Friday, December 9, 2016

A few links from Lion's Roar: Weekend Reader: How to deal with a difficult person

Photo by Ian Evenstar.
It’s one thing when we hear, as Buddhism so often teaches us, that our ideas about self and other are really just ideas. It’s another thing to live as though it’s true. With work, though, we can realize that even those we find difficult have much to offer, much to teach us, and that our connections to others are much more than some lovely philosophical concept. May the teachings here rouse us to open our hearts and minds to all. 
—Rod Meade Sperry, editor,

Karen Kissel Wegela introduces a tool to help you skillfully focus on and work with a challenging person in your life.
In Buddhism, particularly in the Mahayana teachings, the cultivation of compassion is pivotal. Compassion refers to our desire to alleviate the sufferings of all beings. In order to do this, the first step is to recognize, acknowledge and open to the reality of suffering both in our own lives and in the lives of others. [...]
“There are no human enemies,” says Sylvia Boorstein, “only confused people needing help.” ...
Shantideva, the sixth-century Buddhist commentator, gives this example in A Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life: Suppose a person hits you with a stick. It does not make sense to be angry at the stick for hurting you, since the blows were inflicted by a person. Neither, he continues, does anger toward the person make sense, since the person is compelled by anger (or greed or delusion). Ignorance becomes the villain, overwhelming reason and creating suffering. Is Shantideva still relevant in this 21st-century world? [...]


In Vietnam during the French Indochina War, the famed Zen teacher made an unlikely but meaningful connection. ...
One morning I set out from Bao Quoc for my monthly visit back to my root temple. I felt light and joyful at the thought of seeing my teacher, my monastic brothers, and the ancient, highly venerated temple.
I had just gone over a hill when I heard a voice call out. Up on the hill, above the road, I saw a French soldier waving. Thinking he was making fun of me because I was a monk, I turned away and continued walking down the road. But suddenly I had the feeling that this was no laughing matter. Behind me I heard the clomping of a soldier’s boots running up behind me. Perhaps he wanted to search me; the cloth bag I was carrying could have looked suspicious to him. I stopped walking and waited. [...]

Via Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / December 9, 2016: You Have Nothing to Renounce

Think of the benefits of renunciation. Or if you prefer, contemplate the illusory nature of samsara, and appreciate that you have nothing to renounce.

—Amie Barrodale, "The Night Report"

Via Buddhist Churches of America (BCA) Bookstore / FB: December 8th - is Bodhi Day

Today - December 8th - is Bodhi Day, the day Siddhartha Gautama attained enlightenment. The Buddha said, "Health is the greatest gift, contentment is the most precious treasure, and trust is the highest benefit. Nirvana is the supreme bliss."

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom

The beginning of love is the will to let those we love be perfectly themselves, the resolution not to twist them to fit our own image. If in loving them we do not love what they are, but only their potential likeness to ourselves, then we do not love them: we only love the reflection of ourselves we find in them. 

 Thomas Merton

Via Ram Dass / Words of Wisdom

Lighthouses don’t go running all over an island looking for boats to save; they just stand there shining.  
- Anne Lamott

GREAT SPIRIT [Nahko bear music video]

Via Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / December 8, 2016: Fear of Pain

If we’re afraid of pain and always try to change it to pleasure, we’ll end up even more ignorant than before.

—Upasika Kee Nanayon, "A Glob of Tar"

Wednesday, December 7, 2016

Via Ram Dass

As I have explored my own and others' journey towards love, I've encountered different kinds of happiness. There's pleasure, there's happiness, and then there's joy. Addiction, even in the broad sense of just always wanting more of something, gives only pleasure. Pleasure is very earthbound when you're getting it from sensual interaction, and it always has its opposite; also, the need for satisfaction is never ending. Happiness is emotional, and emotions come and go. It may play into the complex of other emotional stuff that we all carry. But there is also spiritual happiness, which gets very close to joy.

As it becomes less personal, spiritual happiness becomes joy. Joy is being part of the One. It's spiritual, the joy-full universe, like trees are joyful. It's bliss, or ananda. It's all those things. The difference is that it comes from the soul.

Via Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / December 7, 2016: It Is What It Is

The world is what the world is, and I will work in the best way I can to do the healing I can, to take loving actions.

—Roshi Bernie Glassman, "Working in the Cracks"

Via NY Magazine / The Cut: Every One of Donald Trump’s Cabinet Picks So Far Opposes LGBT Rights

Nikki Haley, Mike Flynn, and Betsy DeVos.Photo: Getty Images
During his acceptance speech at the Republican National Convention, Donald Trump did something unusual: He acknowledged LGBT Americans. Referring to the mass shooting at Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Florida, Trump said, “This time, the terrorist targeted the LGBTQ community … and we’re going to stop it.” He then promised to “protect LGBTQ citizens from the violence and oppression of a hateful foreign ideology.”

Coming from a Republican politician, even an acknowledgment of the LGBT community is pretty novel. But Trump’s promise was to protect LGBT Americans from hateful ideology abroad — he didn’t mention the hatred many regularly experience at home, sometimes due to policies proposed by people with whom he surrounds himself. Because of all his cabinet and cabinet-level picks so far, not one has a history of standing up for LGBT rights.

Jeff Sessions, attorney general
It isn’t just the definition of sexual assault that Alabama senator Jeff Sessions has twisted. As the Huffington Post pointed out when Trump nominated him for the post of attorney general, you can pick almost any LGBT rights issue, and chances are Sessions has voted against it. He supported a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage; voted against adding sexual orientation and gender identity to the definition of hate crimes; and voted against repealing the military’s “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.

He also co-sponsored a bill that would allow Alabama’s definition of marriage to supersede the federal definition, basically ending same-sex marriage in the state. And he’s co-sponsoring the First Amendment Defense Act, which would let government-funded organizations ignore laws that conflict with their religious beliefs. His score with the Human Rights Campaign is a big, fat zero.

Mike Pompeo, Central Intelligence Agency director
Trump chose Kansas congressman Mike Pompeo to fill the post of CIA director around the same time he tapped Sessions. While serving in congress, Pompeo voted to protect anti-same-sex marriage opinions as free speech and also supported a bill saying a state’s definition of marriage should supersede the federal one. And during a 2014 interview with a Kansas State University radio station, Pompeo elaborated on his opinion of same-sex marriage. “I don’t agree with [same-sex marriage],” he said. “I think marriage ought to continue to be between one man and one woman.” He went on, “I think as you look back at civilization, look back at history, you find the strength of these families having a father and a mother is the ideal condition for childbearing. Doesn’t mean there aren’t great families with single parents, great young men and women raised without either parent. If you’re asking for what is ideal, I think it’s being raised by a man and a woman.”

Betsy DeVos, Education secretary
Betsy DeVos, Trump’s pick for Education secretary, comes from a wealthy Michigan family with a long history of donating to anti-LGBT, pro-GOP causes. According to Politico, DeVos and her husband — Dick DeVos — have “given hundreds of thousands of dollars to Focus on the Family, a conservative Christian group whose founder called the battle against LGBT rights a ‘second civil war.’” DeVos’s late father and her husband’s family were also major donors to the Family Research Council (another conservative Christian group), and they reportedly donated thousands to efforts to block the legalization of same-sex marriage in states like Florida, Michigan, and California. The DeVos family reportedly donated $400,000 to victims of the Orlando shooting, but many pointed out that this pales in comparison to what they’ve spent to oppose LGBT causes.

Tom Price, Health and Human Services secretary
As a state representative for Georgia, Tom Price — Trump’s pick for Health and Human Services secretary —- voted against prohibiting job discrimination based on sexual orientation and in favor of defining marriage in the Constitution as between one man and one woman. He also has a zero rating from the Human Rights Campaign, and pro-LGBT advocates worry that, as secretary of Health, he could take away protections specifically for transgender Americans. Price is in favor of dismantling the Affordable Care Act, which bans sex discrimination — including discrimination against trans people — in health care. That means insurance providers are obligated to cover transition-related care, but with Price at the helm, that’s liable to change.

Price has also criticized protections for transgender students in public schools, saying a “federal restroom policy” is “yet another abuse and overreach of power by the Obama administration, and a clear invasion of privacy.”

Elaine Chao, Transportation secretary
Yesterday, Trump named Elaine Chao to the post of secretary of Transportation. Chao served as secretary of Labor for eight years under George W. Bush, and before that she worked as a deputy secretary of Transportation under Bush Sr. She has no voting record, so it’s tough to pin down where Chao stands on the issue of LGBT rights, but her family provides some clues. She’s married to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, who led opposition to LGBT rights in the upper house. Chao has campaigned heavily for her husband in the past, so it’s likely she shares at least some of his views on the issue.

Reince Priebus, chief of staff
True, Reince Priebus — Trump’s new chief of staff — doesn’t have a voting record either, but as chairman of the Republican Party, the guy spearheaded one of the most anti-LGBT platforms to date. Among other things, it calls for the repeal of same-sex marriage, gives states the right to choose which bathroom transgender people use, and defends businesses who deny service to LGBT Americans based on their religious beliefs. Priebus has also gone on record saying that being raised by heterosexual parents is the “best scenario” for children. (In fact, studies have shown that children raised by same-sex couples are just as happy and successful as those raised by opposite-sex couples.)

Mike Flynn, White House national security adviser
According to the Human Rights Campaign, retired Army Lieutenant General Michael Flynn has a “history of animus toward LGBT people.” Most recently Flynn, whom Trump has named national security adviser, went on a tirade against “political correctness” in response to the Obama administration’s decision to allow transgender soldiers to serve openly in the military. “My God, war is not about bathrooms,” he said at the Republican National Convention. “War is not about political correctness or words that are meaningless. War is about winning.” Flynn appeared to contradict himself during an interview in July, saying, “On the gay issue, hey, you know what, if people love each other, Jesus, I mean, come on.” It’s unclear how or if his personal views will factor into the way he runs the military.

Nikki Haley, ambassador to the United Nations
South Carolina governor Nikki Haley will serve as the ambassador to the United Nations, and although she drew fire from conservative pundits for referencing “modern families” in her response to Obama’s final State of the Union, she’s not exactly progressive when it comes to LGBT issues. In 2010 she said marriage is between “one man and one woman,” and three years later she backed her state’s ban on same-sex marriage. “The citizens of South Carolina spoke … they spoke something that I, too, believe, which is marriage should be between a man and a woman,” she said at the time. 

“I’m going to stand by the people of this state, stand by the Constitution, I’m going to support it and fight for it every step of the way.”

To read the original and more make the jump here.

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

The making of Walk With Me

Via Lionsroar: Now Is the Time to Stand Up: Practicing the Dharma in Uncertain Times, Part 2

Ordained tree.
An ordained tree in Thailand. Photo by Peter Hershey.

After the election of Donald Trump, Lion’s Roar shared a new teaching by Jack Kornfield, called “Practicing the Dharma Uncertain Times.” Now, Jack follows up with second, more action-oriented installment of post-election guidance and encouragement.

As long as a society holds regular and frequent assemblies, meeting in harmony and mutual respect, can they be expected to prosper and not decline.
As long as a society follows the long held traditions of wisdom, and honors its elders, can they be expected to prosper and not decline.
As long as a society protects the wives and daughters and vulnerable among them, can they be expected to prosper and not decline.
As long as a society cares for the shrines and sacred places of the natural world, can they be expected to prosper and not decline.

—Mahaparinirvana Sutta (a text of Buddha’s last teachings)

Whatever your political perspective, now is the season to stand up for what matters. To stand against hate. To stand for respect. To stand for protection of the vulnerable. To care for the natural world.

Do not believe that meditation and contemplation are the fulfillment of the Buddhist Path. Inner peace, freedom and joy develop only when paired with the outer teachings of virtue, respect and mutual care. The foundation of Dharma is relational, built on generosity, virtue and loving-kindness. 

The Path to human happiness and liberation requires Right Intention, intentions that are free from greed, hatred and cruelty; Right Speech, speech that is true and helpful, not harsh, not vain, slanderous nor abusive; and Right Action, actions that are free from causing harm, killing, stealing and sexual exploitation.

In his life, the Buddha intervened to try to stop wars. He counseled kings and ministers, and guided those around him with teachings of peace and respect. In modern times, Maha Ghosananda of Cambodia joined the United Nations peace process and led years of peace walks of loving-kindness through the war zones and killing fields of Cambodia. Thai abbots have taken their robes and ordained the oldest trees as elders of the forest to protect whole ecosystems from logging. Burmese monks and nuns marched in the streets to protect citizens from the harsh military dictatorship. A.T. Ariyaratne in Sri Lanka enlisted hundreds of thousands in a 500-year peace plan. Vietnamese, Chinese and Tibetan monastics have stood up for peace, justice and compassion, even immolating themselves to stop the harmful actions around them.

Gandhi explains, “Those who say spirituality has nothing to do with politics do not know what spirituality really means.”

This is not about red or blue. It is about standing up for the most basic of human principles, for moral action and the prevention of harm. It is embodying Dharma amidst the troubles of the world.

You are not alone. You have generations of ancestors at your back. You have the blessing of interdependence and community. You have the great trees of the forest as steadfast allies. You have the turning of the seasons and the renewal of life as your music. You have the vast sky of emptiness to hold all things graciously.
With peacefulness and mutual respect, our Buddhist communities can become centers of protection and vision.
You have been training for this for a long time. With practice you have learned to quiet the mind and open the heart. You have learned emptiness and interdependence. Now it is time to step forward, bringing your equanimity and courage, wisdom and compassion to the world. The Bodhisattva shows the way to alleviate suffering amidst it all.

As Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh explains, “When the crowded Vietnamese refugee boats met with storms or pirates, if everyone panicked all would be lost. But if even one person on the boat remained calm and centered, it was enough. It showed the way for everyone to survive.”

Since the election, storms of uncertainty and fear have arisen. It is time to collectively stand up, calm and clear. With peacefulness and mutual respect, our Buddhist communities can become centers of protection and vision.

Protection can take many forms. Protection can be providing sanctuary for those in danger. Protection can be skillfully confronting those whose actions would harm the vulnerable among us. Protection can be standing up for the environment. Protection can be becoming an active ally for those targeted by hate and prejudice.

Vision means carrying the lamp of the Dharma. It means standing up for the truth—no matter what:
“Hatred never ceases by hatred, but by love alone is healed.”

“Greed, Hate and Ignorance create suffering. Generosity, Love and Wisdom bring happiness.”
“Mind is the forerunner. Speak and act with a pure mind and happiness will follow.”
“Plant seeds of goodness, and well-being will grow.”

Now a time of change has come.

We must listen deeply, bear witness, honor everyone, and choose our actions wisely and courageously.

Do not worry if the Right Action is not yet clear to you.

Wait in the unknowing with mindfulness and a clear heart.

Soon the right time will come and you will know to stand up.

I will meet you there.

This piece was originally published on

Today in "There is hope for this planet, yet"

Via Sri Prem Baba

Via Daily Dharma / December 6, 2016: Should We Become Monks?

If you are really practicing all the time, then it makes no difference whether you are monk or not. Being a monk is just a way of helping you do that.

—Matthieu Ricard, "Released from All Bounds"