Sunday, May 22, 2005

Roundup for May 16 - 22, 2005

A wonderful photo by Amadeus tops our highlights from last week. Also, in the past week in Blogmandu, Buddhists discuss aspects of their practice, the treatment of an Afghani taxi driver leads our Politics section, and "Revenge of the Sith" gets the lion's share of attention from those bloggers making recommendations to others.

(c) Amadeus Soren 2005
Lamp Post ©Amadeus Soren 2005; posted with permission.

The picture above appeared this week in Amadeus's blog dharma::vision, in an entry titled 'Lamp Post'. Against the black background of the weblog, the high-contrast photograph is particularly wonderful. Amadeus writes, "This shot was taken on SW Broadway — a couple blocks up from Pioneer Square. One thing I dig about Portland is how the Downtown area looks at night."

Practice Makes Perfekt

Nacho of WoodMoor Village recommends a series of posts in Wondering on the Way about the nature of practice. Nacho also talks about his own practice: "One crucial thing is that my practice has bestowed upon me an internal bullshit detector for the stuff I shovel at myself." Like Nacho, the anonymous blogger of Wondering on the Way finds, in one recent post in the series, that meditation does not quickly bring the miraculous results initially hoped for. "My mind is bored sometimes," the blogger tells us. "And living in the moment also deprives me of all my memories about who I am. To me this is the scariest renunciation of all; the willingness to live as a nobody."

Danny Fisher of the same-name blog, in a post with a bibliography (!), explains mindfulness and mindfulness meditation. "Mindfulness … is the experience of the present moment on its own terms," he tells us in the opening paragraph. "[I]t is our full and open awareness to what is happening right now, without investment in the evaluative mind and its tendency to compulsively jump from discursive thought to discursive thought."

Hokai in hokai's blogue writes about how amazing the right-here, right-now world is in a post titled "Love love love."

In dharma::vision, Amadeus writes about 'other people' and the practice of learning to avoid establishing set perceptions of others.

Tobe of Dharmacrank offers up a sage story to illustrate the idea that humor is an antidote to anger. James of Buddhist Blog wades into the thick of anger -- violence -- with a post that asks "Is there EVER a place for violence?" James quotes the Dalai Lama, Thich Nhat Hanh, and Buddha to show their contrasting takes on this all-important question.

genkaku in the same-name blog talks about the benefits of finding that the life you stived for isn't the life you end up wanting. "…the once-imagined joy, the freedom and security that beckoned are not quite right. Things feel stale and confining and splintered, a strait jacket that once looked like wings." La chica of Van Gogh Chica mourns, bemoans and deals with the stuff, physical and emotional, that hangs around her from past relationships. She writes, "I wish I could let go of the pain from those memories like I can toss out things."

The Political

Both Mumon in Notes in Samsara and James in Genius of Insanity cite a New York Times article that relates the story of the Afgani taxi driver that American soldiers tortured to death. The details are horrible, but then there is this capper: "Most of the interrogators had believed Mr. Dilawar was an innocent man who simply drove his taxi past the American base at the wrong time."

Gareth of Green Clouds looks at the use of the word marriage for same-sex unions and explains why this expanded use of the word is appropriate.

James of Genius of Insanity in a long post writes about a vital topic that is much under-reported. A vaccine that would protect women from gynecological cancer is being withheld, though it could save a great many of the 4,000 women and girls killed each year. Reason? James quotes a right-wing member of the Family Research Council saying "Giving the HPV vaccine to young women could be potentially harmful because they may see it as a license to engage in premarital sex."

steve at Interlog throws caution to the wind [He sets the CapsLock.] to tell us that Akiro Kurosawa's much-underappreciated and hard-to-find 1957 film "Lower Depths" is TERRIFIC. "The whole thing is set in a garbage dump in a ravine at the edge of Edo [aka, Tokyo]," he tells us. Of the last five minutes, steve says he was "absolutely mesmerized with its surreal comedic beauty."

Trev Diesel of The Sound of Diesel Musing saw an early screening of 'Revenge of the Sith' and says "it was an excellent picture ... and had a handful of awe-filled, 'goosebump' moments." He concludes, " Nevermind its moments of over-the-top CGI, 'Star Wars Episode III' is the Star Wars movie that fans have been waiting to see." eric of virtual zen loved it, too, writing, "Holy crap! Its the best of the bunch, its dark, its scary, its a little predictable …" Contrariwise to Trev, eric seemed to fully like the CGI, writing that it was "one of the most visually spectacular films I think I've ever seen." An Integral review of Episode III by Nicq over at Generation Sit, titled, appropriately enough, "Generation Sith." Writes Nicq in the beginning section of the analysis: "We all know why Star Wars is relevant to [Generation Sit] -- it is a tale of cosmic spirituality gone horribly, horribly wrong." Tinythinker of peaceful turmoil looks at the film with respect [or disrespect] to Bush and his administration, but concludes, all levels of meaning aside, "it's a really fun movie." Danny Fisher of Danny Fisher also connects Sith and Bush in his post "And the Jungians go wild …"

A side note, Joshua of Mudita Journal recommends Store Wars, a website that parodies Lucas's Episode IV: A New Hope using organic foods puppets with names like Obi wan Canoli and Chewbroccoli. Mark, the "true Star Wars geek" of Zen Filter tells us about "Zen and the Art of Being Jedi," an article you can link to at his weblog.

Adela, the mercurius blogger, recommends the novels and short stories of Philip K. Dick. His works have been the basis of the films Bladerunner and Minority Report.

Meanwhile, in our galaxy, in a place very, very near … a quote from the Dhammapada seems to be making the rounds. Fogueira of f.kwan [formerly Fogdux] presented it first; Sujatin of lotusinthemud followed 36 minutes later Saturday morning with these four lines. Forty hours later, we present them here, too:

Of all the medicines in the world
Myriad and various
There is none like the medicine of Truth
Therefore, O followers, drink of this.
~ The Buddha - the Dhammapada

Sunday, May 15, 2005

Roundup for May 9 - 15, 2005

This week in Blogmandu, questions about Buddhism and blogging rage on; a book, an article, coffee and a movie are recommended; we peek in on bloggers' tempest-tossed lives, and get hooked on an excellent black-and-white photograph.

Buddhist Bloggery

Turbulence from the splash of Jeff's post last week in continued to roil, focussing on a comment to his own post where, in one paragraph, Jeff wrote ...

I'm sure many won't agree with me, but I think Zen Buddhism is meditation for realizing the “truth” of existence, and self-transformation for living according to the precepts. That's probably not a great way to put it, but what Zen is certainly not is maintaining the current status quo in one's life, or finding ways to feel warm and fuzzy. I won't point fingers or name names, but I think too often Zen is something along the lines of “it's all good.”

Followup comments included Gareth's of Green Clouds who wrote “I feel that if I'm simply ‘life blogging’ then I'm betraying the focus of my site.” Nacho of WoodMoor Village said, “Jeff, you are right about what for some Zen becomes. I've certainly encountered that ‘it's all good’ disposition. … Spiritual Materialism [definition] does rear its head here.” Zenchick of Zenchick wrote, “although serious practitioners may be turned off by those doing ‘zen light’ or ‘buddhism for dummies’ they are on their path as well. I was one of them, when I first started out.”

A day later, Nacho posted an entry in WoodMoor Village that, while not directly alluding to the conversation above, was sympathetic to a more-open sense of what Zen is. The post quotes Thich Nhat Hanh with respect to Thien, Vietnamese Zen:

“… The attitude of Thien toward the search for truth and its view of the problem of living in this world are extremely liberal. Thien does not recognize any dogma or belief that would hold back man's progress in acquiring knowledge or in his daily life. Thien differs from Orthodox religions in that it is not conditioned by any set of beliefs. In other words, Thien is an attitude or methodology for arriving at knowledge and action. … [The] aim is to attain, to penetrate, to see. Once he has attained satori (insight) his action will conform by itself to reality.”
A comment thread ensued, focusing on whether Thien is the anything goes Zen that Jeff objects to. Gareth of Green Clouds addressed the issue foursquare in a long comment. Here's some of what he wrote:

I think the first hint that Thich Nhat Hanh is talking about something different to the ‘anything goes’ Zen (can we think of a better term for this?) is that he writes: “The practice of Thien is by no means easy.” Aren't the misconceptions of Zen, the ‘anything goes’ approach often the result of a making easier of Zen? A false spiritual gratification that misses the essence of Zen?

It is true that Thich Nhat Hanh recognises the liberal nature of Thien Buddhism; But I do not believe this is the same as the existential liberalism, that the ‘anything goes’ school practices. I believe that Hanh uses the term ‘liberal’ to contrast Thien with other dogmatic religions, with strict belief systems, and models of the universe, including some other schools of Buddhism, which suggest a specific way of viewing the world: “A person who practices Zen meditation does not have to rely on beliefs of hell, Nirvana, rebirth or causality;”

In a post perhaps not disconnected to the ZenDiary conversation, James of The Buddhist Blog quotes Geshe Rabten, "We should not merely expend all our energy collecting pieces of information, but make an effort to experience their validity through insight in our daily life." Says James, "In other words, avoid spiritual materialism. This is an obstacle that I often come across." The post motivated several to comment. Shadow Dancer wrote, "Sitting on your mat with insence burning is only the most base of meditations. Allow life itself to become a meditation. Watching is all it takes."

Taking his own advise from last week to fight the blogroll heirarchy, Terrance of The Republic of T posted a top-ten list of best blog entries for the week. Says T, “there's something to the old adage that it's better to light a candle than to curse the darkness.”


© Erik Lutz 2005
Hook © Erik Lutz 2005; posted with permission.

The picture above appeared this week in Eric Lutz's blog virtual zen, in an entry titled Preview …. Eric works in marketing but has worked in many various fields, currently living in Toronto. In addition to blogging, photography is one of Eric's prime interests. Others of his photos can be found on his photoblog, virtual zen::photo. virtual zen is the winner of the 2004 Queery Award from QueerDay for Best Canadian weblog.

Tempest Tossed

Green Clouds' Gareth recommends an essay that was brought to his attention by Moose of The Contemporary Taoist. The essay, “What You'll Wish You'd Known” by Paul Graham, tells high school kids that in our fast-changing world you cannot directly prepare for your future; you must keep your options open so as to be flexible enough to fit into a world we cannot conceive. Gareth applies something else in the essay to his own life: “Graham suggests that those we consider great, Einstien, Shakespeare and others were merely curious about a ‘big question,’ and enjoyed their work. Looking back over my life, I can see how it has been a search for something for me to become curious about. I think that I've found it in the arts, and specifically in performance.” [BTW, The Contemporary Taoist has launched a new website, Moose Cafe, a portal for all the words, tunes and doings of Seamus Ennis, the Aussie Moose. Polish your antlers and dine.]

Partially inspired by Andi Young, John Soper of Dharma Path feels like it is now time to turn on the thrusters and put his spiritual life in a higher orbit. “I want to take the 5 precepts of a lay buddhist now more than ever. ... I want to engage my teacher at Mt. Equity Zendo in earnest. I don't want to let this gut feeling [that I feel ripe] come and go without seeing if I really have what it would take to take this formal step towards a life I know will bring me more contentment and peace.”

Dave of Via Negativa can write about himself or what's going on in his life, and even if he whines a tad, it is all still literary and examined. Here, a central paragraph from "The double-take":

The problem with wildlife-watching, it seems, is that the wildlife watches back. This elementary truth sometimes seems lost on those who want nature to resemble a made-for-television drama. I remember a visiting friend one time declining my offer for a guided tour of our woods: "I've seen trees before. Boring!" Indeed. Where's the drama? Most animals spend most of their waking hours doing nothing, wildlife researchers tell us. They have plenty of time to sit and contemplate the frantic to-and-froing of human beings.

In a long, thoughtful post, eric of virtual zen tackles the question "Where do your joy and pain meet?" and faces down a radical life-altering event and the question of whether he is coming to the heart of Zen, or flying to its furthest margins.


Chris the CyclingPlatypus recommends great coffee, but keeps secret the ingredients of CP Blend.

Tobe of Dharmacrank cites an article in the current edition of an interreligious journal that includes this quote:

Westerners who convert to Buddhism are frequently attracted to a form of Buddhism that is the creation of the modern world. Western converts are often attracted to precisely those features of Buddhism that owe most to liberal Protestantism: tolerance, elevation of reason, compatibility with science, hostility to elitism and hierarchy in religion and so on.

Siona of Nomen es Numen, in a post about a freaky bit of weather, gives a recommendation of sorts for a new film. "… Crash ends with a similarly freakish scene: snow falling in LA. It made me wonder about the various meanings of that moment in the film, which before I'd not given much thought to. The strangeness of what had happened here drew everyone together, and while this is admittedly a very simple reading, it made the movie, with its heavily racial themes, all the more poignant."

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Roundup for May 2 - 8, 2005

This week in Blogmandu, a robust discussion of blogging, Fogueira's wonderful squirrel, the tough slog through life, a rediscovered woodpecker, vegetarianism, and a so long to Andi.

Enlightenment? Onlightenment? Online Tenement?

A stream of discussion that surged through the Buddhism Blogosphere during the week centers on a post by Jeff of,"If you meet the Buddha online, blog about him," which begins with the issue of "the politics involved in blogrolls [definition]." Jeff first cites a post in Terrance's The Republic of T that asks "Are Blogrolls Hurting Us?" Terrance finds that many of his political-blog-minded & -minding friends are ridding themselves of the 'roll. Of himself and his blog, Terrance writes,"To some extent I realize I've fallen into the 'more is better' mindset, definitely. More inbound links are better than less. More traffic is better than less. More comments is better than less. Metrics, metrics, metrics. ... Quantity, which doesn't always mean quality, rules the day." A caste system is getting created because "A-list status is somewhat self-perpetuating."

Terrance, with Jeff's endorsement, recommends that linking to other bloggers' posts [i.e., permalinks] -- rather than nakedly linking to blog homepages -- could ease the skelter and competitiveness in bloggery.

Jeff extends the discussion, quoting from an April post of Fudo, the ScurrilousMonk, which berates people who aren't properly inspired by his blogs. Jeff then discusses the issue of "feelgood spirituality, or a cute aesthetic for decorating their white middle class homes, or a forum to have unending intellectual debates to make them feel grand. Sorry if that's harsh and judgmental, but I think it's true." He concludes his post: "Blogrolls can be very useful for building community and creating online solidarities. But they can also turn into a popularity contest, more about ego than anything else. And that's when the Buddhist blog ceases to be a tool for one's own practice and for the benefit of others." [Note: does not have a blogroll.]

Jeff's post generated a flood of comments and spinoff posts elsewhere in the Buddhism blogosphere. The discussion seemed to move in two directions: Is there bloggery that is self-interested, frivolous or elitist using the appellation "Zen" or "Buddhism?" And, how does blogging contribute to Buddhists' practice?

Al of Breath by Breath focused on the "tripe out there," but said that it just meant readers and bloggers needed to meet the challenge to work hard. Chalip of Zen Under the Skin wrote about her evolving blog practice and better means than blogrolls to find sympatico blogs. whiskey of whiskey river seconded a comment by Nacho of WoodMoor Village, saying that if you can not attach to all the stats and lists, "and not let your ego make a strange game out of it," blogging is good practice -- an internet heaven instead of an internet hell. Dharma Vision's Amadeus delved into the problems, but concluded "I am glad that I started blogging about my Buddhist practice and other things in my life. Likewise, I am grateful to be able to read about what you all are doing, thinking and contemplating. It has been priceless. I guess it is one of the great things about the Internet -- being able to reach out to others around the world you would have never met in any other venue." James of The Buddhist Blog expressed admiration and thanks to the e-sangha, but said it is not a substitute for a "real," physical sangha. Still, he was most grateful to the e-sangha from which he learned things all the time. Cliff of this is this wrote "The dilemma is that the more I write about Zen, the less Zen my blog is." Sifting Samara's Dukkha Earl wrote that blogging "is a vain tool, but in the end, only a tool, and it too will be discarded." Jeff commented in support/clarification of his original post. He especially liked what Cliff wrote, but added that Zen Buddhism is meditation for realizing the "truth" of existence -- and should not be watered down to mean "something along the lines of 'it's all good.'"

In his blog, RB of Renegade Buddha starkly acknowledges the "wide-eyed new agers and consumer Buddhists," but writes, "delusions of others don't degrade the teachings. ... The important thing, for those of us so inclined, is to find a path that we trust and walk it."

And over at WoodMoor Village, Nacho writes in his post "Onlightenment, or Meeting the Buddha Online", "my blogging was always meant as a way to explain my mind to me, to write as means of discovery, to hear other voices and to reflect. What I have found is that blogging is, more than that 'mentalistic' exercise, an embodiment of my practice. Albeit one with plenty of challenges."


© f. kwan 2005
Squirreldelic © f. kwan 2005; posted with permission.

Posted in Fogdex, in an entry titled Tueday far from Rubies. Blogger Fogueira Kwan Zheng Dao writes, "Yesterday the camera refused to cooperate, or else I was just too gorked to remember to turn the little rocker switch back to normal exposure, who knows, and I photographed a squirrel with almost a sea of black showing when I uploaded the pix from the camera to the computer. When I adjusted it with my editor a lot of the pixels were gone, resulting in a sort of drawing effect, but hell, it expresses what needs to be expressed about the dear squirrel, whom I thanked for letting me photograph him."

Fogueira's photos and wordsmithery continues to delight and amaze us.

your seafaring soul

Kristian returns to his blog, Wandering where you will after an absense due to depression. He quotes Kahlil Kabran, from which can be plucked these concluding words: "If either your sails or your rudder be broken, you can but toss and drift, or else be held at a standstill in mid-seas." 'The girl' who blogs auspicious coincidence bemoans "the trap of doubt [and of] dualistic thinking, my belief that the trap is somewhere outside of me, separate from me. I am cornered by my poverty mentality, my belief that richness too is outside of me." Chodpa writes of this dreamlike life in Luminous Emptiness. "Bringing experiences to mind from the past - they are like shimmering dreams, with a life of their own, never quite the same, and seemingly not like the experience in the present which seemed to inspire them." In Whiskey River this week is found a poem by Robert Pinsky, called Samurai Song. The final two stanzas are these:

When I have no means fortune
Is my means. When I have
Nothing, death will be my fortune.

Need is my tactic, detachment
Is my strategy. When I had
No lover I courted my sleep.

Ivory-billed Woodpeckers

Ivory-billed woodpeckers

The artist, Mark Bowers is a Fish and Wildlife Biologist with the Raleigh Field Office. The original is 25 inch X 30 inch, created in charcoal and colored pencil. Posted with permission. [See this government webpage.]

A wonderful long post by Dave of Via Negitiva, called "Learning from the ivorybill," tells of his jubilation in hearing of the rediscovery of the ivory-bill woodpecker in Arkansas and his involvement in the aftermath in his capacity as co-chair of the Public Lands Committee of the Pennsylvania Chapter of Sierra Club. Great stuff.


eric of virtual zen ordered a Vegetarian Starter Kit from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals [PETA]. A video that came with the kit was tough viewing. Says eric, "The kindest thing I saw on the entire DVD was the little chickens getting their beaks burned off with a hot knife. The KINDEST thing." A day later, in another post, eric tells of posters from PETA he has displayed around his desk at work where he awaits discussion from colleagues. "Told you I'd get a bit militant about this stuff."

Dukkha Earl, in a comment to eric's first post, wrote, "In short, going vegetarian is an act of mindfulness, for yourself if nothing else. That you are sparing harm to others is a bonus. Cheers to you." And in his own blog, Sifting Samsara, Earl asks, "[I]s being vegetarian an idea that has come and gone?" Then he suggest many reasons for being vegetarian, including the extreme cruelty toward animals, the environmental harm of ranching and poultry farming, disease and social & economic repercussions.

Goodbye, Andi

Andi Young has become a nun and, thus, ended her blog -- with a May 3rd entry titled Gates. "Faith is the answer to happiness," she tells us. Robert of Beginner's Mind bows to her. RB of Renegade Buddha posts a best-hits sampler of her blog entries from June - Sept of 2004. David Brazier of Dharmavidya Web says Andi has found faith after consulting oracles. [So true!] Kit of Paper Frog, in his post "the raft, ditched" says goodbye to Ditch the raft and ends with a haiku:

An old boat —
its bench worn smooth
at the oars.

…and then two final words: "Peace, Andi."

Sunday, May 01, 2005

Roundup for April 25 - May 1, 2005

This week in Blogmandu, life is difficult, death takes its toll, meditation is challenging, DeLay is creepy, and the examination of the new pope continues.

Life lifts his hoary head and roars

Pushing through flotsam and fog like a determined tugboat, Foguiera of Fogdux cites the ideal of a world pervaded by love, but with clear eyes [her powerful foglamp], chronicles it as it is. We are met with an "[environmental apocalypse which mirrors] the Rapture-driven lunatics who have taken over our government and our society: the oil will run out, the electricity grid will implode, and we will hurtle like Alice down the rabbit hole, back to the 19th century or further neolithically." And then this: "In a psychological environment such as this (here's the point, people), the heart shrivels. ... With a shriveled heart, no love is possible. ... It's a vicious circle, the catchiest of 22s." But after discussing her own anger and weaknesses, there is this brightening sentiment in a glowing paragraph:

That's why conventional non-lazy Buddhists like to do meditation. It enables the mind to jettison all its debris. Empty and white-walled, the sun comes in. Objective and light, it leaves room for the heart to function as it properly should, feeling empathy for all beings.

Sujatin Johnson writes about her stuffed garage in lotusinthemud. "I could hardly get in the door. First I had to prune the bamboo, which had taken over the end of the garden and draped itself across the path. But that Being Rather Frustrated at the Highly Unsatisfactory chaos had given me a boost of energy -- and, once able to gain access to the garage, I set to. It was rather like being in an interactive Rubik's Cube. Moving one thing required moving many things." I leave it to you readers to click to the post for the wonderful, fiery conclusion to Sujatin's cleaning-up and clearing-out.

Andi of Ditch the raft appears to be ditching the blog! But it is not on an unhappy note; Andi is traveling -- to France I think -- and will become a nun. It is hard to unravel what is going on exactly, there are so many threads in the air. But Andi will be in the New York terminal on Monday and blogless on Wednesday.

Garden at Motel University 2

© f. kwan 2005
Garden at Motel University2 © f. kwan 2005; posted with permission.

In an entry The impermanence of intellectualism, and other carryings-on Foguiera of Fogdux posted this picture. She writes, "... the sign says RODEWAY INN PARKING ONLY IN DESIGNATED SPACES. The lot is empty; this time, the flowers are victorious." Comments from mimi and me, expressed love of her photos. I wrote "There is something of screaming truth about them in their glorious beauty, absurdity and rot."


James of The Buddhist Blog in telling us he is happy with his new sangha, begins his post with as rapturous a poem about the shortness of life as one can find. It is from the Diamond Sutra:

Thus shall ye think of this fleeting world:
A star at dawn, a bubble in a stream;
A flash of lightning in a summer cloud;
A flickering lamp, a phantom, and a dream.

Death made a more overt appearance in several blogs this past week. Danny Fisher in his eponymous blog posted a memorial to Marla Ruzicka. She and her colleague Faiz Ali Salim were killed by a suicide bomber while on the Baghdad Airport road traveling to visit an Iraqi child injured by a bomb. Ruzicka was in Iraq working with the Campaign for Innocent Victims in Conflict (CIVIC), a non-governmental organization she founded in 2003, to compile statistics of Iraqi civilian casualties.

In Yaddha, Dylan Thomas's poem "And death shall have no dominion" is baldly posted. The title appears six times as a line in the 27-line poem, bookending the three stanzas. In Eschatalog, there is a poem sent on the anniversary of a friend's friend's death. Its first five lines: Death is the time / When time condenses / When all time inhabits / Each precious moment / Completely

In The Buddhist Community, theebes quotes Sri Eknath Easwaran from his "Dialogue with Death." Here's one line: "Just as high mountains have a timber line above which no trees grow, the peak of consciousness has a nirvana line above which nothing dies."

James again, in his political blog Genius of Insanity this time, gives us hope for a lessening of death in Danfur. Quoting the BBC: "The African Union has agreed to more than double the number of its peace monitors in the war-torn Sudanese region ..." But James warns that there are still grave dangers.


Several Buddhist bloggers wrote about problems meditating. College student Des of The Buddhist Community writes "I seem to have an aversion to meditation." He finds himself meditating less frequently than he would like and for shorter durations. And when he does meditate, often his "ego will try to pick fights" with him. His post drew a slew of comments, expressing empathy and offering advice. Stephanie, another member of the community, writes of "emotional rawness" that she has come to experience as a result of her meditation practice. "I notice anger rising like a wild animal, loneliness squirming like a whining puppy, and a general sensitivity to both the beauty and the pain of the world that can be almost overwhelming."

Dukkha Earl, of Sifting Samsara, writes that he is "doped up on all sorts of medicine" to fight a case of the flu and says "it is so much easier to meditate and detach like this," but wonders, "Is there any harm" so long as he is aware that it's the pills and not his "ability" driving his meditation experience?

Chris of The Zen Within Community finds that music helps him meditate by securing him from interuptions. He adds, pro bono, "When I do meditate, with U2 in the background, it does not force me to think of the lyrics (as I would if I were not meditating) but rather, it creates somewhat of a barrier in my mind, where I can indulge in the ability to completely let go and separate myself from the present place of mediation."

We Can DeLay No More

Genius of Insanity's James has been busy with his hammer, posting three times about Tom DeLay in eight days. A week ago, he wrote about the issue of Abramoff paying for DeLay's airfare. Last Wednesday, he blogged about corruption of the House ethics committee. But today's post is the topper, I think: "Tom DeLay's Lobbyist Mafia" James tells us some of what he learned from a new book, "The Hammer: Tom DeLay. God, Money, and the Rise of the Republican Congress." The pervasive corruption and bossism is thoroughly depressing. A central paragraph in the post, James quoting from the book, reads:

The DeLay lobbyist project that DeLay, Santorum, and Norquist run has public policy and political consequences that will last for at least a quarter of a century. By discipling the lobby and making it an extension of the Republican House conference, DeLay has expanded his influence far beyond the House. Lobbyists are being ordered to do the party's bidding. Lobbyists are told to lean on House members whom they have contributed money and tell them how the party wants them to vote.

More Pope Bloggery

Both Sujatin in lotusinthemud and Hooligan in Blogopotamus! draw attention to Jeff Wilson's elequent words in a long post about Ratzinger's "relativism" in TricycleBlog. "[Ratzinger] worked hard to prevent discussion of women’s ordination, positive attitudes toward homosexuality, liberation theology, and acceptance of contraception, abortion, and euthanasia. For progressives and those who wanted to see the Church more responsive to the times, he was a grand inquisitor, a man out of the Middle Ages who persecuted dissidents by censuring and driving them from positions in the church." writes Jeff. And this: "Buddhism in particular came in for criticism by the man who is now pope. ... His concern in particular was against “eastern methods” (with an emphasis on Zen, yoga, and TM), and his discussion of Buddhism falls under the heading Erroneous Ways of Praying, where he characterizes Buddhism as a negative theology and nirvana as escapism from a completely sorrowful and delusive world."

Dharma Vision's Amadeus penned a topic entry for the blog/forum Interlog titled "Reconciling Anger Towards Pope Benedict." He writes of his aversion to Ratzinger's record of hard-heartedness, but finds inspiraton in the Dalai Lama's unstinted benevolent feelings for the new pope. Asks Amadeus: "[C]an we truly embrace those that condemn us or is it an unrealistic feat to attempt? Are we just kidding ourselves when we celebrate for those that despise us?"