Friday, July 31, 2009

Buddhist News Rundown

Man bitten by 2,000 malarial mosquitoes

A mosquito lands on a man's hand Friday, June 26, 2009, in Olmsted Falls, Ohio (AP/Mark Duncan).

Some people will go to extreme lengths to avoid mosquito bites. They'll wear long sleeves and pants in the heat of summer, surround themselves with citronella candles and torches, and spray foul-smelling chemicals all over their bodies -- or simply not set foot outside when they know the bugs are biting.

Stephen Hoffman isn't quite like those people. In fact, he has gone out of his way to get bitten. Years ago, he let 2,000 mosquitoes feast on his arm and inject perhaps 200,000 parasites into his bloodstream. Why? Well, for one thing, it made him immune to malaria.

He's also the CEO of Sanaria, a Rockville, Maryland-based company that aims to develop and commercialize a malaria vaccine. But he doesn't plan on subjecting all of us to as many bites as he has suffered. Receiving the vaccine that Hoffman hopes to create, in fact, wouldn't involve any mosquito bites at all. "It would have to be delivered by needle and syringe," he says. Creating the vaccine is another matter, however, and it calls for more brave volunteers willing to serve as mosquito fodder.

Progress toward a malaria vaccine, including a major new advance that European scientists reported this week, has already demanded a blood sacrifice from hundreds of people. Some, like Hoffman, have had scientific reasons for getting involved. More>>

The "Internet" Does Not Really Exist

Inside NJ2 in New Jersey. Attention is now shifting to making servers less energy intensive and to spurring innovation in the design and form of the data center itself (Image: New York Times/Simon Norfolk).

The Buddha, and by extension Buddhist teachings, are constantly making an unspoken distinction. That divide is between conventional and ultimate truth. Of course, the Internet exists. We're communicating over it right now. However, in a deep and profound way, many people already understand that the Net is not anything, not anywhere, certainly not everywhere, and nowhere in particular.

Things exist for a moment in the ether -- as binary impulses, as blips on a server, as magneto-resonant waves, or flashes of light. But what constitutes the "Net" really? What can it not do without; what is superfluous, what is essential?

To understand the profundity of this question is to glimpse the liberating truth of anatta (non-self, impersonality, egolessness). It is the "emptiness" at the heart of the world-famous Heart Sutra. "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is form." The Dharma, or Buddhist Teaching overall, is distinct in a few regards:

  • It teaches the Noble Eightfold Path.
  • It contains enlightened individuals.
  • And it expounds the doctrine of egolessness.
This third distinction is the exclusive teaching of buddhas ("fully awakened ones"). Such a teaching is to be found in no other philosophical system or religious tradition. But if there is no Internet, what is there? There must be something happening on the screen.

Indeed, there is something happening. However, there is no identity to the process. Simply flux, there is an interplay of changing factors. Nearly everyone can understand that on a particle- level, in physics, of course it's all change and motion, phases and submoments. That's all the Net is. With only a little more effort, the contents of the Net may be understood to be constantly moving, altering, being revised, retrieved, or lost. Even a complete photograph of a single moment of the life of the Net, if such a thing were possible (say by a massive CIA spying software), would not be that moment.

Where is the essence, the self, the soul, the identity of a person?

The following New York Times Magazine slideshow illustrates components that momentarily make up a fraction of what is experienced as the "Internet." In each part -- now no longer seen as a compact singularity but a composite and conditional thing -- no whole can be found. In the whole, only changing parts.
It is from not understanding this truth with intuitive insight, born of a lucid and undefiled consciousness -- that beings wander along in Samsara. They are, in fact, never "being" but in a constant state of becoming, a small but important distinction between conventional and ultimate reality. They suffer here and feel dissatisfied there. They lose everything, hurtling towards destruction, leaving everything wished-for thing behind.

Buddhism is extremely optimistic. Why? The Buddha, having outlined the somber dilemma beings find themselves in, does so only to point out a solution: virtue, concentration (mental purification cleansed of distraction), leading onward to liberating-wisdom. It is possible. Had the Buddha not determined that it is possible for the average person to realize it, he would not have made the Dharma known.

The "Dharma," then, should be understood not as a "set of beliefs to adopt" but rather as "practices that enable direct realization."

The Buddha explained to his final personal disciple, Ven. Subhadda, that in teachings where the Noble Eightfold Path was not found, there also enlightened individuals were not found (DN 16). He went on to point out that here in this dispensation (in the Buddha-Dharma) there was the teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. And here, too, were to be found enlightened individuals of the first, second, third, and fourth degrees:

  1. Once-Returners
  2. Non-Returners
Whereas the first three have glimpsed or "touched" nirvana and are assured of full enlightenment within seven lives, the fourth is already fully-realized and has brought all future suffering to a complete end. (And this is more than can be said of the incessantly resurrected and reborn "Internet," constantly changing and delighting, frustrating and disappointing, and ever wandering on like the spin of a hard drive that's set just off center).

The Truth about Swine Flu (kissing)

BERLIN (Reuters) - Fans attending one of the world's biggest heavy metal festivals in Germany were asked on Thursday to avoid "hugging, kissing on the cheek, and shaking hands" lest they spread Swine (H1N1) influenza. More>>

White House garden tainted
Michelle Obama's organic dream is dashed by a toxic legacy from the Clinton era. Dangerous sludge

1984: Amazon sued over Kindle deletion

SEATTLE – A high school student is suing Inc. for deleting an e-book he purchased for the Kindle reader, saying his electronic notes were bollixed, too. Amazon CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos has apologized to Kindle customers for remotely removing copies of the George Orwell novels 1984 and Animal Farm from their e-reader devices. More>>

Brain's potential explained by big new idea

( Different species and individuals have limits as to what they can learn. For instance, you can't teach your dog to read. But what sets these boundaries? According to a new hypothesis, components of an organism's brain cortex may help determine how well that organism, be it dog, monkey or human, learns and improves its cognitive skills.

The cortex is your brain's outer layer, the exterior part you can see if you look at a picture of the whole organ. The new idea posits that small sets of neuronal cells in the cortex, called cortical modules, determine our "cognitive plasticity," that is, our capacity to learn new ways of thinking, or improve upon old ones.

"What [constrains] an individual organisms' ability to learn cognitive skills is essentially the diversity and number of [cortical] modules they have," said Eduardo Mercado III, a psychologist at the University at Buffalo in New York. "So, if you think about it like a set of Legos, if you have more Legos, you can build a wider variety of things."

Quality, not size, matters: These cortical modules are very spatially distinct, like circles in a honeycomb-pattern layered over a brain, Mercado said. More>>

Dalai Lama receives honorary citizenship

WARSAW (AFP) — Exiled Tibetan spiritual leader the Dalai Lama received honorary citizenship of the Polish capital Warsaw on Wednesday at the city's Royal Castle, destroyed by the Nazis and rebuilt after World War II.

"We Varsovians, the residents of this indomitable city, are proud that as of today the 14th Dalai Lama is one of us," Warsaw Mayor Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz told guests at ceremonies, including Poland's anti-communist icon Lech Walesa.

"As the councillors of a city which has suffered as much as Warsaw, we have the moral right and duty to express our respect and honor a person who is striving for the freedom and sovereignty for his nation, freedom that we have enjoyed for the last 20 years," Warsaw city council statement said. This year Poland marked 20 years since it peacefully shed communism with partially free democratic parliamentary elections on June 4, 1989.

"I'm extremely happy and feel it is a great honor to become a citizen of this great city," the Dalai Lama said after receiving the honor. More>>

Nepal hails "Goddess" from Ab-Fab TV show

LINK: Nepal Hails "Goddess" From "Absolutely Fabulous" (Robert Mackey)

On Sunday in Nepal, Joanna Lumley, the actress who starred in “Absolutely Fabulous,” was mobbed at the airport in Katmandu -- not by fans of the sitcom but by Gurkhas, the Nepalese fighters whose cause she has championed in Britain. Gurkhas have served in the British Army for nearly two centuries, but they were not allowed to retire to Britain until Ms. Lumley helped shame the British government into changing its policy two months ago.

As The Lede reported in May, Ms. Lumley, whose father served in the British Army with Gurkha soldiers, had pummeled a representative of Prime Minister Gordon Brown’s government in a debate on live television over a previous plan to allow only a limited number of Gurkha veterans to settle in Britain. More>>

U2 awards Aung San Suu Kyi

Buddhism Wins "Best Religion" Award?

A Buddhist news story has been popping up all over the internet lately. Only problem is, it's probably not true. The Shambhala Sun looks into it. No one can find "ICARUS" or even the "Tribune de Geneve." But since monks sent the story into WQ, we thought readers might nevertheless like to see it.

"Tribune de Geneve" (7/15/09)

The Geneva-based International Coalition for the Advancement of Religion and Spirituality(ICARUS) has bestowed "The Best Religion In the World" award this year on the Buddhist Community. This special award was voted on by an international round table of more than 200 religious leaders from every part of the spiritual spectrum.

It was fascinating to note that many religious leaders voted for Buddhism rather than their own religion although Buddhists actually make up a tiny minority of ICARUS membership.

Here are the comments of four voting members:

  • Director of Research for ICARUS, Jonna Hult, said: "It wasn't a surprise to me that Buddhism won Best Religion in the World, because we could find literally not one single instance of a war fought in the name of Buddhism -- in contrast to every other religion that seems to keep a gun in the closet just in case God makes a mistake. We were hard pressed to even find a Buddhist that had ever been in an army. These people practice what they preach to an extent we simply could not document with any other spiritual tradition."
  • A Catholic priest, Father Ted O'Shaughnessy, said from Belfast: "As much as I love the Catholic Church, it has always bothered me to no end that we preach love in our scripture yet then claim to know God's will when it comes to killing other humans. For that reason, I did have to cast my vote for the Buddhists."
  • A Muslim cleric, Tal Bin Wassad, agreed from Pakistan via his translator: "While I am a devout Muslim, I can see how much anger and bloodshed is channeled into religious expression rather than dealt with on a personal level. The Buddhists have that figured out." Bin Wassad, the ICARUS voting member for Pakistan 's Muslim community, continued: "In fact, some of my best friends are Buddhist."
  • And a Jewish rabbi, Shmuel Wasserstein, said from Jerusalem: "Of course, I love Judaism, and I think it's the greatest religion in the world. But to be honest, I've been practicing Vipassana meditation every day before minyan (daily Jewish prayer) since 1993. So I get it."

However, there was one snag. ICARUS could not find anyone to give the award to. All the Buddhists they called kept saying they didn't want the award.

When asked why the Burmese Buddhist community refused the award, Buddhist monk Bhante Ghurata Hanta said from Burma: "We are grateful for the acknowledgement, but we give this award to all humanity, for Buddha-nature [the capacity to become awakened] lies within each of us."

Groehlichen went on to say: "We're going to keep calling around until we find a Buddhist who will accept it. We'll let you know when we do."

"Buddhist Bishop" rejected by TEC

Dr. Kevin Thew Forrester, Anglican priest and Zen meditator (right)
George Conger (Religious Intelligence, 7/31/09)

The election of America’s "Buddhist bishop" has been vetoed by the bishops and diocesan standing committees of the Episcopal Church.

The February 21 election of Dr. Kevin Thew Forrester as Bishop of Northern Michigan was “null and void,” Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori announced on July 27, as he had not received the necessary “consents” from a majority of the church’s diocesan bishops and standing committees.

Dr. Forrester’s rejection marks the first time in 77 years that the election of an American diocesan bishop has been repudiated by the Episcopal Church....On April 24 The Church of England Newspaper predicted the election would be rejected by the House of Bishops, as early returns showed a 3 to 1 negative margin with Dr. Forrester failing to hold together the left-liberal bloc of bishops that backed Gene Robinson’s 2003 election as Bishop of New Hampshire.

Shortly after his election The Living Church Magazine reported that the bishop-elect had received “lay ordination” as a Buddhist and according to his former bishop “walk[ed] the path of Christianity and Zen Buddhism.”

Dr. Forrester denied that he followed two faiths, telling the Marquette Mining Journal, “there’s one faith and it’s Christianity,” and that his Christian faith had been “deepened by my meditative practice and I’m eternally grateful to Zen Buddhism for teaching me that practice and receiving me as an Episcopal priest.” More>>

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Court delays Suu Kyi verdict until August 11

Japanese protesters in support of Aung San Suu Kyi (AFP/file).

YANGON, Burma – The Myanmar court scheduled to deliver a verdict in the high-profile trial of opposition leader Aung San Suu Kyi said Friday it was not yet ready to make a decision and adjourned until August 11, diplomats said. Suu Kyi rose to her feet after the judge's announcement, turned to foreign diplomats in the courtroom and said jokingly, "I apologize for giving you more work," a Western diplomat said on condition of anonymity, citing protocol.
The Lady, a 64-year-old Nobel Peace Prize laureate, is charged with violating the terms of her house arrest by harboring an American man who swam to her house uninvited. She faces up to five years in prison. Her trial has drawn international condemnation since it opened May 18. Critics have accused the military government of using the bizarre incident as a pretext to keeping Suu Kyi behind bars through the country's planned elections next year.

Friday's hearing lasted only a few minutes.

"The presiding judge walked into the courtroom and said the verdict will be postponed until Aug. 11 because the court is not ready to give the ruling," a foreign diplomat who attended the hearing told the Associated Press. The court was closed to journalists. Another diplomat said the judge added that the ruling required "further deliberation." The diplomats interviewed asked not to be named because of the sensitivity surrounding the trial. Security was heightened Friday ahead of the expected verdict, with teams of riot police stationed nearby. All roads leading to Yangon's Insein prison — where the trial is being held in a court inside the compound — were blocked by barbed-wire barricades. More>>

Can one be Christian and Buddhist? (WQ)

Being a Buddhist is not about what one believes, as may be the case in traditional religious "faiths." Whether or not one is a Buddhist is about what one does and what one wants. Principally, in terms of action, does a person go for guidance (sarana) to the:

  • Enlightened One
  • Buddhist Teachings (the Dharma)
  • Community of Enlightened-Disciples (arya-sangha)

The question of whether or not one is a "good" Buddhist is another matter altogether. One may ask of oneself, do I even attempt to maintain the Five Precepts?

  1. To abstain from killing living beings
  2. To abstain from taking what is not freely given
  3. To abstain from misconduct with regard to sex and sensuality
  4. To abstain from false speech (perjury and divisive, harsh, and impertinent talk)
  5. To abstain from intoxicants that are the basis for transgressing these precepts

The Precepts have a short (not killing, stealing, sexually-misconducting, lying, or drugging oneself) and long form. The long or more detailed form is spelled out in the Numerical Discourses of the Buddha, Book of the Tens, Discourse 206 (AN X 206). Its contents are a frequent topic of discussion at WQ.

For instance, what constitutes "sexual misconduct"? It's spelled out by the Buddha and not as open to interpretation as people often make out. It does not preclude one from having sex; it precludes hurting people in the process. See "The Extinction of Karma" (AN X 206). What is "lying"? Does it include fibbing or just perjury? Shouldn't we all be celibate and constantly engaged in Noble Silence?

Buddhism is not about a rigid, absolutist morality. Guidelines vary and they very much make sense -- until they're abstracted into simple forms and formulas that are (to Westerners) mindlessly recited.

Eastern Buddhists tend to know the details. So they recite patterned formulas as reminders, crib notes if you will. The same is true of discourses (sutras), which have detailed exegeses, but which are simplified and standardized to make them more memorable and general. They are tightly packed and not meant for literal interpretation. The Buddha did not use words so much as he used terminology. Without being familiar with the technical term (a difficulty compounded by rough translations), one is left with the words. And we know the words. So we think we know the meaning of the Dharma (the Buddha's teachings). The Buddha praised wide learning.

Finally, what does one want? One is a Buddhist if one wants to be. Otherwise, anyone who inquired about the vision of the Truth handed down as "Buddhism" would be seeking guidance. And any upstanding person with a predilection for basic virtue (since the Buddha did not invent the Five Precepts, nor was he unique in realizing that conduct affects states of mind, leading to calm and clarity or distress and distraction.

Moreover, Buddhism is the Path to enlightenment (liberating realization of the Four Noble Truths) and nirvana (liberation in this very life from all suffering). Perhaps most people want rebirth in heavenly realms or better conditions here and now or in other future lives here. These are legitimate goals, and they are achievable. But the unique teachings of fully Awakened Ones is towards that grand and final accomplishment of doing all that is good, neglecting all that is harmful, and seeing the truth directly.

In summary, of course you can be a Buddhist and any other religion you like -- as far as Buddhism is concerned. Not that monks have not misguidedly tried to make it an all-or-nothing proposition from time to time in history and at the climactic ending of some traditional sutras. The Buddha's position was always one of free inquiry.

However, your religion (and/or religions) may differ. It may not accept divided attention or allegiance. Warm regard for anyone but the Supreme Being and His prophet -- be it the Jewish ascetic Jesus (Y'shua son of Yusef and Miriam) in the case of YHWH or the Islamic Mohammad in the case of Allah -- could get you thrown out of the bishop's seat in the Church of England.

These are the three world-religions (Islam, Christianity, and Buddhism). Less universal creeds tend to be more polarizing, whereas more spiritual traditions tend to be less dogmatic. Therefore, your mileage may vary.

Whatever the case, whatever your choice (whether you make it or it is made for you), you can still benefit from Buddhism the way college students limiting themselves to a single major nevertheless benefit from wide and broad learning.

Christians reject their new Buddhist Bishop

Episcopalians reject Buddhist Bishop

Leaders of the Episcopal Church (in the Anglican communion) have rejected the appointment of bishop-elect Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester (pictured in white). Forrester holds views that are apparently too progressive. Among them, Rev. Forrester:
  • Denies that Satan [a Christian version of Mara] exists
  • Doesn't believe God sent Christ to die for the world's sins
  • Teaches that many paths lead to salvation

The Diocese of Northern Michigan's election of the Rev. Thew Forrester was declared "null and void" on 7/26/09. Presiding Bishop Katharine Jefferts Schori says Forrester failed to receive the necessary consent from a majority of Episcopal bishops and diocesan committees.

Rev. Forrester has also been criticized for blending elements of Christianity and Buddhism. In an old diocesan newsletter from 2004, Rev. Forrester said he had "received Buddhist 'lay ordination.'" Some bloggers have also criticized him for calling a reading from the Quran [Islam's bible] "the word of God." This begs the age-old question:

Can you be Christian and Buddhist?
(Dharma Folk, 3/12/09)

The...other day I ran across The God Blog over on the Jewish Journal, which asks Can you be Christian and Buddhist? with respect to Rev. Kevin Thew Forrester. He’s in the news due to irate Episcopalians who will not tolerate him as both a bishop in the Anglican communion and an ordained Zen teacher. More>>

WISDOM QUARTERLY posed the question to Ven. Karunananda, Ph.D. -- a Theravadan scholar-monk of long standing, from our Ask a Monk series. The question of whether or not one can be a "Buddhist" and at the same time another religion is easy. (See following entry).

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Was Judas a Traitor?

New image for Jesus' traitor
Christians have long thought of Judas Iscariot (a Christian version of Devadatta) as evil, but that may be changing. Discovery (The New Yorker)
Amish, Vampires hot in Christian lit.

Episcopalians reject Buddhist Bishop

Leaders of the Episcopal Church have rejected the appointment of a bishop-elect for his progressive views on important Church teachings.

Epicanthus: Asian US News is an Asian news aggregator site. This ambitious project pulls together top stories of particular interest to Asian American communities. More>>

Buddhist temples reach out: Obon Festival

Buddhist temples reach out with Obon Festival
Eleanor Yang Su (, July 26, 2009)

VISTA, California — Members of the Vista Buddhist Temple rolled out the welcome mat at their annual Obon Festival yesterday with musical and dance performances, mush-room tastings, and a discus-sion on Buddhist teachings. The event, which continues today, is an annual celebration of ancestors and loved ones who have died. And that was very much on the minds of many, especially during the traditional Bon Odori dance. The temple's aging membership has dwindled to about 80 people in the past decade, and organizers are using events like the festival and new classes to reach out to spiritual seekers. More>>

PHOTOS: 1, 2: Vista Buddhist Temple, 150 Cedar Road, San Diego, dance and Taiko drum performances, food, beverage booths, and shopping (;; 3: Gardena, CA Obon festival (

2009 OBON (August 1) SCHEDULE

  • Aug. 1-2—Gardena Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 1517 W. 166th St., Gardena, CA 90247; (310) 327-9400; 3-10 p.m. Sat./2-9 p.m. Sun.
  • Aug. 1—Buddhist Temple of San Diego Obon Odori, 2929 Market St., San Diego, CA 92102; (619) 239-0896: 5-9 p.m.
  • Aug. 1—Oregon Buddhist Temple “Obonfest 2009,” 3720 SE 34th Ave., Portland, OR 97202; (503) 234-9456: 4-9 p.m.
  • Aug. 1—San Luis Obispo Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 6996 Ontario Rd., San Luis Obispo, CA 93405; (805)-595-2625: 1-9 p.m.
  • Aug. 1—Hawaii Waialua Hongwanji Temple Obon, 67-313 Kealohanui St., Waialua, HI 96791; (808) 637-4395: from 7:30 p.m.
  • Aug. 1-2—Palo Alto Buddhist Temple Obon Odori, 2751 Louis Rd., Palo Alto, CA 94303; (650)856-0123: 5-11 p.m. Sat./noon-10 p.m. Sun. More>>

Stadium-Rock Religion?

Shaken but not stirred by stadium-rock spirituality
Text: Catherine Deveny (, Australia, July 29, 2009)

The promise of awesome worship, that’s what got me to a Planetshakers meeting. And I wasn’t disappointed. They said awesome 20 times. Planetshakers is a mega-church, which is like a spiritual mega-meal deal: Pizza, Coke, chocolate bavarian. If we could masticate it for you and pump it into your stomach, we would.
  • PHOTOS: Generic non-Christian US concert crowd and show

Because we love you, and so does Jesus. Standing outside Planetshakers surrounded by chirpy, bogan-cool teenagers fizzing with excitement, one of the two gay Atheist friends I was with described the crowd as "very Australian Idol." It was the first time I’d been excited about going to church. I spent every Sunday of my first 18 years sitting on wooden pews listening to a bloke talking about his imaginary friend in the sky who did magic tricks.

Women were virgins, saints, or whores. Men were the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Outside Planetshakers it felt as if we were about to see a rock concert. And we were. As the band fired up and went off like a frog in a sock, I thought: "I don’t care what they’re selling, but I’m buying it." Christian pop, ’80s power anthems, Metallica-meets-Cheap Trick.

A mosh pit for Jesus was jumping with teenagers in rapture and a balcony of Planetkids went off for Christ. Music blared from the stadium sound system while the screen seduced us with slick videos edited so fast the phrase "subliminal image" kept popping into my head. More>>

Michael Jackson drugged

Jackson doctor's home raided
Federal agents search the home of Dr. Conrad Murray, Michael Jackson's personal physician. Manslaughter link

Why do pharmaceutical drugs injure and kill? Is it because all safety testing done on them is fraudulent? See what's being done to make them safe.

Nearly Extinct California Frog Rediscovered

(LiveScience) For the first time in nearly 50 years, a population of a nearly extinct type of frog has been rediscovered in Cali-fornia’s San Bernardino Nation-al Forest. The rare mountain yellow-legged frog was re-found when biologists from the U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) and scientists from the San Diego Natural History Museum retraced a 1908 expedition through the San Jacinto Wilderness near Idyllwild. Scientists hope that this rediscovery, along with captive breeding and efforts to restore frog habitat, bodes well for the future of the amphibian. More>>

Odds of an Earth impact
The environment may recover, but will Earth survive? (Yes! The environment is in much more danger). Only one object in space poses a serious threat of hitting our planet. Strike like 150 mil tons of TNT

When Cats Rule the World

(LiveScience) Cats do control humans, study finds: If you've ever wondered who's in control, you or your cat, a new study points to the obvious. It's your cat. Household cats exercise this control with a certain type of urgent-sounding, high-pitched meow, according to findings. This meow is actually a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry.

While people usually think of cat purring as a sign of happiness, some cats make this purr-cry sound when they want to be fed. The study showed that humans find these mixed calls annoying and difficult to ignore.

Some cats may manipulate their owners into feeding them with a unique meow -- a purr mixed with a high-pitched cry (Image: stock.xchng).

"The embedding of a cry within a call that we normally associate with contentment is quite a subtle means of eliciting a response," said Karen McComb of the University of Sussex. "Solicitation purring is probably more acceptable to humans than overt meowing, which is likely to get cats ejected from the bedroom." They know us: Previous research has shown similarities between cat cries and human infant cries. More>>

Suu Kyi verdict set for Friday in Burma

BBC: Saffron Revolution

Hooligan Gen. Than Shwe, military dictator

Updates available at

Burma's Lady receives A.I. Award

Demonstrators attach pictures of the Lady and yellow tape to railings of the Myanmar embassy during London protest, 6/19/09 (Reuters/Luke MacGregor).

RANGOON, Burma – Burma's democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi has won Amnesty International's highest award for her defense of human rights, underscoring international support for the Nobel laureate whose trial is ending today [7/28/09]. She is widely expected to be convicted of violating the terms of her house arrest and faces a possible five years in prison, although there has been speculation she may stay under house arrest rather than serve time in jail.

Neither international outrage nor offers of closer ties with the U.S. if Suu Kyi is freed appear to have deflected the ruling junta's determination to neutralize — if not imprison — the 64-year-old. The international community and Suu Kyi's local supporters worry the ruling junta has found an excuse to keep her behind bars through elections planned for next year.

Riot police officers stand guard at a checkpoint on the approach road leading to the main entrance of notorious Insein Prison where the trial of Aung San Suu Kyi is ongoing, Monday, July 27, 2009. The trial entered its final phase Monday, with the prosecution scheduled to deliver its closing arguments, a government official said (AP/Khin Maung Win).

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International gave Suu Kyi its Ambassador of Conscience Award on Monday, hoping its highest honor would help deter the junta from imposing any harsh new punishments on her. The Irish band U2 was to publicly announce the award at a Dublin concert Monday night. "In those long and often dark years, Aung San Suu Kyi has remained a symbol of hope, courage, and the undying defense of human rights," Amnesty's Secretary General Irene Khan said of her long detention. More>>

Photo taken Friday, 7/24/09, of supporters of detained pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi's National League for Democracy Party gather near the notorious Insein Prison as Suu Kyi's trial resumes in Rangoon, Burma (AP/Khin Maung Win).

Monday, July 27, 2009

Patience: Kshanti/Khanti

"Ksanti" (WQ Wikipedia edit)

There are Ten Perfections (dasa pāramī) in Buddhism. They are developed and consummated on the Path to enlightenment:
  1. Generosity (dāna)
  2. Virtue (sīla)
  3. Renunciation (nekkhamma)
  4. Wisdom (paññā)
  5. Energy (viriya)
  6. Patience (khanti)
  7. Truthfulness (sacca)
  8. Resolve (adhiṭṭhāna)
  9. Friendliness (mettā)
  10. Equanimity (upekkhā)

Some traditions speak of six or more perfections (pāramitā):

  1. Generosity (dāna)
  2. Virtue (sīla)
  3. Forbearance (kṣānti)
  4. Effort (vīriya)
  5. Meditative-absorption (dhyāna)
  6. Wisdom (prajñā)

To these an additional four are sometimes added:

7. Skillful means (upāya)
8. Determination (praṇidhāna)
9. Psychic power (bala)
10. Knowledge (jñāna)

Kṣhānti (Sanskrit) or khanti (Pali) is translated as patience, forbearance, and forgiveness. It is one of the practices (paramita) or developed character traits one attempts to cultivate and bring to perfection as a means of gaining full enlightenment and final liberation in both Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism.


It is not necessary to actually bring them to full perfection to gain the full enlightenment and liberation of a disciple (a savaka-buddha). But they are needed to become an imperfect pacceka-buddha and absolutely necessary for becoming a perfectly-enlightened sammasam-buddha. (See discussion of the various forms of enlightenment at arahant).

Kshanti is the practice of exercising patience in the face of conduct or situations that might not necessarily deserve it — a conscious choice to give patience as if it is a gift. This, rather than being in a state of oppression in which one feels obligated to act in such a way, is said to be the "highest virtue."

Canonical sources
Examples in the Pali Canon identify using forbearance in response to others' anger, cuckolding, torture, and even fatal assaults.

Dhammapada ("Footprints of the Dharma")
Khanti is the first word of the "Patimokkha Exhortation Verse," which monastics utter before confessing their transgressions to one another to reform and behave more in accordance with the Vinaya in the future. It is also found in the Dhammapada, Verse 184:

Forbearance (patient endurance) is the highest virtue;
Nirvana is supreme say those Awakened;
One who harms others is no recluse!

Khantī paramaṃ tapo tītikkhā;
Nibbānaṃ paramaṃ, vadanti buddhā;
Na hi pabbajito parūpaghātī samaṇo hoti paraṃ viheṭhayanto.


Parable: "No doors in our monastery"

"We have no doors in our monastery," Shanti said to the visitor, who had come in search of knowledge.

"And what about troublesome people who come to disturb your peace?" the visitor asked.

"We ignore them, and they go away," answered Shanti.

"But what do you do about stupid people," the visitor asked, "do you just ignore them as well?"

Shanti did not reply.

"I am a very learned man who has come in search of knowledge!" insisted the visitor, as he repeated his question. Seeing that he got no response, he decided to go and find a teacher who was more focused.

"You see how well it works?" said Shanti to himself, smiling.

Shantideva Quotes