Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 31/03/2015

“Se a vida é uma escola, relacionamento é a sua universidade. Mas para que você seja bem sucedido dentro desse estudo se faz necessário compreender um ponto muito importante: A sua felicidade não depende do outro. Acreditar que o relacionamento traz felicidade é uma ilusão que tem levado muitos a repetidas decepções e fracassos.”

“Si la vida es una escuela, la relación de pareja es tu universidad. Pero para que seas exitoso dentro de este estudio es necesario comprender un punto muy importante: Tu felicidad no depende del otro. Creer que la relación trae felicidad es una ilusión que ha llevado a muchas repetidas decepciones y fracasos.”

"If life is a school, then relationships are its university. In order to be successful within this study, it’s necessary to understand an important point: your happiness does not depend on the other. To believe that a relationship will bring you happiness is an illusion that has led many people to repeated disappointments and failures."

Via Daily Dharma

We Cannot Survive Alone | March 31, 2015

The food we eat, the clothes we wear, the air we breathe have all arisen interdependently. We cannot survive alone. We cannot eat, wear clothes, or breathe alone. The more keenly we are aware of this, the more we will begin to take responsibility for the welfare of other beings.

- Ogyen Trinley Dorje, "Tibetan Buddhist Leader Blazes an Innovative Trail"

Monday, March 30, 2015

Via Daily Kos: The Awesome Response to Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act

Indiana's Governor Mike Pence just signed a new law, the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, that will protect businesses that discriminate against LGBT and the response is just awesome.

George Takei, (Sulu from Star Trek) has written a letter and petition challenging all businesses who oppose the new law to boycott the entire state.

He asks people to join him in this boycott

ESPN, Keith Olbermann is calling on both the National College Athletic Association and the National Football League to boycott Indiana until the new law is repealed.
He tweets:
 Simple fact: after Indiana enacts a law permitting prejudice against some of its customers, NCAA should pull Final 4 out of Indy. Right now
I don't care if Final 4 winds up being played in a parking lot in Tulsa, NCAA has no right to support legally codified hatred and stupidity
And for that matter the NFL should play no games in Indiana until and unless this hateful, medieval measure is repealed.
And if you fall back on the discredited "orientation is a choice," ask yourself: what is religion if not a choice? Or passing hate laws?

Salesforce, a $4 billion dollar software corporation, has also decided to boycott  Indiana, saying:
"We have been an active member of the Indiana business community and a key job creator for more than a decade," Scott McCorkle, CEO of the Salesforce Marketing Cloud division, wrote in a letter to Indiana lawmakers. "Our success is fundamentally based on our ability to attract and retain the best and most diverse pool of highly skilled employees, regardless of gender, religious affiliation, ethnicity or sexual orientation." 
"Without an open business environment that welcomes all residents and visitors," he warned, "Salesforce will be unable to continue building on its tradition of marketing innovation in Indianapolis."
The company is joined by Fortune 500 member Cummins, Eskenazi Health, Eli Lilly and Co, Pat McAfee, Jason Collins (Mayor of Indianapolis) and Gen Con (a $50 million annual gaming convention). Salesforce threatens to stop expansion plans of their recently purchased Indianapolis based company, Exact Target. 
 Maybe these responses will make some impression the Governor? If not, maybe the response from the business community his law is going to hurt will force him to change the law he just passed. And maybe it's going to be pitchfork time very soon.

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 30/03/2015

“O segredo da paz é estarmos unidos e felizes independentemente das nossas diferenças. Porque não é possível globalizar (unificar) a cultura, as etnias ou a religião. Tentar fazer isso apenas estimula a violência. Você não pode obrigar o outro a pensar como você. Por isso a única maneira de vivermos em paz e harmonia é ajudando uns aos outros e respeitando as diferenças.”

“El secreto de la paz es estar unidos y felices independientemente de nuestras diferencias. Porque no es posible globalizar (unificar) la cultura, las etnias o la religión. Intentar hacer eso solo estimula la violencia. No puedes obligar al otro a pensar como tú. Por eso la única manera de que vivamos en paz y armonía es ayudándonos los unos a los otros y respetando las diferencias.”

"The secret to peace is for us to be in union and happy regardless of our differences. It is not possible to globalize or unite cultures, ethnicities, or religions. To do so only encourages violence. We cannot make others think like us. The only way to live in peace and harmony is to help each other and to respect everyone’s differences."

Via Mrs. Betty Bowers, America's Best Christian:

Via gbtqnation.com: Apple CEO Tim Cook: ‘There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country’

Tim CookAP
Tim Cook

Apple CEO Tim Cook, in a new op-ed at The Washington Post on Sunday, called on his colleagues leading other major companies to take a stand against so-called “religious freedom” legislation similar to one enacted in Indiana.
There’s something very dangerous happening in states across the country.
A wave of legislation, introduced in more than two dozen states, would allow people to discriminate against their neighbors. Some, such as the bill enacted in Indiana last week that drew a national outcry and one passed in Arkansas, say individuals can cite their personal religious beliefs to refuse service to a customer or resist a state nondiscrimination law.

Others are more transparent in their effort to discriminate. Legislation being considered in Texas would strip the salaries and pensions of clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — even if the Supreme Court strikes down Texas’ marriage ban later this year. In total, there are nearly 100 bills designed to enshrine discrimination in state law.

These bills rationalize injustice by pretending to defend something many of us hold dear. They go against the very principles our nation was founded on, and they have the potential to undo decades of progress toward greater equality.
Continue reading at The Washington Post

On Friday, Cook took to Twitter to condemn Indiana’s S.B. 101 — and similar legislation currently pending before the Governor of Arkansas.

Via Daily Dharma

The Value of Loving Ourselves | March 30, 2015

When we practice, we observe how much peace, happiness, and lightness we already have. We notice whether we are anxious about accidents or misfortunes, and how much anger, irritation, fear, anxiety, or worry are already in us. As we become aware of the feelings in us, our self-understanding will deepen. We will see how our fears and lack of peace contribute to our unhappiness, and we will see the value of loving ourselves and cultivating a heart of compassion.

- Thich Nhat Hanh, "Cultivating Compassion"

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Via FB:

Via JMG: ITALY: Activists Counter Neo-Nazis With Public Reading Of LGBT Children's Books

Yesterday I reported that Italy's neo-Nazi New Front Party planned to hold a burning of LGBT children's books in a central plaza in Milan. Local activists had demanded that city authorities stop the event and that may have happened. Not stopped, however, was a large counter-protest by LGBT activists and allies, who this afternoon staged a public reading of numerous LGBT children's titles.  Bravo Milano! Meanwhile the neo-Nazis are mocking the counter-protest on their Facebook page.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: INDIANA: Thousands Protest Against State's License To Discriminate Law

Via the Indianapolis Star:
When Annette Gross made plans for a rally in Indianapolis against the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, she had only hoped for 100 people to show up. "I'm a superstitious person," said the Carmel mom, who started a Facebook page about the rally only a few days earlier. "I don't like to say we're going to do this or that. But we got 'em." Instead, several thousand attended the rally. Gross, an advocate for the LGBT community, couldn't believe her eyes when she looked out onto the crowd in Downtown Indianapolis on Saturday. The number of protesters quickly grew as the crowd marched from Monument Circle to the Indiana Statehouse to express their displeasure with Republican Gov. Mike Pence, who signed the legislation Thursday. "No hate in our state," they shouted. Call and response chants continued on the Statehouse lawn, while speakers used a megaphone to address the crowd.
RELATED: Angie's List CEO Bill Oesterle announced today that he has canceled plans for a $40M expansion of his company's Indiana headquarters. A backlash against Angie's List is already underway from Twitter's haters.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via JMG: INDIANA: Gov. Mike Pence Promises New Bill To "Clarify Intent" Of Anti-LGBT License To Discriminate Law

Via the Indianapolis Star:
Gov. Mike Pence, scorched by a fast-spreading political firestorm, told The Star on Saturday that he will support the introduction of legislation to “clarify” that Indiana’s controversial Religious Freedom Restoration Act does not promote discrimination against gays and lesbians. “I support religious liberty, and I support this law,” Pence said in an exclusive interview. “But we are in discussions with legislative leaders this weekend to see if there’s a way to clarify the intent of the law.” The governor, although not ready to provide details on what the new bill will say, said he expects the legislation to be introduced into the General Assembly this coming week. Asked if that legislation might include making gay and lesbian Hoosiers a protected legal class, Pence said, “That’s not on my agenda.” Amid the deepest crisis of his political career, Pence said repeatedly that the intense blowback against the new law is the result of a “misunderstanding driven by misinformation.” He adamantly insisted that RFRA will not open the door to state-sanctioned discrimination against gays and lesbians. But he did acknowledge that Indiana’s image — and potentially its economic health — has been hurt badly by the controversy.
Chad Griffin is calling bullshit.
UPDATE: Freedom Indiana reacts in similar fashion.
Governor Pence didn't listen last week when he signed this discriminatory law into effect, and he's still not listening to the growing chorus of criticism locally and nationally. While we appreciate his recognition that he's placed our state in peril, he's obviously trying to have it both ways. You can't 'clarify' discrimination. Indiana now has billions of dollars and thousands of jobs on the line, all because the Governor wouldn't stop this dangerous bill. He has a second chance to save our reputation for Hoosier hospitality, but he has to stand up and protect LGBT Hoosiers. Discrimination is not a core Hoosier value, and we can't afford to let our state continue to suffer. Please, Governor, listen to the voices of common sense and reason trying to get through to you. Fix the bill to protect all Hoosiers, and make it clear our state is open for business again.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 29/03/2015

“É de grande valia identificar as crenças que dão sustentação para as imagens que nos fazem repetir situações negativas na vida. Uma crença é desenvolvida quando a partir de uma situação você passa a acreditar que as coisas sempre ocorrerão da mesma maneira. Uma das características da crença é justamente a generalização. Por exemplo, em uma situação específica a criança não é atendida pela mãe, e devido ao mecanismo proteção, ela passa a crer que o mesmo ocorrerá em todas as outras situações da sua vida. Então uma imagem fica congelada em sua mente, e no futuro essa imagem se manifestará como rigidez de pensamento. Isso é o que chamamos de imagem, condicionamento ou crença.”

“Es de gran valor identificar las creencias que dan sustento a las imágenes que nos hacen repetir situaciones negativas en la vida. Una creencia es desarrollada cuando a partir de una situación pasas a creer que las cosas siempre ocurrirán de la misma manera. Una de las características de la creencia es justamente la generalización. Por ejemplo, en una situación específica el niño no es atendido por la madre, y debido al mecanismo de protección, él pasa a creer que lo mismo le ocurrirá en todas las otras situaciones de su vida. Entonces una imagen queda congelada en su mente, y en el futuro esa imagen se manifestará como rigidez de pensamiento. Esto es lo que llamamos imagen, condicionamiento o creencia. “ 

"It’s important to identify the beliefs that sustain particular images, which in turn make us repeat negative situations in life. Once a belief is developed out of a particular situation, we believe that things will always occur in the same way. One of the characteristics of belief is precisely to make generalizations. For example, if a child is not answered by their mother, they will start to believe that the same thing will happen in all other situations in life due to their protection mechanism. This causes an image to remain frozen in their mind, and in the future this image will manifest as rigid thinking. This is what we call an image, conditioning or belief."

Via Daily Dharma

No Inside or Out | March 29, 2015

My mind is free from every thought,
Nothing in the myriad realms can move it.
Since it cannot be wantonly roused,
Forever and forever it will stay unchanged.
When you have learned to know in this way
You will know there is no inside or out!

- Han-Shan, "Two Classic Zen Poems"

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Via Daily Dharma

Self-Confidence is Necessary | March 28, 2015

While one sense of self—self-grasping ignorance—is a troublemaker, stable and realistic self-confidence is necessary to accomplish the path.

- The Dalai Lama and Thubten Chodron, "The Self-Confidence of a Bodhisattva"

Via Thich Nhat Hanh / FB:

Freedom is possible. One in-breath alone is enough to set you free - from your regrets about the past, your worries about the future, and your projects in the present. In that state of freedom, you will make better decisions. Next time you have to make a decision, be sure to breathe in and out first. 
- Thich Nhat Hanh

Via em.com.br: Estudantes fazem protesto contra a homofobia na Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto

Ato foi realizado por alunos que integram o movimento LGBT da universidade que denunciam o preconceito que sofrem de outros estudantes. Aluno chegou a fazer um texto sobre os casos

Um protesto denominado pelo próprios idealizadores como “bichaço” foi realizado na manhã desta sexta-feira na Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Ufop). Cerca de 150 pessoas estiveram presentes em apoio aos homosexuais que frequentam as salas de aula do local, em especial a Cláudio Ribeiro, 22 anos, que escreveu nesta semana em seu blog “Procrastinando”, um texto onde relata as dificuldades enfrentadas desde que chegou à cidade para cursar biblioteconomia, inclusive preconceito e descriminação por causa de sua opção sexual.

Conforme o estudante, a mobilização foi organizada em grupos do Facebook onde o assunto é constantemente abordado. “Os movimentos de jovens que participam do movimento LGBT sentiram um impulso para manifestar sobre o racismo, o preconceito e a homofobia após o texto que publiquei. Esses problemas acontecem aqui há muito tempo, principalmente dentro das repúblicas, que simplesmente menosprezam e ignoram os gays”, disse Cláudio.

Veja um trecho do texto publicado pelo estudante em seu blog:

 “Não vou dizer que essa é a primeira vez que enfrento preconceito, até porque isso seria impossível, mas em outros cantos onde estudei, como no Rio de Janeiro, vencer isso foi fácil. Meu curso de Biblioteconomia me introduziu a um campus onde a homofobia é praticamente inexistente, e os poucos que ainda estranham a homossexualidade acabam percebendo que não existe nenhum monstro ali, aprendem a conviver e se integram.

Meu melhor amigo do curso era hetero e eu nunca tive que lidar com um olhar torto. Depois de um ano e meio, quando mudei para Administração, foi um pouquinho diferente. Eu era o único gay da turma, ou o único que tinha um relacionamento declarado no Facebook e não ligava de responder perguntas sobre isso. Os meninos estranharam porque nunca lidaram com isso, mas em duas horas estávamos todos bebendo como se nos conhecêssemos há dois anos.

Vieram as perguntas curiosas e, depois de respondidas, ser gay voltou a fazer parte do segundo plano na minha vida. Me acostumei com isso, com a ideia de que as pessoas da nossa geração eram sensatas e compreendiam que é impossível todo mundo gostar da mesma coisa”

Procurada pelo em.com.br, a Universidade Federal de Ouro Preto (Ufop) informou que repudia todo e qualquer ato de violência de discriminação, seja ela de qual natureza for. E que a universidade vai abrir um processo para apurar os casos que forem denunciados. Ainda de acordo com a Ufop, protestos como o registrado nesta sexta são sintomáticos para problemas que possam acontecer de forma velada, pois muitas pessoas podem ter medo de denunciar por possíveis represálias, mas que está atenta ao caso.

Conforme Rafael Magdalene, pró-reitor de Assuntos Comunitários e Estudantis da Ufop, foi aberto um canal dentro do site da universidade para que haja uma melhor comunicação com os alunos. “Estamos abertos para conversar com os estudantes. Em relação às repúblicas federais, vamos analisar caso a caso, e se soubermos da existência de atos homofóbicos ou crimes contra a mulher, comunicaremos imediatamente à Polícia Militar e em seguida vamos instaurar medidas internas para resolver o caso”, disse.


Via United Church of Christ

Marginal Mennonite Societyia Marginal Mennonite Society

Via JMG: Ellen DeGeneres Slams Indiana

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Friday, March 27, 2015

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 27/03/2015

“A religião tem nos distanciado muito de Deus. Ela tem nos levado a acreditar em um Deus que está fora de nós. E você acredita porque um Deus que te observa, protege, e guia seus passos, traz uma sensação de segurança. Você se sente confortável e interpreta esse estado de conforto como felicidade. Mas, essa felicidade não resiste a dez minutos de análise, porque é uma felicidade baseada em crenças, não na experiência.”

La religión nos ha distanciado mucho de Dios. Ella nos ha llevado a creer en un Dios que está fuera de nosotros. Y tú crees porque es un Dios que te observa, protege, y guía tus pasos, trae una sensación de seguridad. Te sientes cómodo e interpretas ese estado de comodidad como felicidad. Pero esta felicidad no resiste diez minutos de análisis, porque es una felicidad basada en creencias, no en la experiencia.”

"Religion has created a great distance between us and God. It has led us to believe in a God who exists outside of us. We believe this because it brings us a sense of security to imagine a God who watches over us, protects us, and guides our steps. We feel comfortable and interpret this state of comfort as happiness. But this happiness does not stand up to ten minutes of interrogative analysis, because it’s a happiness based on beliefs, not a direct experience."

Via Daily Dharma

Precious Human Birth | March 27, 2015

Too much suffering is not good. If you become always manipulated by it, if suffering is always the boss, that is not good. And if you have too little suffering, you will not be inspired to pursue real happiness. That is why we speak of 'precious human birth.' Because being born in the human body provides just the right amount of suffering that we need in order to transform suffering into a source of wisdom and knowledge.

- Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche, "Trust Through Reason"

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Via Lion's Roar: Thich Nhat Hanh on Walking Meditation

The practice of mindful walking, says Thich Nhat Hanh, is a profound and pleasurable way to deepen our connection with our body and the earth. We breathe, take a mindful step, and come back to our true home. Read on and learn how to.

Many of us walk for the sole purpose of getting from one place to another. Now suppose we are walking to a sacred place. We would walk quietly and take each gentle step with reverence. I propose that we walk this way every time we walk on the earth. The earth is sacred and we touch her with each step. We should be very respectful, because we are walking on our mother. If we walk like that, then every step will be grounding, every step will be nourishing.

We can train ourselves to walk with reverence. Wherever we walk, whether it’s the railway station or the supermarket, we are walking on the earth and so we are in a holy sanctuary. If we remember to walk like that, we can be nourished and find solidity with each step.

To walk in this way, we have to notice each step. Each step made in mindfulness can bring us back to the here and the now. Go slowly. 

Mindfulness lights our way. We don’t rush. With each breath we may take just one step. We may have run all our life, but now we don’t have to run anymore. This is the time to stop running. To be grounded in the earth is to feel its solidity with each step and know that we are right where we are supposed to be.

Each mindful breath, each mindful step, reminds us that we are alive on this beautiful planet. We don’t need anything else. It is wonderful enough just to be alive, to breathe in, and to make one step. We have arrived at where real life is available—the present moment. If we breathe and walk in this way, we become as solid as a mountain.

There are those of us who have a comfortable house, but we don’t feel that we are home. We don’t want for anything, and yet we don’t feel home. All of us are looking for our solid ground, our true home. The earth is our true home and it is always there, beneath us and around us. Breathe, take a mindful step, and arrive. We are already at home.

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 26/03/2015

“Aprenda a confiar no seu coração; aprenda a ouvi-lo e a confiar no que ele diz. A voz do coração é a voz de Deus em você. Não há diferença entre Deus, o seu coração e o próprio fluxo da vida. A Verdade é uma só.”

“Aprende a confiar en tu corazón, aprende a escucharlo y a confiar lo que él dice. La voz del corazón es la voz de Dios en ti. No hay diferencia entre Dios, tu corazón y el propio flujo de la vida. La Verdad es una sola.”

"Learn to trust your heart. Learn to listen to it and trust what it says. The voice of the heart is the voice of God within you. There is no difference between God, your heart and the very flow of life. Truth is one."

Via Daily Dharma

What Your Demons Really Need | March 26, 2015

When we obsess about weight issues or become drained by a relationship or crave a cigarette, we give our demons strength, because we aren’t really paying attention to the demon. When we understand how to feed the demon’s real need with fearless generosity, the energy tied up in our demon will tend to dissolve and become an ally.

- Tsultrim Allione, "Feeding Your Demons"

Wednesday, March 25, 2015

Via JMG: BREAKING: California AG Asks Court To Quash Gay Death Penalty Referendum

"As Attorney General of California, it is my sworn duty to uphold the California and United States Constitutions and to protect the rights of all Californians. This proposal not only threatens public safety, it is patently unconstitutional, utterly reprehensible, and has no place in a civil society. Today, I am filing an action for declaratory relief with the Court seeking judicial authorization for relief from the duty to prepare and issue the title and summary for the 'Sodomite Suppression Act.' If the Court does not grant this relief, my office will be forced to issue a title and summary for a proposal that seeks to legalize discrimination and vigilantism." - California Attorney General Kamala Harris, via press release. 

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 25/03/2015

“Algumas pessoas compreendem que precisam resgatar a naturalidade nos cuidados com a saúde, mas acabam desenvolvendo diversas manias. Elas se tornam obsessivas por remédios, coisas “naturais” (remédios naturais, comida orgânica...). Não que o remédio natural não seja ótimo e a comida orgânica não seja maravilhosa, mas ao tornar-se obsessivo por alguma coisa, você deixa de ser natural. Pois o que é natural flui, assim como o rio.”

“Algunas personas comprenden que necesitan rescatar la naturalidad en los cuidados con la salud, pero terminan desarrollando diversas manías. Ellas se vuelven obsesivas por remedios y cosas “naturales” (remedios naturales, comida orgánica...). No es que el remedio natural no sea genial y la comida orgánica no sea maravillosa, pero al volverte obsesivo por alguna cosa, dejas de ser natural. Porque lo que es natural fluye, así como el río.”

"Some people understand the need to care for their health in a more natural way, but oftentimes they develop various obsessions. They become obsessed with natural remedies, organic foods, and so forth. This is not to say that natural medicines aren’t great and that organic food isn’t wonderful, but once we become obsessed with something, it’s no longer natural. That which is natural just flows, like a river."

Via JMG: J.K. Rowling On Dumbledore Being Gay

Reposted from  Joe Jervis

Via Daily Dharma

One Head is Enough | March 25, 2015

In the search for 'understanding,' the mind grapples with ideas. And yet it’s only when ideas are exhausted that any breakthrough can occur. I’m a great fan of metaphors, as any poet or reader of poetry is bound to be. But from a Zen point of view, I think it helps to remember that metaphor can also be like putting a head on top of your head. Isn’t one enough?

- Seido Ray Ronci, "No Words"

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Via LGBT Activists / FB:

American support by the Obama administration since 2009 for LGBT rights at the UN has given Ban Ki Moon the political space he needed to push the envelope, even when faced with opposition from culturally conservative countries. In 2012 he created the UN Free and Equal Campaign, which has helped mainstream LGBT rights throughout the entire UN system. It also gave him the space to be able to lead by example and change personnel policy to be more expansively welcoming to same sex partners.

This simply would not have been possible without the support of the USA. And today’s vote is a good example why that is. The USA used its influence and compel countries on the fence to abstain from today’s vote, thereby ensuring its failure.
LGBT rights secured a major bureaucratic victory at the United Nations today when member states overwhelmingly voted down a Russian-backed proposal to curtail benefits afforded to the same-sex spouses of UN staff. The vote failed by a...

Ricky Martin - Disparo al Corazón (Official Video)


Via TED: Michael Sandel: A Arte Esquecida do Debate Democrático

Publicado em 9 de abr de 2012

A democracia prospera com o debate cívico, é o que diz Michael Sandel -- mas, vergonhosamente, perdemos essa prática. Ele conduz um divertido exercício, como participantes do TED discutindo sobre um caso recente da Suprema Corte (PGA Tour, Inc. vs. Martin) cujo resultado revela o ingrediente crítico da justiça.

Via Profoundly Human: Baha’i Curious: Why Can’t My Religion Accept My Sexuality?


I’ve been a Baha’i since April 21, 2007. 

I came out of the closet November 4, 2010, at age 24.

I’ve been gay, however, since as far back as I can remember.

I first learned about the Baha’i Faith from a Persian classmate at my high school in Auburn, Maine. We’re best of friends 15 years later, still.

She invited me over to her family home for a devotional. There, I met friends from around the world from various faiths, races and backgrounds. This diversity was intoxicating in my humble, if not sheltered, hometown of 30,000 people. I was awe-struck by the oneness that I felt at the devotional. There were songs, prayers, food and fellowship. I went back every Thursday after and became a Baha’i seven years later. It has informed, guided and enriched my life in every way imaginable.
Baha’is, by the way, believe in:

  1. The Oneness of God
  1. The Oneness of Humanity and; 
  1. The Oneness of Religion. 

What got me was the idea of progressive revelation; in essence, that no one prophet is it, that Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, Zoroaster, Buddha, the Bab and Baha’u’llah — who Baha’is believe is the most recent manifestation of God — have come based on the needs of humanity for the era in which they lived. 

I’ve visited the Baha’i World Center in Israel twice and I’ve opened my home in New York City for devotionals hundreds of times. I share the ideas of the Baha’i Faith with those who are curious and have been an active member within the community. Aside from my parents, the Baha’i Faith has cultivated and shaped who I've become in my life, and it is the most consistent community to which I’ve belonged.

That’s why it’s so heart-breaking that I’m considering leaving the Baha’i Faith. 
Friends suggested that I not write this article. Baha’is have told me to deal with this quietly because it may bring about disunity. It’s been suggested that I talk it out instead; for fear that my writing something would have negative repercussions for me. I believe that any time one can express their challenges — their vulnerabilities and that which they feel makes them unlovable (and lately, being gay and a Baha’i mostly certainly makes me feel unlovable) — that it allows more shining to take place. That’s my goal in writing this: That we may all celebrate our wholeness, despite our challenges.

I also hope this is helpful to those who read it. In particular, for those gay Baha’is who are in the closet right now and, even more so, the gay Baha’is in the closet who’ve chosen to repress their sexuality and marry women in order to serve the Cause of the Baha’i Faith. Let's not pretend you don't exist.

Many Baha’is have written me over the months since The Jake Sasseville Show went live asking how I’ve reconciled being openly gay and a Baha’i. The truth is, as I receive many kind emails and Facebook posts, I realize I'm quite embarrassed to call myself a Baha'i while being at odds with the core Teaching around marriage and sexuality. 
According to the Universal House of Justice, the supreme ruling, democratically elected body of the Baha’i Faith, made up of nine members headquartered at the Baha’i World Center in Haifa, Israel:

“Homosexuality… can well have medical aspects, and in such cases recourse should certainly be had with the best medical assistance. But it is clear from the teaching of Baha’u’llah that homosexuality is not a condition to which a person should be reconciled, but is a distortion of his or her nature which should be controlled or overcome.” (Letter to a member of the Baha’i Faith, 1973)

Read the full article here

Photo: Like The Ocean Photography

Via JMG: CALIFORNIA: Activist Charlotte Laws Files "Jackass Initiative" Ballot Measure

In response to the proposed Sodomite Suppression Act, activist Charlotte Laws has filed her own California ballot measure titled the "Jackass Initiative."
Any person, herein known as an "Intolerant Jackass," who brings forth a ballot measure that suggests the killing of gays and/or lesbians, whether this measure is called the Sodomite Suppression Act or is known by some other name, shall be required to attend sensitivity training for at least three (3) hours per month for twelve (12) consecutive months. In addition, the offender or "Intolerant Jackass" must donate $5000 to a pro-gay or pro-lesbian organization.
Laws has been interviewed by Slate:
I’m fighting fire with fire,” she told me. “The only way to counter [the Sodomite Suppression Act] is … to let people know that most people in California don’t agree with something as incendiary and hateful as what this one attorney proposed.” Laws recognizes the merit of having a content-neutral initiative system, but she believes “we have a very open-minded state and country. This is one guy, and there are millions of us who do not agree with this.” Laws, a former Los Angeles politician and community activist, has devoted the last few years to battling revenge porn, especially kingpin of the genre Hunter Moore. Her new campaign is much more lighthearted—and, of course, a bit quixotic.
According to her Wikipedia page, Laws is former two-term member of the Greater Valley Glen Council and is the first politician to run on the platform of representing all "beings" in her district, not merely humans. Yesterday she spoke about the Jackass Initiative on a California radio show.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 24/03/2015

“A autopunição é uma forma de sabotagem da própria felicidade. Ela nasce da culpa. Ao se perceber vendo o prazer ou a felicidade como um perigo, procure identificar a culpa dentro de você. Se existe culpa é porque você ainda não entrou em acordo com algum aspecto do seu passado. Nesse caso, você pode não lembrar do passado, mas ele está tão presente quanto aquilo que acontece aqui agora.”

“El autocastigo es una forma de sabotaje de la propia felicidad. Éste nace de la culpa. Al percibirte viendo el placer o la felicidad como un peligro, intenta identificar la culpa dentro tuyo. Si existe culpa es porque aún no entraste en acuerdo con algún aspecto de tu pasado. En ese caso, puedes no recordar el pasado, pero éste está tan presente como aquello que sucede aquí y ahora.”

“Self-punishment is a form of sabotaging one’s own happiness. It is born out of guilt. If we’re able to notice that we perceive pleasure or happiness as a threat, we should try to observe the guilt that exists within us. If there is guilt, it’s because we have yet to integrate some aspect of our past. We may not even remember our past, but it is as present as what is happening right here and now."

Via Daily Dharma

The Empowered Individual | March 24, 2015

When individuals are happy and empowered they’re more likely to take action for the sake of others, more likely to be aware of the dignity of life and to treat all life with respect in their everyday actions, more likely to encourage others to do the same.

- Pauline Sherrow, "Q&A with Pauline Sherrow"

Monday, March 23, 2015

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 23/03/2015

“Quando é possível haver um grupo de estudantes comprometidos com a Verdade, o satsang se transforma na própria experiência da Unidade. Nesse caso, o discurso é um mero detalhe, porque a transmissão acontece através do silêncio. A clareza, a guiança, as instruções chegam e tudo fica claro no seu coração, mesmo que nenhuma palavra seja dita. Até porque as palavras são muito pequenas para expressar a grandeza da Verdade.”

“Cuando es posible que haya un grupo de estudiantes comprometidos con la Verdad, el satsang se convierte en la propia experiencia de la Unidad. En ese caso, el discurso es un mero detalle, porque la transmisión sucede a través del silencio. La claridad, la guía, las instrucciones llegan y todo se aclara en tu corazón, aunque ninguna palabra sea dicha. Incluso porque las palabras son demasiado pequeñas para expresar la grandeza de la Verdad.”

"When it’s possible to have a group of students committed to the truth, satsang becomes the experience of oneness. In this case, the discourse is a mere detail, because the transmission takes place through silence. Clarity, guidance, and instructions come and everything becomes clear in one’s heart, even if no words are spoken. Words are too small to express the greatness of the truth anyways."

Via Daily Dharma

Adventures in Going Nowhere | March 23, 2015

One of the beauties of Nowhere is that you never know where you’ll end up when you head in its direction, and though the horizon is unlimited, you may have very little sense of what you’ll see along the way. The deeper blessing is that it can get you as wide-awake, exhilarated, and pumping-hearted as when you are in love.

- Pico Iyer, "Adventures in Going Nowhere"

Sunday, March 22, 2015

Via Sierra Club / FB

Gloria Gaynor - I am What I am

Via Sri Prem Baba: Flor do Dia- Flor del Día- Flower of the day 22/03/2015

“Muitos já compreendem que por não estarem dando ao mundo aquilo que vieram para dar, sentem-se vazios e angustiados; sem motivação para viver. Alguns ainda não conseguiram reconhecer seus dons; outros já reconheceram e até já estão colocando-os em movimento, mas ainda não se sentem guiados. Isso indica que falta alguma coisa e faz-se necessário dar mais um passo adiante na jornada. Porque se você realmente coloca seus dons a serviço do amor, você se sente guiado; você entra na corrente de transmissão de energia: a felicidade é dada a você para ser transmitida ao outro.”

“Muchos ya comprenden que debido a que no están dando al mundo aquello que vinieron a dar, se sienten vacíos y angustiados; sin motivación para vivir. Algunos todavía no consiguieron reconocer sus dones; otros ya los han reconocido y están poniéndolos en movimiento, pero todavía no se sienten guiados. Esto indica que falta algo y se hace necesario dar un paso más adelante en el camino. Porque si realmente colocas tus dones al servicio del amor, te sientes guiado; entras en la corriente de transmisión de energía: la felicidad es dada te es dada para ser transmitida al otro.”

"Many people understand that when they don’t give to the world what they came to give, they are left feeling empty, anguished, and without any motivation to live. Some people have failed to recognize their gifts, while others have recognized them and are able to put them into action but still do not feel guided. This is an indication that something is missing and it’s necessary to take yet another step forward in the journey. If we have really put our gifts at the service of love, we feel guided and we enter the current of energy transmission. We receive happiness so that it may be transmitted to others."

Via Daily Dharma

Fire in Our Hearts | March 22, 2015

In war, one has to write or speak about war, but one has to write or speak about beauty, too. When to do which? No one knows, I think. Perhaps you know only each morning upon awakening. We must have courage, we must have fire, we must have energy. There is a war and all hearts are tempted to grow numb, to withdraw and tuck in as if about to roost for the long night. We must not allow this to happen. We must burn, we must travel on, with morning’s fire in our hearts and beauty everywhere we turn, amidst a great burning.

- Rick Bass, "Answering the Call"

Saturday, March 21, 2015

Jethro Tull - Life is a long song

Madonna Performs 'Ghosttown'

Via JMG: Gallup Survey On LGBT Populations

Gallup reports:
The San Francisco metropolitan area has the highest percentage of the adult population who identify as LGBT of any of the top 50 U.S. metropolitan areas, followed by Portland, Oregon, and Austin, Texas. Variation in the percentage who identify as LGBT across the largest metro areas is relatively narrow, with San Francisco's percentage just 2.6 percentage points higher than the national average of 3.6%, and the lowest-ranked metro area -- Birmingham, Alabama -- one point below the national average.

The top 10 includes metro areas from every region of the country except the Midwest. Given the long history of a visible and politically active LGBT community in San Francisco, the city's ranking at the top of this list is not surprising. Similar to San Francisco, Metropolitan Statistical Areas (MSAs) like Portland, Seattle and Los Angeles in the West, and Boston in the Northeast, are known for their progressive social and political climates and active LGBT communities. Hartford is the capital of Connecticut, which has permitted same-sex couples to legally marry longer than every state except Massachusetts.

MSAs like Austin and New Orleans in the South, and Denver in the Rocky Mountain region, all have reputations as socially progressive cities within states and regions that are much more conservative, perhaps making them regional hubs for the LGBT population.
Hit the link for the full list.

Reposted from Joe Jervis

Via the Wasington Post: The improbable, 200-year-old story of one of America’s first same-sex ‘marriages’

The shared tombstone of Charity Bryant and Sylvia Drake, a 19th-century lesbian couple. (Rachel Hope Cleves)
Charity Bryant only intended to stay a few days in Weybridge, Vt., a tiny rural town with little to hold her attention. But then she met Sylvia Drake.

Drake was 22 — a talented, literary-minded woman in search of a kindred spirit. Bryant, seven years her senior, was brilliant, charismatic and exactly the kind of partner Drake had been looking for. The two fell swiftly, madly in love. Within months, Bryant rented a one-room apartment and asked Drake to become her roommate and wife.

It may sound like something from a 21st-century vows column, but this romance predates most newspapers’ style sections — by about two centuries.

Via Tricycle: May All Beings Be Happy

March 20, 2015

May All Beings Be Happy

A lovingkindness meditation
Kevin Griffin

Metta (lovingkindness) is that sense of openness when we feel connected to everyone and everything in the world. In some ways, it's a natural outgrowth of mindfulness practice and just the general cultivation of happiness in our lives. When the Buddha talks about lovingkindness, he's clearly pointing to something different from what we usually call "love." In fact, his teachings point to the problems with selective love, and how that leads to clinging and ultimately suffering as things change. The Metta Sutta tells us to spread love over the entire world to everyone, no matter what we think or feel about them. This is unconditional love, love that doesn't expect or need a return, love that sees past the petty differences and disputes in life to the universal longings for happiness that we all share. In practicing lovingkindness, we are faced with our clinging, our judgments, and our selective caring. We see that what we usually call love may have a lot of conditions tied up with it: "I'll love you as long as you love me" or " as long as you give me what I want." And, further, we see that the love we have for our dear ones makes us vulnerable to grief and loss. 

Traditionally, metta practice focuses on three categories: those we love, those we are neutral or have no strong feelings about, and those we have difficulties with. Before we work with these categories, the practice suggests we first focus on a benefactor or beloved person (or even a pet). When we spend time sending lovingkindness to this beloved, we accomplish a couple of things: first, we soften ourselves up a bit, so that we are ready to send love to others; and second, we get a clear sense of what love feels like so that we establish that kind of baseline.

After connecting with the beloved, we then try to send love to ourselves. Many people find this to be one of the most difficult aspects of the metta practice. At least in our culture, many of us have complicated, and often negative, feelings about ourselves. To see ourselves as just another person deserving love is a valuable exercise. Here we start to disidentify with ourselves, see ourselves in more objective terms. When we can see ourselves as just another imperfect human, equally deserving of love as anyone else, it becomes easier to offer love to ourselves.

Moving from focus on ourselves to focus on all the rest of the people we care about—family, friends, intimates, and partner—the heart tends to open more easily. Now we might feel ourselves getting into the flow of lovingkindness. Without obstruction, and using the phrases, feelings, and visualizations of the practice, the mind can become quite focused and concentrated, so that, not only do we enjoy the pleasant feeling of love, but also the powerful feeling of concentration, called samadhi, that comes with deeper meditation practices.

We then try to carry these two qualities, the openheartedness and the focus, into giving metta to a neutral person or persons. For many people, this seems to be an awkward practice at first, but I think it has great potential in terms of growing a broad sense of lovingkindness for all beings. 

A neutral person is someone we don't have strong feelings about, either positive or negative. I've used people like the clerk in the video store and the security guard at the bank. These are people I can visualize pretty easily because I've seen them many times, but I certainly don't like or dislike them in any meaningful way. 

At first, and naturally enough, it might be hard to feel much about these people, but the practice gives us a form we can simply follow without worrying about the results. You see the person in your mind, you say the lovingkindness phrases to yourself, and you try to connect in your heart. What helps me in doing this practice is contemplating the universal desire for happiness and freedom from suffering. 

Even though I don't really know this neutral person, I know that, just like me, they want happiness. 

So, in a sense, I'm connecting with my own wish for happiness and just projecting it onto them.

As we work with the neutral person, we have the opportunity to see what the Buddha was getting at. It might be easy to wish happiness for your loved ones, but as you wish that, it's still very personal for you. You have some investment in their happiness, so it's difficult to disidentify with their happiness. 

However, with the neutral person, you have no investment, so you have to connect with something else, this universal longing that is impersonal. That moves you away from your self-identification into a more authentic metta. As long as there is identification or longing or investment in someone else's happiness, we aren't experiencing unconditional love. 

I think that many people can get caught up in the idea that metta is about feeling good and praying for people you care about. This is something of a distortion of the teachings. Yes, being immersed in metta is a pleasant experience, but that experience isn't the goal of the practice. 

Working with the difficult person makes this fact clear. If we were just trying to feel good, we certainly wouldn't spend time thinking about someone we don't like. The difficult person can be someone you've had conflict with or toward whom you have a resentment. 

Sometimes when no one in my life comes up, I just use a political figure that I disagree with. In any case, this is a place where we have to apply a strong mindfulness to our practice so that we don't lapse into aversion, anger, judgment, or resentment. As we follow through on the practice, visualizing the person and saying the phrases, it's very likely that we will not feel much that's positive, at least in our initial efforts. We need to be careful that the mind doesn't wander into negative thoughts and that we just keep with the simple task of the practice, staying with the words and the breath in the heart. Here, you may be able to get some insight into the limits of your own capacity for love. That's a valuable thing to see. It can give us some goals as well as show us where some of our own suffering comes from.

Clearly, the great spiritual masters believe that the capacity to love our enemies is one of the vital tasks of human evolution. Jesus spoke of this and exemplified it when he forgave those who crucified him; the Buddha explains this in the "Simile of the Saw," in which he says that even if someone were sawing off our limbs one by one, no thought of hatred should arise. If we want to be truly loving people, unconditionally and for all beings, we have to work with some form of this practice. It's certainly not something that I've come anywhere close to mastering, but I have found that with compassion practice, I can get some sense of this. 

After working with the difficult person, we can move to the expansive part of metta practice. This is actually a complete shift because no longer are we thinking about any individuals, but working instead with a sense of space. This space is what the Buddha is talking about in the Metta Sutta when he says that we are "radiating kindness over the entire world, spreading [it] upwards to the skies and downwards to the depths, outwards and unbounded, free from hatred and ill will." 

This is a somewhat more difficult area of practice to describe because it doesn't have the same cognitive elements of the earlier pieces. Instead, we are working more with a feeling, a feeling of expansiveness and connection. Hopefully when we arrive at this part of the practice, we've developed something of an internal sense of lovingkindness. While focusing on that feeling, that authentic wish for all beings to be free from dukkha, or suffering, we being a process of imaginative expansion. We can use a visualization if that works, while we stay connected to the feeling in the heart and imagine that the love is growing.

First we see/feel that love filling and enveloping the room we are in. Then we let that feeling expand out through the whole building, the neighborhood, outward in all directions until it touches everything on earth. This can be done slowly or quickly, depending upon how much time you have and how into it you are. You can think of specific groups of people you want to send love to: the sick and dying, the oppressed, or whatever comes up for you. You can also send love to animals, plants, and the earth itself. 

At this point, you may lose the sense of boundaries with your body, and experience a sort of floating or fluid sensation. I'm not trying to tell you how you should feel—just know that anything in this realm is normal and helps to support this part of the practice. When we've spread lovingkindness over the entire planet, we then expand into space, vast and limitless. We try to permeate the universe with lovingkindness. 

Once we've sat in this place of boundless love for a little while, we can bring ourselves gradually back into the body and heart, and close the period of meditation.

Practice—Metta Phrases

I've more or less outlined the practice above. Always start by connecting with the breath, so you have some attention in your body, preferably at the heart. As I've said, we first send metta to a beloved person or benefactor, then ourselves, our dear ones, a netural person, a difficult person, then radiating to all beings. A big part of this, then, is the felt sense of lovingkindness; however, this feeling may be stronger, weaker, or even absent at times. 

Nonetheless, we continue the practice by visualizing the people we are sending metta to, maybe naming them, and repeating phrases. 

You should use phrases that resonate for you and are simple and direct. Not more than four phrases. Here are some typical ones:

May you be happy

May you be peaceful

May you live with ease.

Some people like to add something like, "May you be safe." 

Stay in touch with your breath; notice feelings of happiness or resistance that come up at various stages; let the phrases flow with the breath and stay connected to the heart.

Kevin Griffin is the cofounder of the Buddhist Recovery Network. He lives in Berkeley, California. 
Adapted from Recovering Joy: A Mindful Life After Addiction by Kevin Griffin. Copyright © 2015 by Kevin Griffin. To be published by Sounds True in June, 2015.