Monthly Archives: October 2008

quickie: writing in the deep sea

i was going to post the rest of the october buddhist carnival today but i have a cold and putting together these remaining five or six posts in a way that makes at least some sense seems to be a little much for these gray cells today.

so i’ll leave you with a quote by jack kerouac:

i want to work in revelations, not just spin silly tales for money. i want to fish as deep down as possible into my own subconscious in the belief that once that far down, everyone will understand because they are the same that far down.

deep sea blue

image by нσвσ

smoking out poverty: the regina smudge walk

today’s video against poverty is of the regina smudge walk which was held last june.

on january 15th, 2007, maclean’s magazine declared regina’s north central to be “canada’s worst neighborhood.” this unflattering portrayal was particularly hard felt by north central’s aboriginal population which numbers roughly 16,000. to some the article was embellished and to others it spoke the absolute truth. whether the article was cause for division or the impetus for unity, it did open the floodway for people to actually think about the humanity of regina’s impoverished aboriginal community. the article gave everyday people the ability to actually conceive the conditions of north central.

in honor and respect of the humanity of the aboriginal people who live in north central, it was decided that something must be done in order to move forward, out from the negative and into the positive. in first nations traditions, cleansing is symbolized through the smudging ceremony. thus, we decided that we would organize a “smudge walk” throughout north central to symbolize the possibility of renewal.

(from animikeeg)

and today i want to wave to some fellow blog action day bloggers from vancouver – people who, unlike my many vancouver blogger meetup and twitter friends, i’ve never met before. so hello! it’s nice to come together over this good cause, isn’t it?

canada genealogy or “jane’s your aunt”
kulpreet singh’s blog
the change blog
stroller strides
what about blog
friuch
i’m trying
all about cities

stand up against poverty

as promised, a video about poverty every day this week – blog action day week. this one is a moving piece from last year’s day against poverty.

again, i want to take this opportunity and both thank some people who have been good to me, and also shamelessly use this linkbait to draw everyone’s attention to the issue of poverty. today, i’m tagging some of my friends from entrecard:

imaginif … a child protection blog
i’ll never forget the day i read a book!
healthy tips for a healthy lifestyle
how to deal with chronic pain
health eagle
everyone’s child
dungeons and dragons corner
chronic chick talk
a consummate life

october buddhist carnival – about poverty

blog action day - poverty

the first part of the october buddhist carnival is entirely dedicated to the topic of blog action day 2008:

poverty.

longing for the begging bowl
as usual, we start with a poem. here is a translation from malayalam into in english by k p pradesh – a poem by koyamparambath satchidanandan

buddha, this earth is burning
not by lust but by hunger.
they don’t need salvation,
they are already nothing.
tongues dry up not for
want of wisdom
and the bellies burn not for
want of meditation.
it is not your lips
bursting into philosophy
that they watch, but they
stare, longingly at the
begging bowl your fingers hold…
go and beat the drum of
the weak’s awakening,
retrieve your bread, your power.

this poem can be found among numerous others in this very interesting post about poetry written in the malayalam language, one of the many languages spoken in india.

a school for untouchables
still in india, we find this:

located on the outskirts of varanasi is a small and simple school ” buddha’s smile school. the space for the students is very restricted, and classrooms are of only 3 walls and a roof.in a confined area. less than 200 m2. 220 untouchables carry of their daily studies. they sit on small benches, and share tables with at least 4 others. the classes are from the 1st grade to 5th grade. they share their classes with at least 20 other students, and as previously mentioned not a lot of space… to even stretch your legs.

go here for the remainder of the article.

a buddhist school in africa

the amitofo charity association is a taiwanese based buddhist charity organization. our primary goal is to build orphanages to care for and educate orphans in all 53 african nations. although we will be funded mainly by far eastern buddhists and well as overseas chinese buddhists, we will also raise funds in south africa and other western countries.

one of their stated goals is to assist, care for and educate children and teenagers in great need – especially orphans in africa. they are part of pure land buddhism, a school of buddhism centered around chanting the name of amida buddha.

here is more about the amitofo charity association.

defining poverty
eden maxwell looks at various definitions of poverty, for example

[a] definition of poverty when arrived at through mindfulness might also describe an itinerant yet content sadhu (holy man) who has peered through the veil and weight of possessions, denies himself nothing, knowing that he takes everything of value with him as karma.

60 million americans live on less than $7 a day
conscious capitalism asks, “can we as conscious citizens and engaged buddhists create our collective future mindfully?” and talks of a social experiment with a conscious shift to create an abundant yet sustainable human-scale economy, a global culture of peace, partnership, genuine free market, and unlimited potential for conscious living and right livelihood. in this article, a times article is cited which states that

the bottom fifth of all taxpayers average reported income was only $5,743 each. because the IRS includes a single individual or a married couple in its definition of a “taxpayer” the poorest 26 million taxpayers account for the equivalent nearly 48 million adults and about 12 million dependent children. according to the times analysis, this means the poorest 60 million americans have reported incomes of less than $7 a day! it is often noted that 3 billion of the world’s poorest people live on less than $2 a day. in the US, where the cost of living is far higher, $7 a day is only enough to guarantee a life of destitution.

more here.

the bottom billion
one of my buddhist blogging friends, william from integral options, shows a TED video. paul collier talks about 4 ways to improve the lives of the “bottom billion”. as noted on the oxford university press web site:

global poverty, paul collier points out, is actually falling quite rapidly for about eighty percent of the world. the real crisis lies in a group of about 50 failing states, the bottom billion, whose problems defy traditional approaches to alleviating poverty.
in the bottom billion , collier contends that these fifty failed states pose the central challenge of the developing world in the twenty-first century. the book shines a much needed light on this group of small nations, largely unnoticed by the industrialized west, that are dropping further and further behind the majority of the world’s people.

here’s the link to the bottom billion video.

religions unite for food
people from christian, muslim, jewish, buddhist, and sikh backgrounds gather with jim morris, former executive director of the UN world food program, to create the interfaith hunger initiative.

we often think that people who are hungry must be different from the rest of us. our religious traditions teach us that all people, rich or poor, are created in the image of god. by neglecting the poor, by turning our backs on the hungry, we turn our backs on god. there is no difference between them and us. every person who lives in poverty impoverishes us all because we share a common humanity.

read more about the interfaith hunger initiative here.

more poetry
here is a fantastic collection of poems and personal accounts of poverty. it is presented

to promote an understanding of its very real effects on human lives. our hope is it develop a greater sensitivity to the tragedy, the challenges, and the urgency of poverty.

the works collected here are from writers and poets of many cultures and many eras. some emphasize the tragedy of poverty in striking the most vulnerable of society. some describe long-perpetrated social and political injustices as contributors to poverty. others write that poverty is a noble existence which shows the human potential for strength and spirituality in the face of hardship.

please help them add further insights and works to this collection and send them citations for additional writings at povertynet@worldbank.org.

the post includes thich nhat hanh’s “peace is every step”:

before each meal, we can join our palms in mindfulness and think about the children who do not have enough to eat. doing so will help us maintain mindfulness of our good fortune, and perhaps one day we will find ways to do something to help change the system of injustice that exists in the world.

that’s it for part 1 of this month’s buddhist carnival. part 2 will appear some time by october 22. if you have any submissions for next month’s carnival (november 15), please send them to me here, or, if you have a hard time connecting to blog carnival, drop me a line.

blog action day 2008 - changing the conversation about poverty

pants for poverty

tomorrow is blog action day, and the topic is poverty. i figured, why not post about poverty for the rest of the week?

here’s a video by my mennonite friends. the mennonite central committee does an incredible amount of work in the areas of poverty and social action in general.

and … the other thing i’m going to do is to tag a few people who’ve linked to me in the past and who, for one reason or another (mostly forgetfulness) i haven’t acknowledged lately. thanks, guys – and if you haven’t put together a post for blog action day yet, maybe this helps as a reminder!

urban vancouver
alien in a foreign field
everyone’s child
migrainechow
mormon MD – mind, soul and body
roots that heal
carrall street journal
social media world
shanker bakshi
fetch me my axe

walking away from guilt: a conversation, part 2

dealing with guilt, walking away from guiltthis is a continuation of my blog post a little while ago on helping a person overcome guilt.

clara’s and my exchanges were a conversation, with a thread going through it of questions (on my part) and replies (on carla’s). at the end of our process, i asked clara to tell me which questions were most useful to her in helping her lift most of the burden of guilt that she had been feeling, and to say a bit about those questions. (of course, names and identifying characteristics were changed.) i will also make some observations. so let’s continue:

how exactly have the people in your life been harmed by the specific things you feel guilty over, e.g. your eldest witnessing you taking getting drunk?

much of the guilt i carried over this particular incident has been reckoned with. i now understand (and accept) that what my children choose to do as adults has little (or nothing) to do with that isolated event.

comment: one of the reasons why i asked that question is that when we are plagued by guilt for a long time, there is usually what i call a “movie” associated with it. i call it a movie because it often has that intense and clear quality, with a complete memory of colours, details, even smells and textures. it is also often a “movie” out of context, i.e. just a snippet. paradoxically, what perpetuates the guilt is keeping that movie inside, never talking about it. so telling another person about it AND putting it in context are often very healing moments.

you weren’t even 18. how well prepared for motherhood do you think you were? how well prepared do you think ANY 16-year-old is?

i have looked at myself (objectively) as a 16 year old who was quite immature emotionally, even for the average 16 year old. i was looking for acceptance and love through sexual contact, probably due to the crisis in my family when i was 12. in retrospect, being a parent at 16 was an unbelievable challenge for me, as i also worked a full time job to take care of us. i was literally a child who was suddenly thrown into an overwhelming situation. though i do (somewhat) carry guilt over what my daughter had to go through. though i always wanted to be a good mom, i just didn’t have the skills i needed to make that possible

comment: when we look back at our behaviour in horror (and guilt), we often assume that we should have known then what we know now. we’re usually not aware of that assumption. so we walk around with thoughts like “how could i have done that! what an awful mother i was!” when really, in this situation, for example, it was a case of not having been ready at all for the task.

the words “objectively” and “in retrospect” show that now, carla is able to look back at the situation with much more balance and compassion for herself.

did you know about the abuse your children were experiencing?

i truly did not know about the sexual abuse. the guilt is over how i handled it afterwards, because though i did believe my children when they told me about it and turned it over to the authorities, i feel i should have left my husband then, instead of putting the family through years of counselling only to have him attempt to reoffend. i feel i gave the wrong message to my children, two of them who have struggled with abusive relationships.

comment: as indicated before, our conversations, while significantly lessening the burden of guilt, did not magically resolve everything. this seems to be an area that needs a bit more resolution.

have your children forgiven you?

this is a question i have thought a lot about. in my heart, i know that they have forgiven me, but i also hear from my youngest child different references made in regard to their upbringing, for example she was talking just the other day to someone about issues with her husband regarding their relationship and her children. she made the statement that nobody will ever come before her children. a few months ago, she told me that she felt i put my husband before her and the others. while i am glad she is able to be outspoken about her feelings, it does hurt that she feels this way.

i am still working on this. thanks for bearing with me, isabella. and by the way, the last time you wrote, your words were so encouraging, and i will never forget how much they helped me. i can now visualize myself sending guilt to the back of the bus (along with all the other riff-raff!)

comment: again, this is an example about an issue that hasn’t “gone away”. and many of them will never completely vanish. i don’t think that is the goal of therapy. therapy cannot erase scars, and it can rarely prevent or take away pain. what therapy can help with is to live with the scars – at times even proudly – and to remove or reduce suffering. it’s one thing to say, “geez, i guess i still feel guilty over that”, and another to lay awake at night playing the scenes of guilt over and over again, going down into an ever deeper spiral of suffering. it is the former that is normal – a quick pang of remembered pain, perhaps even the healthy guilt that serves as a reminder to avoid certain behaviours. the latter is torture, and torture serves no one. we could say, then, that one important goal of therapy is to end self-torture.

image by floato

thank you, mental illness awareness bloggers

today concludes the last day of mental illness awareness week, and the beginning of canadian thanksgiving. i’d like to give thanks, then, to all the bloggers who’ve written about this topic. here is a small selection of them:

mental health and poverty

the kick-off of “mental illness awareness week” in canada is coming with the usual storm of media articles wherein various and sundry demand more money for mental health. generally, that means, mental health professionals demanding more money for mental health professionals, while claiming it’s not actually for them, it’s for their patients. but if they really cared about their patients, we’d much more often hear mental health professionals lobbying for more money for social assistance and other types of anti-poverty initiatives, as the BC health living alliance does in this vancouver sun article, citing the ample research that shows how dramatically poverty damages health and, of course, psychological resilience.

more at the canadian mindscape monitor

the faces of mental illness

we invite you to visit the website – letsfacethis.ca – and post a photo and message on the “tree of support”. with each new photo added, the “tree” will grow, symbolizing growing awareness, education, fundraising and hope for those suffering from mental illness.

more at real mental

mental illness and mental health

although there is a slight difference between mental illness awareness (for the long term mentally ill) and mental health awareness (for those who have troubles coping with the various events in their lives), they are equally as important to understand. there are common misconceptions in the general public about the mental ‘illness’ state that one needs to be in before they can seek treatments. another is the idea that they have to be referred to a counsellor by a doctor before they are able to get the appropriate counselling that is needed to help them function in their day to day life.

more at the kipling citizen in saskatchewan

not accepting the stigma
i was touched by how “out” this engineering student was about his situation:

i personally suffer from mental illness – i have been diagnosed with severe depression with suicidal tendencies and have been receiving treatment since winter 2005. my journey has been difficult, but i have made it through with the support of family, friends, and medical professionals. i am not “in the clear”, and i do not know if i will ever be, however, i take each day as it comes and do my best to make a difference in the world.

more at iron warrior, the online news site from the engineering department of UWaterloo

mental illness awareness in schools

dr. gariane gunter, a psychiatrist in south carolina, recently was crowned mrs. united states and will dedicate her reign to raising public awareness about mental illness. as part of her education campaign, gunter is working with the national alliance on mental illness (NAMI) and in honor of mental illness awareness week (oct. 5-11) she writes about her advocacy efforts on the NAMI blog.established by congress in 1990, mental illness awareness weeks promotes public education on mental illness, treatment and recovery through local outreach efforts. gunter is currently teaching NAMI’s “breaking the silence” curriculum to all fifth grade classes at an elementary school in her hometown. the program is designed to educate students in upper elementary school, middle school and high school about mental illness.

more at yubanet

mental illness and the US elections

the nation is currently preoccupied with tremendous financial woes and an upcoming presidential election. where is mental health in all this?
let’s start with the second issue first: the race between obama/biden and mccain/palin.
i would like to see both candidates address these issues:
1. the failure of de-institutionalization due to the lack of funding for community-based treatment.
2. the pending need for mental health services for veterans returning from the iraq-afghanistan war.

more at fighting for those with mental illness

body, mind, earth

sulphur pools in icelandtoday you can fin me at evan’s blog, where i was given the great opportunity to write about a clean body and mind on a clean earth.  i’m grateful for the opportunity; it has focused my mind a bit on the topic of non-duality.  basically, the premise is that in order to truly live in an environmentally responsible way, we need to realize that there is a connection between our body, our mind and the environment.

while you’re at it, please also visit evan’s new course, living authentically. indeed, there is a connection because living an authentic life means living an integrated life.

image by stuck in customs