Saturday, March 31, 2012

Women's Meditation Group, Los Angeles

Nancy Gilmour, WON (Women of Neighborhood) Unitarian Church, Pasadena

The next meditation for the Women's Group is Wednesday, April 4, 7:00-8:30 pm in Room 23 at Neighborhood Church, 301 North Orange Grove Blvd., Pasadena (next to the 134 Freeway), upstairs in the northeast corner of the campus where PasaDharma meets.

Class: "Echo Talk" technique, which helps slow down the incessant mind chatter we all wade through. The "10-Minute Chill" and relaxing "Body Scan" are two additional easy meditations usually done, in addition to a walking meditation.

These short (5-10 minutes), guided periods are designed to ease our way into meditation. While there is no charge for the class, participants may make a donation of dana, a Buddhist-Pali word that means "generosity freely offered." Bring a yoga mat to stretch out for the body scan.

Pema Chodron, When Things Fall Apart, pp. 122-123, "Three Methods for Working with Chaos"
The second method of working with chaos is using poison as medicine. We can use difficult situations -- poison -- as fuel for waking up. When anything difficult arises -- any kind of conflict, any notion of unworthiness, anything that feels distasteful, embarrassing, or painful -- instead of trying to get rid of it, we breathe it in.

The three poisons are: passion (this includes craving or addiction), aggression, and ignorance (which includes denial or the tendency to shut down and close out).

We would usually think of these poisons as something bad, something to be avoided. But that isn't the attitude here; instead, they become seeds of compassion and openness. When suffering arises, the instruction is to let the storyline go and breathe it in -- not just the anger, resentment, or loneliness that we might be feeling, but the identical pain of others who in this very moment are also feeling rage, bitterness, or isolation.

We breathe it in for everybody. This poison is not just our personal misfortune, our fault, our blemish, our shame -- it's part of the human condition. It's our kinship with all living things, the material we need in order to understand what it's like to stand in another person's shoes.

Instead of pushing it away or running from it, we breathe in and connect with it fully. We do this with the wish that all of us could be free of suffering. Then we breathe out, sending out a sense of big space, a sense of ventilation or freshness. We do this with the wish that all of us could relax and experience the innermost essence of our mind.

We are told from childhood that something is wrong with us, with the world, and with everything that comes along: it's not perfect, it has rough edges, it has a bitter taste, it's too loud, too soft, too sharp, too wishy-washy. We cultivate a sense of trying to make things better because something is bad here, something is a mistake here, something is a problem here.

The main point of these methods is to dissolve the dualistic struggle, our habitual tendency to struggle against what's happening to us or in us. These methods instruct us to move toward difficulties rather than backing away. We don't get this kind of encouragement very often.

Everything that occurs is not only usable and workable but is actually the path itself. We can use everything that happens to us as the means for waking up. We can use everything that occurs -- whether it's our conflicting emotions and thoughts or our seemingly outer situation -- to show us where we are asleep and how we can wake up completely, utterly, without reservations.

Earth Hour: Lights Out

What can just one person do? In fact, it has been the actions of just one person that ever gets anything done because eventually follow suit (Jacilluch/

Supporting the global initiative taken by World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) to observe "Earth Hour" by switching off lights for an hour on March 31st -- the last day of Women's Month -- we urge all to participate by switching off non-essential lights and electrical appliances for an hour from 8:30 pm to 9:30 pm Saturday. This is an annual international event in which households and businesses across the globe switch off lights to raise awareness about taking action on climate change.

The climate scientist asked the climate denier, "Hey, how many climate deniers does it take to change a light bulb?" The climate denier answered, "There's nothing wrong with that light bulb."

Lottery results

Wisdom Quarterly
It is inspiring that Wisdom Quarterly has readers in Maryland, Illinois, and Maryland.
CHICAGO (AP) - Maryland lottery officials announced early Saturday their state sold what could become the world's largest lottery payout of all-time, but it wasn't immediately clear if that ticket holder would get sole possession [she would not instead having to divide it with at least two others who each won at the odds of 170,000,000:1] of the $640 million jackpot or have to split it with other winners. More

Mega Millions lottery hits $640 million
The already record-breaking Mega Millions jackpot has surged again — to an unprecedented $640 million. The Mega Millions game is played in 40 states, along with Washington, DC and the U.S. Virgin Islands. #IfIWonTheMegaMillions has been trending on Twitter this week, with players offering ideas on how they'd spend the record-breaking jackpot.

Friday, March 30, 2012

How to Win the Lottery in 3 Steps

Wisdom Quarterly (EDITORIAL)
One of the most important karmic elements is to be happy in the happiness of others who win (mudita). Warning: these simple instructions contain two imponderables, the working out of karma and the range of someone absorbed in jhana.

$640 MEGA MILLION - Why do things happen? That is the central question motivating Wisdom Quarterly. Perhaps the question is better understood as, Why do things really happen?

Common wisdom answers, "God knows." The uncommon explanation of this statement is: karma. But it would be easier to understand "God" (Maha Brahma) than to get a handle on karma. Experiencing nonduality is relatively easy, and that will mean feeling like GOD (Brahman) through the Divine Abidings (Brahma Viharas). Brahma figuratively means "supreme" or divine, a superlative for ultimate.

You have to be in it to win it
While not technically true, it helps. (Couldn't you, wouldn't you find it or come into possession if it is meant to be?) Karma means intentional action. The important karma in this case is in the past, for it cannot happen that one would win the lottery (or mega millions by virtue of gambling and "luck") and hold on to such riches without the karmic support for doing so.

At some time in the past, whether proximate or remote, one has to have performed some intentional action of a superlative sort. Due to the number of past lives in our past, nearly all humans will have a cache of merit (punya). Will it be enough? If it is not, one can win as a part of a group and have her or his cut be commensurate with the quality of the deed coming to fruition (phala). Most karma takes time to ripen, but its result can technically be experienced opportunistically at any time after the seed is planted.

This being the case, how will it be brought forward. Think only good thoughts -- either in memory or out of faith (saddha) in the good done any from this moment back. For example, in the past I did such and such. Or in the present, at this very moment, I am cultivating the intention to make this a better world with the winnings: What would make it better?

Normally meritorious deeds can be done any time anyway. So this will require a higher order of profitable karma. What is the gift that excels all gifts? The Dharma excels all gifts. It is certainly the most valuable. But here riches are defined more broadly. The value one is aspiring towards is material and of a much lower order. Giving or intending to give in kind is more important.

More important still is the purity of consciousness generating this intention. Concentration is the way to purity. The mind absorbed on a single object is, by virtue of exclusion, temporarily purified, freed of mental defilements and effluents (inflows and outflows).

With all this theory in mind: Here is the way to win in three easy steps.

"Karma: It's everywhere you're going to be."

STEP 1. Be ready to withdraw a great deal of good karma that would have served you very well in the future. You will not have it because you are spending it here to be rich for no very good reason during this very, very brief lifespan. At the end of this life, all the money will be lost. (You can't take it with you, and you can't keep from going). The only way to "hold" onto it will be to give it away. If you are not willing to give it away, you will surely lose it. If you intend to cling to it, since it is certain to go, you are better off without it. If you are generating the karma now, remember: Mental karma is very powerful as is verbal. So delight in appreciation, admiration, approval, and applaud those who by right and honest means have gained as much wealth as you imagine.
  • (The problem is obvious. We want a kajillion, and the only people we can think of with that kind of money are the scum of the Earth, the One Percent, thieves robbing this world blind by dishonest capitalist means. So the rich, of the present or the past, need to be admired, appreciated with mudita, sympathetic or altruistic joy, and by doing so one will share in their store of karma for having become rich while engaged in right livelihood.)

STEP 2. Concentrate on a single thing -- not the money or the diversity of how it will be spent. Focus on an absorbable object of meditation. Enter the absorption, emerge while standing in line, ask for a ticket using either an INSPIRED number, one divined by some means unseen external agents are able to manipulate in your favor, or LET THE MACHINE PICK. Greed stands in the way of winning, and most people will simply choose their baby's birthday or other drivel while thinking they are being original. The number that is going to come up is not set, it is matched with the one having been chosen, so let the machine decide.

STEP 3. Be open to receiving, and that includes coming into possession of the ticket. The easiest way to do this is to buy one. The key is ONE. This is NOT a statistic, not a game of chance, not a probability. One is enough. Technically, one is more than enough. One dollar, one ticket, or whatever the price may be.

If you win, remember who helped you -- but keep the money for yourself. Don't send us any. We'll make do with our karmic inheritance helping living beings find what they wish for as they search samsara. The amazing thing is if people answer why they want hundreds of millions of dollars, what they say they want (like happiness, contentment, security, or enlightenment) cannot be bought but can be gotten without winning a lottery.

WARNING: An insightful Buddhist nun, whose wisdom had gone beyond, observed that if one were to become rich as a human on Earth, that would be a tragedy. Asked why, she explained that that person's karma came to fruition at a time and in a place where at best one could only enjoy the money for 120 years, likely much less. By contrast, if that same karma had come to fruition during rebirth in a superhuman state, that would benefit the individual for much longer with much finer strands of sensual pleasure to access. If it ripened outside of the sensual realm, in the fine material world, the benefit would be exponentially and inconceivably superior to anything in the sensual sphere. Be happy if no one wins because the $640 million will become more like $1 billion a week later. And these instructions will prove fruitful for some with more time to cultivate samma samadhi, right concentration. And our greed and depravity during times of economic uncertainty will have a chance to come into sharper relief. The winner, there is only one, will instantly become twice as rich as Willard Mitt Romney but have only 1/45th the riches of a Koch Brother with very few prospects of doing anything but losing it. Remember, riches beyond imagination are only three steps away, and the key is karma.

KOAN: Nansen Cuts a Cat (Case 9)

Mara Schaeffer, MS (PasaDharma Zen Study Group) edited by Wisdom Quarterly

Kick up the blue ocean and the whole Earth flies like dust. Shout apart the white clouds and the vast sky is crushed like powder. Though you strictly perform the right decree, that is still only half enough. With the great function fully manifested, how can it be applied?

Attention! At Nansen's place one day the monks of the east and west halls were arguing about a cat. Seeing this, Nansen held up the cat saying, "If you can say a word, I won't cut it in two." The assembly made no response. Nansen cut the cat.

Nansen later told Joshu what happened. Joshu took off his straw sandals and, placing them on his head, went out.

Nansen remarked, "If you had been here, you could have saved the cat."

All monks of both halls were arguing.
Old Teacher King could put right and wrong to the test.
By his sharp knife cutting, the shapes were both forgotten.
A thousand ages love an adept man.
The Way is still not overthrown.
The good listener's indeed appreciative.
For cleaving the mountain to free the river only Laiu is honored.
For smelting stone and mending heaven only Joka is capable.
Old Joshu has his own style;
putting sandals on the head is worth a little.
Coming upon differences, he's still a luminous mirror;
true gold does not mix with sand.


“Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.”
- Carl Jung

What the blank?
Mara Schaeffer, MS
When I first read this koan, I was horrified! Chinese Zen practitioners must have been depraved to act in such an un-Buddhist way, breaking the first precept by taking life.

As a vegetarian and a cat lover, I felt the only "true" Buddhists were those who honored at least the first precept. Zen must have become corrupt: The koan describes a community divided into hostile sides, unwavering in their positions, much like the world today.

Then the PasaDharma Koan Study Group brought me to a deeper understanding of this koan, sending me in search of meaning on a more profound level: I read several traditional Zen commentaries without finding them particularly helpful. I also practice dream work in the context of depth psychology, and it occurred to me that this koan was similar to a nightmare. Dreams and koans speak in metaphor and symbols.

Both koans and dreams can therefore pierce us with images that challenge our clutched beliefs, probing our hidden pain, and teasing us with the possibility of personal transformation -- if we interact with them.

Committing to being aware here and now is a commitment to bringing into awareness the negative “seeds” of our unconscious. Only then is there any hope of accepting and/or transforming them with understanding and compassion.

The Koan
The first two images presented are those of division and fragmentation. The blue ocean of serenity has been kicked up, throwing the Earth it supports into a scattering of dust. The blue tranquility of heaven is crushed like powder with loud shouts of conflict, antagonism, arguments, and dissension.

These images reflect the collective of the monastery. It is deeply divided into two camps warring against each other rather than deepening their practice and experiencing enlightenment.

On a personal level, it is like the warring thoughts and hindrances that swirl up through the imagination of a meditator during sitting, distracting the mind and, in the words of Paramahansa Yogananda, “kicking over the milk bucket of our spiritual bliss.”

Zen Master Nansen, as leader of the monastery, had to confront the problem directly to save the sangha (community) from itself. He held up the cat, possibly the only living being commonly loved by both camps. Or possibly the cat had committed some heinous act, playfully torturing and killing a pet of importance to the monks and/or village that supported the monastery.

In dream work, the cat often represents relatedness and the emotional connection of people to loved ones, as well as the inner feminine. The bigger the cat, the bigger the passion it represents. The cat was sacred to the Germanic goddess of love, Freya.

Many of the goddesses (devis) of India who embody the active energy (shakti) and power of male deities (devas) are pictured riding lions or tigers. In the ancient Pali Canon, the Buddha refers to himself and other prominent disciples as if they were stately lions, lords of the jungle or at least one domain, proclaiming the Dharma with a "lion’s roar" in the spiritual milieu of ancient India.

Desktop Zen rock gardening (

For the monks in the monastery, the cat might represent the projected anima, or “inner woman,” the sensitive feeling or emotive part of a man's personality. This can become a state described as anima possession when negative feelings overwhelm the personality with unconscious emotionality in the form of moods, restlessness, sentimentality, and even promiscuity -- imagined or real.

The whole monastery was in the grip of this "catty" nastiness, anima possessed behavior, which threatened the purpose of its existence.

Perhaps Nansen as the leader felt he had to do something dramatic and direct with the hope of shocking the community into seeing and instigating corrective action.

As the character Otter says to a similarly dissolute, anima-possessed "Animal House" fraternity:

“I think we have to go all out. I think that this situation absolutely requires a really futile and stupid gesture be done on somebody's part!”

Nightmares come from the so called “stupid” or irrational part of our psyche.

Nansen offers: "If you can say a word, I won't cut it." But the monks are so caught up in their divisiveness and conflict, no one responds. So Nansen performs a blood sacrifice: primitive, messy, barbaric, perhaps in an attempt to break through their destructive pettiness, which is poisoning their spiritual life.

On a personal level, when a murder takes place in a dream, we need to ask ourselves, “What part of my life have I been murdering?” That is, what part needs to be acknowledged and brought into consciousness?

How did the monks react to the cat mutilation? Was it with my revulsion and horror? The text does not say. The only reaction recorded was that of Joshu, who puts his sandals on his head. What could this gesture mean?
Sandals are the lowliest article of clothing, in contact with the soil, thrown at political leaders as an act of protest who lose our support and become dirty by their corrupting actions. The Jungian therapist and author Robert Johnson writes about the similarities between the soles of the feet and soul as the entrance of spirit into the body, which in medieval Christianity was believed to always be through the feet.

The architecture of old Gothic churches was laid out to represent the prone body of Jesus. The entrance and exit to the building was always built where the soles of Jesus’s feet would be -- a common motif in the mystic East Indian Buddhist/Hindu theme foreign to Judaism and Islam farther West.

As Buddhists, kinhin (walking meditation) is often a part of our practice, using our feet and the grounding experience of walking to focus our meditation. Modern Vietnamese Zen Master Thich Nhat Hahn charges us to “kiss the Earth with our feet” when we walk.

What did Joshu's sandals symbolize? Was he expressing an intuitive movement of opening up to feeling below and beyond any conceivable intellectual “stand”?

In response to both events -- the insensate murder of the cat and the spiritual death of the sangha -- the only appropriate reaction would be that of shock and silent grieving, a deep mourning that extended beyond the personal.

Do we mourn as deeply when our practice is disturbed and distracted, split from its purpose, murdering our precious “here and now” consciousness?

There is something about the profound pain of suffering which is as deep as the disturbed ocean. But like the ocean it is not bottomless. There comes a time when one’s grief touches ground and moves toward healing. Values are repositioned and redefined.

The monkey mind during sitting becomes less distracted -- or at least less distracting when we learn to simply watch it rather than becoming involved in its ceaseless machinations -- and the Buddha mind or enlightened mind (bodhicitta) grows stronger.

Existence goes on like the blue sky where our grief and even our lives and communities condense and dissolve like clouds over time. Maybe the community of monks, united in grief and shock at the loss of their beloved cats, which could have been the source of their petty argument (Who owns this cat, east or west halls?) overcame their conflicts, and returned to their practice.
  • Some in the study group noted that this story was just like the more shocking Biblical version familiar to Westerners: a tale of a human baby threatened with being cut in two to settle an ownership dispute. Surely the real mother will cry out that the impostor mother should take her child rather than see her child come to any harm. But the impostor, not possessing that affinity and nurturing impulse, reveals herself. The child is then given to the real mother who cared enough to relinquish her attachment to it. Maybe, just maybe, no cat was actually harmed in the making of this koan. Zen Master King Solomon Cuts a Baby

Joshu’s presence, like a “luminous mirror,” reflects the storm around him clearly but remains unperturbed at his depths. He is like the element “gold that does not mix with sand.” Only what he represents can still save the symbolic “cat” in all of us.

We are so quick to judge, to react, to believe, identify, and cling to "our" minds. The wisdom of this koan eventually spoke to me.

Recently a loved one from my youth, whom I had friended on Facebook, started preaching hateful political tirades. Shocked, I was ready to “cut” our friendship by the ultimate modern act of exile -- unfriending him on Facebook.

But by more closely reading his posts, I realized that beneath his anger was the same disappointment and pain with the political reality I had been feeling. Only he had reacted differently, angrily, violently, caught up in his own hindrances and confusion, which made him want different solutions that were, in their own extreme, as biased and opinionated as my own. Perhaps someday a dialogue will be possible.

Of course, like a dream, the truth of the koan is much closer to poetry than to prose. Words, ideas, even interpretations all fall short of the pure, silent eloquence of living images.

Understanding the translucent language of the koan and the nightmare can help us move toward a deeper awareness of the living reality they reflect. Then we can choose wisely like Joshu between the sand and the gold. We can reload our efforts to deepen our practice with renewed insight. Or as Nanrei Kobori-Roshi prompts us:

“Stop splashing along the surface with all your words and concepts...dive down deep into zazen.”

"Dear God" (video)

XTC; ; Wisdom Quarterly
The great atheist anthem "Dear God" by XTC from the album "Skylarking," inspired by a series of books by the same name that exploited children according to the vocalist

"Dear God" was inspired by a series of books of the same name that lead singer Andy Partridge saw as an exploitation of children.

The first verse and closing line are sung by 8-year-old Jasmine Veillette, the daughter of a friend of producer Todd Rundgren, although in the video a boy lip-syncs her vocals.

The lyrics are addressed to God, vividly describing the range of human (and squirrel) suffering, which the narrator following Judeo-Christian custom attributes to God. The song concludes every verse with the line, "I can't believe in you."

Despite its prayer-like quality, the lyrics strongly DOUBT the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, all-good God.

Told from the viewpoint of nonhuman animals on the planet

God, did you create all there is, or "Did you make mankind after we made you?" God, are you all-benevolent, or what about "the wars you bring, the babes you drown, those lost at sea and never found"?

The song also questions the value of the Bible as God's unquestionable word: "Us crazy humans wrote it... Still believin' that junk is true / Well, I know it ain't, and so do you." But fundamentalists will not stand for anyone questioning the Faith or trying to reason about "revealed" mystical wisdom.
In the UK, when the track was originally released as a single, many record shops refused to stock it for fear of a religious backlash.

It is ranked #62 on VH1's 100 Greatest One Hit Wonders of the 1980s despite never having charted on the Billboard Hot 100 and despite peaking at #37 on the Billboard Album Rock Chart. XTC had bigger hits on both charts and the later Billboard Modern Rock Tracks chart.

The song has been covered by Tricky on the album "Vulnerable" and by Sarah McLachlan on her album "Rarities, B-Sides and Other Stuff."

Do fanatical Christians and Ultra-Orthodox Jews know why so many people -- and this apparently included the Buddha -- say belief in this kind of omnipotent, omniscient, all-responsible deity simply runs contrary to reality?

The Buddha was not an atheist, yet he showed the harm in holding the wrong view that everything, all responsibility, devolved to some ultimate God or that petitionary prayer or ritualistic rites were effective forms of purification.

If, for instance, being bathed/baptized in rivers, a popular Vedic-Brahminical ritual (subsequently adopted by Hinduism, which had not yet come into existence) were effective in removing unskillful karma, fish would be the purest of all.

If prayer, making vows, or delighting in such practices brought the petitioner five rare and desirable things -- long life, beauty, happiness, fame, an afterlife in heaven -- who would not have these things?

Instead, the Buddha prescribed a following a path of life [karma, character-building deeds, wholesome and profitable course of conduct] conducive to longevity, beauty, happiness, fame, and rebirth in superior worlds" (AN V.43). This will be useful to one here and now as well as in the future. And there will be a future, even if atheists doubt that.

The Buddha asked the same questions as the song "Dear God" in a fable with talking animals (Bhuridatta Jataka) thousands of years ago:

"One who has eyes can see the sickening sight,
Why does 'God' not set his creatures right?

If his wide power no limit can restrain,

Why are his creatures all condemned to pain?

Why is his hand so rarely spread to bless?
Why does he not to all give happiness?

Why do fraud, lies, and ignorance prevail?

Why triumphs falsehood -- truth and justice fail?

I count your God one among those who harm,
Who made a world in which to shelter wrong."

But I want the Buddha to be an atheist
The difficulty atheists may have with Buddhism or Wisdom Quarterly's approach to the question is that we are nontheists, not atheists.

Nontheists realize that one cannot depend on God or gods to reach enlightenment and be saved from endless rebirth and suffering. That does not mean there are no higher order beings. There are. In a sense, there are "gods."

They, too, are bound by karma, caught up in the cycle of rebirth, imperfect, well born, at war in space (the "heavens"), creators of planets who terraform and cultivate life by genetic manipulation.

Our coverage of UFOs, space aliens, and "ancient astronauts" is to show that it was not "God" that made everything. But there are these other beings. They apparently called themselves gods and gave human technology and religion and demanded to be worshiped to the exclusion of other visitors, sometimes for good, often for bad.

All that goes wrong is not due to a devil like Mara or Satan, but that is not to say that there are no malevolent beings. Then as now, there are. Humans are capable of much more than we usually realize. A human can become enlightened and liberated, something not available outside of the worlds of some lesser devas and human beings.

The Buddha was therefore called the "Teacher of Gods and Men." And that will not delight biased, fanatical atheists and materialists. The truth about life is that it is much more complex than a false dilemma, the simple polar opposite sides offered between smarmy "science" and dull witted "faith."

The "Bully" Conspiracy (trailer)

Pfc. Sandoval, Pat Macpherson, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
Notice that police "lock down" schools with any pretext now? It is a near daily occurrence in Southern California. Does it prepare us for prison or martial law? Police, the ultimate bullies, rule. And we excuse it all by saying, "Boys will be boys."

For a crucial documentary on so important a topic, which might have been better titled "Victim," it is almost certain that those who need to see it most will never get the chance. Why? It has been rated R. Violence, blood, gore? No problem. But cuss words? Never! Our puritanical ways shoot us in the foot again, not accidentally. Who launched our culture of bullying, and what holds it in place?

How did it begin?

Who began imperial invasions and Western hegemony -- brought to a height by the British/United Kingdom ideal blamed on the infamous "Aryan invasion" plan of the Nazis -- and others before them to institute the jungle law (Lord of the Flies) of bullying?

We have a "conspiracy theory" we would like to unfurl. Bullying is too important to our society to allow a film to do anything about. Our policing and war recruiting depend on, so does our seedy sex trade. All three depend on molestation, boundary violation, and even sexual transgression -- bullying.

Police bully blacks, the poor, and the voiceless. Fathers torment whomever they have access to. Why? Well, mainly because they were tormented, and they're angry about it. Mothers lay into daughters and needle sons. Women fight one another in shopping mall parking lots. Girls jump other girls.

And boys have an unmitigated history of hazing, homosexual acts, and horrifying belittling behavior that is all part of growing up American (and British or European or anywhere else with a history of colonization). What prompts us to bother, bug, "bugger," rape, beat, and bring everyone into line? What moves us to gang up on any perceived weakness and be so intolerant of differences? It did not begin with humans.

We speculate the titans and deities (asuras and devas, "demons" and "archangels") brought it here, the former to make trouble and the latter inadvertently by giving some groups and bloodlines a "divine right" to rule as regents until their return.

Most religion now on the planet is the worst form of bullying. The Bible is the book on and of bullying -- first by God, then by kings, then by men (as heads of families), then by wives, then by age, each person in line being beat on and beating the next.

Mom arrested for encouraging her daughter in girl fight

The Western pecking order is not to be upset for fear of heavenly wrath. Was this what the Catholic Church, Inc. meant to do, or was it just the most profitable way to go in the long run? Are priests taught to molest our sons, pilfer our pockets, and scare the h-e-double-hockey-sticks out of everybody else? Who knows? God might smite us for even asking.

So with hate on one side and fear on the other, strong and weak, father and mother figure, conspire and squeeze us. They bully us. They toughen us up "for our own good." They make us future perpetrators. And we have a growing prison system, drug abuse problem, and sex work industry to show for it.

With all that on the line, it is a wonder "Bully" didn't get an NC-17 rating to make sure no one would see it.

See it. Take your kids. Get the PTA to show it to all the other parents. Screen it at assemblies for school kids to see. Is there any reason why the "bad words" couldn't be bleeped to protect our childlike ears?

KOAN: Solomon Cuts a Baby

Wisdom Quarterly (1 Kings 3:1-3:16)

Two women (Hebrew, prostitutes), were living together and sleeping with their newborns. One rolled over hers and accidentally killed her dear baby.

Instead of owning up to the tragedy, she did the unthinkable. She placed her dead child in the arms of the other and took her living child as her own. In the morning, when the mother awoke to feed her baby, she realized it was dead.

But examining it more closely, she realized this was not her son; she called out the other woman and demanded her baby. But the impostor mother denied that she had exchanged them, and she would not relinquish the living baby.

They went before wise young Master Solomon -- who may or may not have been as wise in reality as he became in legend.
  • The story is a familiar legend inherited by the intrepid West through cultural osmosis from its contact with the wisdom of the East. Or perhaps it was the other way around, as certainly wisdom is always going both ways. But the East is ancient, the West young and impulsive. Aesop's Fables are taken from the Buddha's Jataka Tales (Rebirth Stories). Other biblical stories also have precedents in the Dharma. And rather than thinking that the historical Buddha is the originator of all good narratives, it is important to note that he by skillful means (upaya) made use of many popular tales and legends in the service of spreading the liberating Dharma. Pre-biblical and Old Testament Jewish sages as well as Jesus returning from India with a sense of mission would certainly have employed the same skillful means borrowing from ancient Sumerian (like Gilgamesh and the flood), Egyptian, Persian (Mithraic and Zoroastrian), and Vedic Brahminical Indian lore.

King Solomon's Cat dilemma
2 Chronicles 1.1-13 (
The women argued back and forth in front of [Zen Master] Solomon, until finally he said, "Both of you say this live baby is yours. Someone bring me a sword."

A sword was brought, and Solomon ordered, "Cut the baby in half! That way each of you can have part of him.

"Please don't kill my son!" the baby's mother screamed. "Your Majesty, I love him very much, but give him to her. Just don't kill him."

The other woman shouted, "Go ahead and cut him in half. Then neither of us will have the baby."

Solomon said, "Don't kill the baby." Then he pointed to the first woman, "She is his real mother. Give the baby to her."

Everyone in Israel was amazed when they heard how [wise] Solomon had made his decision. They realized that God had given him wisdom to judge fairly.

Dream Interpretation: Dear God...
Solomon signed a treaty with the king of Egypt and married his daughter [one of his many wives who honored other celestial and terrestrial visitors besides the one true Sun God, which apparently they were all fond of saying they represented]. She lived in the older part of Jerusalem until the palace, the Lord's temple, and the wall around Jerusalem were completed.

At that time, there was no temple for worshiping the Lord, and everyone offered [bloody animal] sacrifices at the local shrines [just like the space aliens, titans and "gods," had commanded the brahmin priests of the Indus River Valley Civilization to do thousands of years before].

Young Solomon loved the Lord [a space entity who sent extraterrestrial "messengers," angels, from time to time and communicated with him telepathically and/or in dreams] and followed his father David's instructions. But Solomon also offered sacrifices and burned incense at the shrines. The most important shrine was in Gibeon, and Solomon had offered more than a 1,000 sacrifices on that altar.

One night while Solomon was in Gibeon, the Lord God [possibly plural] appeared to him in a dream and said, "Solomon, ask for anything you want, and I will give it to you."

Young Solomon answered: My father David, your servant, was honest and did what you commanded. You were always loyal to him, and you gave him a son who is now king. Lord God, I'm your servant, and you've made me king in my father's place.

But I'm very young and know so little about being a leader. And now I must rule your chosen people [and not worry about the ones you didn't choose whom we can just let go to h*ll in a handbasket like your servant Moses down a river, see if I care], even though there are too many of them to count.

Please make me wise and teach me the difference between right and wrong. Then I will know how to rule your people. If you don't, there is no way I could rule this great nation of yours.

Meet your Meat, Meateaters (video)

; Wisdom Quarterly
WARNING: Graphic reality of slaughterhouse activities! Not suitable for children

Everyone would go vegetarian if slaughterhouses had glass walls, according to activist music legend and former Beatle Paul McCartney, who delivers a powerful narration of this must-see video. Watch to discover why as we remove the walls and look inside. Learn more. Choosing a "halfitarian," Meatless Monday, vegetarian, or vegan lifestyle is the environmentally sane, karmically compassionate, and healthy thing to do. Eating well does a body good. Recent studies show the result of flesh eating, and with the legal status of "pink slime" for human consumption, the cancer, obesity, and life-shortening risks are growing. Meet the animals that make up our SAD (Standard American Diet), and let your heart be your guide about the best way to eat for flavor, fun, and a fantastic life. More

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Can a Buddhist be a Christian?

Text by John Suler,, Zenstory; Wisdom Quarterly
Jesus the Christ and Siddhartha the Buddha from the awesome Japanese manga 聖☆おにいさん。or "Saintly Young Men" (Gerald Ford)

Christian Buddhist
John Suler, Zen Stories to Tell Your Neighbors
One of Master Gasan's monks visited the university in Tokyo. When he returned he asked the master if he had ever read the Christian Bible.

"No," Gasan replied, "please read some of it to me." The monk opened the Bible to the "Sermon on the Mount" in the Gospel of St. Matthew.

After reading Christ's words about the lilies in the field, he paused. Master Gasan was silent for a long time.

"Yes," he finally said, "Whoever uttered these words is an enlightened being [one attained to the level of stream enterer or higher]. What you have read to me is the essence of everything I have been trying to teach you here!"

(In another version of this old Zen tale, a Christian reads the Bible passage to Gasan.)

Reactions to the Story
"This story held no interest for me. I don't believe in the existence of God and therefore believe that the Bible is a bunch of bologna!"

"Maybe the point is that we don't need Bibles OR Zen teachers to find enlightenment. We already have it within ourselves."

"It's so sad that wars are fought over differences in 'religion,' when in reality all the world's religions are saying the same essential things. If nations really took religion to heart, so many lives would be saved."

"'Lilies of the field' is a rather zen story, encouraging naturalness acceptance of being."

"Universalism is an extremely faulty world view. All the worlds religions do not teach the same thing. Religion is not about being good to your fellow man, or doing nice things to other people. So many of these comments seem to think that because most religions teach that, in general, you should'nt kill people, and you should'nt steal, and that you should feed the poor, etc., that its all the same thing. That misses the point entirely, and trivializes a vast amount of the most deeply held beliefs of the world's populace...."

"It is interesting that when presented with the Bible, the Master was open to listening. I don't find the same to be true when the situation is reversed, . It feels very comfortable to me to be Buddhist and still feel at peace with others who do not share my views."

"If what is true for you is true, and what is true for me is true, than really nothing is true. If there are no absolutes in the universe higher than our own opinions or experiences, than we live on an ever shifting sand. True truth is true whether we know it, or believe it. It is absolute, unchanging, and independent of our reactions to it. God is God and we are not him. I believe this story is an attempt to dilute the hard division line that the Bible deliberately draws. Our culture trys to offer solutions that do not offend anyone. I wonder how Master Gasan would react to Christ's words "no one may come to the Father but by me." Or "the kingdom of heaven advances violently, and violent men lay hold of it"?

"This comment is not about the story but about the other comments: Taken collectively, they illustrate Martin Luther's observation, 'A book is like a mirror -- if an ape looks in, no saint will look out!'" More

After winning several archery contests, a young and boastful champion challenged the old Zen master who was renowned for his skills as an archer.

The young man demonstrated remarkable technical proficiency when he hit a distant bull's eye on his first try then split that arrow with a second shot.

"There," he said to the old monk, "see if you can match that!" Undisturbed, the master did not draw his bow, but rather motioned for the young archer to follow him up the mountain.

Curious about the old fellow's intentions, the champion followed him high up the mountain until they reached a deep chasm spanned by a single shaky log. Calmly stepping out onto this perilous and unsteady bridge, the old master picked a far off tree as a target, drew his bow, and fired a clean and direct hit.

"Now it is your turn," he said as he gracefully stepped off the log and back onto firm ground.

Staring with terror into the bottomless and beckoning abyss, the young man could not force himself to step out onto the log nor in any way focus on trying to hit a target.

"You have much skill with your bow," the master finally said, sensing his young challenger's predicament, "but you have little skill with the mind that lets loose the shot." Reactions

Would we give up SEX for Web access?

The Daily Ticker (Yahoo! Finance); Wisdom Quarterly
Sex, coffee, alcohol, chocolate [all stimulants consumed in the hopes of relaxing] are less important to us than soothing, hypnotic screen time in front of our devices.

Americans are more connected than ever -- at least to the Internet.

A new survey by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG) attempts to quantify just how much we value access to the World Wide Web. Its findings are somewhat surprising.

Asked what they would give up for a year in order to maintain access to the Internet,

  • 21 percent of Americans said they'd forgo sex
  • 69 percent coffee
  • 73 percent alcohol
  • 77 percent said they'd go a whole year without chocolate.

BCG also tried to determine in dollar terms the worth of the Internet for most people living in the US. As it turns out, US consumers would need to be paid roughly $2,500 to live without the Net for a year.

What do Americans value the most about the Internet? General search, e-mail, and access to online banking and investing.

Dominic Field, partner at BCG and author of The Connected World: The $4.2 Trillion Opportunity, joined The Daily Ticker to discuss the report... More + video

Sex and Science (video)

Amber Dorrian, Wisdom Quarterly

A week after appearing on NPR's ever popular "Science Friday" to pitch her movie, Harvard beauty is set to become a star of screen and lab.

LOSING CONTROL is a quirky romantic comedy about a female scientist who wants proof that her boyfriend is "the one."

What's a beautiful scientist to do? Moreover, how does a socially conscious movie maker get the message out to the world that we need more science literacy in place of the usual Hollywood nonsense?

Written and directed by Weiss, the film stars Miranda Kent, Reid Scott, Kathleen Robertson, Lin Shaye, and Steve Howey.

Men don't think about sex (that much)
Patt Morrison and Prof. Terri Fisher (
We’ve all heard the ballpark statistics about men and their incessant daydreaming about sex.

But some new (December 2011) research by Professor of Psychology Terri Fisher from Ohio State University is throwing a little cold water on those common assumptions.

Her study showed that, while men do think about sex more than women on a daily basis, the number of times men think about sex isn’t nearly as high as we were told in school. (Men do not think about sex every seven seconds).

The reality is closer to 19 times a day for men. And surprising to some, women on average think about sex 10 times per day.

Even more surprising is the range of frequency of thoughts about sex between the genders -- men’s racy suppositions ranged between 1-388 per day, whereas women’s ranged between 1-140.

This means that there aren’t many Americans of either gender who don’t think about sex at all. But the fact remains, although less than imagined, men still think about sex more than women on average.