Friday, June 30, 2017

83 Problems: A Buddhist Sutra (parable)

Frank Miles (, Wisdom Quarterly; Patricia C. Smith (UPDATED)

WHAT IS A SUTRA? A sutra is a "thread" -- suturing or stringing together ideas with a through-line or overarching message. It's the Dharma all stitched up like strings of jewels. There is no need for new sutras -- unless, perhaps, they encapsulate old messages in novel ways. We remember hearing a spellbinding if apocryphal discourse that was put very eloquently:
Fake Buddha quotes get better and better.
THUS HAVE I NOT HEARD. Once while the Buddha was staying near the fields, a farmer came to him, paid his respects and, sitting to one side, said:

"O, great teacher, I am but a simple farmer! I love farming. But sometimes there is drought, at other times flooding. I am a husband. I love being married! But sometimes my spouse is indifferent, at other times smothering. I am a father. I love being a parent! But sometimes my children are dull, at other times unruly.
"What am I to do?"

The Buddha looked at the farmer with great compassion, extended both hands, and said: "Sorry, can't help you with those kinds of problems."

The farmer was dumbstruck. When he regained his composure, he argued: "Wait a minute! People speak in praise of you in all quarters. They come to you seeking advice for all sorts of things. And they go away enlightened. You're famous!"

"Sorry," the Buddha repeated, "what can anyone do? Every person has 83 problems. I'm not keen to help them with that."

Now, that's what I call an enlightened answer!
"Well then tell me," the farmer kindly asked, hoping to make the best of his visit, "what can you help me with?"

"I can help you with your 84th problem."

"Oh, and what's that?" the farmer said as he leaned in.

Comedian Frank Miles
"Your 84th problem is your desire not to have any problems.

The farmer was overjoyed. And the Buddha taught him how to overcome suffering here and now.
Pasadharma Buddhist Meditation VEGAN POTLUCK PARTY (Pasadena Vegan Love)

The Parable of the 83 Problems
Patricia C. Smith (
A rich farmer at wit’s end seeks relief.
“Oh Buddha, the drought drags into a seventh year! My beans become dust. Again. And my wife’s cooking is scarcely fit for consumption, yet she waxes horribly stout. Huge! And my six stocky children -- lazy, every one. Rats pilfer my eggs, termites chew my timbers, and thieves and mendicants swarm my town....”
The Buddha says, “I cannot help you.”
The farmer’s eyes pop -- all this way he came! For nothing!
The Buddha says, “Everyone has 83 problems. If you work out one problem, another will surely take its place. And some problems, like death, have no solution [other than nirvana, the deathless].”
The farmer splutters.
The Buddha says, “It may be I can assist with your 84th problem?”


“Your desire to have no problems.”

"Baby Driver" (video)

Movieclips Trailers (video); Pat Macpherson (ed.), Wisdom Quarterly

Movieclips TrailersBaby Driver trailer #1 (2017): Check out this action-packed trailer starring Ansel Elgort, Lily James, and Kevin Spacey. Watch, comment, and share @MovieclipsTrailers. Tickets to Baby Driver: Watch more trailers: HOT new trailers playlist: Epic action trailer playlist:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Vatican cardinal charged with child molestation

Associated Press (; Pat Macpherson, CC Liu, Pfc. Sandoval (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Sure, we could have done it sooner, decades ago. But we waited. He's our sacrifice (AP).

Australian police charge Vatican cardinal with sex offenses
McQueary on Sandusky
SYDNEY, Australia - Australian police charged a top Vatican cardinal on Thursday [ June 29, 2017] with multiple counts of historical sexual assault offenses, a stunning decision certain to rock the highest levels of the Holy See [the small country that is the Vatican].

God is good; Catholic priests not so much.
Cardinal George Pell, Pope Francis' chief financial adviser and Australia's most senior Catholic, is the highest-ranking Vatican official to ever be charged in the church's long-running sexual abuse scandal.

Pell said he would return to Australia to fight the charges.
Victoria state Police Deputy Commissioner Shane Patton said police have summonsed Cardinal Pell to appear in an Australian court to face multiple charges of "historical sexual assault offenses," meaning offenses that generally occurred some time ago.

Patton said there are multiple complainants against Pell but gave no other details on the allegations against the cardinal. Pell was ordered to appear in Melbourne Magistrates Court on July 18 [2017].
The Catholic Archdiocese of Sydney issued a statement on behalf of Pell, saying the 76-year-old cardinal "strenuously denied all allegations" and would return to Australia to clear his name. "He said he is looking forward to his day in court and will defend the charges vigorously," the statement said.
Patton told reporters in Melbourne that none of the allegations against Pell had been tested in any court, adding: "Cardinal Pell, like any other defendant, has a right to due process."

[Some of those boys were asking for it; they are little teases in their altar boy robes?]
The charges are a new and serious blow to Pope Francis, who has already suffered several credibility setbacks in his promised "zero tolerance" policy about sex abuse [but he still allows child rape].

For years, Pell has faced allegations that he mishandled cases of clergy abuse when he was archbishop of Melbourne and, later, Sydney. His actions as archbishop came under intense scrutiny in recent years by a government-authorized investigation into how the Catholic Church and other institutions have responded to the sexual abuse of children.

Join the Boy Scouts; have a gay old time!
Australia's Royal Commission into Institutional Responses to Child Sexual Abuse -- the nation's highest form of inquiry -- has found shocking levels of abuse in Australia's Catholic Church, revealing earlier this year that 7 percent of Catholic priests were accused of sexually abusing children over the past several decades.
We all do it. Only a few of us get charged.
Last year, Cardinal Pell acknowledged during his testimony to the commission that the Catholic Church had made "enormous mistakes" in allowing thousands of children to be raped and molested by priests over centuries. He conceded that he, too, had erred by often believing the priests over victims who alleged abuse. And he vowed to help end a rash of suicides that has plagued church abuse victims... More

Tuesday, June 27, 2017

YOGA: poses are only 1/8th of the path

Patanjali (Wikipedia edit); Amber Larson, Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven (eds.), Wisdom Quarterly
Finally, Fatso Griffin starts a yoga regimen...but does it while driving for Uber (Family Guy).
Yoga is an eightfold path that, like the Buddha's Noble Eightfold Path, tries to formulate a path to liberation (moksha), but here it twists "liberation" to mean "rebirth with Brahma." This was later corrected or expanded to mean "merging with Brahman." Brahma is the God of the Brahmins, whereas Brahman is the ultimate reality, GOD, or Godhead (godhood). Sadly, the majority of Westerners think "Yoga" means postures, poses, and pretzel twists...and really cool pants. What are the Eight Limbs of Yoga trying to formulate a teaching as popular and effective as the Buddha's Path?
1. Yamas (rules)
Om is the universal sound
These are the ethical rules or moral imperatives. The five yamas listed by Patañjali in The Yoga Sūtras (2.30) are:
  1. Ahiṃsā (अहिंसा): nonviolence, non-harming other living beings.
  2. Satya (सत्य): truthfulness, non-falsehood.
  3. Asteya (अस्तेय): non-stealing.
  4. Brahmacārya (ब्रह्मचर्य): chastity, marital fidelity, or sexual restraint.
  5. Aparigraha (अपरिग्रहः): non-avarice, non-possessiveness, non-grabbing, non-hoarding.
Patanjali, in Book 2, explains how and why each of the above self-restraints help in the personal growth of an individual. For example, in Verse II.35, Patanjali states that the virtue of nonviolence or non-injury to others (ahimsa) leads to the abandonment of enmity, a state that leads the yogi or yogini to the perfection of inner and outer amity with everyone, everything.

2. Niyama (obligations)
The second component of Patanjali's path, which includes virtuous habits, behaviors, and observances (the "dos"). Sadhana Pada Verse 32 lists the niyamas as:
  1. Śauca: purity, clearness of mind, speech, and body.
  2. Santoṣa: contentment, acceptance of others, acceptance of one's circumstances as they are in order to get past or change them, optimism for self.
  3. Tapas: persistence, perseverance, austerity.
  4. Svādhyāya: study of the Vedas, study of self, self-reflection, introspection of self's thoughts, speeches, and actions.
  5. Īśvarapraṇidhāna: contemplation of the Ishvara (GOD/Supreme Being, Brahman, True Self, Unchanging Reality).
As with the yamas, Patanjali explains how and why each of the above niyamas help in the personal growth of the individual. For example, in Verse II.42, Patanjali states that the virtue of contentment and acceptance of others as they are (santoṣa) leads to the state where inner sources of joy matter most, and the craving for external sources of pleasure ceases.

3. Āsana (postures)
Patanjali begins discussion of asana (आसन, posture) by defining it in Verse 46 of Book 2 as follows स्थिरसुखमासनम् ॥४६॥:
  • Translation 1: an asana is what is steady and pleasant.
  • Translation 2: motionless and agreeable form (of staying) is asana (yoga posture).
    Yoga Sutras II.46
Asana is thus a posture that one can hold for a period of time, staying relaxed, steady, comfortable, and motionless. Patanjali does not list any specific asana, except the terse suggestion, a "posture one can hold with comfort and motionlessness."

Āraṇya translates Verse II.47 of The Yoga Sutras as, "asanas are perfected over time by relaxation of effort with meditation on the infinite"; this combination and practice stops the quivering of body. The posture that causes pain or restlessness is not a yogic posture. Other secondary texts studying Patanjali's sutra state that one requirement of correct posture is to keep breast, neck, and head erect (proper spinal posture).

Later yoga school scholars developed, described, and commented on numerous postures. Vyasa, for example, in his bhasya (commentary) on Patanjali's treatise suggests 12:
  1. Padmasana (lotus pose)
  2. Veerasana (heroic)
  3. Bhadrasana (decent)
  4. Swastikasana (the mystical sign)
  5. Dandasana (staff)
  6. Sopasrayasana (supported)
  7. Paryankasana (bedstead),
  8. Krauncha-nishadasana (seated heron)
  9. Hastanishadasana (seated elephant)
  10. Ushtranishadasana (seated camel)
  11. Samasansthanasana (evenly balanced)
  12. Sthirasukhasana (any motionless posture that is in accordance with one's pleasure).
The Hatha Yoga Pradipika describes the technique of 84 asanas, stating that four of these are most important:
  1. Padmasana (lotus)
  2. Bhadrasana (decent)
  3. Sinhasana (lion), and
  4. Siddhasana (accomplished).
The Gheranda Samhita discussed 32 asanas, while Svatmarama describes 15 asanas.
4. Prāṇāyāma (breath control)
Two Sanskrit words, prāṇa (प्राण breath) and āyāma (आयाम restraining, extending, stretching).

After a desired posture has been achieved, Verses II.49 through II.51 recommend the next limb of yoga, prāṇāyāma, which is the practice of consciously regulating breath (inhalation and exhalation).

This is done in several ways, inhaling and then suspending exhalation for a period, exhaling and then suspending inhalation for a period, slowing the inhalation and exhalation, consciously changing the time/length of breath (deep, short breathing).

5. Pratyāhāra (collectedness)
This is a combination of two Sanskrit words prati- (the prefix प्रति- "towards") and āhāra (आहार "bring near, fetch").

Pratyahara is fetching and bringing near one's awareness and one's thoughts to within. It is a process of withdrawing one's thoughts from external objects, things, person, situation. It is turning one's attention to one's true Self, one's inner world, experiencing and examining self.

It is a step of self extraction and abstraction. Pratyahara is not consciously closing one's eyes to the sensory world; it is consciously closing one's mind processes to the sensory world. Pratyahara empowers one to stop being controlled by the external world, fetch one's attention to seek self-knowledge, and experience the freedom innate in one's inner world.

Pratyahara marks the transition of yoga experience from first four limbs that perfect external forms to last three limbs that perfect inner state, from outside to inside, from outer sphere of body to inner sphere of spirit.

6. Dhāraṇā (concentration)
In Sanskrit (धारणा) this means concentration, introspective focus, and one-pointedness of mind. The root of word is dhṛ (धृ), which has a meaning of "to hold, maintain, keep."

Dharana as the sixth limb of yoga is holding one's mind onto a particular inner state, subject, or topic of one's mind. The mind (not sensory organ) is fixed on a mantra ["thought instrument"], or one's breath/navel/tip of tongue/any place, or an object one wants to observe, or a concept/idea in one's mind. Fixing the mind means one-pointed focus, without drifting of mind, and without discursively jumping from one topic to another.

7. Dhyāna (contemplation)
In Sanskrit (ध्यान) this literally means "contemplation, reflection" and "profound, abstract meditation."

Dhyana is contemplating, reflecting on whatever dharana has focused on. If in the sixth limb of yoga one focused on a personal deity, dhyana is its contemplation.

If the concentration was on one object, dhyana is non-judgmental, non-presumptuous observation of that object. If the focus were on a concept/idea, dhyana is contemplating that concept/idea in all its aspects, forms, and consequences. Dhyana is uninterrupted flow of awareness, train of thought, current of cognition.
Shiva dances with Shakti in the Himalayas (SS)
Dhyana is integrally related to dharana, one leads to other. Dharana is a state of mind, dhyana the process of mind. Dhyana is distinct from dharana in that the meditator becomes actively engaged with its focus.

Patanjali defines contemplation (dhyana) as the mind process, where the mind is fixed on something, and then there is "a course of uniform modification of knowledge."
Adi Shankara, in his commentary on The Yoga Sutras, distinguishes dhyana from dharana, by explaining dhyana as the yoga state when there is only the "stream of continuous thought about the object, uninterrupted by other thoughts of different kind for the same object."

Dharana, states Shankara, is focused on one object, but aware of its many aspects and ideas about the same object. Shankara gives the example of a yogin in a state of dharana on morning sun may be aware of its brilliance, color, and orbit; the yogin in a dhyana state contemplates the sun's orbit alone, for example, without being interrupted [distracted] by its color, brilliance, or other related ideas.

8. Samādhi (absorption)
In Sanskrit (समाधि) this literally means "putting together, joining, combining with, union, harmonious whole, [absorption]."

Samadhi is oneness with the subject of meditation. There is no distinction, during the eighth limb of yoga, between the actor of meditation, the act of meditation, and the subject of meditation.

Samadhi is that spiritual state when one's mind is so absorbed in whatever it is contemplating that the mind loses the sense of its own identity. The thinker, the thought process, and the thought fuse with the subject of thought. There is only oneness, samadhi. More

"Nineteen Eighty-Four" (Pacifica Radio audio)

George Orwell (Nineteen Eighty-Four), (Pacifica Radio, 1975), Wisdom Quarterly

Huh? What? I don't read books. I'm, I'm illiterate. But I have the best words and tweets.
Pacifica's five stations (KPFA Berkeley, KPFK Los Angeles, Santa Barbara, San Diego, WBAI New York, Washington DC, KPFT Houston) and streaming worldwide on the Internet on June 27, 2017 the day is being spent on a dramatic reading of the entire dystopian novel Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell. Pres. Trump can't read due to illiteracy, but he can listen to the radio in DC. "In a time of universal deceit," Mr. Trump, "telling the truth is a revolutionary act."

The "Treasures" (sutra)

Ven. Thanissaro (trans.) Ratana Sutra (Sn 2.1); edited and expanded by Dhr. Seven, Amber Larson, Wisdom Quarterly; alternate translation: Ven. Piyadassi (sutra also appears at Khp 6)
The ancient Vedic swastika is still a mark of enlightenment in Asian iconography.
Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- may you all be happy and listen intently to what I say. Devas, be attentive. Show kindness toward human beings. Day and night they give offerings so, being heedful, protect them.

Whatever wealth -- here or beyond -- whatever marvelous treasure there may be in celestial spheres does not, for us, equal the Welcome One (the Buddha, the Tathagata, the Wayfarer). This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

The marvelous Deathless -- ending, dispassion (nirvana) -- discovered by the Shakyan Sage in meditation, there is nothing to equal that Dharma. This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Dharma. By this truth may there be well-being.
Treasured relics are stored away in stupas, ancient burial mounds from the Ukraine.
What the excellent Enlightened One extolled as pure and called the meditation [insight, coherence, samadhi] of unmediated knowing [direct realization] no equal to that meditation can be found. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Dharma. By this truth may there be well-being.

The eight persons -- the four pairs [males and females] -- praised by those at peace [the fully enlightened], they are true disciples of the Well-Gone One and are worthy of offerings. What is given to them bears great karmic fruit. This, too, is an marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who -- devoted, firm-minded -- apply themselves to Gautama's instruction, on attaining the goal [of enlightenment and nirvana] plunge into the Deathless, freely enjoying the unequaled liberation they have gained. This, too, is an marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

An Indra pillar (tall hardwood post at the entrance of a village) planted in the earth that even the four winds cannot shake, that, I tell you, is like the noble [arya, enlightened] person, who -- having thoroughly comprehended the Four Noble Truths -- directly sees. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Those who have seen clearly the noble truths well-taught by the one of deep wisdom -- regardless of what [later] might make them heedless -- will come to no eighth state of rebirth.
  • A stream-enterer is a person who has reached the first stage of enlightenment, who will be reborn at most seven more times with none of those birth occurring falling below the human plane.
This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

At the moment of attaining liberating insight, one abandons three things:
  1. identity-view [belief in an eternal self or identity]
  2. uncertainty [skeptical doubt]
  3. any attachment to [the view that rites and rituals or precepts and practices can themselves lead to enlightenment].
  • These three are the fetters (samyojanas) abandoned when one gains the first glimpse of nirvana at stream-entry (the moment when one enters the stream to full enlightenment).
One is completely released from the four states of deprivation [which are unfortunate states of rebirth that result from unskillful karma*].
  • *The Downfall (niraya) refers collectively to four states of deprivation: rebirth as an animal, hungry ghost, angry demon, or denizen of various hells/purgatories (naraka). In the Buddhist cosmology, none of these states is eternal but may last aeons (kalpas, which also has the meaning of "normal lifespan" rather than a literal aeon).
And such persons are now incapable of committing the six great wrongs.
  • Six great wrongs: matricide, patricide, murdering an arhat (a fully enlightened individual), wounding a buddha, causing a schism in the Monastic Community (Sangha), or taking anyone other than a buddha as one's foremost teacher.
This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever unskillful deed one may do -- by body, speech, or mind -- one cannot conceal it: an incapability ascribed to one who has seen the Path. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Like a forest grove with flowering tops during the first month in the heat of the summer, so is the foremost Dharma he taught, for the highest benefit, leading to nirvana [complete freedom, liberation from all further rebirth and suffering]. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Foremost, foremost-knowing, foremost-giving, foremost-bringing, unexcelled, he taught the foremost Dharma. This, too, is a marvelous treasure in the Buddha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Ending the old, there is no new taking rebirth. Grown dispassionate toward any further becoming [rebirth, continued wandering on through the Wheel of Life and Death], minds/hearts, they -- freed of seed and desire for growth -- the wise now free go out like this flame. This, too, is an exquisite treasure in the Sangha. By this truth may there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Buddha, the Tathagata esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Dharma and the Tathagata [Wayfarer, Welcome One, Well-Gone One] esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

Whatever devas have gathered here -- upon the earth or in the sky -- let us honor the Sangha and the Tathagata esteemed by humans and devas. May there be well-being.

How to consume "the news" (comedy video)

Editors, Wisdom Quarterly; comedians Jimmy Dore, Samantha Bee, Seth Meyers, Jon Stewart Stephen Colbert;; Associated Press (;
"A Brief History of Liberal Demonization" (

The "news" is generally bad as it emanates from the mainstream media, which are bought and owned entirely by vested interests: military-industrial complex, Big Pharma (the pharmaceutical and medical appliance industry), arms dealers in the U.S. and Israel...

Most of the media is the propaganda arm of the Pentagon and the Department of War (euphemistically renamed the DOD or Dept. of "Defense"). This is due in large part to CIA efforts called Operation Mockingbird.

Mockingbird sent infiltrators into every media outlet of any significant size and it co-opted, bought, subverted, and/or infiltrated to distort stories in certain favorable directions. This is accomplished in many and varied ways. If, for example, you read the Associated Press (, do so with caution. Every story is slanted, re-interpreted, distorted, ignored or magnified out of all proportion. is a fairly good source.
This leaves the non-mainstream media and our treasured comedians. It may have started with Jon Stewart on The Daily Show, but there have always been honest/non-PC stand ups hard at work bearing the brunt of condemnation. Now, thanks inadvertently to Trump posing as president of the United States, it has become mainstream to mock the POTUS as never before. 

Finally, the media is doing a part of its job it previously abdicated. National Public Radio ( or "National Petroleum Radio") is sold out with great human interest pieces now and then but completely towing the line on larger national stories, which now keeps them well heeled thanks to many corporate sponsors and pending contributions. If they did not tow the line or give equal time to the radical right wing slant (as right as Fox), funding could be pulled. And when it comes to choosing radical politics or a steady stream of income, it's not even close what gets chosen.
To consume the news, keep it light but deep: try Jimmy Dore, YouTube channels, late night TV, the moderate nominal left (aka MSNBC, RT, CNN, crickets chirping in the corner), the deplorable extreme right (Breit Bart, Fox, Alex Jones, ABC, NBC, CBS).

Realize that outlets like Apple, Huff Post, Yahoo!, Google, etc. are owned by massive multinational corporations that work hand in hand with clandestine government alphabet agencies (CIA, NSA, FBI, DHS, NSC, SS, DEA, BP, ICE, ATF, IRS...), which is probably why Google is owned by Alphabet Inc. (A New Company Called Alphabet Now Owns Google). It's a wink and a nod, and no one can say they don't have a sense of humor as they hide in plain sight.