to change how they view and respond to matters of race. They need to ‘know better.’ So I want to ask him What changes people?” Later in her post, Chalip answers her own question, “People don't change because we want them to. People change because they choose to.”

    Chalip writes that she is in sympathy with a point made in a post on Oct. 9 by Jeff in ZenDiary: “Stop externalizing racism: it is truly ‘inside’ all of us to the degree that we participate in activities that foster and sustain racial oppression.” Says Chalip, “We all need to own up to our own hypocrisy …, we need to own up and take responsibility if we really want to do something to eradicate the [problem]. Jeff makes a valid point... clinging to the fact that we don't purport racist attitudes while we support policies that prolong racial oppression only carries us 1/8th of the way.”

    Real compassion

    Eric of Virtual Zen is hearty this week in a series of moving and wonderfully written entries. Following are words about and links to two of them: Early in the week, he directs his words to a specific, unnamed reader of his blog, saying “My heart has been opened completely by reading of your pain -- that wrenching, gut tearing pain you've been put through.”

    At the end of the week, alone in a hotel room, he writes of coming to hate everyone and everything and hate where he’s living and that he's finding “solace only in the bottom of a Absolut Mandarin bottle.” But then he concludes, “Things are so much calmer now - even in the whirling maelstrom of my career … and I can see myself much more clearly as the person I truly am. Perhaps its the sitting, perhaps its the time and/or distance from what I was going through - but now I know that I am truly blessed, truly loved, truly.”

    A Bushel of Shining Read Blog Entries
    [And not a bad apple in the bunch]

    Jeb of Wondering on the Way has boxed “Blog Harvest 4” this week, highlighting posts from luminous emptiness, Green Clouds, this zen life and jack/zen. Meanwhile, this week’s “Wednesday Blogma” over at the meditateNYC blog praises entries in Notes in Samsara,, Zen Under the Skin and Keep Trying. And over at Republic of T, Terrance has chosen an entry in WoodMoor Village Zendo as one of his Friday "10blogs."

    Ryan's Lair alerts us to the complete English translation by D.T. Suzuki of the Lakavatara Sutra, found at a Russian website. Buddhology adventurer Ryan credits "the all-seeing eye of Iain Sinclair," who blogs Jinajik, for the discovery. Speaking of finds, be sure to explore Jinajik, a cornocopia of exotic, fascinating wonders relating to Vajrayana.

    And at Zen Filter this week, more compassion-touched Zen Buddhism sites are brought to the fore. Among them are three blogs found and recommended by Mark: digitalZendo Blog, Wondering on the Way and Dharma Crumbs.