Saturday, December 31, 2011
Thursday, September 22, 2011
Monday, September 5, 2011
- Tonglen (breathing in Samsaric pain, breathing out Dharmic blessings, in radiating circles, first for myself, then for those I love, then those I know, then those I don't know, then those I don't like, and then those I am inclined to despise, and finally, every living being in the universe.) This is the most powerful, yet also most demanding form of practice I know.
- Various guided meditations on the in and out breath, (such as Thich Nhat Hanh's "Flower-fresh, Mountain-solid, Lake-clear, and Space-free).
- Metta meditation, based on the Four Brahmaviharas (or "limitless qualities"): loving kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity.
- Chakra meditation (focusing in turn on each of the Seven Chakras, from the base of the spine to the crown of the head).
- Mantra practice (e.g. "Om Mani Padme Hum" or my own tenfold mantra)
Saturday, September 3, 2011
All political systems, institutions of the state, and cultural values (as well as pathways toward, and indicators of, economic growth) are justifiable only insofar as they encourage basic freedoms, including human rights, and individual and collective well-being. In that respect, democracy doesn’t solely mean “one person, one vote.” It also means, among other things, the protection of minority rights; an effective and truly representative parliament; an independent judiciary; an informed and engaged citizenry; an independent fourth estate; the rights to assemble, practice one’s religion freely, and advocate for one’s view peacefully without fear of reprisal or arbitrary arrest; and an empowered and active civil society that can operate without intimidation. By this definition, many African countries—and indeed, many societies in both the developing and developed worlds—fall short of genuine democracy. Likewise, “development” doesn’t only entail the acquisition of material things, although everyone should have enough to live with dignity and without fear of starvation or becoming homeless. Instead, it means achieving a quality of life that is sustainable, and of allowing the expression of the full range of creativity and humanity.
Wangari Maathai (Nobel Peace Prize Laureate)
The Challenge for Africa (Random House/Anchor Books, 2009), p. 56
Saturday, August 20, 2011
Saturday, July 23, 2011
- our collapsing, debt-ridden global market economy, which is only the most visible symptom of...
- the inexorable peak and decline of the fossil-fuel based net energy upon which that global market economy is entirely dependent.
- a simultaneous global ecological collapse, driven above all by irreversible climate change from global heating, coupled with overpopulation, pollution, collapsing fisheries worldwide, depleted groundwater, the collapse of bee populations for pollination, deforestation, desertification, etc.
Monday, July 4, 2011
- SOUTH--The Path of Learning (Ancient and Indigenous religious traditions, involving their own culturally specific mythologies and traditions)
- EAST--The Path of Teaching (Far Eastern religious traditions, involving ramifying lineages of teachers and students of the Dharma).
- WEST--The Path of Healing (The Abrahamic religions--Judaism, Christianity, and Islam--all positing one Creator God, and involving themes of redemption and healing played out through their sacred history).
- NORTH--The Path of Creating (The modern, secular traditions that emphasize human reason, freedom, and creativity--from the European Renaissance to the present).
A Homily of St. Hilda
Trade with the gifts God has given you.
Bend your minds to holy learning
that you may escape the fretting moths of littleness of mind
that would wear out your souls.
Brace your wills to actions
that they may not be the spoils of weak desires.
Train your hearts and lips to song
which gives courage to the soul
Being buffeted by trials,
learn to laugh.
determine to succeed.
This is pure, 200 proof Dharma--aside from the obligatory Western reference to God, it could as easily have been written by Pema Chodron as by St. Hilda.
The other piece is from Walt Whitman's introduction to the 1855 version of Leaves of Grass--a wonderful, visionary example of the Path of Creating--the Sacred as the autonomous self--which characterized the Romantic movement in both Europe and America:
This is what you shall do
by Walt Whitman
"This is what you shall do; Love the earth and sun and the animals, despise riches, give alms to every one that asks, stand up for the stupid and crazy, devote your income and labor to others, hate tyrants, argue not concerning God, have patience and indulgence toward the people, take off your hat to nothing known or unknown or to any man or number of men, go freely with powerful uneducated persons and with the young and with the mothers of families, read these leaves in the open air every season of every year of your life, re-examine all you have been told at school or church or in any book, dismiss whatever insults your own soul, and your very flesh shall be a great poem and have the richest fluency not only in its words but in the silent lines of its lips and face and between the lashes of your eyes and in every motion and joint of your body."
Amen to both Hilda and Walt!
Saturday, July 2, 2011
- BREATHE. As you draw breath and focus on it, reflect on the Holy Spirit that God breathed into Adam when He created him. Feel that same Holy Spirit within you, connecting you to all of God's creation.
- OBSERVE. Open your eyes, and see, as Jesus taught us, that the Kingdom of God is everywhere around us, for those with eyes to see.
- LET GO. Let go of your fears, your anxieties, and your hatreds--even of your own self-preoccupied thoughts, and rest within the Peace of God that passeth all understanding.
- BE WELL. Take good care of your own body, for it is the Tabernacle of the Lord.
- DO GOOD WORK. To get over any reluctance to do what you know you should do, simply say "Thy Will be Done." Then do your own part in realizing the Kingdom of God.
- KEEP IN TOUCH. Just as the mustard seed grows into a plant that draws nutrients from both Earth and Heaven, and makes them available to other plants, be ready at all times to reach out to all others--to express your love of God in your love of your neighbor.
- LEARN. Read the Scriptures prayerfully every day, and regard everyone you meet as a potential teacher, that you may "till" your own mistakes into the ground of your experience, as fertilizer for growing closer to God.
- TEACH. Do not put your candle under a bushel. What you have learned, share with others, just as the Mustard Seed creates topsoil for the benefit of all other life.
- HEAL. Our mission as Christians is to follow in the steps of Jesus of healing the sick, and healing as well the sickness of our society--just as the Mustard Seed restores damaged topsoil.
- CREATE. Just as God created us all, let us use our own creative gifts, whatever they may be, to create the Kingdom of God, just as the mustard seed creates the conditions within large plants and trees can flourish, offering shelter to the birds.
Wednesday, June 8, 2011
Thursday, May 12, 2011
Wednesday, May 4, 2011
"Forgiveness doesn't mean forget what happened. … If something is serious and it is necessary to take counter-measures, you have to take counter-measures."
This is, at best, the DL's effort to remain diplomatically above the fray--not to justify a gangster-style hit job. There is a big "if'" here.
"But what about 9-11" people will say, if I object to this murder.
There are two answers to this.
First let us assume (though it has never been proven) that Osama Bin Laden was the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks. If so, and if he was unarmed, he could easily have been captured and brought to justice, like any other criminal--presented with evidence, and given the opportunity to defend himself. This would not have appeased the testosterone-crazed multitudes in our degraded country, but it would have preserved something far more valuable: the rule of law, and the principle of due process. Instead, Obama (and all those who are cheering for him) lowered himself to the same level as the terrorists, by opting for an extrajudicial murder--something every terrorist longs to do to his enemies, real or imagined.
The Dalai Lama's response--that sometimes countermeasures are necessary--is absolutely true, but only in those instances where violence is the last possible resort to prevent further violence against one's own--like defending one's wife and children against an armed and murderous marauder invading the house. But in this case, Osama was minding his own business, and we were the armed and murderous marauders--not he.
My second response is more to the point, however: What ABOUT 9/11? Much as our government and corporate media maintain a common front of silence and denial about it, there is no getting around the fact that the official story of 9/11--that the Twin Towers and Building 7 collapsed as a consequence of the impact and resulting fires from the jet crashes--simply does not hold any water, scientifically. It violates both laws of thermodynamics, egregiously.
For example, we are told (again and again) that the Twin Towers underwent a "pancake collapse" in which the weight and force of the collapsing upper stories created a chain reaction that brought down all the others at freefall rate (without encountering any resistance at all from the intact 60-80 floors beneath them, nor the 47 steel girders that were specifically designed to support the structure as a whole. ) If so, where ARE all these collapsing stories? Look at this photo:
What do you see here? I see no upper floors at all crushing those beneath them (which is not surprising, since those lower floors had always supported them before. What I do see is something a lot more like a Roman Candle--a sequence of powerful explosions, symmetrically pulverizing the building, floor by floor, and blowing the debris upward and outward as it falls. This is no gravitational collapse, but a controlled demolition.
And there is, besides, a peer-reviewed scientific study by Dr. Niels Harrit of the University of Copenhagen and eight equally qualified colleagues, all with Ph.D.s in chemical physics, that found direct evidence of iron microspheres and particles of unexploded nanothermite in the dust from the immediately surrounding area: all prima facie evidence of controlled demolition. For further evidence and information on the real story of 9/11, the best source I know of is that of Architects and Engineers for 9/11 truth
In short, you can now count me among the growing multitudes who simply no longer believe the official story--and therefore have no reason to believe that Osama Bin Laden had anything to do with the horrors of that day.
In which case, what Americans and all their media outlets are celebrating with such noxious fervor is simply a gangster-style murder of a man who, while far from innocent (since he apparently was the mastermind behind the attack on the USS Cole and the African embassy bombings), was nevertheless entitled to the same rights to due process, under a just legal order, as you or me or anyone else.
And this is why I no longer even like to call myself an American, but rather a Gaian--that is, a citizen of the world, like my role model Thomas Paine, who originally coined the concept of "The United States of America," but whose legacy of enlightened democracy and justice we have now abandoned, in favor of brute force and bread and circuses. As Paine himself once put it, "The world is my country; all mankind are my brethren; and to do good is my religion." The Dalai Lama himself could scarcely have said it better!
Saturday, April 9, 2011
- PRINCIPLE: "We are caught in an inescapable network of mutuality, tied in a single garment of destiny. Whatever affects one directly, affects all indirectly."--Martin Luther King, Jr.
- PRECEPT: "Take care of everyone, and abandon no one. Take care of everything, and abandon nothing." --Lao Tzu.
- PRACTICE: Breathe, Observe, Let Go; Be well, Do good work, Keep in Touch; Learn, Teach, Heal, and Create.
Friday, April 8, 2011
- Health is internal homeostasis, maintained by the influx of matter/energy from Gaia through food, water, and breath, the elimination of waste, and the autoregulation of these processes. It is, of course, the prerequisite of the others.
- Competence is, quite literally, the ability to compete--that is, the ability to function effectively within a given, generally predictable niche, whether ecological or sociocultural. For a rabbit, competence consists of alertness to potential predators and the ability to find a safe hiding place for her babies; for a feline, competence is the ability to stalk prey effectively and all this entails. And of course for any human job or profession, competence is the ability to deliver the goods for which you are being paid, as well as or better than your competitors do. Competence, then, depends on specialized skills adapted to a given, relatively stable environment.
- Adaptive Flexibility refers, conversely, to the generalized ability to adapt to unpredictable changes in one's environment. In the natural world, as in the social world, there tends to be a trade-off between competence and adaptive flexibility: the more highly specialized we become, the less able we are to adapt when the conditions we mastered through specialization change too quickly or dramatically. Evolutionary history is littered with extinct organisms who were admirably specialized for one environmental niche, once that niche changed. Those organisms that have survived the longest, conversely, tend to be those that are highly adaptive and flexible. This is why, for example, coyotes far outnumber wolves, in the dramatically changed environment induced by human civilization. Wolves were highly competent within their native niche, as running social predators in wide-open northern woodlands and prairies. But coyotes--solitary, devious, and diversified in diet--have been able to thrive much more effectively on the fringes of the civilized world, despite the relentless efforts by farmers and ranchers to exterminate them.
- Self, Community, Planet. With this triad, we move into the exclusively human realm, in the present generation, as members of a species which, through language and culture, has come to dominate the entire planet, and whose numbers and resource consumption now directly threaten the survival of that planet as a habitat for life, human or otherwise. This triad specifies our shared obligation in this altered world we have inherited, creating what I like to call a new, Gaian Categorical Imperative: To assume responsibility, in every decision we make, for the health, competence and adaptive flexibility of ourselves, our community, and our planet simultaneously.
- Be Well, Do Good Work, Keep in Touch. This wonderful triad, which I have borrowed from Garrison Keillor, specifies the means to the end implied by the above Gaian Categorical Imperative. It is a good, generic daily agenda, and as such forms the centerpiece of my Dharma Gaia Mantra: Breathe, Observe, Let Go; Be Well, Do Good Work, Keep in Touch; Learn, Teach, Heal, and Create. Note also the correspondence in these triads:
- Eat - Health - Self - Be Well
- Survive - Competence - Community - Do Good Work
- Reproduce - Adaptive Flexibility - Planet - Keep in Touch.
- Good Buy, Good Work, Good Will. This triad translates Garrison Keillor's generic daily agenda into the language of Gaian social engagement. It can be unpacked as follows:
- Good Buy means to assume responsibility for the social and ecological consequences of the money we spend--to think of each dollar we spend as a "vote" for all of the processes that went into the product we have bought. Some general guidelines for "Good Buy" therefore include, whenever possible, buying locally produced food and other items, buying organically grown food, investing in renewable energy such as solar and wind, and deliberately boycotting corporations whose profits derive from damaging Gaia or exploiting workers. In general, the food that is best for our bodies--local, organic, nutrient-rich--is also best for our communities (in that it creates local employment and promotes local agriculture) and is therefore best for Gaia as well (in that it involves redirecting our money away from Glomart and all the agribusiness firms like Monsanto that profit from destroying our topsoil and genetic diversity.)
- Good Work means to assume responsibility for the social and ecological consequences of our livelihood. In general terms, this means avoiding livelihoods that increase the net level of suffering for Gaia and her creatures, and embracing livelihoods that promote the health, competence, and adaptive flexibility of ourselves, our communities, and Gaia. In general, such work involves learning Gaia, teaching Gaia, healing Gaia, and creating Gaia.
- Good Will means to "keep in touch"--to assume responsibility for the social and ecological consequences of our own mental attitudes, our behavior toward others, and every other choice we make.
Sunday, March 27, 2011
Friday, February 4, 2011
- "Strength lies in attack and not in defense." --Adolf Hitler
- (However), "Force is followed by loss of strength" --Lao Tzu
- (Therefore) "The meek shall inherit the Earth" --Jesus Christ.
- Glomart benefits, and Gaia suffers, by turning active citizens into passive consumers. We can therefore push back by exercising our citizenship in whatever ways are still available--speaking truth to power through electoral politics, letters, hearings, and visits to policymakers, as well as through strategically organized mass demonstrations. Even as consumers, we can push back by assuming responsibility for the social and economic consequences of the money we spend. A good way of doing this can be found on websites like Goodguide.
- Glomart benefits, and Gaia suffers, by turning active communities into passive markets for their products. We can therefore push back by organizing our communities, buying locally produced food, and forming or joining Community Based Agriculture cooperatives.
- Glomart benefits, and Gaia suffers, by turning our natural support systems--forests, mountains, fisheries, aquifers, and topsoil--into commodities which can be bought and sold on the market, and the pollution which results from manufacturing these commodities. We can therefore push back by doing everything we can to protect our planet--from voting with our dollars to speaking truth to power to organized nonviolent noncooperation with evil.