Monday, September 8, 2014

Via Democrats Abroad / FB:

Via JMG: Lesbian Couple Marries After 72 Years


From Iowa's Quad City Times:
Vivian Boyack and Alice "Nonie" Dubes say it is never too late for people to write new chapters in their lives. Boyack, 91, and Dubes, 90, began a new chapter in their 72-year relationship Saturday when they exchanged wedding vows at First Christian Church, Davenport. Surrounded by family and a small group of close friends, the two held hands as the Rev. Linda Hunsaker told the couple that, “This is a celebration of something that should have happened a very long time ago.” The two met in Yale, Iowa, where they grew up, and moved to Davenport in 1947. Boyack was a longtime teacher in Davenport, directing the lives of children at Lincoln and Grant elementary schools. “I always wanted to be a teacher,” Boyack said Saturday after the ceremony. “My plan at an early age was to teach in the school where I was then going, and my teacher would move on to another school.”
(Tipped by JMG reader Jake)
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: GAMBIA: National Assembly Approves Life Sentence Law For Homosexuality

Via the Associated Press:
Gambia's National Assembly has passed a bill imposing life imprisonment for some homosexual acts, officials said Monday, potentially worsening the climate for sexual minorities in a country with one of Africa's most vocal anti-gay leaders. The bill amending the criminal code was passed last month and brings life sentences for "aggravated homosexuality," minority leader Samba Jallow told The Associated Press. That is a charge leveled at repeat offenders and people living with HIV/AIDS. Jallow said that while his National Reconciliation Party did not condone homosexuality, he voted against the bill along with one other lawmaker. "In our view, (homosexuals) did not commit a crime worthy of life imprisonment or any treasonable offense," he said. Homosexual acts were already punishable by up to 14 years in prison under a Gambian law that was amended in 2005 to apply to women in addition to men. The bill now awaits approval by President Yahya Jammeh, an autocratic ruler who in 2008 instructed gays and lesbians to leave the country or risk having their heads cut off.
PREVIOUSLY ON JMG: Gambian president Yahya Jammeh declares that his nation "will fight homosexuality like we fight malaria." Jammeh is named one of 2013's worst anti-gay villains by Human Rights Watch. Jammeh compares himself to Mohammed because he has "cured" 68 AIDS patients with herbs. Jammeh says no amount of foreign aid will bring LGBT rights to Gambia. Jammeh threatens to decapitate "any homosexuals found in Gambia."
Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Tricycle: The Loneliest Road in America Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Riding

We dropped down from Lake Tahoe into the Great Basin. The signage warned us about a veritable Noah’s Ark of animal life: bear, deer, cattle, moose, horses, men on horses, men on tractors. It got hot, fast. 

Ninety-two miles in we had lunch in Fallon, Nevada. Then we entered the desert, our motorcycles shredding the silence.

When I mentioned to Hunter, my riding companion, that the next stretch of 409 miles was known as the Loneliest Road in America, his response was “Well, I’m the loneliest man in America.”

Hunter was fleeing a relationship and riding with me back to the East Coast. I had set out from Cambridge on my motorcycle some seven weeks and 7,000 miles earlier, pinballing around the cities of the Midwest and then whipping across the plains and over the mountains to Seattle. I joked with friends that I was just swinging by Seattle to pick Hunter up. The truth is, our journeys happened to align. And yet I wasn’t sure what had caused me to fling myself out on the road once again. I had nothing to flee. Maybe it was like John Steinbeck said: “Once a bum always a bum.”

Hunter tore ahead astride Rhonda, his 1979 CB750. Rhonda had a menacing growl and a whole host of complications. She was in her dirty thirties, we joked—a longtime smoker. We wondered if she could make it through the desert unscathed. We wondered if we could make it through the desert unscathed.

I cruised steadily behind on Darsan, my 1990 BMW K75, so named because the Hindu concept of darshan—witnessing and being witnessed by the divine—has long intrigued me. And what better way to take darshan of America than on a motorcycle?

In his own American motorcycle journal, Robert Pirsig wrote, “The only Zen you find on the tops of mountains is the Zen you bring up there.” But what about valleys? Hunter and I were about to find out.

The emptiness was striking. All that space has a way of shrinking distance. The image of Hunter ahead, ducking into the wind and surging toward the mountains, is burned into my memory. Largely because to get to the mountains we had to surge toward them for a long time. The valleys were designed to a scale that we city boys weren’t accustomed to. The road was straight, the landscape barren. Though we pushed our bikes to 85, 90, 95 miles per hour, the pervading sense of stillness was broken only by the roaring wind.

We pulled over and removed our helmets, and the silence pulsed in our ears. Hunter’s constant fear was that Rhonda’s engine would seize and she would explode—spontaneous motorcycle combustion. 

We poured water on her cylinders and watched it sizzle. My constant fear was that my tires would explode. They’d traversed the country and then some. The upshot is that constant fear truly puts you in the moment. The great matter is birth and death, after all.

We plowed on. Over the miles we developed a natural rhythm: I’d overtake, lead for a while, and then, wordlessly, we’d switch positions. Peak, then valley; peak, then valley. After 112 miles we made it to Austin, population 300. Hunter entered the gas station and returned with a pin that read “I Survived the Loneliest Road in America.”

Flower of the Day: 09/08/14

“Enlightenment is the ultimate goal of life. I work towards demystifying this concept. At some point, the river flows into the ocean. We are working to make this happen in this incarnation, but if it doesn’t happen now, it will in another. For some people, becoming enlightened, or reaching the sacred dwelling place, may simply mean aligning one’s spirit with material life. For others it may mean being able to use one’s gifts and talents to serve the greater good, and having the joy of waking up in the morning to do so. Or it may mean giving of yourself to a cause that goes beyond your personal interests.”

Sri Prem Baba

Via Pema Chodro / FB: HEAVEN AND HELL

"There’s another story that you may have read that has to do with what we call heaven and hell, life and death, good and bad. It’s a story about how those things don’t really exist except as a creation of our own minds. It goes like this: A big burly samurai comes to the wise man and says, “Tell me the nature of heaven and hell.” And the roshi looks him in the face and says: “Why should I tell a scruffy, disgusting, miserable slob like you?” The samurai starts to get purple in the face, his hair starts to stand up, but the roshi won’t stop, he keeps saying, “A miserable worm like you, do you think I should tell you anything?” Consumed by rage, the samurai draws his sword, and he’s just about to cut off the head of the roshi. Then the roshi says, “That’s hell.” The samurai, who is in fact a sensitive person, instantly gets it, that he just created his own hell; he was deep in hell. It was black and hot, filled with hatred, self-protection, anger, and resentment, so much so that he was going to kill this man. Tears fill his eyes and he starts to cry and he puts his palms together and the roshi says, “That’s heaven.”

(From her book Awakening Loving Kindness)

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Viaa Daily Dharma

On Not Being Stingy | September 8, 2014

The One, or Oneness, as we might say in Zen, never tries to turn a profit from anything at all. It wouldn’t even make sense. We, on the other hand, are always trying to turn a profit from every human exchange. We are always trying to get something—admiration, love, recognition, praise, acknowledgment, even just staying connected. Think how we manipulate and bargain and negotiate to turn a profit from every interaction. Much of this is subtle, unconscious habit. Even when we give, or serve, or love, or pay attention, we’re trying to get something. Sometimes it’s just to get back some of what we give. 
- Sensei Nancy Mujo Baker, “On Not Being Stingy”