Wednesday, April 30, 2014

One Sees Deathlessness | April 30, 2014

Nothing exists except in relation to another thing. In the relation, and not in the things, or illusory definiteness of things, one sees deathlessness. 
—Leonard Michaels, “The Wheel”

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Via Daily Dharma

Live in Joy | April 29, 2014

When we are not attached to who we think we are, life can move through us, playing us like an instrument. Understanding how everything is in continual transformation, we release our futile attempts to control circumstances. When we live in this easy connection with life, we live in joy. 
—James Baraz, “Lighten Up!”

Monday, April 28, 2014

Via Daily Dharma

Balancing Act | April 28, 2014

We’ve all got some balancing act going. Maybe we juggle clarity and criticism; or it could be devotion and credulity, warmth and vagueness, energy and rivalry, precision and a need to control. We may struggle to cultivate one and suppress the other, but sometimes all it takes is a willingness to let go of our patterns as soon as we recognize them, and to stay open to whatever comes next. 
—Pamela Gayle White, “Walking the Walk”

JMG HomoQuotable - John Aravosis

"It was only a few weeks ago that America was lecturing the gay community about its intolerance for intolerance, for objecting to a bigot (in fact, an anti-gay activist, Brendan Eich) running a major American corporation (in this case, the Mozilla Foundation). Republicans, including gay conservatives, were particularly upset that anyone would judge a man’s job performance, especially the man running a company, by his personal animus towards minorities, many of whom would be his own employees. So long as he didn’t discriminate against his own employees, he was free to be a bigot, they told us. Now, they’re all eating crow. Today, even conservatives are saying (on CNN) that the NBA simply must investigate whether the owner of the Los Angeles Clippers basketball team, Donald Sterling, made racist remarks to his girlfriend, who is black and Mexican. Apparently, Donald Sterling made the mistake of buying a basketball team rather than taking over a high-tech company." - John Aravosis, writing for AmericaBlog.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

NOM's Latest Failure - April 28 MNW

Sunday, April 27, 2014

How Should Gay People Engage With Bigots? A Straight Man Explains.

Pluralism fetishist Conor Friedersdorf has been on a tear over at the Atlantic in recent days, inveighing his heart out about why we shouldn’t “punish” people like Brendan Eich, the former CEO of Mozilla, who have actively hurt other people through their at this point ridiculous opposition to same-sex marriage and full civil equality for gay folks more generally. Instead, he and similarly minded members of the high-school debate team suggest, we should “try [our] best to criticize [our] interlocutor's position, not their person,” in order to “preserve the possibility of dialogue, and change hearts rather than shutting mouths.” Since I recently suggested that folks like Eich “simply shut up” in recognition of the fact that, while they are constitutionally entitled to their unique and special anti-gay feelings, they are no longer welcome to express them in the public sphere with the expectation of being taken seriously (or allowed high-profile jobs), it goes without saying that Friedersdorf and I don’t quite see eye-to-eye on this issue. 

However, since I know that he is a gay ally (he is sure to assert his ally-ship at least once in each paragraph he writes), I do not want Friedersdorf to shut up. I do, though, wish he would think a bit more about whether his idealistic “hearts and minds” model of social change makes sense beyond the scale of personal relationships—and more important, for whom. As a starting point, let’s take on the question of what distinguishes gross bigotry, which I think Friedersdorf would agree we should treat with some amount of social stigma, from a reasonable political disagreement in which we should want to persuade the other side of the merits of our position. To be specific, in the Eich case, Friedersdorf has indicated that he would have had no qualms with the ouster if the former CEO had, say, sent out a company memo with the subject line “Attn: Faggots. Stop being so gay with each other”—that would be unquestionably bigoted. But a quiet donation of $1,000 to the Prop 8 campaign (ostensibly) in the name of defending some arbitrary, procreation-based definition of marriage doesn’t cross the line; that’s a person we should try to engage. To summarize: Directly saying that you don’t like the idea of two dudes loving on each other is bigoted, but using your checkbook to try to keep them from doing so as honest men is, if unsavory, rational enough. What are the special qualities of making a campaign contribution or voting for a marriage ban that makes those acts any less bigoted than punching me in my faggot face? Is it that they are quiet and semi-private, such that if I’m not looking over your shoulder I might not even notice? Is it that your intentions are supposedly based on ideological principles or traditional understandings and so you can’t be accused of personal malice? Or is it that, in a fit of altruism, you feel compelled to help prevent the sinner from further enjoying his sin? Even if I believed that any of these justifications could exist without the taint of homophobia (I sincerely doubt it), their function in the realm of laws and social conventions is still homophobic. Indeed, there’s something here of Chief Justice John Roberts’ fantastical thinking that only a direct bribe counts as political corruption—if he hasn’t committed a clear hate crime, Friedersdorf doesn’t think we should “punish” with “stigma” a person who is nonetheless hurting gay people. To the contrary, he is resolute in his view that it is possible to oppose gay marriage without actually harboring anti-gay animus and that in this fancy mental footwork, opposition to gay marriage is distinguished from opposition to something like miscegenation, its most obvious historical analog. In a consideration of the comparison, Friedersdorf argues that while the resistance to interracial marriage was based solely on white supremacy (bad), objectors to gay marriage are capable of taking their stand purely in the realm of religion-based, “traditional” definitions of marriage without rejecting gay people or gay sex at all (tolerable). However, even a cursory look at the history of miscegenation belies this distinction. 

Court documents from the period regularly cite religious definitions of marriage as the primary justification for keeping the races separate, and President Harry Truman, a strong advocate for integration otherwise, objected to miscegenation because it “ran counter to the teaching of the Bible.” (For more on the supreme aptness of the comparison, check out James M. Oleske Jr.’s paper on the legal academy’s response to each issue.) Of course, Friedersdorf is right to say that these arguments simply gave cover to plain old basic white supremacy—so why can’t he see that “traditional marriage” arguments are functioning the exact same way with regard to heterosexual/procreative supremacy? As Oleske puts it, “though there may be some religious people in the pro-gay-sex/anti-gay-marriage category … the primary religious argument against gay rights in America has been rooted in biblical passages concerning sex, not marriage.” The logic just doesn’t hold.

Make the jump here to read the full article

Slate's Lowder Has Had Enough of Straight-Splaining

"[W]hat Friedersdorf's privilege as a heterosexual leads him to miss is the fact that actual gay people--people who have been sexually and emotionally traumatized since childhood, who have had to listen to people like him civilly debate their worth as human beings for decades, who have more often been made to account for themselves than been able to demand an accounting of the violations committed against them--may very well be just a little too exhausted with bigotry of all stripes to engage in well-mannered chit-chat. "Indeed, it seems the height of privilege blindness to schoolmarm gays about how to engage their aggressors when Friedersdorf, in point of fact, has no idea what omnipresent psychological torture feels like. If he did, he might better understand why many of us can't really get too exercised about a rich straight dude losing a gig because his company found him a mismatch with its culture; why, in the grand scheme of things, that truly minor incident might not seem like such an Issue of Vital Importance to the Republic. "If he did, he might get how maddening it is to see your life reduced to another in a list of issues that are acceptable cocktail chatter this weekend." -- Slate writer J. Bryan Lowder, slamming (straight) Atlantic writer Conor Friedersdorf for his assertion that society shouldn't "punish" homophobes like Brendan Eich, but should instead treat them with "tolerance." (*cough* bullshit *cough*) Lowder's piece is a must-read. Click here to read it in full. 


Via Daily Dharma

Live in Awareness | April 27, 2014

Although all phenomena are going through the various appearances of birth, abiding, changing, and dying, the true person doesn’t become a victim of sadness, happiness, love, or hate. She lives in awareness as an ordinary person, whether standing, walking, lying down, or sitting. 
—Thich Nhat Hanh, “Simply Stop”

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Via JMG: HRC Unveils Southern Initiative

Via press release:
Today, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) announced Project One America (POA), a comprehensive campaign to dramatically expand LGBT equality in the South through permanent campaigns in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas. This substantial and lasting initiative—with a three year budget of $8.5 million and a dedicated staff of 20—is the largest coordinated campaign for LGBT equality in the history of the South.

“Right now, this country is deeply divided into two Americas—one where LGBT equality is nearly a reality and the other where LGBT people lack the most fundamental measures of equal citizenship. Project One America is an unparalleled effort to close that gap, and it opens up a bold, new chapter in the LGBT civil rights movement of this generation. In this grand struggle for equality, we can’t write off anyone, anywhere,” said HRC President and Arkansas native Chad Griffin.

Project One America is the very first campaign of its kind to work exclusively on LGBT equality in Mississippi, Alabama and Arkansas—where there are no non-discrimination protections for LGBT people at the state or local level in employment, housing or public accommodations, and where each state’s constitution expressly prohibits marriage equality.

“Despite the legal landscape, it’s long past time that the country stopped treating the South like the ‘finish line’ for equality. HRC has more than 57,000 members and supporters in these states, and there are millions more fair-mined people ready to stand on the right side of history,” Griffin said.
The Associated Press has more:
A national organization is launching a three-year, $8.5 million campaign to promote LGBT equality and push for new legal protections in three Southern states dominated by conservative politics and religion and known for resistance to change: Alabama, Arkansas and Mississippi.

Decades after groups used boycotts, marches, sit-ins, pickets and mass rallies to end legalized racial segregation and push for equal protection for blacks, the Washington-based Human Rights Campaign is planning a new kind of civil rights movement. It's one based on using chats and front-porch visits between relatives and friends to foster an environment more welcoming toward people of all sexual orientations.

The idea is simple, and it's borne out in polls: People are less likely to oppose expanded rights and acceptance if they know and care for someone who's gay. Activists hope that's particularly true in a region that values hospitality.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Daily Dharma

Don’t Strive for Escape | April 26, 2014

The world of worries we wish to escape from in the beginning of Buddhist practice is found to be enlightenment itself in the end. We don't understand this, of course, and so we keep striving for a distant, idealized kind of Buddhahood, only to reach its threshold and be turned back the way we came.
—Clark Strand, “Worry Beads”

Friday, April 25, 2014

Via The Bilerico Project:

While a growing number of states are recognizing same-sex marriages, in some jurisdictions blatant homophobia remains enshrined in the laws of the land. Even basic freedoms cherished by all Americans, such as the right to assembly and free speech, are challenged -- all under the guise of protecting "traditional values."
Putin's Russia takes a lot of heat for its regressive, homophobic laws, but anti-gay laws similar to those in Russia remain in force in...

Engaged practice Resources

Buddhadasa Bhikkhu
The Middle Way Life in a World of Polarity
What's Buddhist about Socially Engaged Buddhism
David Loy
The Fourteen Precepts of Engaged Buddhism
Thich Nhat Hanh
Dharma for Healing the World
Joanna Macy
New Voices in Engaged Buddhist Studies
Kenneth Kraft
Engaged Buddhism
Joan Halifax Roshi
Practices for Activists
Joanna Macy
Rules of Engagement
Kazuaki Tanahashi
In Engaged Buddhism, Peace Begins with You
Thich Nhat Hahn interview
Comprehensive Bibliography - Socially Engaged Buddhism
Buddhist Peace Fellowshio (compiled by Donald Rothberg - 2005)
Justify Your Love: Finding Authority for Socially Engaged Buddhism: Ways of Relating Buddhist Tradition and Practice with Social Theory
Diana Winston
How Shall We Save the World?
Nelson Foster
Can Buddhism Save the World? A Response to Nelson Foster
David R. Loy
Socially Engaged Buddhism & Modernity: What Sort of Animals are They?
Santikaro Bhikkhu
Global problem-solving: A Buddhist perspective
Sulak Sivaraksa
Books >>>
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
BPF serves as a catalyst for socially engaged Buddhism, helping beings liberate themselves from the suffering that manifests in individuals, relationships, institutions, and social systems. BPF's programs, publications, and practice groups link Buddhist teachings of wisdom and compassion with progressive social change.
Zen Peacemakers
Zen Peacemakers are individuals, groups and organizations dedicated to realizing and actualizing the interconnectedness of life. The effects of Zen practice unfolds in the meditation halls, at work, within families and within community. For the past 25 years Zen Peacemakers have been developing new forms, methods and structures in the areas of peacemaking, social enterprise and Zen practice, emphasizing the transformation of the individual and society.
Think Sangha
A socially engaged Buddhist think tank affiliated with the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF) in the United States and the International Network of Engaged Buddhists (INEB) using a Buddhist sangha model to explore pressing social issues and concerns. The group's methodology is one based in friendship and Buddhist practice as much as theory and thought. The Think Sangha's core activities are networking with other thinker-activists, producing Buddhist critiques of social structures and alternative social models, and providing materials and resource persons for trainings, conferences, and research on social issues and grassroots activism.
Article about: Exploring the Method of Socially Engaged Buddhism
International Network of Engaged Buddhists (UK)
International Network of Engaged Buddhism/
Sathirakoses-Nagapradeepa Foundation
A network committed to social justice with ecological vision and based on engaged spirituality and Sulak Sivaraksa, Our Founder, Honouring seventy years if living and working for justice, peace, democracy and sustainable livelihoods.
Consumption and consumerism are now central global issues, touching concerns such as environment, community development, education, and sex and gender issues. Buddhists are exploring what unique contributions the Dharma can offer.
Key Characteristics Of Consumerism & Buddhist Foils
Think Sangha
An alternative to consumerism
Sulak Sivaraksa
Consumerism and the Precepts
Taigen Leighton
Consumerism & The Way Out Of Consumerism
Ken Jones
The Religion of Consumption: A Buddhist Rebuttle
David Loy & Jonathan Watts
Shall We Pave the Planet, or Learn To Wear Shoes? A Buddhist Perspective on Greed and Globalization
David R. Loy
Demythologizing Consumerism: A Buddhist Pathway
Jonathan Watts, Think Sangha
The First Noble Truth (Dukkha): The Spiritual Roots And Delusion Of Consumer Culture
The Second Noble Truth (Samudaya): Deconstructing Consumer Behavior
The Third Noble Truth (Nirodha): A Life Beyond Consumer Attachment
The Fourth Noble Truth (Magga): Practicing Personal and Social Connnection
Spiritual Materialism and the Sacraments of Consumerism: A View from Thailand
Phra Phaisan Visalo
Overcoming the Grip of Consumerism
Stephanie Kaza
Buddhism And Consumerism
Venerable Thubten Chodron
The Crisis of Comsumerism
Judith Simmer-Brown
Books >>>
"The ecological crisis we witness today is, from a Buddhist perspective a rather predictable outcome of the kinds of deluded behaviour the Buddha described 2500 years ago. Greed, hatred and stupidity, the three poisons the Buddha spoke of, have now spilled beyond the confines of the human mind and village politics, to poison quite literally the seas, the air and the earth itself. And the fire the Buddha spoke of as metaphorically engulfing the world and its inhabitants in flames is now horribly visible in nuclear explosions and smouldering rainforests, and psychologically apparent in the rampant consumerism of our times." Stephen Batchelor
Buddhism and Ecology: Challenge and Promise
Donald K. Swearer
Principles and poetry, places and stories: The resources of Buddhist ecology
Donald K. Swearer
Green Buddhism
Stephanie Kaza
The Greening of Buddhist Practice
Kenneth Kraft
Can We Keep Peace with nature?
Stephanie Kaza
An Assessment of Buddhist Eco-Philosophy
Donald Swearer
To Save All Beings: Buddhist Environmental Activism
Stephanie Kaza
The Ecological Self
Joanna Macy
The Deep Ecology Platform
Joanna Macy
Deep Time
Joanna Macy
Joanna Macy
The New New (Buddhist?) Ecology
J. Baird Callicott
The Foundations of Ecology in Zen Buddhism
Ven. Sunyana Graef
The Relevance of Vipassana for the Environmental Crisis
Prof. Lily de Silva
Books >>>
See Learning Center's ethics page >>>
Gender and Buddhism
Feminism and Buddhism: A Reflection through Personal Life & Working Experience
Ouyporn Khuankaew
Buddhism, Feminism, and the Environmental Crisis: Acting with Compassion
Stephanie Kaza
See Learning Center's Women and Buddhism >>>
Gay Buddhist Fellowship
"The relentless drive by world-wide corporate entities to force their products on to the richer sectors threatens the global balance of natural resources and the lifestyle of indigenous people." Sulak Sivaraksa
Globalisation Represents Greed
Sulak Sivaraksa
A Buddhist Critique of Transnational Corporations
David Loy
The Religion of the Market
David Loy
Globalization and Buddhism
Alfred Bloom
Globalization from a Buddhist Perspective
Pracha Hutanuwatr and Jane Rasbash
See Learning Center's Dying and Death page >>>
India and Dr. Ambedkar
Dr. Amedkar & His People web site
Writings of Dr. Ambedkar
Arising Light - a film on Dr B. R. Ambedkar and the untouchables
Peacemaking and non-violence
Buddhism and Non-Violence
Sulak Sivaraksa
Non-violence: A Study Guide
Thanissaro Bhikkhu
The Budhha Taught Nonviolence, Not Pacifism
Paul Fleischman, M.D.
Mindfulness is the Key to Peace
Sulak Sivaraksa
Buddhism and Peace
Jan Willis
Buddhist Ideas for Attaining World Peace
Ron Epstein
Vowing Peace in an Age of War
Alan Senauke
The Personal Roots of Peace
Thich Nhat Hanh
Peace Making
Thich Nhat Hanh - audio CDs
Buddhism and Nonviolence Global Problem-Solving
Glen Paige
Books >>>
Prison Dharma
Symbols and Narration in Buddhist Prison Ministry: The Timelessness of Skillful Means
Virginia Cohn Parkum, Blue Mountain Meditation Society
Prison Dharma Network
A nonsectarian Buddhist network for prisoners, prison volunteers, and correctional workers supporting prisoners in the practice of contemplative disciplines, with emphasis on the meditation practices of the various Buddhist traditions. An affiliate of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship and a village of the Peacemaker Community.
The Prison Monk
Fleet Maull interview
The National Buddhist Prison Sangha
Zen Mountain Monastery's National Buddhist Prison Sangha is a right action program offering spiritual guidance and support to prison inmates.
Angulimala Buddhist Prison Chaplaincy Organisation
Teaching and practice of Buddhism in UK Prisons
The Engaged Zen Foundation
An independent organization of Buddhist practitioners involved with prison ministry, dedicated to fostering meditation practice in prison.
Racism and Buddhism
On Race & Buddhism
Alan Senauke
Engaged Buddhism in Asia
Joanna Macy
A Thai perspective on socially engaged Buddhism: A conversation with Sulak Sivaraksa
Donald Rothberg
Engaged Environmental Projects in Asia
The Search for Socially Engaged Buddhism in Japan
Jonathan Watts, Earth Sanha
The Ordination of a Tree: The Buddhist ecology movement in Thailand
Susan M, Darlington
Buddhism and Deep Ecology for the Protection on Wild Asian Elephants
Danniel Henning
Steering the middle path: Buddhism, non-violence and political change in Cambodia
Yos Hut Khemacaro
National Political Violence and Buddhism Response in Cambodia
Ubasak Ros Sotha
Nonviolent Buddhist Problem-Solving in Sri Lanka
A.T. Ariyaratne
60 Years of Achieving Peace in Siam
Sulak Sivaraksa
Engaged Buddhism in the West
Activist Women in Buddhism

Web sites
Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Network of Engaged Buddhists UK


Engaged practice

The Engaged Spiritual Life: A Buddhist Approach to Transforming Ourselves and the World
Donald Rothberg (Beacon - 2006)
Engaged Buddhism in the West
by Christopher S. Queen
Action Dharma: New Studies in Engaged Buddhism
Christopher Queen (editor) (RoutledgeCurzon - 2003)
Engaged Buddhist Reader
by Arnold Kotler (Parallax -2005)
Interbeing: Fourteen Guidelines for Engaged Buddhism
Thich Nhat Hahn (Parallax - 2005)
Socially Engaged Buddhism
by Sulak Sivaraksa (B.R. Publishing - 2005)
Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism
Susan Moon (editor) (Shambhala 2004)
The New Social Face of Buddhism: A Call to Action
Ken Jones (Wisdom - 2003)
Engaged Buddhism: Buddhist Liberation Movements in Asia
Christopher S. Queen (editor), Sallie B. King (editor) (SUNY - 1996)
Being Benevolence: The Social Ethics of Engaged Buddhism
Sallie B. King (U. Hawaii Press- 2006)
Conflict, Culture, Change: Engaged Buddhism in a Globalizing World
Sulak Sivaraksa (Wisdom - 2005)
The Path of Compassion: Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism
Fred Eppsteiner (editor) (Parallax - 1988)


Mindfulness in the Marketplace: Compassionate Responses to Consumerism
Allan Hunt Badiner (editor) (Parallax - 2005)
Hooked!: Buddhist Writings on Greed, Desire, and the Urge to Consume
Stephanie Kaza (editor) (Shambhala - 2006)
Key Buddhist thinkers reflect upon aspects of consumerism, greed and economicspairing of consumerist critiques with core Buddhist concepts.


Buddhism and Ecology: The Interconnection of Dharma and Deeds
Mary Evelyn Tucker (editor), Duncan Ryuken Williams (editor)
Dharma Rain
Stephanie Kaza, Kenneth Kraft (editors) (Harvard Center for World Religions - 1998)
Dharma Gaia: A Harvest of Essays in Buddhism & Ecology
Allan Hunt Badiner (editor) (Parallax - 2005)
Nature in Asian Traditions of Thought: Essays in Environmental Philosophy
J. Baird Callicott, Roger T. Ames (editors) (SUNY - 1989)
World as Lover, World as Self
Joanna Macy (Parallax - 2005)
Coming Back to Life: Practices to Reconnect Our Lives, Our World
by Joanna R. Macy, Molly Young Brown (New Society Publishers - 1998)


Buddhist Peacework: Creating Cultures of Peace
David Chappell (editor) (Wisdom - 2000)
Peace Is Every Step
Thich Nhat Hahn (Bantam - 1992)

Socially Engaged Buddhism

Socially Engaged Buddhism

A Buddhist Practice for the West

by Philip Russell Brown
This article presents the Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF),The "Tiep Hien" Buddhist Order (The Order of Interbeing) andthe work of the Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre as examples of Non-Sectarian,Socially Engaged and Ecologically Responsible Buddhist Practice. Theauthor believes that these kinds of organisations are likely to beof interest to those Western Buddhists for whom spiritual practiceis inseparable from social action on humanitarian and environmentalissues.

Socially Engaged Buddhism defined and its Role in the West

The term "Socially Engaged Buddhism" refers to active involvementby Buddhists in society and its problems. Participants in this nascentmovement seek to actualize Buddhism's traditional ideals of wisdomand compassion in today's world.

Because Buddhism has been seen as passive, otherworldly, or escapist,an "engaged Buddhism" may initially appear to be a self-contradiction."Isn't one of the distinguishing features of Buddhism its focus onthe solitary quest for enlightenment?" (Kraft,1985) The view takenby many engaged Buddhists is"that no enlightenment can becomplete as long as others remain trapped in delusion" and that "genuinewisdom is manifested in compassionate action". (Kraft,1985)

Furthermore, the engaged Buddhists who contributed to the recent work"The Path of Compassion: Writings on Socially Engaged Buddhism(ed.Eppsteiner,1985), found that in re-examining Buddhism's 2500-year-oldheritage,"the principles and even some of the techniques ofan engaged Buddhism have been latent in the tradition since the timeof its founder. Qualities that were inhibited in pre-modern Asiansettings, they argue, can be actualized through Buddhism's exposureto the West, where ethical sensitivity, social activism, and egalitarianismare emphasized" (Kraft,1985).

According to an American Zen teacher: "A major task for Buddhism inthe West, it seems to me, is to ally itself with religious and otherconcerned organizations to forestall the potential catastrophes facingthe human race: nuclear holocaust, irreversible pollution of the world'senvironment, and the continuing large-scale destruction of non-renewableresources. We also need to lend our physical and moral support tothose who are fighting hunger, poverty, and oppression in the world".(Kapleau,1983,p.26.)

One can get the impression from some Buddhist commentators that totake immediate social action is rather futile because only massiveand widespread change in the level of human consciousness will significantlyreduce suffering in the world. Take for example Ayya Khema's wordson world peace:

"Every thinking person bemoans the fact that there is no peace betweennations. Everybody would like to see peace on this globe. Obviouslythere isn't any.In this century there has been a war somewhere practicallyall the time. Every country has an enormous defence system wherea lot of energy, money and manpower is used. This defence systemis turned into an attack system the minute anyone even makes the slightestunfriendly remark or seems to be moving towards an invasion of airspaceor territorial waters. This is rationalised and justified with, 'We haveto defend the border of our country in order to protect the inhabitants'.

Disarmament is a hope and a prayer, but not a reality. And why? Becausedisarmament has to start in everyone's heart or wholesale disarmamentwill never happen. The defence and attack which happens on a largescale happens constantly with us personally. We're constantly defendingour self image. If somebody should look at us sideways or not appreciateor love us enough, or even blame us, that defence turns into attack. Therationale is that we have to defend this person, 'this country' whichis 'me', in order to protect the inhabitant, 'self.' Because nearlyevery person in the world does that, all nations act accordingly.There is no hope that this will ever change unless every singleperson changes. Therefore it is up to each of us to work for peaceinside ourselves. That can happen if each ego is diminished somewhat,and ego only diminishes when we see with ruthless honesty what's goingon inside us." (Khema,1987,pp46-47)

In stark contrast to this, Fred Eppsteiner of the Buddhist Peace Fellowshipmade the following comments about the Fourth Precept of the sociallyengaged "Tiep Hien" Buddhist Order:

"The fourth precept goes to the heart of Buddhist compassion and directsa challenge to all practitioners. Is it enough to practiceformal Dharma in order that some day in the future we'll be able tohelp all living beings? Or, rather, can the suffering of thesebeings diminish through our compassionate involvement in the present? Thisprecept seems to imply that contemplative reflections on the sufferingof living beings is not enough, and that the lotus can grow only whenplanted deep in the mud."

Eppsteiner goes on to recall "talking to a Vietnamese monk about Kuan-Yin,the Bodhisattva of Compassion. He (the monk) remarked that peoplemistakenly think that the only way to worship her is by putting offeringsin front of her image and praying. Holding up his own two hands andlooking directly in my eyes, he said, 'These are the best offeringone can give Kuan-Yin.'"(Fred Eppsteiner in Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987b,p.6)(Italics mine)

In their book "Seeking the Heart of Wisdom", Joseph Goldstein andJack Kornfield suggest that both inner practice and social serviceare important elements of the spiritual path. "Vipassana in the West",they say, "has started by placing a great emphasis on inner meditationand individual transformation. Buddhist teachings have another wholedimension to them, a way of connecting our hearts to the world ofaction.

Their first universal guidelines teach about the moral precepts andthe cultivation of generosity. These are the foundation for any spirituallife. Beyond this, Buddhist practice and the whole ancient Asiantradition is built upon the spirit of service. For some, servicemay seem to be simply an adjunct or addition to their inner meditation.But service is more than that; it is an expression of the maturity ofwisdom in spiritual life. Understanding of this spirit of serviceand interconnectedness grows as our wisdom deepens."( Golstein & Kornfield,1987,p165 ). It is this spirit of service which the following BuddhisOrganisations exemplify.

The Tiep Hien Order (The Order of Interbeing) and its Precepts

The Tiep Hien Order was founded in Vietnam in 1964 during the war. Itderives from the Zen School of Lin Chi, and is the 42nd generationof this school. (Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987a,p85) "The words "Tiep" and"Hien" have several meanings. "Tiep" means to be "in touch with" and"to continue". "Hien" means "to realise" and "to make it here andnow". (Thich Nhat Hnah, 1987b,p11)

The order was founded in the following manner. "In 1964, respondingto the bourgeoning hatred, intolerance and suffering, a group of Vietnamesebuddhists, many deeply grounded in Buddhist philosophy and meditation,founded ..(the).. Order to become an instrument of their vision ofengaged Buddhism. Composed of monks and nuns, laymen and laywomen,the Order of Interbeing (Tiep Hien) never comprised great numbers,yet its influence and effects were deeply felt within their country. Highlymotivated and deeply committed, members of the Order and their supportersorganized anti-war demonstrations, printed leaflets and books, ransocial service projects, organized an underground for draft resisters,and cared for many of the wars suffering innocent victims.

During the war, many members and supporters died, some from self-immolation,some from cold-blooded murder, and some from the indiscriminate murderof war. At this time, it is impossible to say whether any remnantof the Order still exists in Asia, even though several members didemigrate to the West, and have recently ordained a number of Westernersand Vietnamese refugees.

Yet (the) Fourteen Precepts that they recited weekly, whilewar, political repression, and immense suffering tore apart theirfamiliar world, are now being offered to us".(Eppsteiner,1985,pp152-153)

"The fourteen precepts of the Tiep Hien Order are a unique expressionof traditional Buddhist morality coming to terms with contemporaryissues. These precepts were not developed by secluded monks attemptingto update the traditional Buddhist Precepts. Rather, they were forgedin the crucible of war and devastation that was the daily experiencefor many Southeast Asians during the past several decades."(Eppsteinerin Thich Nhat Hanh,1987b,p5.) They are as follows:

The First Precept:

Do not be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology,even Buddhist ones. All systems of thought are guiding means: theyare not absolute truth.

The Second Precept:

Do not think the knowledge you presently possess is changeless, absolutetruth. Avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. Learnand practice non-attachment from views in order to be open to receiveothers' viewpoints. Truth is found in life and not merely in conceptualknowledge. Be ready to learn throughout your entire life and to observereality in yourself and in the world at all times.

The Third Precept:

Do not force others, including children, by any means whatsoever,to adopt your views, whether by authority, threat, money, propagandaor even education. However, through compassionate dialogue, helpothers renounce fanaticism and narrowness.

The Fourth Precept:

Do not avoid contact with suffering or close your eyes before suffering.Do not lose awareness of the existence of suffering in the life of theworld. Find ways to be with those who are suffering by all means,including personal contact and visits, images, sounds. By such means,awaken yourself and others to the reality of suffering in the world.

The Fifth Precept:

Do not accumulate wealth while millions are hungry. Do not take asthe aim of your life fame, profit,wealth or sensual pleasure. Livesimply and share time, energy and material resources with those whoare in need.

The Sixth Precept:

Do not maintain anger or hatred. As soon as anger and hatred arise,practice the meditation on compassion in order to deeply understandthe persons who have caused anger and hatred. Learn to look at otherbeings with the eyes of compassion.

The Seventh Precept:

Do not lose yourself in dispersion and in your surroundings. Learnto practice breathing in order to regain composure of the body andmind, to practice mindfullness and to develop concentration andunderstanding.

The Eighth Precept:

Do not utter words which can create discord and cause the communityto break. Make every effort to reconcile and resolve all conflicts,however small.

The Ninth Precept:

Do not say untrue things for the sake of personal interest or to impresspeople. Do not utter words that cause division and hatred. Do notspread news that you do not know to be certain. Do not critize orcondemn things that you are not sure of. Always speak truthfullyand constructively. Have the courage to speak out about situationsof injustice, even when doing so may threaten your own safety.

The Tenth Precept:

Do not use the Buddhist community for personal gain or profit, ortransform your community into a political party. A religious community,however, should take a clear stand against oppression and injusticeand should strive to change the situation without engaging in partisanconflicts.

The Eleventh Precept:

Do not live with a vocation which is harmful to humans and nature. Donot invest in companies that deprive others of their chance to live.Select a vocation which helps realize your ideal of compassion.The Twelfth Precept:

Do not kill. Do not let others kill. Find whatever means possibleto protect life and to prevent war.

The Thirteenth Precept:

Possess nothing that should belong to others. Respect the propertyof others, but prevent others from enriching themselves from humansuffering or the suffering of other beings.The Fourteenth Precept:

Do not mistreat your body. Learn to handle it with respect. Do notlook on your body as only an instrument. Preserve vital energies( sexual, breath, spirit ) for the realization of the Way. Sexualexpression should not happen without love and commitment. In sexualrelationships, be aware of future suffering that may be caused. Topreserve the happiness of others, respect the rights and commitmentsof others. Be fully aware of the responsibility of bringing new livesinto the world. Meditate on the world into which you are bringingnew beings.

The Order is truly non-sectarian. It "does not consider any sutraor any group of sutras as its basic text. Inspiration is drawn fromthe essence of the Buddhadharma as found in all sutras. The Orderdoes not recognize any systematic arrangement of the Buddhist teachingas proposed by various schools of Buddhism. The Order seeks to realizethe Dharma spirit within primitive Buddhism as well as the developmentof that spirit throughout the sangha's history and the teachings inall Buddhist traditions". (Thich Nhat Hanh,1987)

In the Order "there are two communities. The Core Community whichconsists of men and women who have taken the vow to observe the 14precepts of the Order. Before being ordained as a brother or sisterof the Order, one should practice at least one year in this way.

Upon ordination, the person has to organize a community aroundhimself or herself in order to continue the practice. That communityis called the Extended Community. This means all those who practiceexactly the same way, but have not been ordained into the Core Community.The people who are ordained into the Core Community do not have any specialsign at all. They don't shave their heads, they do not have a specialrobe. What makes them different is that they observe a number ofrules, one of them is to practice at least 60 days of retreat, ofmindfulness, each year, whether consecutively or divided into severalperiods.

If they practice every Sunday, for instance, they will have 52already. The people in the Extended Community can do that, or more,even if they don't want to be ordained. In the Core Community peoplecan choose to observe celibacy, or lead a family life."(Thich NhatHanh, 1987a, pp87-88).

The Zen Buddhist Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, believes that this typeof Buddhist practice will be acceptable to many Western practitioners. Heand his colleagues have experimented with it for 20 years and in hisopinion it seems suitable for modern society.(Thich Nhat Hanh, 1987a,p85.)

The Tiep Hien Order has a small but committed membership in Australia.(See below for more information)

The Buddhist Peace Fellowship (BPF)

The "Statement of Purpose" of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship is asfollows: "To make clear public witness to the Buddha Way as a wayof peace and protection for all beings; to raise peace and ecologyconcerns among American Buddhists and to promote projects throughwhich the Sangha may respond to these concerns; to encourage the delineationin English of the Buddhist way of nonviolence, building from the richresources of traditional Buddhist teachings a foundation for new action;to offer avenues to realize the kinship among groups and members ofthe American and world Sangha; to serve as liaison to, and enlistsupport for, existing national and international Buddhist peace andecology programs; to provide a focus for concerns over the persecutionof Buddhists, as a particular expression of our intent to protectall beings; and to bring the Buddhist perspective to contemporarypeace and ecology movements."

The fellowship "was founded in 1978 to bring a Buddhist perspectiveto the peace movement and the peace movement to the Buddhist community.Buddhists of many traditions join the Buddhist Peace Fellowship to explorepersonal and group responses to the political,social,and ecological sufferingin the world. Drawing on the teachings of nonviolence and compassion,and recognising the essential unity and interdependence of all beings,BPF members and chapters seek to awaken peace where there is conflict,bring insight into the institutionalized ignorance of political systems,and offer help in the Buddhist spirit of harmony and loving kindnesswhere it is needed."

"As a network of individuals and local chapters, BPF serves to promotecommunication and cooperation among sanghas in the work of nourishingall beings and resisting the forces of exploitation and war. TheBuddhist Peace Fellowship is a member organisation of the Fellowshipof Reconciliation and participates with other denominational peacefellowships in programs of ecumenical concern. National staff andlocal chapters respond to regional, national, and international peaceand social action issues. Operating within the broad guidelines ofthe BPF Statement of Purpose, chapters retain their autonomy and functionindependently. New chapters may form wherever BPF members and friendsare actively supporting each other in practices of engaged Buddhism. Membersand local chapters have been involved in disarmament, environmemtalactivities, and human rights, including campaigns opposing politicaloppression of Buddhists in Bangladesh, Vietnam, and Tibet. Chapterand national activities have included":

- education and support for personal choices to live simply, conserving energy, and resist harmful products and policies

- sponsoring teaching retreats and conferences

- letter-writing campaigns for human rights

- participation in vigils and demonstrations

- work with refugees from struggling countries

- support for socially conscious financial investment and consumerism,

- days of mindfulness practice

(The above information has been quoted from the BPF Membership information Leaflet.)

The Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre (ACT)

"The Vietnamese tradition of Mahayana Buddhism to which the Abbotof the Van Hanh Monastery and director of the Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre,Venerable Thich Quang Ba, belongs is engaged Buddhism. In thistradition, to practice the Buddha's teaching is not to withdraw fromsociety but to become engaged with it as Dharma practitioners. Accordingly,the Sakyamuni Buddhist Centre operates a range of social welfare programs."(Robleski,in Sakyamuni News,Oct,1991) Two particularly noteworthy programsare the Refugee Assistance Fund and the Vietnam Sangha Appeal. Theaim of the Refugee Assistance Fund is "to assist one of those groupsmost in need, those who have found the Government in their nativecountry so oppressive that they have risked their lives to escape. Theprogram assists mainly (but not only) Vietnamese refugees, most ofwhom have been in refugee camps for years."(Robleski,in SakyamuniNews,Oct,1991,p3.)

The Vietnam Sangha Appeal aims to provide financial support for thetraining of monks and nuns who will be reestablishing Buddhism inVietnam. "Since the Communist victory in Vietnam Buddhism has sufferedpersecution and oppression, leaving it in a very weakened state. Althoughconditions are still bad, over the past few years the Vietnamese Governmenthas found it necessary to develop contacts with the outside worldand attend to its international image, and so there has been sometoleration of religious activities. As part of this new reform policyabout ten Buddhist training institutes have been allowed to open,for the education of monks and nuns."

"These institutes are under Government control, but still Sutra Vinayaand other Buddhist subjects can be studied by approximately 1,000students. These institutes are, however, desperately poor. Theyare in need of even the most basic requirements - food, clothing andshelter - as well as money for books and their study materials."

"If Buddhism is to revive in Vietnam it must have the leadership ofa trained and educated Sangha....In a country as poor as Vietnam alittle hard currency goes a long way, and even $7.00 a month wouldprovide a scholarship that could support a student monk or nun."

"Thich Quang Ba hopes to be able to provide these institutes withmuch-needed financial support. He plans to send money direct to theindividual institute, and also wants to launch a scheme in which peoplecan sponsor a single sangha member, providing him or her with a personalscholarship. These students, the best and brightest, would be selectedby the head of their school."

Has Buddhism ever been Socially Disengaged ?

It is strictly speaking incorrect to see Buddhism as "engaged" or"disengaged". There is simply Buddhism and it is by its very nature"engaged". So when we speak of "socially engaged Buddhism" we arein fact implying that a significant degree of "engagement" is partof the particular Buddhist practice being discussed.

In a recent conversation with Venerable Thich Quang Ba, he emphasizedthe inherently "engaged" nature of Buddhism and the fact that "engagedBuddhism" is not a recent innovation. Supporting this view he madethe following observations: Firstly, the place of "interdependence"in Buddhist philosophy predisposes Buddhism to social engagement.Secondly, in the Buddha's lifetime, very few Bikkhus asked for orwere granted permission to live solitary lives of practice. His followerswere deeply engaged in work at the village level. Thirdly, we areconstantly being engaged by life. It is extremely difficult to bedisengaged from life and hence it is really how we engage life asBuddhists which matters. Fourthly, the Golden Ages of Buddhism inIndia, China and Vietnam provide significant examples of sociallyengaged Buddhism. Thich Quang Ba is pleased that Thich Nhat Hanh hascoined and popularized the term "socially engaged Buddhism" in hiswritings. He also agrees that it may provide an emphasis in practicewhich is appealing to Westerners but counsels them to see it not asa new form of Buddhism but as Buddhism with a particular emphasis.(Brown,1992)

It is this emphasis which may have particular appeal to Westernpractitioners who are not so much interested in the traditional lifein and around the Temple as they are with individual meditation practiceand the humanitarian and environmental issues of the day.

Let us conclude with the words of the world's most renowned sociallyengaged Buddhist,Tenzin Gyatso,the XIVth Dalai Lama:

"Each of us has the responsibility for all mankind. It is time forus to think of other people as true brothers and sisters and to beconcerned with their welfare, with lessening their suffering. Evenif you cannot sacrifice your own benefit entirely, you should notforget the concerns of others. We should think more about the futureand the benefit of all mankind."(Tenzin Gyatso in Eppsteiner,1985,p8.).

Distributed Electronically by BuddhaNet BBS, The Buddhist Bulletin Board: +61-2-212-3061P.O. Box K1020 Haymarket NSW 2000 Australia

Via Daily Dharma

Two Perfect Homes | April 25, 2014

Outside of me, there is a perfect home for everything inside of me. And inside of me, there is a perfect home for everything outside of me. Just let it go, and let it in. In and out, like the breath. After all, outside has nowhere to go but in, and inside has nowhere to go but out. 
—Shozan Jack Haubner, “Consider the Seed”

Via Huffington

A coalition of 58 LGBT people and allies -- most of them conservatives or libertarians -- came out with a statement yesterday on the resignation of former Mozilla CEO Brendan Eich. Mr. Eich, you'll recall, voluntarily stepped down earlier this month amidst public outcry over donations he made to the viciously homophobic Proposition 8 campaign and various anti-gay politicians.

The statement, titled "Freedom to Marry, Freedom to Dissent," desperately tries to revive the lie that Eich was targeted and toppled by LGBT activists -- a victim of "left-liberal" "intolerance," as Andrew Sullivan so ridiculously claimed

The truth, of course, is much different: not a single LGBT organization commented publicly on the controversy at all, much less called for Eich's ouster. The campaign against Eich was concentrated almost exclusively within the tech community and was driven largely by Mozilla staffers and developers. But, to quote Dahlia Lithwick, truthiness knows no debunking.

The signatories profess concern that the Eich kerfuffle "signal[s] an eagerness by some supporters of same-sex marriage to punish rather than to criticize or to persuade those who disagree... We strongly believe that opposition to same-sex marriage is wrong," they write, "but the consequence of holding a wrong opinion should not be the loss of a job."

Claiming that those same nameless LGBT rights supporters are taking "a worrisome turn toward intolerance and puritanism," the statement then implies that those who think the Eich controversy resolved itself appropriately are nothing less than enemies of speech and freedom:
The freedom -- not just legal but social -- to express even very unpopular views is the engine that propelled the gay-rights movement from its birth against almost hopeless odds two generations ago. A culture of free speech created the social space for us to criticize and demolish the arguments against gay marriage and LGBT equality. For us and our advocates to turn against that culture now would be a betrayal of the movement's deepest and most humane values.
How utterly absurd. This alleged attack on the "culture of free speech" is a straw man, pure and simple; nobody disputes the right of Brendan Eich -- or anyone else, for that matter -- to hold any prejudicial views they wish or to express those views in public. But Eich's right to his anti-gay beliefs does not protect him from the free-market consequences of those beliefs, including the loss of his community's confidence.

What makes this new "Freedom to Dissent" pledge so repugnant is that it essentially justifies homophobia by implicitly conceding that it deserves, as conservative New York Times columnist Ross Douthat puts it, "some modest purchase in civil society." Mindful of their impending defeat on marriage, opponents of equality are now trying to redefine "tolerance" to mean "affirming homophobic bigotry as a legitimate worldview deserving of deference and respect" -- and these 58 signatories have bought it hook, line and sinker.

But our culture doesn't treat other forms of bigotry with "respect" and "tolerance." To the contrary, prejudices like sexism, racism and anti-Semitism are overwhelmingly regarded with revulsion and scorn -- because society has rightfully decided that these toxic social evils deserve to be shamed and stigmatized, and that sexists, racists and anti-Semites no longer deserve a seat at the table of civil discourse. The lesson of the Brendan Eich controversy is that the public is increasingly ready to add homophobes to that list.

So I'd like to ask every single signer of this "Freedom to Dissent" pledge: if Brendan Eich had donated to a white supremacist or neo-Nazi group, would you make similar pleas for "serious consideration" of and "vigorous public debate" about the merits of those "dissenting" views? Would you work so hard to uphold the fiction that two morally equivalent sides exist on issues like racism and sexism and anti-Semitism?
Or is it just homophobic bigotry that deserves this special form of "tolerance?"

This post originally appeared at The Bilerico Project.

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Via Matthew Shepard Foundation / FB

15 years ago today, Matthew Shepard lost his life. We remember Matt by proudly supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation in its mission to replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. LIKE and SHARE to stand with us. #NOH8

15 years ago today, Matthew Shepard lost his life. We remember Matt by proudly supporting the Matthew Shepard Foundation in its mission to replace hate with understanding, compassion, and acceptance. LIKE and SHARE to stand with us. ‪#‎NOH8‬

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Via JMG: Obama Appoints Jason Collins To Federal Fitness, Sports, & Nutrition Council

Via White House press release:
President Obama announced his intent to appoint the following individuals to key Administration posts: Jason Collins, Appointee for Member, President’s Council on Fitness, Sports, and Nutrition. Jason Collins is a professional basketball player with the Brooklyn Nets, where he has played since 2014. Previously, he played for the Washington Wizards, the Boston Celtics, the Atlanta Hawks, the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Memphis Grizzlies, and the New Jersey Nets. He joined the National Basketball Association in 2001 after playing for Stanford University, where he was a National Association of Basketball Coaches third team All-American and a member of the All-PAC-10 first team. Mr. Collins is a partner with the Gay, Lesbian & Straight Education Network (GLSEN), a national education organization focused on ensuring safe schools for all students. Mr. Collins received a B.A. from Stanford University.
Other appointees include Rachel Ray, Alonzo Mourning, and ballet star Misty Copeland.

Reposted from Joe Jervis