it’s january 15, and time to serve up this month’s buddhist carnival, a selection of posts from the buddhasphere. here is this month’s poem:
when things abruptly shift
like part of the body misaligned by a sharp move
when the house goes, or the he or she,
any room at once gets a new look
and old familiar chairs are instantly antique
a trip to the kitchen strewn with the rubble of routine.
what’s left when things get quiet, the certainties leave?
the reality of ‘you’ and what to do with that.
and because i like poems so much, let’s have another one. here is an excerpt from one of my twitter friend dirk johnson’s creations.
all acts are sweepstakes.
the odds are against you.
there’s nothing to win
or to lose. the ruse of what
you credit with possibility
is zeros and ones on the fed
computer, a tally of your failures
and triumphs, hills and valleys, spills
on your bicycle ride from a pub.
you could enter a precious moment,
watch rain drops gather at the tip
of an oak leaf and tremble
at their certain fall. but this
is no more real than the bare
bulb a silk moth flings itself against
and pings off of again and again.
isn’t it beautiful? don’t you want to read the rest?
redemption, forgiveness and tiger woods
earlier this month, there was a bit of a flurry in the buddhasphere as a result of a discussion of forgiveness and redemption, inspired by tiger wood’s story. brit hume of FOX news had made some curious comments on the subject: “he is said to be a buddhist. i don’t think that faith offers the kind of forgiveness and redemption that is offered by the christian faith. my message to tiger would be, ‘tiger, turn to the christian faith and you can make a total recovery and be a great example to the world.”
those words provoked a letter-writing campaign by buddhists, started by the reformed buddhist. the examiner took this opportunity to examine what is directly related to buddhist philosophy in regards to the terms ‘forgiveness’ and ‘redemption’.
redemption means the settling of a debt, whether of monetary or spiritual value. this concept is indeed meaningless in buddhism. there is no debt, no sin, no accounts to be settled. however, there is the concept of ‘merit’, which is the accumulation of good karma through positive acts. it is sometimes described as if you are swimming in a lake, and there is a current following you with either positive or negative effects- most often, a mix of the two unless you have been consciously and deliberately creating a more positive (or negative) flow. but still, there is no ‘debt’ or balance to be maintained. you can have an effect on future events by acting in the present moment, but there is no way to ‘make up for’ or absolve yourself. the consequences of past events are unavoidable, period, including the consequences of being born human- old age, sickness, and death. it happened to the buddha, it happens to everything- people, religions, nations, planets.
forgiveness is another matter entirely.
buddhist magazines: racist?
john pappas over at the elephant journal has a great article on popular buddhist magazines. of tricyle he says that it has
more glossy advertisements for crap then cosmo. “do you need a new zafu? new malas? what does your mala say about your practice? perhaps a brand new meditation timer is what you need? big wallet, then big mind©®â„¢ is for you!”
yup, i have to agree with that one. then he goes on to shambala sun
one major snag is that shambhala sun tends towards the “self-help” buddhist revolution. this is not a revolution that i have any quams with but i have no interest in reading about how buddhism will help me “overcome shyness” or how to get through a “mindful divorce”. if that is your bag, then great! roll with it. i’m just not that interested. if i want to better myself, i like to go closer to the source.
shambhala sun publication’s strength lies with its blog.
but here’s the interesting part, one that has always made me a bit uncomfortable:
there is one huge glaring problem with these publications though – the lack of inclusion of asian practitioners (as well as any minority) in the ranks of their staff-writers and advisors of these magazines. they all do a horrible job of this. for a detailed description of this go over to the angry asian buddhist. arun has spent plenty of time on these issues and can present it with more passion that i can. just a brief view at any of these magazine will show you that asians are not well presented. arun even did a graph! it is sweet.
this says one thing to readers ~ western buddhism is for whites and is white dominated.
and in a more than superficially obvious connection, the renegade buddha declares i am not a western buddhist. “sometimes,” he says, “being religious means wearing funny hats.” or sitting on top-of-the-line zafus. same thing.
the good man william harryman at integral options has a series of talks by the dalai lama here http://integral-options.blogspot.com/2009/12/all-in-mind-dialogue-with-dalai-lama_19.html. this is part 3, where the dalai lama joins the founder of positive psychology, martin seligman, and buddhist scholar alan wallace to consider what it takes to flourish “…really flourish… individually and collectively.”
irreverence is next to godliness
finally, a few days ago, i discovered jack zen. on his blog with clean, open lines, he writes a short post here, a few words there. like seeing things as they are:
i had a conversation recently with gabriella gupta who suggests that irreverence is next to godliness. it’s certainly in line with the buddhist admonition that “when you meet the buddha on the road, kill him.” as severe as it sounds, it’s simply a reminder that we hold no idolatrous images of reality, instead simply seeing it as it is. when we simply see things as they are, we don’t need reverence to see the beauty of the infinite. we don’t need to pitch tents to preserve the eternal.
image by boeke