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.