Saturday, February 25, 2006

Roundup for Feb 19 - 25, 2006

Thomas Merton and Marion Lompa talk about being real. Happiness and freedom are topics. A couple of conferences. Haiku and blogging. Suffering ... a dangerous sutra ... Buddha's last words ... and a blog on the move. It all comes together in the Buddhoblogosphere this week.

The Stream

Clarity in Clarity's blog quotes Marion Lompa from a Shambhala training talk: “When we talk about basic goodness, we are not talking about being happy all the time, but about being real.”

coolbuddha of Bringing Buddhism to the Masses informs us that his day job is with a PR firm and at a meeting this week the topic was “how blogs can be used as a PR tool.” Cool shares the notes from the meeting with us. Bottomline: Look out for more celebrity blogs; there's money to be made.

Bodhiwater in Ambhoja cites the Eight Worldly Conditions from the Anguttara Nikaya and writes, “When discerning, he will gain insight. With insight, freedom can be gained. The Eight Wordly Conditions are not permanent. Samatha, or calm abiding, is where we take our first steps to freedom.”

John, the Inveterate Bystander, writes about a book and website called “Authentic Happiness,” a project of a Univ. of Penn. psychologist who founded Positive Psychology after observing that his profession and people generally devote a lot of time to the study of mental disorders, but not to normalcy or happiness. John then uses a New Yorker article to launch into a look at the evolutionary basis for happiness.

In a fascinating, scholarly post, Jayarava in Jayarava Rave looks, indepth, at Buddha's last words. Translated by Jayarava from Pali, Buddha words were, “all things are perishable, through vigilance Awaken!” But there are many shadings and connotations to the Pali words that don't come sense cleanly, easily in English.

Want to embark on some independent scholarship so you can go to Albuquerque and talk Buddhism with a bunch of other nerds? Well you might see nerdy Nick of The Lotus & the Magnolia there. He tells us about a CALL FOR PAPERS regarding Buddhism in America for the 2007 Southwest/Texas Popular Culture and American Culture Association Conference (website).

In a similar vein, Sujatin of lotusinthemud tells us about a conference on March 29 in London, which a letter from an organizer informs us is “primarily for Buddhists who are teachers in schools in England and Wales. It's one of a series of faith-community-specific conferences arranged as part of the government's dissemination of the new non-statutory National Framework for Religious Education.”

Zenmom in her eponymous blog tells us about her dharma teacher's practice called healing the past in the present moment: “... invite difficult feelings in rather than pushing them away, holding them like a mother holds her crying baby. With mindful breathing and attention the feeling is calmed and released.”

K'vitsh of the same-name blog read The Complete Idiot's Guide to Zen Living -- which she recommends -- and was inspired to try her hand at haiku. Here's one:
Work makes me bored
Blogging helps.
After a four-month absense, Chodpa posts again in Luminous Emptiness. But after a response given to a commenter in a previous post, she seems to hurry off.

Ending Suffering

Jeff Wilson in TricycleBlog writes about an important technique for ending the suffering of those most-Buddhist of peoples, the Cambodians. It’s been 27 years since the terrible Khmer Rouge were driven from power in the troubled nation of Cambodia, but Cambodians there and emigrants to America suffer in enormous proportion from trauma-related stress disorders stemming from life during the reign of terror. Where Buddhism and its methods have been unsuccessful, pharmaceuticals and Western talk-therapy have brought needed relief.

Soen Joon of One Robe, one Bowl had posted on suffering earlier in “This floating world.” Having made overwhelming changes to her own life which she views as certainly positive, one might expect that Soen Joon would be optimistic about the world and delivering it from pain, but she writes, “What I've come to ask at this point isn't how we can save the world, but if we can save the world. What if we can't stop the suffering? How do we practice from that point?” The answer she finds from Ryokan: to be with the world in its pain. She also quotes Thomas Merton, who says in part:
In an age when totalitarianism has striven, in every way, to devaluate and degrade the human person, we hope it is right to demand a hearing for any and every sane reaction in the favor of man's inalienable solitude and his interior freedom.
Caroming off Soen Joon’s 1R1B post, Bill insists this week in Eternal Peace that hope for saving the world persists – though not in our lifetime. And that it is a mistake to conclude – as Thomas Merton seems to – that “freedom of the interior life may be all the salvation there is.” Bill quotes MLK’s Birmingham letter, which includes these binding-us-together words, “We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly. Never again can we afford to live with the narrow, provincial ‘outside agitator’ idea.”

In curious contrast, Justin Whitaker of American Buddhist Perspective devotes a post to Merton about the unity he sees in contrast to our individuality. Quoting Merton: “The heresy of individualism: thinking oneself a completely self-sufficient unit and asserting this imaginary 'unity' against all others. ... The true way is just the opposite: the more I am able to affirm others, to say 'yes' to them in myself, by discovering them in myself and myself in them, the more real I am. I am fully real if my own heart says yes to everyone.”

The Most-Dangerous Sutra of Them All

Zenmar writes in The Buddhist about “the most dangerous sutra in all of Buddhism,” the Nirvana Sutra [qv, wikipedia]. “…today, this Sutra is hidden in the vaults of Gelukpa Tibetan monasteries which is essentially treated as heresy. Brave Lamas who knew better; who were proponents of the Nirvana Sutra were punished by the Gelukpas.” he tells us. “[And elsewhere] The Nirvana Sutra is all but banned.” However, Dr. Tony Page has posted the work on the Internet and Zenmar provides a link. Z ends his post with this dire-seeming warning: “I urge [readers] not to got to the Nirvana Sutra website if they hold to the errant teaching that the Buddha promoted materialism, soul murder, and nihilism.”

The new blog, same as the old blog. And then, again, not.

Ajahn Punnadhammo of Bhikkhu’s Blog has moved his blogging activities from the quirky abode within the old Arrow River Forest Hermitage website to a Blogger setup using one of their ‘simple’, basic-black templates. Now, the bhikkhu’s posts can be directly commented on, and he has permalinks and backlinks and an Atom Feed. Welcome to the 21st Century, Ajahn, with your new software and site. Meantime, Arrow River Forest Hermitage – where he is abbott – is moving its Internet operations to a new domain:

Following his welcoming post, the bhikkhu posted “Apocalypse Not” about theistic religions and their concept of time. "Judaism is waiting for the Messiah, Christianity for the second coming and Islam, at least the Shiite form, for the Mahdi, the returned twelfth imam. ... Buddhism, on the other hand, doesn't generally concern itself with beginnings and endings.”

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Roundup for Feb 12 - 18, 2006

Another week in the Buddhoblogosphere with many more great, fascinating, well-written posts. Issues this week include the Danish cartoons; deleting posts; Integral relationships; the Blogisattva Awards and Buddhist blogs are only now coming to the attention of Blogmandu.

More about those cartoons …

“Monks, if anyone should speak in disparagement of me, of the Dhamma, or of the Sangha, you should not be angry, resentful or upset on that account. If you were to be angry or displeased at such disparagement, that would only be a hindrance to you. For if others disparage me, the Dhamma or the Sangha, and you were angry or displeased, can you recognize whether what they say is right or not?” -- from Ryuei's Blah Blah Blaaaggghhh!, quoting Buddha in The Long Discourses of the Buddha, pg 68.
Rev. Ryuei of Ryuei’s Blah Blah Blaaaggghhh! quotes the Buddha [see above] in his post “What Would Buddha Do About Unflattering Cartoons?” Writes Ryuei, “When I look to the teachings and example of Shakyamuni Buddha, I find that they provide a very high standard of maturity, that even many in first world countries would be hard put to live up to.”

“As the rude but legal printing of some offensive doodles in a middling Danish newspaper has snowballed into an international crisis, Buddhists have offered various responses.” writes Jeff Wilson of Tricycle Blog in his post “Better Off Dead.” Jeff Wilson cites Ryuei’s post in his own post about the cartoon fiasco, but then unbraids Ryuei, an American Nichiren Shu priest, for irony, writing, “the primary scripture of Nichiren Shu says that people who slander it will be reborn in the most terrible hell without any possibility of attaing [sic] Buddhahood.”

Jeff goes on to cite several other examples of hypocracies he finds in Buddhist responses to the Danish cartoon matter in his damning-of-others post. Jeff ends his post with this sour sentiment: “Buddhism, like Islam, becomes another weapon in the struggle against ‘others’; it becomes a site of expression for rage as well as forgiveness, hatred as well as hope, righteous ‘self-defense’ as well as peace. It both forms cherished self-identities and proclaims the absence of self; it creates nations and breaks individuals of their obsessions with external references. Did we expect otherwise?”

Ajahn Punnadhammo of Bhikkhu Blog writes a well-titled article on the cartoons: “Respect.” [The bhikkhu’s blog has no permalinks; to find the post click here and scroll down. “Respect” is the second post on Feb 17.] Ajahn Punnadhammo opposes restricting speak, favoring instead a climate of respect. He writes, “it's come to my attention that there's a franchise chain of booze halls called ‘Buddha Bar’ which feature a Buddha image in the room where patrons sit swilling back alcohol. This type of egregious insult is all too common an example of the general low lack of respect for the sacred in our society - the Mohammed cartoons are another example.”

Whipping Posts

Both Gareth of Green Clouds and kim of this life posted regarding deleting posts. Gareth tells us that one he keyboarded “didn’t really capture what I was thinking and feeling at all,” so he whacked it. Kim considered offing a post on aging that, she felt, presented her as “shallow and vain,” but decided to let it stand. She writes, “i practice zazen to see. and sometimes i don't like what i see.” Still, she kept it. “i feel that if what was written was true at the time,” she writes, “then it is a good practice for me to stand by it.”

Both Gareth’s and kim’s posts on deleting posts got a string of supporting comments. Rev. Mugo of Moving Mountains wrote Gareth, “…I’m glad you felt free to do what you felt was right.” Kim received a long comment from Chica of Van Gogh Chica who said, “I do not think you are vain. It is natural for women (especially in our culture) to fret over her appearances. Our appearances/desirability defines us in our society - no matter how much we try to transcend that. I have the same issues.”

Integral Relationships

William Harryman, blog-tender of Integral Options Café, wrote a capstone – maybe – to a series of earlier Integral Relationship posts. In the new bit, “Further Observations on Integral Relationship,” he gives credit to a Susan Piver article in the new issue of Shambhala Sun. “Piver gets closer to what love feels like from the inside than I ever could.” William writes, modestly. This line he holds up as as voicing the central idea of high-spiritual love: “Love has become the container in which we live.”

In the comment thread to the post, William cites another bit of Piver wisdom as being pivotal: “Each time I have opened up, extended myself, accepted what was being offered to me, stepped beyond my comfort zone to embrace him, the structure [of love/marriage/commitment] has been reinforced.”

In his opening salvo on the relationship tangle, “Preliminary Observations on Integral Relationship, Part One,” posted Jan. 21, William, borrowing from observations of Joe Perez of Rising Up, charts stages/levels of relationship moral/maturity development – through the first tier. Generally, the stages advance from self-interested hedonism to real intimacy. William feels, in contrast to Perez’s observations, that the “lowest” stage is more one of power and control than wanton fun-loving.

In Part Two, William discusses second-tier [Integral] love. A central element, he believes, is access to the observer self. “The observer self is the first authentic approach to finding the higher Self that resides beyond the realm of ego.”

Part Three is an effort to observe an Integral relationship “from the inside” – specifically from the workings of William’s ‘close entanglement of the second kind’ with Kira. Deep levels of vulnerability, openness and compassion play their part in wedding two people in ways well beyond mere contractual commitment.

Buddhist Blogger Threatens Electronic Suicide.

Jeb has announced in a post this week that he intends to wrap things up with his blog Wondering on the Way. “After some reflection, I plan to discontinue further contributions to this blog at the end of March this year.” he writes. “The last few posts will be a bit of retrospective, as the last effort here for both the cathartic aspect of writing and the sharing with others what I’ve noticed along the way.”

Jeb has many fans in the Buddhoblogosphere who have benefitted from his wise, beautifully-written posts. Hopefully, Jeb will stay, blogging less frequently if that's his wish, and from a free platform like Blogger, if that matters. Unless one's computer explodes, there simply is no reason not to blog. [And even then, one may blog from the library.] Blogging is free; like breathing in and out.

Blogisattva Award Nominations

The nominations for the 1st annual Blogisattva awards were announced on Feb. 18, in recognition of achievement in Buddhism-influenced blogging in the year 2005. There are fourteen awards categories. Five nominees were announced in each category.

Nominees for the top prize, Blog of the Year, Svaha!, are Gareth's Green Clouds, Dave Bonta's Via Negativa, Will Buckingham's thinkBuddha, Jeb's Wonderings on the Way and chalip's Zen Under the Skin. The most nominations, five, went to Nacho Cordova and his WoodMoor Village blog which received nods in the categories Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design; Best Philosophical Blog; Best Achievement in Addressing Public or Political Issues; Blogger Best Demonstrating a Multiplicity of Talents; and Blog Entry of the Year.

A complete list of the nominees, with links, can be found here.

Blog Harvest

[Editor's note: The term "Blog Harvest" was gleaned/kiped from the perhaps-moribund, perhaps-not-moribund blog Wondering on the Way.]

1) Moving Mountains = Rev. Mugo's blog, online since April 05, is a great find. Mugo practices with the Serene Reflection Meditation Tradition (Soto Zen) in Edmonton, Canada. "Serene reflections," is an acurate description of the calming and kind quality of the posts you will find in this blog AND in the gentle, loving comments to posts from readers. Mugo writes on a wide variety of topics. Animals, Stonehenge, Walt Whitman, Buddha relics, the weather in Edmonton, and going to the dentist are all subjects in the last week. There is an abundance of compassion without ever being coy or cloying.

2) Ryuei's Blah Blah Blaaaggghhh! = Rev. Ryuei of the Nichirin tradition blogs from the website Fraught with Peril which has the tagline "The Frankenstein's Monster of Nichiren Buddhism." But troubling surface signs about this wonderful blog are bogus. Ryuei is a bit of a free spirit, advocating that Buddhists act with a degree of independence, but his message is wholly loving and sympathetic to the suffering and misadventures of humans and other sentient beings. [Note: Your B'du reporter is probably out-of-touch. Based on the long comment streams to some of Ryuei's posts, the guy is clearly a celebrity to those 'in the know.']

3) Reverand Greg: Confessions of a Nichirin Buddhist Ninja = Another blog from Fraught with Peril, not greatly dissimilar to Ryuei's blog to a not fully initiated reader, like me. But it seems that Rev. Greg has a more gleeful writing style. Recent posts on Japan are very informative and show both a love and frustration with the Japanese, who are clearly absurd, as Greg demonstrates.

4) K’vitsh: a girl can always count on her typewriter = Oh, how happy I am when I broaden my horizons. This blog was found, indirectly, through Moving Mountains. This zen girl is both saucy and qwerky with a strong voice, but then suddenly she delves into mixed feelings (about the sad imprisonment of seniors, for example, some of whom have done horrendous crimes). I love how in this blog the blogger isn’t reductionist, summarizing a mixture of feelings as all canceling each other out. Rather, she accepts paradox and doesn’t race to judgment and conclusions. A wonderful voice. A fine harvest for B’du.

ANNOUNCEMENT: Blogisattva Award Nominations

Following are the nominations for the first annual Blogisattva Awards for achievement in Buddhism-inspired blogging, during the year 2005. Congratulations to all the nominees.

Winners will be announced on March 5.

Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design

Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegent Design

Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog or Blog Service

Best Celebrity-Writer Blog

Best New Blog in 2005

Best Integral Buddhist Blog
Best Philosophical Blog

Best Personal Journal

Best Achievement in Addressing Public or Political Issues

Blogger Best Demonstating a Multiplicity of Talents
Best Kind and Compassionate Blog

Best Achievement in Skillful Writing
[The Wordsmithing Award]
Blog Entry of the Year [including comments]

Blog of the Year, Svaha!

Saturday, February 11, 2006

Roundup for Feb 5 - 11, 2006

Another great week in the Buddhaland of Blogs. Big topics this week include having an opinion and those Danish cartoon. Also, because of the rocketting blogosphere, a new regular feature: A weekly blog harvest.

The Not-So-Funny Cartoons

Kelvin Wong in Salt * Wet * Fish makes the following point with regard to the cartoons in the Danish newspaper controversy:
When the Talibans bombed the groin of the Buddha statue in Bamiyan and subsequently destroyed it [, did] the Buddhist community threaten to kill any arabs or Muslims they see? Where is the Muslim community to criticise this blasphemous act towards the Buddhists when that happened? Doesn’t it sound hypocritical that the greater Muslim community has been silent when insults towards other religions like the Jews and Buddhist were happening?
I never knew Mohammed was such a riot
In Dave Bonta's blog Via Negativa, there is a frequently appearing cartoon, Words on the Street, which shows Diogenes with his placard. [The cartoon above appears here in accordance with Dave's Creative Commons license.]
Mumon of Notes in Samsara in a post on the topic last week wrote, “I've said it before, if I can't ridicule my religion, or yours, or none at all, it's not my religious freedom.”

This week, he jumped on political pundit Charles Krautheimer for his call for more courage from American media in the furor. Writes Mumon, “It's quite apparent as to why a CNN or a Washington Post might not publish ‘those cartoons.’ They've got potential hostages in places of the world, and it's bad PR for them to say, ‘We're not going to publish those cartoons, because of our potential hostages.’”

Dan of Notes From Along The Way writes, “… as irresponsible as it may have been to reprint the cartoons, I find any sympathy I had for those offended washed away in the violence being committed. This is not the way to make people understand your offense or get your message across. It's also, I'm afraid, quite hypocritical - Muslim press is often filled with anti-Jewish mockery, after all.”

Trey Smith of The Rambling Taoist is perhaps ignorant of the venomousness of much of the Arab press. He writes, “If an Arab newspaper had published cartoons depicting Jesus in a less than positive manner, there would be the same kind of furor, only that the critics and supporters would switch roles. ... Truth and perception are relative.”

tinythinker of peaceful turmoil tries to find a way back to calmer waters. “It isn't about not having the right to be offended, it is about what is and isn't acceptable in responsing to such offenses, and this is the real point of departure between certain manifestations of Islamic culture and the West. I applaud those on both sides of the issue who have urged respect and restraint, especially those Muslims who have called for calm and reason. This issue will be a test case for the future of relations between the West and Muslim nations, and it isn't a test we can afford to fail.”

Stripping Meditation of “Buddhism”

Sam Harris is the author of The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason. In the December issue of Atlantic Magazine a quote from his book says wonderful things about Buddhism in an article by Paul Bloom called “Is God an Accident?”-- “it is the most complete methodology we have for discovering the intrinsic freedom of consciousness, unencumbered by any dogma.” In stark contrast are these words of Harris's in his Huffington Post blog:
Needless to say, any truths uncovered about the human mind through meditation cannot be “Buddhist.” And if meditation ever becomes widely adopted as a tool of science, it will be quickly stripped of its Buddhist roots. There are, after all, very good reasons we don't talk about “Christian physics” or “Muslim algebra.” Physics and algebra are genuine domains of human inquiry, and as such, they transcend the cultural conditions out of which they arose. Today, anyone emphasizing the religious roots of these intellectual disciplines would stand convicted of not understanding them at all. In the same way, if we ever develop a scientific account of the contemplative path, speaking of “Buddhist” meditation will be synonymous with a failure to assimilate the changes that will have occurred in our understanding of the human mind.
[Update 2/25/06: William of Integral Options Cafe discusses his "own private war" against Sam Harris and his effort to take religion out of Buddhism in a 2/25/06 post.]

Relinquish All Views?

In Mike Cross’s The Middle Way a post begins with these lines:
I pay homage to Gautama
To he who out of compassion
Taught the true Dharma
As the relinquishing of all views
Intrepid translator that he is, Mike chased down the source of the quote, the last verse in Nagarguna’s Mulamadhyamakakarika [MMK]. And from here, he lurches into a frequent recent theme, the bitter taste of a translation project that went awry. With some irony, he concludes his post with a verse of repentance for a translation of his of the MMK that will not be.

Without apparent cross-fertilization, there were posts in different blogs this week that focused on opinions/views and the merit and demerits of not having them.

James of The Buddhist Blog writes, in response to some other of Buddha’s words, “one can not find liberation from spouting off a bunch of flowery, philosophical speech.” In another post, he quotes Lama Zopa Rinpoche: “Leave the mind in its natural, undisturbed state. Don't follow thoughts of ‘This is a problem, that is a problem!’”

Jeb of Wondering on the Way begins a post “In a recent Dharma talk, a monk talked about ‘not having opinions’ as if they were some disease of the mind to be avoided whenever possible.” Jeb goes on to discuss the difficulties of opinions and the relief of not feeling compelled to have opinions on nearly everything. He begins his concluding summation paragraph with these words, “’Do not cherish opinions.’ That seems much sounder advice. That I can see. People, including myself, have a tendency to define themselves by their opinions, and then hold fast to them because either they love the image they’ve created, or they experience discomfort about who they are if they let them go.”

Gareth of Green Clouds wrote in a post a few weeks ago, “the thoughts I collect and the stories I create have very real effects on the actions I take, the things I say and do to the people around me. … The collision between fantasies and reality causes suffering, often because of the vast difference between the two, and sometimes because I’m paying more attention to the former instead of the latter.” More recently, in a post that was subsequently deleted, he wrote, "R. A. Wilson has some understanding of emptiness, or appears to. In one of his texts he suggests changing your mind for a while, taking a walk in someone else’s shoes…subscribe to a neo-fascist magazine, try and agree with them, he suggests."

The Burgeoning Blogosphere

Vincent Horn of Numinous Nonsense posts on the exponential growth of the Blogosphere and has a graphic that shows the number of existant weblogs doubling every 5 ½ months!

With this in mind, Blogmandu feels it must quickly add to its “closely watched” blogs or it will be left in the flame-spray of the fast-climbing rocketship that is the Buddhoblogosphere. Here are some new blogs [to B’du, at least] that merit attention:

  • The Invisible Cat: A great find! Johnny Newt blogs from Zenkoji Temple in Nagano, Japan. He describes himself as “A simple man looking for the path he is standing on.” The blog, started last September, is written very ably with Johnny's thoughts on his life, Zenkoji Temple, and differences between Japan and America. I thank kim of this life [formerly, this zen life] for this B’du find, snatched from her blogroll.
  • Creating Peace: Bonnie’s ‘big picture,’ mostly political, compassion-oriented blog deserves our attention. The blog has been up since August with a very modest three to five posts per month. The blog won’t be winning any design awards soon – no offense, Bonnie, but what color is that? – but her thoughtful posts are insightful fun reading.
  • The Goodness Blog: A five-person multiblog that shares short posts of good news of different sorts. Up since October, it hasn’t been very active as yet. One of the contributors is kimberly/kim/haiku, well known to readers of B’du for her robust, much- heralded personal blog this life [formerly, this zen life].
  • Togo of Grand Smials: This blog has me flummoxed -- but I sometimes consider that to be a good thing. I'm just not sure if this is one of those times. hfx_ben has a lot going on in this LiveJournal blog of multi-dimensions. Interesting it is, certainly.
  • Mind and Reality: Indo Tibetan mind science in the 21st Century. A sweet, scholarly blog with lots of kindly links. Lay friendly with attractive design. Blogged by Christopher D. Kelly, who is now completing a PhD in Indo-Tibetan Buddhism at Columbia.

Saturday, February 04, 2006

Roundup for Jan 29 - Feb 4, 2006

The always-helpful BuddhaBlogosphere is there for us again this week with information on how to direct a play, a technique for meditation and acting, a rant against a word that's no good, how a taoist fries an egg, Sausage the Poor Fish's medical condition, a workday like a hill, the Mahaparinirvana Sutra, the Spiral of politics, the lessening of swagger in a current president and the increase in fluff of an ex-president. And more.

The Stream

Gareth of smart and compassionate Green Clouds is in rehearsals on a new play he is directing. He is finding that his Zen is informing his work. He writes, “A few days ago I’d been wondering how to ground my directing in my practice, now I know the answer: Get out of the way.”

In an long post with lots of interesting comments, Mike Cross of The Middle Way tells us about the F.M. Alexander Technique for meditation. Valuable stuff to consider, O Meditators. One great comment by our friend Gareth who blogs Green Clouds relates the technique to acting, which draws a terrific response from Mike.

A great post tells a personal story in Mark’s Writing to Reach You. I don’t want to spoil it, so I will only say it begins with this delicious sentence: “Sometimes when we probe reality, it's a greater teacher than we think.” And ends with these words: “… today has been a fundamental turning point in my personal and spiritual development in this lifetime.”

Cliff of this is this likes the words mullosk, pink, time, stand, whimsy and steep – but tells us this only to set up a long diatribe on the word he doesn’t like in a post titled “A Word I Don’t Like.” His complaints seem valid, albeit moot since ‘the word’ still comes in handy from time to time. [Ha, ha, ha. I crack myself up.]

Shokai in Water Dissolves Water confronts the mortality of a loved one vacationing in Hawaii. One hell of a vacation, eh? Nirvana is nowhere. Nirvana is everywhere. And in a nameless post – yes, it’s titled ‘’ – Shokai shows us yin yang in many varieties, including stovetop.

It is always satisfying to get in on a good thing at its launch. Dan, a thirtysomething Taoist and Zen student, has just begun Notes From Along The Way. You will immediately be impressed by the amazing design and by his good, kind welcoming words. His first official post is an assessment of Bush’s address to the nation.. Says Dan, “It was like eating re-re-heated leftovers. A cut-and-paste of SOTU speeches past. Well, with one glaring exception - not nearly as much swagger.”

Justin’s highly intelligent Ordinary Extraordinary is a new find for me. This week the blog lives up to its name. There is a post about Dogen; followed by a post about Nagarjuna; and then comes the truly troubling medical condition of Sausage the fish. It is a post about Justin’s Zen retreat weekend that delighted the most. His teacher, Godo Guy Mercier, seems wonderful in all respects. An account of Mercier’s of “the personal history of an individual human being” that Justin paraphrases as a seven-item list is profound and a bit of a crack up. It starts off Genesis-like with “in the beginning there was emptiness.”

Have known the evenings, mornings, afternoons,
I have measured out my life with coffee spoons.

Terry of More Coffee, less dukkha says his workday mornings are challenges, but by the p.m., he's coastin'.

Political Memes

William of Integral Options Café posts a three-part series, “WHO OWNS GOD?,” which is a terrific introduction-plus to the memes of Spiral Dynamics and Integral Politics. Part I discusses the American political divide and introduces the memes used in Spiral Dynamics and Integral Psychology. Part II dives into the memes, further explaining each and how they interact in political terms. In Part III William talks about what is really going on in America’s culture wars and how the conflict can be healed. The graphics provided in each part are wonderful and helpful.

Bill Clinton is One of Us!

Both Vincent in his Numinous Nonsense (until recently named in a post titled “Bill Clinton and Integral Consciousness” and coolmel in his multiple-Vinny-awards-winning blog, in a post titled “Bill Clinton at the World Economic Forum” wrote with vigor and excitement about Bill Clinton's words at the World Economic Conference in Switzerland at the end of January. Here are two key lines, included in quotes of Clinton posted at both blogs:

if I can use a kind of touchy-feely word, that American philosopher Ken Wilber wrote a whole book about, called A Theory of Everything. He said, you know, the problem is the world needs to be more integrated but it requires a consciousness that’s way up here, and an ability to see beyond the differences among us.
This is very exciting for all of us interested in Integral Psychology, including the many of us who consider ourselves Integral Buddhists. Hopefully one day soon, in time to save the world, the rubric ‘touchy-feely’ will not deter world leaders while they are in power from utilizing the high wisdom of our day [and the ages] to find peace.

Visit Vincent’s and/or coolmel’s posts for their excited assessments, links to the World Economic Forum webspace, and to text and video of Clinton’s words. Coolmel links, also, to Ken Wilber’s prime website and his book Clinton mentioned, A Theory of Everything, at Vincent and Coolmel disagree in one aspect of their assessments: Coolmel said it was all “Very Fluffy,” while Vincent held back, giving it “fluffy potential.” Your Blogmandu reporter does not know the meaning of the Integral street slang word “fluffy,” but in context it has to mean something akin to “Far Out!.” [2/13/06 UPDATE: Fluffy defined.]

The bhikkhu's back

Ajahn Punnadhammo of Bhikkhu Blog [You can find it HERE.] is back from his World Abbot’s Meeting in Thailand and he tells us about his experience in a post called “Thailand Trip.” He also continues his sterling defense of consciousness as not being an evolution-concocted computer of some sort in a post titled “Consciousness and Intelligence.” [Note: Bhikkhu Blog has no permalinks, so you will have to scroll down in the center frame to find posts.]

In his third post, “Posting Policy,” he instructs readers about feedback sent to him for posting in a sidebar.

Please refrain from using non-ascii standard characters such as "curly quotes" and non-breaking spaces, long hyphens etc. Most browsers don't handle these silly things well and it's a real pain to search for and delete them. In future, I may just ignore posts that don't have the courtesy to come in a web-friendly format. Remember the old saying - real men don't use curly quotes.
I think the kind bhikkhu is a little behind the times. But then the kind bhikkhu has a blog without permalinks, a comments function, linkbacks, trackbacks, an RSS feed, archives, a blogroll, tags, a tag-emphasis graphic or a Tuesday self-portrait regimen. As for his last sentence, I could swear I saw curly quotes in the postcards Jack and Ennis exchanged, so it’s wrong, too. [Wait a minute... The bhikkhu’s joshing us, you think?]

Z rebuts Physicalism

In his post, “Mainly Propaganda,” Zenmar of Dark Zen in his blog The Buddhist quotes a college textbook in current use that describes Buddhism in physicalist terms. Z rebuts this notion with evidence, including citing the Mahaparinirvana Sutra where the final teaching of the Buddha is described as the ‘great atman’ which is synonymous with Buddha-nature.