Friday, March 24, 2006

Roundup for Mar 19 - 25, 2006

“…lately, guided and inspired by serendipitous things,
I’m starting to believe that I have found a calling. So from now on, when people
ask me what’s my spiritual practice, my answer is this: I blog.”

~ coolmel of in a post dated 3/16/06.

This week, philosophy, Buddhist's lives, connections and blogging as spiritual practice are hot topics in the Buddhoblogosphere.

The Stream

me of don’t drop that atomic bomb on me had an epiphany and wrote a long post that deserves some attention in the Buddhoblogosphere. It’s about Watts’ insistance that “You don't exist”, free will and the actions of the universe. me writes, “Are you making the thoughts that appear in your consciousness appear there? No that is happening by itself.”

beesucker of Authentic Personality links us to the Non-Duality Cartoons blogspace. Hahaha!
Nacho of WoodMoor Village recommends seeing the film V for Vendetta, and suggests we go with as little foreknowledge as possible and without expectations. Terry of More coffee, less dukkha is keen on the film, but more so on the twenty-year-old novel by Alan Moore and David Lloyd. He says of the book and movie, "Good, but different. Different, but good. ... England prevails."
Jigdral Dawa was blogging like a house afire this week in Buddha's Children. Here are two great posts:
  • Me, Minus the Bullshit” is a great, long, meaty post. Jigdral writes, “Rather than act, I'm trying simply to be me - but better. No...not ‘better.’ This isn't a race or any other kind of striving. I guess what I'm doing is practicing just being, free of the clouds of confusion.”
  • Introduction to Integral Theory and Practice” outstandingly delivers on the promise of its title.
Where does Blogging fit into Spiritual Practice?

The Integral Buddhists are keyboard hopping on the topic ‘blogging as spiritual practice.’ Famous Mel began it all with his giddy observation that if asked what “my spiritual practice [is], my answer is …: I blog.” [ blog, posted 3/16]

eBuddha in Integral Practice concludes that flow, a non-conscious creative state, is what coolmel is describing in his blogging regime. “I would hate to say that ‘blogging is spiritual practice,’ as clearly blogging is not physical practice.” wrote eBuddha.

In the IP comment threat, coolmel acts as his own defense attorney, submits a Ken quote, buttressing a claim that ‘blogging is a [spiritual] developmental line’ and ending with this summation: “…saying that blogging is NOT a spiritual practice is like saying that writing is NOT a spiritual practice... there. i rest my case.”

Vince [blogger of Numinous Nonsense] then acts as DA in the IP thread, cross-examines The Ken and says to readers/jury and defendant, coolmel: “Doesn't mean that I don't see blogging as a ‘kind’ of spiritual practice, just that I wouldn't give up what I'm doing now to blog, and have faith that it will bring a permanent non-dual enlightenment. But I hope you prove me wrong dawg!”

Mel barks back: “i'm gonna prove you wrong dawg. i'm gonna prove you wrong. ... where's the fluffy love?” And then, in his home blog,, delivers a masterful link-heavy Howl-like post, a spontaneous Kero-whacky-an beatitudinous floe of wordy words that demonstrates the flow.

Carrying the vendetta over to his home blog, V. Horn of Numinous Nonsense, begins to relate errors in Mel's thinking, but comes around to halfway agreeing with the dawg.

Then, William Harryman of Internet Options Café picks up the bone of contention, relates the history of the discussion [much much better than B'du is doing here], and applies his considerable wisdom in a link-heavy post that (1) contrasts developmental line and spiritual practice; (2) dives into the issue of transformational v. translational; (3) voices support for the coolmel assertion that blogging can be spiritual practice!; (4) examines the meaning of flow as first explained by Csikszentmihalyi; and (5) again voices support for coolmel's assertion.

[B'du will pick up more of the discussion next week, which is continuing to ... you know ... flow.]

If P, then Q

The Will-Gareth-Dharmasattva interblog conversation on Connections continues to thrive. [See the report in B'du last week, “Modus Ponens,” on the dialogue’s beginnings.]

This week, Will of thinkBuddha wrote re insight into conditionality. His concluding sentence is no substitute for his complete, rather-brief essay [i.e., read the whole thing, y’all], but it gives us a clear summation of what Will is saying:

    Those things that we need to know can be held in a single hand: the knowledge that all things are conditioned; the humility to recognise that we cannot ever fully comprehend this web of conditions; the mindfulness to see that a discerning knowledge of those things most proximate – sufferings, causes, cessations, paths – is sufficient.
    Green Cloud’s Gareth bit on a chunk in Will’s post relating to enlightenment. Gareth’s point of interest is the idea of perfection that some claim is achieved by enlightened beings – that he doubts. He writes of enlightened folks,
    …perhaps there is a kind of freedom that can be found. Not an escape from karma but a true understanding [that] leads away from free will, and from the notion of a existent self and to an understanding that form, feeling, perception, volition and consciousness are just manifestations of previous causes, which are in themselves just manifestation of previous causes and so on and so forth.
    After his modestly-long post, Gareth promises more to come, on this topic: “Is omnipotence a state of mind?”
    Buddhists' Lives ...

    Zenmom of the eponymous blog writes glowingly of her virtual world becoming real: “some of my most important heart warming ‘real’ relationships have been formed online.”

    Thoughts of zazen crowd My Zen Life’s John this week. He rouses himself to sit; then reports it was like being a tall, proud tree; but later he asks, “what the heck am i doing with my ‘so called’ zazen practice anyway?”

    kim of this life explored ways to feel better in posts this week. She moves from medication to meditation/acupuncture/exercise. She considers taking tai chi in place of “tortuous yoga.” And it a third post, she questions what she’s doing with her zazen. [kim, John of My Zen Life: Do you two know each other?]

    Nerdine of my world at the moment tells of her decision to stop serving on the board of the Norwegian Tibet Committee. But by the end of her post, her adamantine no to serving any longer softens to a maybe, “after a break.”

    Mike Doe of Doe-Do writes that his father had a hip operation and is now better in body and spirit, which makes Mike happy. “He knows nothing about Zen but the way he was living today sure as hell looks like good practice to me.” [btw, Mike tells us his blog's name is pronounced like the fearless and extinct bird.]

    Eric of Virtual Zen writes about work and a cyclone among many things this week, but his post about disappearing a bit at a time is especially interesting. Eric doesn't quite say so, but his commenters think he's been snagged by that L thing.

    the girl of auspicious coincidences is repeating words and losing their meanings, is going to California in a few days, and believes that meditation would be better for her than understanding her neuroses.

    In Techiepig's discourse on everything we are told that the blogger's beloved pet Clover died. “For some reason, I decided to sing a favourite scripture of mine, 'Adoration of the Buddha's relics.' It's a lovely, if complex, tune and is entirely appropriate for a funeral.”

    Buddha Pest of Observe the Observer and his family celebrated the beginning of spring with a ritual fire. “My brother brought over some sage that burned for about an hour that added an amazing smell to the whole affair. At the end of the fire, around noon, I felt very tired and sort of cleansed. It is certainly something I will do again.”

    Michael of one foot in front of the other put a hole in the stairwell while trying to move a futon, snaps his cat demonstrating karate’s cat stance, and has a birthday a quarter century after this remembrance: “I remember thinking on my 19th birthday what a neat coincidence it was that Steely Dan's ‘Hey Nineteen’ was playing on the radio that afternoon.”

    Taking a big step as a new nun, Soen Joon of One robe, one bowl was the assistant to the Ceremony Master during a memorial. “Fortunately it turned out well,” she kindly advises us early in her post before relating some of her nervousness and events during and after the ceremony.

    Saturday, March 18, 2006

    Roundup for Mar 12 - 18, 2006

    The Buddhist blogosphere was active again this week, as always! Spiritual questing, a new movie, emotional ups and downs, symbolic logic and the infinite interplay in Indira's Net, breath, a new blog, a returning blog, pleasures, black dogs and "Why Buddhism?" are among the topics this past week.

    The Stream, Part I

    Ryan of Ryan’s Lair writes that more and more Buddhist stuff is beginning to show up in Google Books. Ryan tells us of many prizes he has found, among them, “Feer’s catalog of Eugène Burnouf’s papers, Sylvain Lévi’s history of Nepal, … Hermann Oldenberg’s Ancient India: its language and religions, as well as the English translation of his seminal Buddha.”

    Jigdral Dawa, in his new blog Buddha’s Children, begun in January, writes this week of his arduous spiritual quest that has landed him, gratefully, in the meadow of Buddhism. He writes, “my goal as a bodhisattva: not to make others into what I want them to be, but to be what others need.”

    Tyson Williams of often quotes Sogral Rimpoche, as he does again this week. Here are some of the quoted words, “…until we reach enlightenment there will inevitably be doubts, because doubt is a fundamental activity of the unenlightened mind, and the only way to deal with doubts is neither to suppress nor indulge them.”

    Qalmlea, A Musing Taoist, is not so amusing this week. Her grandmother dies and Qalmlea considers how she feels, moment to moment.

    Amanzi of Amanziblog finds himself stressed and agitated and looks to his breath to calm things down.

    Coolmel of is ga-ga for the new W Bros film, just out. He writes, “V for Vendetta is a revolution about perspectives on self, culture, and nature.”

    American Buddhist Perspective’s Justin writes about words, Buddha-nature and an emotional roller coaster he is riding. First, he is flying high in elation and then "criticized for a poor performance."

    Nacho plays the racism card

    [There will be no links in this section.] Nacho of WoodMoor Village has put up a post that accuses a longtime columnist, who syndicates her work in the state of Washington, of racism. Though the online publication of the column has been withdrawn, Nacho linked to a vigilante's scanned image of it in hardcopy presentation and posted the mailing addresses of the journal where it appeared and of the columnist. Both objective definitions and subjective ideas of what racism is vary, but the word is highly charged and Nacho has been irresponsible in his use of it and in trying to rally his readers to hound or humiliate the accused columnist. In addition, according to a comment-thread in another blog, Nacho and others are endeavoring to extract an apology from the publisher that meets their wording requirements. There can be little doubt from the text of the column in the Washington journal that the columnist was sincere and non-hateful in her intent – even as what she wrote seems paternalistic, a throwback to liberal-white sentiment of the 1930s. It is an important question for Buddhists -- or anyone: What is an appropriate action when one believes he/she perceives racist expression?


    I’m not intending to imply I want to roast Renegade Buddha, nor that I have a beef with him, but Arby’s – I mean, ‘RB has’ – returned to the flock of Buddhist bloggers three times this week. You needed a scorecard to try to keep up with him, he kept popping up here and then there, like a whack-a-mole. First, he started the blog Buddhism in Houston, which is ongoing and valuable; then, he resurrected his eponymous blog at Blogger before, perhaps finally, settling in at RB had been away for about 8 ½ months. We are glad to have him and his distinctive voice back, contributing to the choir of melodious voices in the Buddhoblogosphere. And he has come back, big time, with ten substantial posts this week. Here are just three of them:

    • RB calls for more Buddhist video on the ‘net! He makes “an appeal to individual practitioners, teachers (especially teachers), sanghas, centers, temples, and buddhist bloggers. Start filming and sharing!”
    • In the 70s, there was nothing Buddhist going on at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. But nowadays Buddhism is thriving at MIT with a growing community and a wide variety of events and activities.
    • RB writes, “My work brings me into contact with a lot of folks who are facing death. It’s difficult at times but of course I have no room to complain. Today one of them told me how painful the last few days had been but then paused and said ‘but every day is a good day.’”

    The Stream, Part II

    tsykoduk [aka, Greg Nokes] of The Roost answers a reader's question with a fascinating answer [well more than a paragraph in length, btw] and a thread of interesting comments flies from there. The question is this: "Let me ask you something else. In a simple paragraph, can you answer why I should follow Buddhism? What benefits it will give me and what I will miss out on if I don’t?"

    In his post, “The Tao of Black Dogs,” Moose, The Contemporary Taoist, begins, “There are no answers, only ways of coping with this strange life we have been given. This life is an opportunity - our challenge is to make the most of it.”

    Great thanks to James of The Buddhist Blog from whose blogroll this gem of a blog was found: domanassa: depression from the Buddhist perspective. The blog is in all ways beautiful and valuable. The blog is only just underway, but already there is a library of links to valuable resources regarding depression as seen through Buddhist eyes. Terrific stuff. I wish blogger "ts" a feeling of accomplishment for creating this wonderful resource. I look forward to each new blog post and article find.

    Speaking of The Buddhist Blog, a post there this week is about Pleasures, Enjoyments and Austerities. Writes James, “ … some pleasure and austerity is o.k. but it is much like a stick burning. It can help me see through the confusion and fear of the dark but if I hold onto it too long it will burn me …”

    Modus Ponens

    Will of thinkBuddha, Gareth of Green Clouds and Dharmasattva of the same-name blog are inspired in linked posts to write about karma and other chains of events that constitute life and the journey to end suffering.

    Will begins, blogging sick on the Ides of March, with a post that teaches some symbolic logic and then, uses it and different perspectives, to explore the Four Noble Truths. In one tangential thoughtstorm he writes this: “As the conditions giving rise to any particular thing are infinite, in everyday practical terms we must exclude all kinds of conditions from our thinking. We know that most of the time we can rely on a fairly small set of conditions to get a good cake: a hot oven, a good recipe, nice fresh ingredients, and sufficient care in the cooking.”

    Having read the insights in Will’s post Gareth writes, “I find it impossible to comprehend how vast and complex this web really is. And yet every day it’s essential that I try.”

    Dharmasattva reads Will’s and Gareth’s words, ponders them, and writes from the nexus of events that are pulled together in a few minutes of inspired blogging. Here’s one paragraph:
    I heard an interesting blurb on NPR yesterday. A gentleman was explaining how Julius Caesar's last out-breath was comprised of billions (or trillions) of molecules, which left his mouth at the moment of his death and were dispersed into the atmosphere in a very mathematically predictable way. He went on to say that those molecules, in one form or the other, are still floating around somewhere--at the bottom of the ocean, in the air, in the soil, etc.--and that every breath we take likely contains one or two of the trillion molecules that Julius Caesar exhaled when he died on the floor of the Roman Senate on March 15, 44 B.C.E.

    Tuesday, March 14, 2006

    The Afterbirth of a Buddhist Blog Awards

    by Tom Armstrong; Blogmandu reporter &
    Blogisattva Awards administrator

    Those of you who have been reading this blog digest and Buddhist blogs in the past month may be aware there have been many many posts and comment-thread conversations about the Blogisattva Awards -- whose first iteration of nominees and winners was presented in posts here at this blogsite.

    Reaction has been varied. Very much of it has been heartfelt. [Bloggers have expressed happiness, surprise, humility at being nominated or winning one of the awards and their readers have expressed pleasure and support.] Other reactions were mixed. [“how odd... but nice”] ; Some reacted mostly negatively [not wanting their blog included in a contest or this contest; finding the whole thing “ironic and ridiculous” or a “fairly empty exercise”; or suggesting there were ego-inflating motivations at work in the creation of the awards.]

    The questions this post means to address are What has it meant in the end? as one commenter asked. And …What now? Will there be awards next year?

    I think that, at minimum, the experiment of Buddhist blog awards should continue. There has been plentiful positive feedback to drive the project forward. Problems should be addressed and the awards should be more authoritative [a repeated complaint], the product of a gathering of wisdom rather than just my best assessments. Those dispensing the honors and those honored or not honored can be aided in their awareness of the problematic nature of the exercise as a whole and the inexactitude of picking and choosing. That is, rules and wording can be helpful at making people aware of the limitedness of the significance of the awards and that terrific stuff, likely some of the very, very best, was not honored because the process cannot help but be imperfect. Other rules can be written and practices put in place that mitigate the hurt that some feel when they are neglected and others are honored. Truly, we should be able to find our way to feeling genuine delight for the recognition bestowed upon others, especially when it is intended, as these blog awards are, to increase the interconnectivity between all blogs and readers of blogs – thus, to benefit everybody.

    Because the number of Buddhist-blog posts is already a great many daily, and the rate of growth in our corner of the blogosphere is expected to continue to explode, a program of awards giving is immediately met with a challenging first task: figuring out a strategy for staying abreast of the engorged and fast-feeding gallivanting hydra-headed beast that is the strange and liberty-loving Buddhoblogasaurus.

    There is no time to tarry! New blogs are now being born; great posts are now being written. The awesome posts that are being put up now, so early in this year, must be remembered later since the intention, truly, is to make the best, fairest, most-objective possible assessment of the Buddhoblog year.

    Here is the plan for the 2007 Awards honoring achievement during calendar year 2006:
    I will handle the administrative task for the year, up to the point of juries being selected to parse lists for the selection of final nominees and award recipients.

    All blogs that are touched by Buddhism are eligible. No blog that is made available to the worldwide web of readers may opt out of inclusion in the awards process by decision of its author/blogger.

    I will create growing Long Lists of potential nominees in each of the awards categories during the year. Other people will participate in adding blogs/names to
    these Long Lists.

    As we go along, we will try to define, in writing, what constitutes excellence as a means of better spotting this ephemeral thing, excellence, in potential nominees in each category.

    In order to know what potential nominees to keep an eye out for, I am naming the awards categories for next year now and suggesting other changes:
    All categories from the 2006 Awards will go forward except Best Celebrity-Writer Blog which will be discontinued.

    Design: The ten best designed blogs will be divided between its two categories: Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design and Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design. Nominees for the 2006 Award will be ineligible for the 2007 Award unless the design of the blog has been significantly changed at yearend.

    In is the current intention to change the number of final nominees in three of the categories. In the 2006 Awards, there were five nominees in each of the fourteen categories. For the 2007 Awards I think it would be better to have just three final nominees for Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog or Blog Service; seven nominees for Blog of the Year, Svaha!; and ten final nominees for Blog Post of the Year. The other ten categories should continue to have five final nominees.
    I would like it if the Awards can find a nice home as a part of my relinguishing my grasp on this program. Sean, who operates, has expressed interest after being approached to possibly host the awards. Jeb, who is wrapping up operations on his blog Wonderings on the Way, is also open to possibly hosting the awards on his new project A third option is to simply open a new free blog through Blogger or another service that future administrators of the Awards can operate.

    I think the name of the awards is likely to change. As much as I personally like the silly name Blogisattva, it suggests the awards are narrowly for mahajana Buddhism blogs [since the term is an obvious play on Bodhisattva], but, truly, all English-language Buddhism blogs are intented to be included.

    Sunday, March 12, 2006

    Roundup for Mar 5 - 11, 2006

    “The thought of writing more—e.g., blogging—is just unbearable. I’d rather spend my precious spare time doing street drugs.” ~Ken Wilber in a Mar 8, 2006, email to coolmel of

    Animals, mothering, middle age, being a vegan, practicing Buddhism, the work of a six-year-old cartoonist, "facing your life," living in harmony with others, discord among philosophers, The One & the Many, hope for the blangha, the cosmic deal, 21 days, problems as challenges, the flu, Sam Harris and Martin Seligman are among the topics during yet another jaunty week in the Buddhoblogosphere.

    The Stream, Part I

    me of don’t drop that atomic bomb on me looks at the Zen of cats and dog. Concludes me, after observations of his/her household pets, “Even nonhuman animals can be deluded. Envy them not.”

    Buddha Pest [aka, Tim Middleton] of Observe the Observer is becoming optimistic about the Middle Way in middle age. BP learns that journaling [blogging!] aids the immune system and that Dr. Seuss didn’t start writing his books till he was 53. And now Buddha Pest is reading Ken Wilber, and the material resonates with him.

    Dharmasattva of the eponymous blog writes, “As new as I am to Buddhist practice, I am so happy with how it's changed my life that I find myself sharing Buddhist ideas with my non-Buddhist friends.”

    To stop stumbling so much with her practice, Zenmom [of the same-name blog] has come up “with a list of conditions that make my sitting more likely...getting to bed on time, sunshine drawing me down the stairs, zenchild's items gathered and ready to go.” [Her post is mostly about other things, including the wonderful Bead Lady.]

    In a terrific rambling post on being a vegan, musician Carlos Rull of talks about being confronted and being cited as a good example because of his healthful, humane diet. Then, he segues into thoughts about the accomplishments of fellow vegans Natalie Portman and Einstein.

    Rev. Mugo of Moving Mountains presents the teachings of a six-year-old cartoonist. [I love the smiling cat with the frowning mouse inside its stomach.]

    Beesucker of Authentic Personality quotes Sogyal Rinpoche, “In Tibetan, the word for body is ‘lu,’ which means ‘something you leave behind’, like baggage. …” Funny. In Chinese, “lu” means teachings [eg, the Linji Lu], which I think of as baggage, left behind when we reach the other shore.

    The girl of auspicious coincidence writes in code. Helpful girl that she is, she posts a post that deconstructs her previous post. The deconstructing post is, like, six-times longer than the post it deconstructs. Damn that Foucault!

    Muan of Beneath the Clouds in a post titled "The mystery of Amida" tells us, “From the difficult which takes us to the very limit of our abilities we are lead to the simple that is the heart and foundation of our practice.”

    James of The Buddhist Blog quotes Dainin Katagiri Roshi: “The important point of spiritual practice is not to try to escape your life, but to face it …”

    Martin Seligman [qv, wikipedia] came up in a couple of Buddhist blogs this week. Justin of American Buddhist Perspective in an exaggerated rant against his education and career path toward earning and using a Ph.D wrote, “Perhaps some form of ‘Positive Philosophy’ could be conceived; much in the way Martin Seligman rightly criticized and revolutionized the discipline of psychology.” William Harryman in his Integral Options Café wrote, “[I] found an article on Positive Psychology, Martin Seligman's reaction against traditional talk therapies. While I would reclassify Positive Psychology as ‘the psychology of sanctioned repression,’ a couple of the exercises he uses seemed to be possibly interesting additions to my practice.”

    In another post this week, Bill Harryman [of the IOC] quotes Wilber on the One manifesting as The Many and writes, “This wildly amazing Kosmos is all just Spirit growing back to itself with increased awareness. My goal for this limited life is to align myself as much as possible with that process.”

    While in sesshin at his temple in Japan, Johnny Newt of The Invisible Cat offers these words: “‘Kori wo chiribame, midzu ni egaku’ which is to say.. ‘To inlay ice; to paint upon water’ Sometimes zazen seems as such, but as a blind man feels through the dark for his bowl, what else can be done.”

    Jayarava in The Jayarava Rave writes about self-preoccupation, in particular when in with a group. He quotes the Culagosinga Sutta which shows the ideal situation, when group members live “in concord, … viewing each other with kindly eyes.” And he tells us of the group he’s in where there can be times of dis-ease or upset. Writes Jayarava, “I once asked one of my mentors about the problem that we all face of the gap between our aspirations and how we actually behave. He told me that the way to bring them closer is through reflection. Well, I'm still reflecting, but I do find myself letting go of some of the small things and being happier as a result.”

    Jack of Jack/Zen tells us “Many cultures promote a normative resistance to happiness, no matter how much lip service they pay to happiness as good. The resistance is rooted in a body of deeply held beliefs.... if suffering opens our heart and mind ... [we] need to maintain enough suffering for ourselves. To the extent that joy opens our heart and mind, we really need to practice and invite joy.” [Thanks to Sujatin of lotusinthemud for the link to Jack's post.]

    Sam Harris

    Sam Harris is noteworthy for being quoted in the December issue of Atlantic, defending one religion while others were a direct target of Paul Bloom's "Is God an Accident?" Harris's quoted words were [Buddhism is] "the most complete methodology we have for discovering the intrinsic freedom of consciousness, unencumbered by any dogma." Pretty cool, eh? Nacho of WoodMoor Village had brought the article to the attention of the blangha last January -- as an explanation of resistance to evolution, not because of the Harris quote.

    But Harris's attitude toward Buddhism is not friendly. William Harryman of Integral Options Cafe has been waging his "own private war against Sam Harris and his reductionist version of reality" for some time -- most recently in a Feb 25 post, citing Harris's article in the March 2006 Shambhala Sun, "Killing the Buddha." Zenmar in his blog The Buddhist also takes on Harris's article which presents an "astonishing theory." Zenmar's post is titled, "Why kill the Buddha?"

    Harris's theory is that Buddhism should be turned over to science, fully -- lock, stock, robe and bowl. He writes [quoting the quote in the IOC], "The spirit of empiricism animates Buddhism to a unique degree. For this reason, the methodology of Buddhism, if shorn of its religious encumbrances, could be one of our greatest resources as we struggle to develop our scientific understanding of human subjectivity."

    William responds, "Harris is so enraptured with his scientism [qv, wikipedia] that he cannot fathom any other possible worldviews. .... For Harris, anything pre-rational or post-rational is simply irrational, and therefore worthless."

    Zenmar says of one section of the Harris article that it tells "Buddhists to essentially dump their religion because they are complicit in the world's violence which is largely due to religion." Z then writes, "If anything, the attention Harris gives to religion as being the cause of modern man's woes is a convenient way to hide the bodies of the Enlightenment which are a direct result of its failure to find an adequate reason for moral behavior--something only religion can furnish."

    The Stream, Part II

    John of My Zen Life failed in his effort to sit zazen for 21 straight days. But John has picked himself up; sat himself down; and will start all over, again. Till the end of March, John!

    Poor Mumon of Notes in Samsara wrote a post called “Flu Practice.” Here’s the text, en toto:

    I have it. My wife and son have it.
    It's not fun.
    But not much can be done at this point.
    Ah. Good words from Quoting Buddha:
    View all problems as challenges. Look upon negativities that arise as opportunities to learn and to grow. Don't run from them, condemn yourself, or bury your burden in saintly silence. You have a problem? Great. More grist for the mill. Rejoice, dive in, and investigate.
    - Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, Mindfulness in Plain English
    Seems wise. A quote pulled from the tasty, tawny, babbling waters of whiskey river this week:
    The Road to Wisdom

    The road to wisdom?
    Well, it’s plain and simple
    to express:
    and err
    and err again
    but less
    and less
    and less.

    - Piet Hein
    Jeb tells us in Wondering on the Way, “the cosmic deal is this. If you want to be free, you can be free - BUT - only if you let go of everything.”

    In a post titled “Taking Refuge in the Blangha,” Nacho of WoodMoor Village is hopeful and optimistic. He writes:
    I’ve always understood taking refuge in rather broad terms. So for me the answer to the question of whether we can find refuge in the blangha is yes. This is a qualified yes. Online communities are fairly different than others, and those differences have to be taken into account. And yet, I believe we can’t but extend our own Sanghas outward in ever widening circles. Our little corner of the blogosphere could then be described as another “community of practice.”

    Sunday, March 05, 2006

    Blogisattva Award Winners Announcement

    Following are the winners of the first annual Blogisattva Awards for achievement in Buddhism-inspired blogging, during the year 2005. Congratulations to recipients of the award and all the outstanding nominees.

    Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design

    The recipient of the Blogisattva is whiskey river and blogger whiskey. We find the design perfect for the function of the blog which beautifully and simply allows wonderful quotations to be readers' focus of attention. The right sidebar with the copious list of links is wonderful for this blog which reaches out to delight so many.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design

    The recipient of the Blogisattva is Paper Frog and blogger Kit Christopher. When the design of this blog first appeared, it was astonishing, and it still is. The froggy in the water is whimsical, delightful and very appropriate for the feel of Kit's blog.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog or Blog Service

    The recipient of the Blogisattva is Zen Filter and blogger Mark and friends. The quality of the treasures Mark, et al, find is always very high, and the presentantion of the finds is too. No zennist web surfer is ever lost or bored with Zen Filter at work, prowling the Internet for the best or most-interesting stuff that is out there.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Celebrity-Writer Blog

    The recipient of the Blogisattva is Hardcore Zen by Brad Warner. Whew! None of these blogs made as much impact in 2005 as they will in 2006, but Brad's, more than the others, came in like thunder and whipped up our little corner of the blogosphere into a frenzy. Love him or not, Brad has an impact with what he wrote and the way he presents himself and his life in his blog. HZ is consistantly wonderfully well-written. That Brad. Where does he find all the energy?

    The other nominees in this category: Best New Blog in 2005

    Yowza! This is one truly tough category, chocablock with excellence, that feels like a possible preview of the five nominees for Best Blog next year. The Blogisattva Award goes to One foot in front of the other blogged by Michael. With positivism and a gentle heart, Michael is our guide into his life and his ordeal combatting a health threat. For readers, the blogsite is a blooming garden of kindness.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Integral Buddhist Blog

    IOC has served spectacular feast after feast so far in '06 and Vince has provided a horn of plenty, but 2005 was played to the jazzy beat of mellow Coolmel and his Prolific, wise, inventive and nerdy, the coolmel blog is Grand Central Station for the Integral blogging universe. Fluffy Mel claims he is not Buddhist. What a faker!

    The other nominees in this category: Best Philosophical Blog

    Ooo, a tough fight among young blogs and that blangha giant, WMV. The Blogisattva goes to American Buddhist Perspective, a very, very philosophical blog marbled with glipses into the globetrotting life of blogger and Buddhist scholar Justin Whitaker. ABP pulls together the wisdom of Europe's classic philosopher geniuses and Buddha's profound insights.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Personal Journal

    The recipient of the Blogisattva Award is Eric and his blog Virtual Zen. Eric was a busy blogger in 2005, which was reflective of his active life. His posts are consistantly interesting, varied and excellent. Any person outside of his life could get attached to reading VZ and would learn a lot about Eric, his interests, his worklife and Zen.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Achievement in Addressing Public or Political Issues

    Prolific deep-thinking, life-loving blogger Nacho Cordova of WoodMoor Village is the recipient of the Blogisattva in this category. Whether he is beating the drum for evolution or education, or discussing, at length, important political questions, his posts are intelligent and his ideas well organized and persuasive.

    The other nominees in this category:

    Blogger Best Demonstating a Multiplicity of Talents

    All people nominated in this category are amazing to me. How fun it must be to travel this earth carrying the brain each one has. The winner of the Blogisattva is Dave Bonta of Via Negativa. While Dave has expressed a dislike for awards, perhaps he can accept the fact that regular visitors to his blog appreciate his multifacetted genius as a writer, poet and naturalist.

    The other nominees in this category:

    Best Kind and Compassionate Blog

    Kudos to the interesting James Ure who blogs both the spitfire, political Genius of Insanity and the Blogisattva Award-winning The Buddhist Blog. James has been tireless at exploring his compassionate self and the kind wisdom of our religion in his beautiful and gentle blog. TBB is a must stop for all Buddhist electronic wayfarers who want to bask in Buddhism's goodness.

    The other nominees in this category: Best Achievement in Skillful Writing
    [The Wordsmithing Award]

    F. Kwan is a curious woman in the embrace of a challenging life. She is certainly not as free as she would like to be to allow her artistic side to fly. She is very much an amazing photographer, but she is no less amazing in her turns of phase and summersaults with the English language in foot before foot: a photo blog. So while she may seem to dismiss her writing ability as secondary to other skills, we know the clarity and stylish punch of her streams of words to be ambrosia [even as we recognize and sympathize with the pain she feels].

    The other nominees in this category: Blog Entry of the Year [including comments]

    Outside the War in Iraq, Katrina was the prime focus [in the US, anyway] for consideration around the watercooler and online of the nature of and quality of our values and our compassion. No blog post was more important or more keenly cut to the heart than Jeb's post in Wonderings on the Way: Buddhist Musings on September 4, 2005, "Katrina's Charity," the winner of the Blogisattva Award. In many ways, Jeb was prescient of the failures that we are better aware of now in the aftermath of the hurricane disaster. Kudos, too, to the insights in the comment thread that followed Jeb's post.

    The other nominees in this category: Blog of the Year, Svaha!

    With its rich variety of subjectmatter -- blogging, raising a daughter, dharma, writing and the challenges of being both black and Buddhist -- Zen Under the Skin moved us deeply in 2005 in many ways and gathered a wide array of tantilized readers. For consistant excellence in design, writing, depth, wisdom and compassion, Zen Under the Skin is the highly worthy winner of the 2006 Blog of the Year, Svaha!

    The other nominees in this category:

    Saturday, March 04, 2006

    Roundup for Feb 26 - Mar 4, 2006

    Another great week in the Buddhoblogosphere: “do not resist change”; Buddhism & politics; Buddhism & an atman; Buddhism & ads; Buddhism without death; Buddhism & blondes; and The Blogisattvas are coming! The Blogisattvas are coming!

    Take Heart

    Jeff of ZenDiary rereads Sheng-Yen’s There is No Suffering: A Commentary on the Heart Sutra and then applies the wisdom there – to not cling to either the negative or the positive – to his job as a schoolteacher who dearly wishes success for his students. Writes Jeff, “‘Work with what you have, and do not resist change.’ I’m surprised by how idealism is often an insidious form of a resistance to change, a resistance against going with the flow, seeing situations clearly, and then acting according to what the situation calls for.”

    The Stream

    Michael of One foot in front of the other has decided he doesn't want to know The Number that comes from his frequent blood tests that tells him his current blood calcium level. “I've had results before that indicated the cancer was gaining the upper hand. ... I've also had results that have been good, all things considered, and I rode a wave of euphoria until the next test yielded discouraging numbers. ... I'm sick of fixating on numbers.” He ends his post excitedly checking his lottery ticket numbers, but we readers worry, hoping the blood-test numbers, known to him or not, pay off with good longterm results.

    Quoting from TNH's Old Path, White Clouds, Justin of American Buddhist Perspective tells us Buddha's perspective on governance. In the Buddha's words: “If you practice the Way, you will increase your understanding and compassion and better serve the people. You will find ways to bring about peace and happiness without depending on violence at all. You do not need to kill, torture, or imprison people, or confiscate property. This is not an impossible ideal, but something which can be actually realized.”

    Matthew of wrote on Buddhism and politics, too, this week, saying, “Buddhism teaches that it would be better to spend our energy on solving problems than waging war. It teaches us that peace is a real and virtuous and available place, personally and politically.”

    In just the fifth entry in a new blog begun on Feb. 20 [found by way of Mugo's Moving Mountains], Zennist Techiepig writes about participation in a Parinirvana festival, commemorating the Buddha's death, in his Techiepig's discourse on everything: “What really helps in these situations though is to simply key into something deeper. In other words, just be there. ... It just means that when it does go wrong I just note what I did and carry on to the next bit instead of tripping myself up at that point and being completely off balance for the rest of the ceremony. When it works right (and it doesn't always) the whole thing just seems to flow.”

    Qalmlea, A Musing Taoist, offers “Thoughts on Freedom.” “Without a rope, people bind themselves,” she tells us. “When based on compassion, this can be a good thing. Though I may feel anger at someone, I do not loose that anger. Though, at times, violent thoughts may arise, I do not act on them. ... When based on fear, or craving, the binding is harmful. It traps us.”

    F. Kwan is having a rough time living, stuck in the middle of Texas. She writes in foot before foot: the photoblog, “I couldn't stand one minute more of being inside the trailer, which no longer feels like any refuge to me, so I thought, surely, I can deal with being Out in the Street. It was time to face the music, yellow slicker, rebaldened head and all. Maybe I could just ignore the folks asking me if I needed a ride.”

    William of Integral Options Cafe writes of love and respect for mountains, and in particular of the tallest one close to his home, Greyback. “I feel the magic of that mountain in my life to this day. I have taken the only three women I have deeply loved to that place so that, by knowing the mountain, they may know me better.”

    Johnny Newt of The Invisible Cat writes about vibrations and the temple bell at Zenko-ji. “One could feel the bell resonating deep within [one's] center. Dwelling upon those Buddhas that have walked here before me, just for a moment they again were present, resonating within the fading tones.”

    A Buddhist Atman

    Last week’s B’du post cited an explication in Dark Zen mystic Zenmar’s The Buddhist of the Nirvana Sutra – which Z tagged as “dangerous” for materialist, nihilist Buddhists. Z’s post and the issues that the Nirvana Sutra roused were further explored in a thread titled “Oooh!” in the group blog Flapping Mouths. A comment in the thread by Justin [solo-blogger of Ordinary Extraordinary] shows that Buddha’s words in the Lankavatara Sutra explicitly dismiss the idea of a Devine Atman [a near-tangible soul or Self]. All this raises an issue that strikes at the heart of philosophical Zen [but, then, many would consider the phrase ‘philosophical Zen’ to be oxymoronic]: Is there any there there? What is Buddha-nature if not something, or, at least, some no-thing? B'du is following this issue with interest as discussion courses through the blangha. As another in the “Oooh!” thread points out, wikipedia offers some guidance: Nirvana Sutra [qv]; Tathagatagarbha doctrine [qv]; Buddha-nature [qv]. Zenmar has posted again on this Buddhist Atman this week, quoting the Nirvana Sutra: “The atman is the Tathagatagarbha. All beings possess a Buddha Nature: this is what the atman is. This atman, from the start, is always covered by innumerable passions (klesha): this is why beings are unable to see it.”

    LATE UPDATE: Justin over at American Buddhist Perspective has waded into the Nirvana Sutra waters, somewhat -- carrying with him Sartre's Being and Nothingness. If we can stop being between the rock of our past and the hard place of a future we foresee for ourself [a place that Sartre calls 'Bad Faith'], can we reach our authentic self, something Sartre alludes to only in a footnote in B&N and in an earlier work? Writes Justin, "Sartre at least for a moment held a nugget of very profound wisdom. Yet his work focuses ad nausium on the inadequacies of the common man rather than our most brilliant achievements, the lies we tell ourselves rather than our moments of truth..."

    Buddhism, Products and Advertising

    Buddhist Superhero Cliff Jones takes on a mighty opponent, Kleenex, in three posts this week in This is this. There is a TV commercial playing in the UK [see it here] that shows a Zen monk asking forgiveness after using a virus-killing Kleenex tissue on his nose. Cliff first shines his bloglights on how Buddhism is batted around by Western cultural jocularity and lists problems with the ad in how it misrepresents Buddhism. In his second post, Cliff hears from one of the tissue manufacturer's marketting people who writes, “The guru character in the ad represents a gentle, compassionate person and is not in any way a commentary on any specific culture, religious faith or belief.” In his third post, Cliff posts pictures of the character in the ad and a Buddhist monk, leaving it to readers to find differences. [B'du suspects Cliff's text in this third post is dripping with sarcasm.]

    Amadeus in Dharma Vision finds a new product, Zen Green Tea Liqueur, in a favorite club. “Just when I thought I'd seen it all, I quickly discover I haven't.” he writes.

    Jonatin of emptiness, in a post “Commercialization of Buddhism” writes, after opening the latest copy of Shambhala Sun:
    Half of the magazine is advertisements for “mountain getaways,” namaste rings, or household items! The articles are certainly worth reading, but what’s the message the magazine is sending to people who are less familiar with buddhism? That buddhists are asian fetishists that take new-age seminars for $285 for one day or $435 for the whole three-day weekend.

    It’s hard for someone to take seriously a magazine with articles about saving the world when it’s interspersed with advertisements for “Astrological buddhism.”
    Other ads in recent years past that unkindly Osterize Buddhism with confused stereotypes of liberal-loving whatnot: Yoplait [from a post in richmackin’s blog in livejournal]; Zen milk [from BuddhaWatch blog]; Buddha Bars [from TricycleBlog].


    In a hammerslam, an upset victory turned rout – the equivalent of Jamaica winning all the medals at the Winter Olympics – Joanna of Hummingbirds Don’t Sing fricasseed the Times of London after a little googling on her part proved, absolutely, that there will be blonde women in earth’s future. Joanna: You have done for the men of earth what Zola did for Dreyfus [ie, saved us from worries].

    Blogisattva Awards Announcements Come Tomorrow, March 5

    Anticipation is high for the announcement of the First Annual Blogisattva Awards which will come tomorrow, before the beginning of the live Oscars telecast. No, Joan Rivers won’t be announcing the winners on TV, but you can find the list of winners in Blogmandu at that time. [You can find the list of nominees here.]

    Wrote Will of thinkBuddha, up for the award Blog of the Year, Svaha!, “Forget the Oscars. The BAFTAs are small-fry. Don’t bother with the Golden Globes. The real media event of the year is the Blogisattva Awards … I’m up for a party. So on the 5th of March, when the winners will be announced, I’ll be cutting out a red carpet from crepe paper to unfurl in my hallway, putting on my bow tie and settling down with Bodhicattva, the thinkBuddha cat (similarly attired I hope) to give the results, whatever they are, a hearty cheer.”

    It is interesting to find, in a post in Pearl Bear’s Blog – the latest installment of the Progressive Faith Blog Carnival – that an organization of Unitarian Universalist bloggers recently had the 2nd annual UU Blog Awards. And, that progressive Muslim bloggers had their 2nd annual Brass Crescent awards. The Buddhist Blogisattvas are late arrivals to the religious blog awards scene.


    I Want to Live Forever

    George P. Dvorsky of Sentient Developments, in a post titled “Superlongevity is coming and it will be good,” supports the findings of transhumanist philosopher Mark Walker, who predicts that dramatically longer life – even infinite life – will soon become possible. Says George, “Walker cites the philosophical perspectives of both welfarists (Bentham and Mills) and perfectionists (Plato, Aristotle, Aquinas, Kant, and Marx) to demonstrate that life extension is desirable to achieve both happiness and greater achievements.”

    But a commenter to the post brings problems to the fore. Yve writes, in part:
    The article implies that everybody will live forever and that it will be perfect.. What about the psychological effects on the human mind? What about the side effects? No more children allowed, no new blood in a given organisation, where would new perpectives come from? CIO staying in power for 100 years, no hope left for those enslaved in alienating jobs, the end of the belief in an afterlife, insane fear of death (since it would be then unnatural and totally alien to the common man experience), what about the effect on the economy? Insane wealth accumulated by one lone individual, never to be split amongst children... I could go on.
    Integral Buddhist Vince Horn of Numinous Nonsense also posted optimistically on a future with “radical life extension,” linking to a conversation between Ken Wilber and Andrew Cohen on the topic.

    Here are some early words of Wilber’s, taken from the What is Enlightenment? magazine transcription:
    Let me briefly give an overview of what we're talking about in terms of these realms—the body, the soul, and the spirit—and then we can focus on whether we mean physical immortality or the immortality of the soul or the immortality of spirit.

    Human beings want immortality in a bodily realm because they intuit something deeper that's not bodily. …When most people think about immortality, they're thinking about some variation of overcoming time. And in the physical domain you overcome time by living forever. …

    Immortality for the soul is usually thought of as reincarnation. The soul is immortal because it never dies. … It's as if the soul takes off one coat and puts on another…

    For the realm of nondual spirit, immortality doesn't mean living forever. It means the experience of timelessness; it means a moment of pure timeless presence, not going on forever in time. …

    So you can have eternal life by simply and fully being in the timeless present with spirit, now. And whether your body lives for a million years or not, you are still eternal. It doesn't mean you live forever; it means you're not in the stream of time. So all of time arises within the awareness or spaciousness that you are in this timeless present. The “I AMness” that you are is radically without time. So it's eternal in its fullness right now.
    Coolmel of took the baton from here and after approving some of what Wilber & Cohen said [such as what’s quoted, above] went into Sci Fi Uberdrive, lauching into criticisms of Wilber and Cohen and bringing in the concept of Technological Singularity [qv], an event horizon where quickly the impossible becomes easy. [Think Staples’ “Easy Button” commercials.] All our anxieties get smoothed away by marvelous robots frantically upgrading each other and everything else such that the capacity to quickly fix absolutely everything is achieved. Writes Mel: “…the Law of Accelerating Returns, will make it possible for consciousness to ‘develop into higher levels’ at an ‘exponential’ rate. Even hyper-speed doesn't quite cut it. We've all seen Dark City, and The Matrix where Neo learned all the cool stuff in one sitting.”

    [LATE UPDATE: Coolmel responds to the above paragraph with a post in his blog, most of which appears as the first comment to this here Blogmandu post.]