Monday, June 29, 2015

Experience the Magic: Bhutan (video)

Naropa.edu/Bhutan; Wisdom Quarterly
2015 Study Abroad Students in Bhutan, east of Nepal

(Naropa.edu) In 2013, Naropa and the Royal University of Bhutan signed an agreement for Naropa to be the gateway university in North America to offer a semester-long study abroad program for undergraduates. Exchange students will be fully immersed in Bhutanese culture.

Naropa Study Abroad in Bhutan
Royal University of Bhutan Campus, tucked below Tibet and east of Nepal.
Bhutanese courtyard, Bhutan (naropa.edu)
The Naropa University Bhutan Study Abroad Program is a unique opportunity for international studies at the Royal University of Bhutan (RUB), nestled just beneath Tibet and to the east of Nepal, high in the Himalayas.
 
In this student travel program, open to all students currently enrolled at a U.S. university, participans will spend a semester at RUB, fully immersed in Bhutanese culture, experiencing the arts, [Buddhist/Bon] spirituality, sustainable practices, mythology, education, happiness, and extraordinary landscapes similar to those in Nepal and Tibet.

Asia has the world's biggest mountains in Pakistan (K2), Nepal (Mt. Everest)
   
Sunrise in Bhutan, nestled below Tibet, and east of Nepal.
Chortens, small stupas or reliquaries
The vibrant union of this ancient Himalayan culture with Bhutan's modern global leadership in Gross National Happiness [counterpart to U.S. corporate capitalist "Gross National Product"] provides a fertile ground for international studies, and inspires creative research.
 
As one engages in cross-cultural explorations and encounter diverse views, one will be introduced to effective tools for intercultural work, including environmental studies, contemplative practices, deep listening, and holding complex realities. Through international studies and student travel experience, one will gain a sense of leadership, finding a confident voice and understanding of one's role as a global citizen.
 
As a RUB student, dress in traditional Bhutanese clothing, live with Bhutanese students in campus dorms, eat in the cafeteria, and more, immersed in a culture based on happiness and anchored in Buddhist traditions that originated in Tibetan or Vajrayana Buddhism. 
 
When in Bhutan, see the Giant Buddha (ST)
There are three required Naropa University courses and a choice of two RUB courses, for a total of 15 credits per semester. For Naropa students, these credits will apply toward one's major or electives.

Students from other U.S. universities should consult with their academic adviser to see how these credits will apply.

English is the language of instruction in most Tibetan and Bhutanese schools and universities. Following a three-week orientation training with Naropa faculty, participants will spend the semester in residence at a selected RUB campus taking international studies courses and completing NU courses, including a research project. Read "Circling Back to the Source" in the spring issue of Naropa Magazine as an example.

2015 Blog

Be sure to check out Anne Parker's blog (Spring 2015 lead faculty in Bhutan).

Courses
When in Bhutan, visit the Himalayan Yetis.
View course descriptions of Naropa courses, as well as courses offered at the Royal University of Bhutan. Students admitted to Naropa's Bhutan Study Abroad program will be expected to participate in a 4-week online orientation program during the fall semester prior to departure. There are no costs nor grades associated with this online orientation, but participation is expected. 

Dates for Spring 2015 semester: Jan. 18-June 11
 View the Bhutan Study Abroad Student Handbook for more detailed information. 

Grateful Dead's Farewell Tour (video)

Wisdom Quarterly; Associated Press (ap.org) via Huffingtonpost.com
GRATEFUL DEAD

SANTA CLARA, California - The four surviving members of the Grateful Dead are launching their farewell mini-tour on Saturday [June 27, 2015, see video below] in Northern California, where the legendary jam band got its start 50 years ago [20 years after the passing of their famous Latino leader, Jerry Garcia].
 
The first of the Dead's five "Fare Thee Well" shows is scheduled to take place at Levi's Stadium in Santa Clara, not far from the pizzeria where a five-man blues-rock band called The Warlocks played its first gig in May 1965. The group changed its name to the Grateful Dead seven months later and shortly after moved to San Francisco's Haight-Ashbury neighborhood, the counterculture hub with which the Dead still are identified.

(Nightline with Ted Koppel) Acid head Jerry Garcia dies in 1995
(Glenda Kuhl) "Truckin'" live June 27, 2015, Levi's Stadium
 
Some Buddhists say The Dead are groovy.
They will perform a second two-set show in Santa Clara on Sunday before heading to Chicago for three shows at Soldier Field on July 3, 4, and 5. Soldier Field is where the Grateful Dead last played as a group before the death of lead guitarist-songwriter Jerry Garcia in August 1995.

The band's so-called "core four" -- rhythm guitarist Bob Weir, bassist Phil Lesh, and percussionists Mickey Hart and Bill Kreutzmann -- insist July 5 will be their last concert together.

The Yeti-Bear-Man says, "Cool, man!"
They have recruited Phish front man Trey Anastasio as Garcia's stand-in on guitar and vocals. Keyboardists Bruce Hornsby and Jeff Chimenti, best known for his work with Weir's band RatDog, will round out the lineup.
 
Although the Dead are known almost as much for their legions of die-hard tie-died fans as they are for their extended onstage improvisations... More

Full concert: first set
(Peter Campbell) Grateful Dead with Phish's Trey Anastasio live at Levi's Stadium, Santa Clara, California: First set, Saturday, June 27, 2015.

World Naked Bike Ride: Los Angeles

Worldnakedbikeride-la.org; Wisdom Quarterly
Hey, stupid, why don't you watch where I'm going. My makeup won't apply itself (nuffy.net).
She was too shy to bare it, so she broke a precept and drank then vomited (wizzed.com)
.
World Naked Bike Ride
LOS ANGELES - On is Saturday, June 27th, WNBR L.A. 2015 went off.
 
Festivities, body-painting, and awesomeness began on Saturday, and after a few hours, streakers-on-wheels hit the road and spread a wheeled message to LA.
 
As always the ride was free, created by and for volunteers. It has been going on years and anyone can help out. RSVP here for exact locations in Downtown LA, which are sent out a day or two before the ride.
 
Put a stop to our indecent exposure...
The right to life, liberty, and the pursuit...
Put a stop to our indecent exposure to cars and car pollution! World Naked Bike Ride (WNBR) is a global grassroots movement connected only by our determination to all be naked and ride our bikes on WNBR Day. Ride in celebration and jubilation to deliver a vision of a cleaner, safer, body-positive world for all.
 
Feel the wind and join hundreds of naked friends in a free, non-sexual, fun bike ride! All are welcome. From the shy to the bold -- bikers, skaters, rollerbladers -- every age, shape, and color. Bring family and co-workers!
 
Dress code: bare as you dare
It's not your mom's nudity nowadays.
How bare? How dare? Decide for yourself. No one is excluded or discriminated against. Express yourself! Send a message. Body-painting, bike decorating, and other creative forms of expression are strongly encouraged. More

Friday, June 26, 2015

Naked biking, gay marriage, fire, prison break

Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells, Crystal Quintero, Wisdom Quarterly; worldnakedbikeride-la.org; pasadenaweekly.com; iheart.com; Tom Tomorrow (thismodernworld.com)
Keep your head in the game and your eyes on the road. So many distractions!
"A Confederacy of Denial" (Tom Tomorrow/thismodernworld.com)

The Zen of Naked Bicycle Maintenance: clean seat, shave right leg (Neploho/flickr.com)
.
Nude is not Lewd
Yoga is done nearly nude (B).
Get over it. What began in Portland, Oregon, is actually worldwide. It's the World Naked Bike Ride again comes to L.A. Why?

It helps and brings attention to the environment and enhances the positive body image of bicyclists and onlookers (Men staring at boobs, science has shown, is heart healthy even if it seems or is a bit pervy.

DOWNTOWN, Los Angeles - We will meet up near Buddhist Chinatown on Saturday morning, June 27, 2015. The exact location will be revealed at midnight at worldnakedbikeride-la.org.

What am I, The Naked Ape? But isn't nudity shameful and lewd? That's what we are taught and constantly conditioned to believe. Think of the Eve and Adam, the Snake that misled them, and the god that punished them. Get the h*ll out of my Garden! If you're interested, I've got some swampland to the east you may be interested in.

Welcome to L.A. Nude Women's Cycling Team of Columbia? No, it's not full frontal nudity, just a new uniform with misleading flesh tone midriff (telegraph.co.uk)

Back in the good old days, Peter Griffin, Lindsay Lohan, and Paris Hilton kept us distracted.

For a country that lives in fear of sexuality and nudity, it's Naked Time (A. Pearson)

Supreme court votes 5-4 to make gay marriage mandatory for all states to accept.
Homosexual/gay marriage means lesbian marriage, too, so get used to it (iheart.com).
Do you oppose calling gay unions "marriages"? Too bad, the court says you must.
Fires are currently sweeping through California as Nature intends except the situation is worsened by our synthetic drought brought on by geo-engineers and climate manipulators using chemtrails and HAARP (iheart)
Escapee Richard Matt was murdered by vengeful police today, humiliated over Matt's escape with the help of corrupt prison guard(s) and staff. This ends embarrassing weeks on the lam...except his partner, David Sweat, is still free (newser).
Prison break? Is this a police state yet, officer? - It soon will be, boy!
Mandatory acceptance of toxic (thimerosal, mercury, aluminum, etc.), autism-inducing, experimental, ineffective, or any other kind of excipient-laced vaccination clears final hurdle and come one step nearer becoming law. Or you can home school, with proper approval and oversight. If Nazis put fluoride in food, what's a little Prozac in our drinking water?
Feline Yogi, which is based in LA, sells yoga mats for your cat. The mats have a special cat toy attached that's made with rope and a catnip-stuffed twine ball (Cat Con L.A./scpr.org).
What would a Zen birthday card look like? Emptiness? (Piraro/bizarro.com)
"Captains of Industry Speak!" (JenSorensen.com)

Who's Buddhaghosa? What are Commentaries?

Crystal Quintero and Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
The Path of Purification (Visuddhimagga)
The question arises when reading, or trying to read, the incredibly dense Path of Purification. Who is its author, what does he know, and why should anyone listen to him? We have the sutras (canonical discourses), so presumably we have the word of the Buddha. What can Buddhaghosa possibly add to our understanding?

He can add a great deal, as it turns out. Most technical information on Buddhist meditation -- from working with the absorptions of serenity to the intricacies of insight meditation (particularly the causal links of Dependent Origination contemplated systematically after emerging from the jhanas to gain direct liberating insight) -- is learned from an ordained teacher.

That precious information has always been handed down through an oral tradition, not through books. Even today, though some of it is written, it will hardly make sense to the intrepid reader who will not have nearly enough knowledge or experience to approach it much less benefit from it. Of course, as Westerners, we do not want to give up our autonomy. Like Zen seems to teach us, we don't need no stinking teachers! The same way we don't need badges.



But first, who was he? Ven. Buddhaghosa Thera (the monk named Buddhaghosa the elder, of at least ten years in robes) was the greatest commentator on the Tripitaka, a collective name for the Buddhist texts ("The Threefold Basket").

The sacred texts can easily mislead one without the guidance and clarification the commentaries afford us. Commenting had a long and illustrious history before Buddhism, and it has continued ever since. A commentator is not giving an opinion the way we might today, but is clarifying points of controversy or sating thing Those who disparage it, as if we could access what the Buddha taught without it, are well-intentioned but misguided because they fail to see the tremendous value of the subsidiary and supporting texts that clarify and organized the Buddha's Teachings, the Dharma, even for the people to whom it was directly taught.

When, for example, the Buddha gave a teaching in brief and it was necessary for someone to flesh it out, if the monastics had questions, sometimes the Buddha assigned someone else to teach in full what he had stated in brief. and Ven. Sariputra were excellent at this.

Who was Buddhaghosa?
G.P. Malalasekera, Dictionary of Pali Names, Pali Text Society, edited by Amber Larson
The Indian scholar-monk and great commentator, Ven. Buddhaghosa, examining ola palm leaf Buddhist texts to collate them and explain them in a systematic study of the Dharma.
 
Buddhaghosa was born a Brahmin in India long after the time of the historical Buddha. And the Sās. (p. 29) says his father was a Brahmin priest (purohita) named Kesa, his mother Kesī.

Gv.66 says his father was the chaplain or spiritual counselor of King Sangāma. He was born in a village near Bodh Gayā, in Bihar state, and became proficient in the Vedas (the Indus Valley Civilization knowledge book now considered the sacred texts of Hinduism) and allied branches of knowledge.

Buddhist cosmology: 31 Planes of Existence
One day he met a monk named Ven. Revata and, on being defeated by him in debate, entered the Buddhist Monastic Order to learn the Buddha's teachings. Because his speech was profound, like that of the Buddha, and because his words spread throughout the world (like those of the Buddha), he came to be called Buddha-ghosa.

While dwelling with Ven. Revata, he wrote the Ñānodaya and the Atthasālinī, and he also began to write a Parittatthakathā (a concise commentary) on the Tipitaka, the "Three Collections" of the Dharma.
 
But in order to complete this monumental task, he went to Sri Lanka at the suggestion of Ven. Revata (Sās. p.29 says he was sent to Sri Lanka punishment for thinking himself wiser than his teachers) and studied the commentaries preserved in the local Sinhalese language at the Great Temple, the Mahāvihāra, under Ven. Sanghapāla. When his studies were ended he wrote The Path of Purification, the Visuddhi-Magga.

Sensual Planes of Existence (kama loka)
And having thereby won the approval of the noble elders there, he rendered the Sinhalese commentaries into the ancient exclusively Buddhist language of Pāli. During this period he lived in the Ganthākara Vihāra, and on accomplishing his task, he returned to India (then referred to by its Buddhist name, Jambudīpa, "the Rose Apple Island" or "Continent" or this "Planet" surrounded by "seas of space" and great rings of "mountains," which may sound odd but makes the most sense).
  • (Burmese tradition says Buddhaghosa obtained his copy of the Tipitaka and the commentaries from another storehouse monastery, one called Aloka Vihāra, but see P.L.C.83, n.1.4).
Besides these works of Buddhaghosa, we have also the Samantapāsādikā and the Kankhāvitaranī on the Disciplinary Code basket (Vinaya Pitaka); the Sumangalavilāsinī, the Papañcasūdanī, the Sāratthappakāsinī, and the Manorathapūranī on the Sutra basket. 
 
He is also said to have compiled commentaries on the Khuddakapātha and the Sutta Nipāta (called the Paramatthajotikā) and on the Dhammapada, a grand collection of the Buddha's aphorisms and their back stories. Buddhaghosa also wrote a series of commentaries on the Collection of Higher or Ultimate Teachings, the Abhidhamma Pitaka (the Atthasālinī, the Sammohavinodanī, and the Pañcappakaranatthakathā).

Some ascribe to him the commentary on the Rebirth Tales, the Jātakatthakathā. For further particulars relating to Buddhaghosa, see Law's Life and Work of Buddhaghosa" and P.L.C.79 ff. The account of his life given here is taken from Cv.xxxvii.215ff. For a list of works ascribed to Buddhaghosa, see Gv., pp.59 and 68.

"Ted 2" set to go to No. 1 (video)

Wisdom Quarterly; Universal Pictures
Seth MacFarlane ("Family Guy," "American Dad," "Ted") returns as writer, director, and voice star of "Ted 2," Universal and Media Rights Capital’s follow-up to the highest-grossing original R-rated comedy of all time. Joined once again by co-star Mark Wahlberg and fellow "Ted" writers Alec Sulkin and Wellesley Wild, MacFarlane's Ted struggles for civil and human rights when Dylann Storm[trooper] Roof, Rachel Dolezal, and killer cops are in the news.
 
Racism is alive and well in 26 states. In Los Angeles' neighbor to the south, Orange County, the KKK recruits. People want to investigate Obama's amnesty plan (kfiam640.com)
Racism harms everyone...but not equally. Victims get it worse than the privileged.
Racist flag, symbol of slavery and traitorous rebellion to keep human beings?
Demonstrating to bring attention to racism of Oklahoma Univ fraternity (AP)
Who can be what?
Bias works against her in daily life (CM)
Wisdom Quarterly (EDITORIAL)
The problem is we decide what "what" is, and who are we to say? Is Ted human? Is Rachel Dolezal black? We think she is, but that is a very unpopular opinion. Can "black" have two meanings, or is it only what the Deciders say it is?

Recently a 70-year-old woman found out that she's "white." She was adopted as a child, and her parents never told her she was adopted. She was raised as a light skinned black woman.

Obama gives great eulogy to quell racism.
But in 2013 her mother told her she was adopted, and she looked into her genealogy. In the process she discovered her white relatives. When she visited them, they thought her travails were finally over now that she was reunited with her real roots -- wait a minute, she said, I'm staying "black."

What does that mean? It means there are two distinct meanings of the word black in our American culture. One is what we imagine is the biology of being black, which is actually just the phenotype suggestive of a distinct genotype. Then there's the social construct Dolezal keeps reminding us about.

I'm not one. I kill them for fun and profit.
Did you know that in the Dominican Republic, the racist country next to Haiti (which is currently denationalizing and evicting all the darker skinned Haitians it can), you are white if you are black but at least 1/16th black.

In the racist U.S. it doesn't matter what you look like. According to an archaic law, you are black if you are 1/16th black or have even one drop of "black" blood.

US has an ugly racist history.
Dolezal grew up with black siblings, at least one of which her white brother raped (allegedly, and that case is currently working its way through the legal system, which is very friendly to white perpetrators and very antagonistic to nonwhite victims). And what is Dolezal's crime, volunteering to promote civil rights? Marrying a black man? Having a biracial child with that man?

Identifying with a culture different from the one we assigned or currently attempt to assign her to? Her "job" with the NAACP of Spokane was a volunteer position; she was not putting anyone out of work. Her identity is not new but something she has identified with for years, and her appearance reflects that.
I'm a racist with black friends. I killed (AP).
Yes, she sued her university as a white person. Her identity is fluid, as it also is for biracial people Could she be biologically "white" and culturally "black"? The university was discriminating against her for being white, she argued, which calls into question how successful her "black" identity was.  Actually, she did not claim to be black but rather biracial, even then. And a half-white person wasn't qualified for the teaching position she wanted?

Confederate Army and KKK racism
We all know people who looking one way or coming from a certain biological family nevertheless adopt another culture and are taken as members of that out-group. Young whites who love rap, gang affiliation, looking tough, dressing in a hip hop manner get a special name for being white while acting "black." If a white woman marries a Muslim man and converts to Islam, does she cease to be "white"? Or is she "just confused"? Who would give up privilege for something else?

Racist comics (ferris.edu)
Of course, many of us are mad -- and certainly not everyone at WQ is united in this opinion that she is black -- because she can "pass." But lots of people can pass. Are we mad at them? If Dolezal were found to be secretly "black" or biracial while a member of the KKK, a neo-Nazi group, or the Republican party, would we all be as outraged? "How dare she pass herself off as white! It should be a crime! She's enjoying "white privilege" she doesn't deserve!" Is that what we would say? No, it's absurd. Yet, we're saying it in reverse.

"Integrity matters," the placards say, promoted by a few angry women outraged that a white person is trying to help the movement or appropriate the culture like so many white rappers successfully do? She was using her identity for great good, not personal gain. But minds are made up. See David Horsey comic of Dolezal.

Why make a big deal about Dolezal when the world needs so many MORE white allies? Disagree? Comment.

Burmese military rejects Aung San Suu Kyi

The Guardian (AP in Burma, June 25, 2015); Pfc. Sandoval, Wisdom Quarterly
The Lady, Aung San Suu Kyi, is the daughter of the "Father of the Country" (Aung San). She is still trying to save the state -- Burma renamed Myanmar by the military junta -- from the generals that rule behind the scenes (Wei Deng Wei on the way/flickr).
Arguably the most Buddhist country in the world, with a population that is more than 90% Theravada Buddhist, remains under totalitarian rule (literally Orwellian as this is where George Orwell lived) of the military junta but now with a smiley face facade, like Huxley's Brave New World (Mucki Nowak/flickr).

Burma rejects proposal to let Aung San Suu Kyi seek presidency
Democratically-elected/totalitarian imprisoned Aung San Suu Kyi, Nat'l Leage for Democracy.
 
"Mother Aung San Suu Kyi, be happy" (AP)
Parliament votes against proposed changes to constitution that [currently] bans Nobel Peace Prize Laureate from seeking top office.
 
Burma’s parliament has voted against proposed constitutional amendments, ensuring that the military’s veto power remains intact and that opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi cannot become president in an election this year.
 
The Dalai Lama holds poster.
The legislature ended a three-day debate on Thursday on proposed changes to the 2008 constitution.
 
The constitution bars the Nobel peace prize winner from seeking the presidency and gives the military an effective veto over constitutional amendments. Changes to both those clauses were rejected on Thursday.

General Than Shwe hides in Naypyidaw
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NLD) is expected to make large gains against the ruling Union Solidarity and Development party in the polls
 
The NLD swept the last free general election in 1990 but the then-ruling military junta ignored the results and kept her under house arrest for years. More
Save the ethnic Rohingya Muslim minority! Sanction Ko Ko (uscampaignforburma.org)
Aung San Suu Kyi out of prison and off house arrest, working in the Parliament but prevented from ascending to the presidency where she might agitate for real change (AFP).
(US Campaign for Burma) Ellen Page takes a stand in defense of Buddhist Burma
Aung San Suu Kyi
Aung San Suu Kyi’s National League for Democracy (NDL) is expected to make gains against the ruling Union Solidarity and Development Party in the polls (U Aung/Xinhua Press/Corbis/AP in Burma).