Thursday, February 28, 2013

Why did the Buddhist Pope step down?

Ashley Wells, Pat Macpherson, Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Pedants love to preach, 14th Dalai Lama (left) and 16th Benedict Pope (WQ)
Years before the current Catholic pope (papa, "father"), Benedict the 16th (Joe Ratzinger), opted or was legally/financially persuaded, to step down, the 14th Dalai Lama (Tenzin Gyatso) left office.

Who is the Dalai Lama, and why has he not been replaced?

According to Mahayana Buddhist lore, the "Dalai Lama" is just an office. But it is different in that it is again and again occupied by the same person.

How is this possible? There are three possibilities and three explanations: the historical Gautama Buddha never left samsara (which he did); Maitreya Buddha is already here (which makes the big Relics Tour building project with its massive Maitreya a bit of an anachronism); the being being reborn is not a buddha but a bodhisattva or "buddha-to-be."

All three possibilities must be mentioned because many lay Buddhists have little to no idea what the distinction is.

Could a buddha grow tired of dealing with China, a naga (dragon) kingdom/empire/police state?

Would Maitreya Buddha arrive long before the historical Gautama Buddha is said to have said he would?

Pederasty-preaching prelate (in private) proceeds to pedantic philological pursuits.
Is the male monastic hierarchy of the Pope-King immune from the monetary and sexual scandals the papacy is infamous for? Not at all, but it certainly does not hit the press nearly as often. Nevertheless, the comparisons between Tibetan Buddhism and Roman Catholicism are striking and more than superficial:
  • Clerics reside in a Tibetan "Vatican" called the Potala Palace, in the former Himalayan empire's "Rome" or capital of Lhasa. (Like Rome and Italy, Tibet and China are semi-autonomous, one increasingly so, the other less so over time; in ancient times, Lhasa held spiritual sway from Mongolia to modern Bangladesh).
  • Its priests (bikshus), bishops (head lamas), cardinals/archbishops (rinpoches), and the head of Vajrayana (Tibetan form of "Universalism" or Mahayana) Buddhism are led by a Dalai Lama. (Other Tibetan schools, like other schools of Christianity, have their own head, such as the Panchen Lama and the Eastern Orthodox Pope).
  • The fancy hats, shimmering robes, bells, litanies, cathedrals built to enshrine humility, a church or community that seeks to control the secular as well as the spiritual...
So why did the Buddhist "pope" step down? Ultimately the reason(s) given were not unlike Ratzinger/Benedict's -- he's doing it to help the cause, help the people... and possibly to spend more quality time with their celebrity friends, spending millions in donations while giving the appearance of being ascetic at heart?
Vatican Vacancy
Suspiciously, it is not the Pope alone who is stepping down at 8:00 pm local-time today. All of those principals who might also be held to stand for the corporation (Vatican, Inc. or Holy Roman Catholic Church, Int'l.) in regard to a genocide lawsuit by indigenous Canadians or drug-money-laundering Vatican (IOR) bankers are also exiting. Therefore, the official who would step in in the event the pope had been pulled by the Judeo-Christian sky-god, YHWH/Zeus/Deus, is not there to step in, nor is his successor, nor his. There is a chancellor or proxy taking over as explained by the BBC (video).

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Comedy: Vatican Scandal Review (video)

Stephen Colbert, "Colbert Report" (; Wisdom Quarterly

Popewatch 2013 - Vatican Sex Parties
Media jackals take advantage of Pope Benedict's exit by spreading rumors about a secret network of gay priests and male prostitutesMore

Mushroom Magic (Paul Stamets interview)

Wisdom Quarterly; Coast to Coast (subscription) guest host John B. Wells with mycologist and author Paul Stamets (Fungi Perfecti), Feb. 16, 2013

Fly agaric Christmas mushrooms (wiki)
Mushroom expert Paul Stamets, professional mycologist, joins occasional host John B. Wells to discuss how fungi can enhance the health of our bodies, gardens, and forests. 

He attributes our limited knowledge of mushrooms to fear and their fleeting nature, which limits scientists' ability to study them. He muses that the varied effects of mushrooms -- improved health, sustenance, harm, even death -- contribute to our sense of fear: "They are so poorly understood." 

Mushroom Buddha (Mochiunagi/flickr)
However, he marvels that there are over 5,000,000 species of fungi on the planet, constituting more than half of the 10,000,000 total species on Earth of all the organisms combined. (For more on Stamets' research, see video).

He shared numerous instances where the ability of fungi to survive and thrive in extreme environments has provided insights into potential ways for them to improve life on Earth. To that end he reveals how, following the Chernobyl disaster, Ukrainian scientists observed that mushrooms in nearby forests were "hyper accumulating radioactivity" thereby decontaminating large areas of land. 
Mushroom trolls or gnomes on New Year's postcard (
As such, Stamets suggests that the problem of radioactive fallout facing Japan following the Fukushima disaster may be alleviated with mushrooms. He also talks about how the unique abilities of various fungi to survive could be used to provide food for exploring astronauts and terraforming (making earth-like) planets.

Mushroom garden (Bhakti Omwoods)
Beyond the environmental benefits attributed to mushrooms, Stamets details ways fungi benefit human health. For instance, his mother dealt with cancer after being given six months to live in 2009.
She supplemented deadly chemotherapy with "turkey tail" mushrooms. Today, according to Stamets, she has "no detectable tumors whatsoever," and her case has been called a "best case outcome" by cancer journals.  Furthermore, he cites studies of "lion's mane" mushroom, which was shown to reverse the symptoms of Alzheimer's in laboratory mice. 
Stamets is enthusiastic about the potential therapeutic applications of "magic" mushrooms, such as psilocybin, because research indicates that they help treat alcoholism and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) calling them "medicines for the soul."
Crushing Economic Update
The show begins with financial analyst Joseph Meyer ( providing an amazing update on the US economy that runs contrary to all mainstream media reports of improvement.

Meyer argues that the US should be returned to the gold standard. He points to indicators in the job and housing markets as well as stagnant income, household debt levels, and weak consumer spending as signs that the economy continues to be troubled despite media claims of a turnaround.
He also calls the increasing consolidation of wealth by a smaller percentage of the population a "recipe for disaster" which cannot sustain itself much longer. In light of the massive gold reserve held by the United States, Meyer surmises that America will be the first nation to return to a gold-backed financial system as the global economy falters.

"Makers: Women Who Make America" (PBS)

Wisdom Quarterly;;

"Makers" tells the remarkable story of the Women's Movement for the first time. Built on an extraordinary archive of interviews already completed for the website, the film features the stories of those who led the fight, those who opposed it, and those -- both the famous and unknown -- caught up in its wake. More

Monday, February 25, 2013

Why is sexual abuse rampant in religion?

Pat Macpherson, Pfc. Sandoval, Seven, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly (ANALYSIS) 
The world agrees with Stewie, "These outrages will not be soon forgotten." (
Recently we asked, How gay can Vatican priests get? Just a few days later, England's top Catholic (Scotsman and homosexual cleric, Cardinal Keith O'Brien) is stepping down after accusations by fellow priests that he sexually harassed them.

It's one thing for priests, engaged in post-seminary activities, to be gay. But it seems a whole other thing for Church officials to engage in hypocritical homosexual misconduct. Not satisfied to molest boys, traffic in child pornography, and cause parishes and the Vatican to pay out millions in donations from innocent devotees, now it is revealed that higher-ups in the Church have been "indoctrinating" young priests in a lifestyle choice that ruins lives of children and clerics, as attested to by SNAP ( and other organizations.

Young men, hoping to avoid homosexual impulses/thoughts, sometimes as a result of having been molested sometimes not, may seek a higher course of life -- the "respectability" of celibacy in an all-male organization with a cohort of similarly gay-but-not-acting-on-it recruits beloved in the community and welcomed into homes with vulnerable young boys. And so the cycle continues -- men not identifying as "gay" molesting boys, who go on to live out the terrible ramifications of childhood abuse.

How does childhood trauma affect females? Tattoos, drugs, denial, and experimentation? CONTROVERSY: By definition, few homosexuals may molest children, BUT all people who molest children of the same sex are necessarily engaging in homosexuality.
Some, wishing to avoid the staid and sedentary lifestyle of bookish churchmen, instead go into the military where they are able to rape boys and young men (often killing them to conceal the sex crimes), and fellow male soldiers with almost complete immunity. The brass defends, covers up, and is certainly aware of their behavior -- often charging victims who come forward to report the crimes, in some cases charging singles with "adultery" because the man who raped them was married, as seen in "The Invisible War -- just as Church officials are seen doing. While these men commit their crimes with violence and the threat of violence, the churchmen are arguably more reprehensible for abusing and misusing "God," religion, sin, retribution, and punishment as explanations to hapless victims. Yet it is all shrouded in shame and secrecy. Unless this is uncovered, we can only expect to see more and more sexual perversion, hypermasculinity, effeminate behavior, DOMA, official Church hypocrisy, denial from the lay community, and a hatred of the body and human sexuality.

Sorts of kids Americans are killing (Blue_agava)
Sadly, these aberrations can hardly be called "aberrant" since they have been going on so long. Nor are they limited to Judeo-Christian societies. Cultures around the world have always had to deal with the natural occurrence of bisexual and homosexual behavior, and some have done so quite successfully (such as the Native American Chumash and various Asian cultures).
When it is accompanied by shame, humiliation, considered aberrant rather than normative within a range of behaviors, perversion ensues. Islam has much to answer for in this regard. Widespread homosexuality in the Iranian military, utterly denied by leaders and ordinary citizens is already well known. (Perhaps high testosterone resulting from early childhood trauma, which often entails violent acting out for what cannot be spoken or named, and androgen stimulation from military training, police training, prison guarding, boy scouting, and so on, leads to more predatory behavior. But the machismo leads to shame, denial, hypocrisy, and homophobia -- fear and loathing of the acts and impulses rather than the ordinary understanding of the word as hatred of individuals.)

Famous Afghan beauty (Nat Geo)
Prison? Prisoners -- left with a great deal of stress, testosterone, unresolved abuse (childhood and current), intimacy issues, fear, pride, and power trips to resolve -- are notorious for engaging in rape, sodomy, and violent sexual abuse. And who has more prisoners than America? The same phenomenon was seen in South Africa when so many non-Afrikaners were imprisoned that it created a cultural change of almost normalizing bisexuality. Are women not aware of what is happening, or are they in denial of what they become aware of but find painful to admit? Do they perpetuate the shame? What about non-offending men? Not surprisingly, hypermasculine men will want to stamp out "weaknesses" they perceive in themselves out of others; not able to resolve it or cope with it or assimilate it into their view of themselves, they attack others. American prison guards rape male prisoners, why? Is it homosexuality, a power trip, bisexuality, violent humiliation that ends with ejaculation? (Controversially, like Dr. Drew Pinsky, we believe that rape is mostly a sexual crime; clearly it is violent, but its motives are mostly sexual with violent elements or masking is shame using violence). Sexual abusers are well tolerated in prison so long as their practices begin in prison; anyone arrested for sex crimes, hypocritically, is targeted from the outset. Hypocrisy? The inability to assimilate the very impulses they see in others and deny in themselves?
A BBC documentary has uncovered evidence of abuse by the Afghan police force in Helmand province. Reporter Ben Anderson spent five weeks following a group of US Marines who are advising the police in Sangin district before the hand-over of power is completed there next month. He discovered evidence of some shocking behavior including corruption, kidnap, drug use, murder, and child abuse [sex trafficking]. Anchor Marco Werman speaks with Anderson about his report. More
Islam? Tonight PBS will investigate the widespread practice by Islamic Afghani police who abduct young boys and keep them as servants and homosexual rape victims or "sex slaves" (bacha bazi, baccha). Often the excuse is that the boys offer up their bodies, possibly in exchange for closeness as was reportedly the custom in ancient Greece (pederasty) with its gynasia and apprentice/mentor relationships. It is to be expected in any society that hates females, considers them "dirty," or cloistered, or the "property" of someone else that boys and young men will be abused as proxies. Why is anyone being sexually abused? If "sex" is labelled dirty, immoral, or prohibited, it will simply go underground and be denied; it will not make people chaste, particularly not adults and priests. We should have learned from childhood that closing our eyes does not make our monsters (often our relatives, neighbors, and clerics) disappear; it only makes us feel as if they have. The problem remains festering, like hydraulic fracking-chemicals, pushed down here only to pop up everywhere else. We are blind to our own sexual misconduct, but we somehow are able to see it in others such as our "enemies" the Afghanis. So let us look at the "dancing boy" phenomenon and set aside the child trafficking and male prostitution rampant in the US.

Social religion (celibate communities) and individual spirituality cannot thrive in a hypocritical environment, but they can thrive with the practice of jhana (serenity meditation).

Oscars: Falling Up, Falling Down (video)

Wisdom Quarterly (EDITORIAL); Seth MacFarlane
(LINK) "For the insiders at the Oscars this kind of joke is obviously not taken seriously. But when one considers the global audience of the Oscars of upwards of two billion people, including many who know... ‘Jews control Hollywood’... that so reinforces the age-old canard about Jewish control of the film industry." More

Lawrence answers reporters
OMG, not that funny. "The Seth MacFarlane Show" went off the rails with lots of people reading long lists of names no one knows. And the "Jaws" theme only got used once, when it really should have gone to Life of Pi's Ang Lee when he beat Steven Spielberg, who created "Jaws."

The Anti-Defamation League has filed a complaint against plush toy "Ted" for an antisemitic segment (video) that had the nerve to point out that Jews are overrepresented in Hollywood and in the media (TV, radio, print, online, porn).

Lawrence helps Stewart (BusinessInsider)
But the best and worst moments may have been (Best Actress) Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence's elegant trip and recovery and klutzy crutchy Kristen Stewart's grueling award-presenting efforts (after her amazing sweep of the awards the day before for her sullen teenager caliber performance in the "Twilight" series) next to Harry Potter. Interestingly, tragically, "Searching for Sugar Man" beat out four socially-conscious documentaries with its light and entertaining subject matter. Amazingly, with only four or five awards of widespread interest, the show was allowed to drag on for 3.5 hours.
Naturally blond Stewart dyes it dark (Shine)
MacFarlane (creator of "Family Guy" and "American Dad" and "The Cleveland Show") was brought in to attract a younger male audience. But the Academy claims to have chosen him for his dancing and singing. Either way, it was not much of a departure from hosts like Billy Crystal. The producers will have to think of something else -- maybe combining it with the Super Bowl, Olympic figure skating, and MTV clips? A show is not a "show" if it just indulges actors with insider comments far exceeding their 15 minutes of fame. Everyone agrees, the whole thing could go a lot faster.

Kristen Stewart spotted picking up Golden Razzies the day before Oscars (

Catholic Church gets even more gay (UK)

Wisdom Quarterly;
Cardinal O'Brien and the church's sexual confusion: He is to resign amid allegations of inappropriate [homosexual] behavior [forcing himself on subordinate priests] (Angus Blackburn /Rex Features/
Cardinal Keith O'Brien, the UK's most senior Roman Catholic cleric, has resigned as the head of the Scottish Catholic church after being accused of "inappropriate acts" towards fellow priests. 

News that Pope Benedict had accepted the cardinal's resignation as archbishop of St Andrews and Edinburgh came after the Observer disclosed a series of allegations by three priests and one former priest.
Cardinal Keith O'Brien (David Cheskin/PA)
O'Brien has denied the allegations and had been expected to continue in his post as archbishop until mid-March, when he was due to retire at age 75.
However, in a statement released by the church on Monday, it emerged that the pope had accepted O'Brien's resignation a week ago, on 18 February.

In the statement, O'Brien apologized to any people he had let down and said he did not want the controversy to overshadow the election of the new pope.

"I have valued the opportunity of serving the people of Scotland and overseas in various ways since becoming a priest," he said. More

Wisdom Quarterly
No comment. Really? No. (Q: Why did the pope really retire? A: He had a stiff neck from looking the other way for so many years). Recently we asked, How gay can Vatican priests get? Just a few days later, England's top Catholic (Scotsman and homosexual cleric, Archbishop Keith O'Brien) is stepping down after accusations by fellow priests that he sexually harassed them... Read more: "Why is sexual abuse rampant in religion?"

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Awaken and go "Beyond Thinking" (video)

Wisdom Quarterly; "Inner Worlds, Outer Worlds," Part 4 (AwakenTheWorldFilm)

Moving beyond our pathological obsession with thinking is not about running away from the external world. It is about balancing the inner and the outer, yin and yang -- as is said, avoiding extremes. 
When the external world -- which we have created with our thoughts -- is informed by our inner world, then our world will begin to return to alignment. 
It requires effort to change these inner conditioned patterns. The effort IS happiness. Why? “There is no way to happiness; happiness is the way!”

Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness -- we live our lives pursuing happiness "out there" as if it were a commodity. 

We have not served ourselves. We have become slaves to our desire and craving.
Happiness isn't something that can be pursued or purchased like a cheap suit.
This is Maya, "illusion," the endless play of form.
In Buddhist tradition Samsara, or the "endless cycle of suffering," is perpetuated by an compulsive craving for pleasure and aversion to pain. Freud referred to this as the "pleasure principle." 
Everything we do is an attempt to gain pleasure, something we want, or to push away something that is unpleasant, something we don't want. Even a simple organism like the paramecium does this.

This is called "response to stimulus." Unlike a paramecium, humans have more choice. We are free to think, and that is the heart of the problem. 

It is the thinking about what we want that has gotten out of control.The dilemma of modern society is that we seek to understand the world, not in terms of archaic inner-consciousness, but by quantifying and qualifying what we perceive to be the external world by using scientific means and thought.

Thinking has only led to more thinking and more questions. We seek to know the innermost forces which create the world and guide its course. But we conceive of this essence as outside ourselves, not as a living thing, intrinsic to our own nature.
It was the other famous psychiatrist Carl Jung who said:

"One who looks outside dreams;
One who looks inside awakes."
It is not wrong and harmful to desire to be awake, to be happy. What is wrong and harmful is to look for happiness outside when it can only be found inside.

ZEN: The Swordsman and The Cat (audio)

D.T. Suzuki ("Zen and the Samurai"), Christopher Reed (voice); Wisdom Quarterly

"Zen and the Samurai" is part of Suzuki's book, Zen and Japanese Culture, which explores Zen Buddhism as it applies to the life of the warrior -- sustaining warriors both morally and philosophically.

It is the work of a great Zen master to be familiar with both the sword of life and the sword of death so as to know when, whether, and how to wield them.

In simple, at times poetic, language, which he enhances with anecdotes and poetry, these are studies of the lives of some of Japan's greatest swordsmen. 
Suzuki explores the military mind and ultimately brings us to a new understanding of the meaning and symbolism of the "sword" and the code of bushido -- "the way of the warrior."

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Oscar Party: Best Documentaries (video)

Amber Dorrian, Bela, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly;

Real soldiers may cry (about being betrayed)
"The Invisible War" - Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker Kirby Dick and Amy Ziering have co-created a groundbreaking investigative documentary about one of America's most shocking and best kept secrets: the epidemic of gay and straight rape in the U.S. military. The film paints a startling picture of the extent of the problem: A soldier in a combat zone is far more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by enemy fire. The Department of [War] estimates that there were a staggering 19,000 violent sex crimes in the military in 2010. Judging just by those who report it, 20% of all active-duty female soldiers are sexually assaulted. The epidemic is now exposed, breaking open one of the least reported stories of our generation.

Rodriguez Sixto Sugar Man, rock icon
"Searching for Sugar Man" - In the 1970s, folk singer Rodriguez didn't make too many waves in his native USA. But without knowing it, he was the "voice for a generation" in Apartheid-era South Africa. Then, one day, he just disappeared. Reports at the time claimed he had committed the most spectacular suicide in rock 'n roll history -- offing himself onstage like a bat in Ozzy's maw. However, two South Africans fans never gave up hope, and they eventually uncovered the truth. They found the singer alive and well in blue collar obscurity, never having known he was famous. They determined to resurrect his voice for an eager audience in this inspirational documentary! Rodriguez returns as the Latin Bob Dylan.

"The Gatekeepers" - Shin Bet is a secret military force/intelligence agency charged with attacking all threats to the state of Israel, particularly if they are Palestinian in origin. This film is amazing in that it is a compilation of Israeli war criminals confessing to their crimes against humanity in the service of Netanyahu and other Israeli prime ministers. For the last 30 years, Shin Bet has been led by only six men. They have never been interviewed -- until now. They felt it was right and their duty to extra-judicially kill anyone they labelled a "terrorist." Why give human rights to those dehumanized with a label?

"Five Broken Cameras" - This film documents Israeli oppression of the indigenous Palestinian people who were displaced when British and Zionists decided to create a "homeland" in Arab Palestine (killing and displacing the millions who lived there using biblical claims as the equivalent of land ownership deeds). Inspiring and amazing, this entry has almost no chance of winning because it is a sympathetic chronicle of a Palestinian farmer's nonviolent resistance to the actions of the overwhelming force that is the nuclear equipped Israeli Army backed by an endless supply of US and British funding. Israeli crimes are exposed such as creating the world's largest outdoor prison surrounded by a militarized border wall and a maniacal asymmetrical force of undercover agents, conscripts, PR firms, Jewish occupiers in illegal settlements, and dual citizens from all over the world.

"How to Survive a Plague" - The story of the brave young men and women who successfully reversed the tide of an epidemic, demanded the attention of a fearful nation, and stopped AIDS from becoming a death sentence. This improbable group of activists bucked oppression and, with no scientific training, infiltrated government agencies and the massive pharmaceutical industry (Big Pharma), helping to identify promising new treatments and move them through trials and into the hands of the needy in record time. 

In the process, they saved their own lives and ended the darkest days of a veritable [government] plague, while virtually emptying AIDS wards in American hospitals in the process. The powerful story of their fight is a classic tale of empowerment and activism that has since inspired movements for change in everything from breast cancer research to Occupy Wall Street. Their story is inspiration to future generations, a road map, and a call to arms. This is how we change the world.
Non-fiction: We are preparing for massive civil war

"Breaking Dawn - Part 2" WINS big!

Wisdom Quarterly; San Francisco Chronicle (
Behind the scenes: the making of "Breaking Dawn Part 2"
Come on! This is more embarrassing than, y'know.
LOS ANGELES (AP) - The "Twilight" team has finally earned some love -- or loathing-- from Team Razzies.
"The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn — Part 2" was picked as last year's [2012] worst picture Saturday by the Razzies, an Academy Awards spoof that hands out prizes for Hollywood's lousiest movies on the eve of the Oscars.
The finale to the blockbuster supernatural romance dominated the Razzies with seven awards, including worst actress for Kristen Stewart, supporting actor for Taylor Lautner, director for Bill Condon, and worst screen couple for Lautner and child co-star Mackenzie Foy.
Adam Sandler was named worst actor for the raunchy comedy "That's My Boy," his second-straight win after 2011's "Jack and Jill," which swept all 10 Razzie categories a year ago. Pop singer Rihanna won worst supporting actress for the action dud "Battleship."
"Twilight" movies had been well represented in Razzie nominations over the years but had not won any key awards there. More

Life of Buddha as Play and Cartoon (video)

Seven, Seth Auberon, Ashley Wells, Wisdom Quarterly
What if the Buddha's life were told as an animated cartoon full of pathos and a large cast?
Lissa Coffey ( interviews writer and performer Evan Brenner after a Los Angeles presentation of his one-man show (directed by John C. Reilly) at the Bootleg Theatre.

Evan Brenner made two special appearances at Against the Stream, performing "Buddha: A Fantastic Journey" -- which we at Wisdom Quarterly had also thought to write but as a musical called "Sid Buddha Superstar" or, with the help of Jack Black, Bob Odenkirk, and David Cross, "Jeepers Creepers Semi-Star:"

He estimates that he has now performed the 65-minute one-man tour de force between 300-500 times, from memory, sometimes accompanied by lights and musicians, oftentimes with the barest of props.  The play is all heart with quite a bit of acting skill, but its real talent is revealed in the writing.

He thrilled the Dharma Punx audience, infusing a good dose of levity not only in the play -- because Buddhism unlike most teachings that become religions is funny -- but also in the insightful post-performance discussion. The play will eventually be coming out as a book and will include elements, sutras, and incidents left out of the play due to time constraints:
Khema, the chief disciple nun foremost in wisdom, the amazing story of Angulimala, a serial killer whom the Buddha stopped and saved, and possibly the touching tale of Kisa Gotami, a mother who lost her child and her mind whom the Buddha brought back to sanity.  
The arduous effort of a two-year process -- going through the 10,000 pages of the Pali Canon, selecting important episodes from Gautama's entire life ranging from Prince Siddhartha's luxurious upbringing to the Buddha's final passing and beyond -- paid off like the austerities of a monk.
In fact, once when Brenner hosted Bhikkhu Bodhi, the prolific English translator of a great deal of the Pali texts, he returned to find an empty New York apartment. Just as he exclaimed, "He must not have come!" he noticed a small saffron bag and realized that the venerable American monastic had indeed arrived and spent the night but with only the barest monastic accoutrements. They really are ascetic.
Director John C. Reilly
And this is really a remarkable theatrical piece, acted out rather than read, sung, or simply told thanks to the contributions of director John C. Reilly, whom we would have never thought even knew the word "Dharma," judging from his Hollywood persona appearing in such mainstream movies as "Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby" with Will Ferrell and Sacha Baron Cohen (Borat), or a voice talent in "Wreck It Ralph," or as the Sasquatch in "Tenacious D."

US enters new War: Troops sent to Niger

Wisdom Quarterly; Los Angeles Times;
Money for mayhem and worldwide militarization: US to sell Predator drones to United Arab Emirates (
WASHINGTON, D.C. -  About 100 U.S. troops have [been] deployed to the West African country of Niger [nee-jair] to help establish a drone base for surveillance missions, in the latest step by the United States to aid French forces battling Islamic militants in neighboring Mali [and Timbuktu]. In a letter to Congress on Friday, President Obama said the deployment would "provide support for intelligence collection and will also facilitate intelligence sharing with French forces conducting operations in Mali, and with other partners in the region." The last 40 American troops in the deployment arrived in Niger on Feb. 20 with the consent of the government, Obama said. A senior U.S. officer described the [military] troops as a security unit... More
Drone Warfare: Killing by Remote Control
Here is a comprehensive look at the growing menace of drone warfare, with an extensive analysis of:
  • Who is producing these drones?
  • Where are they being used?
  • Who is "piloting" these unmanned planes?
  • Who are the victims, and what are the legal and moral implications?
This book is also a call to action -- with a look at what activists, lawyers, and scientists are doing to rein in the drones and ways to stop them.
"Activist-extraordinaire Medea Benjamin has documented how the U.S. government's use of drones to murder hundreds of innocent civilians in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Somalia, and Yemen has increased the danger to our national security. And Benjamin’s “Drone Warfare” is the first book that reveals the vocal international citizen opposition that challenges the legality and morality of America’s extrajudicial execution drones before they kill here at home."
—Ann Wright, retired US Army Reserve Colonel and former US diplomat

Friday, February 22, 2013

KOAN: Zen Strawberry redux (video)

Ashley Wells, Dhr. Seven (translation), Pat Macpherson, Wisdom Quarterly
Cristina "Is That All There Is?" (via our friend Los Angeles DJ Rodney Bingenheimer)

We have been getting a great deal of attention for adding dimension to one of the most famous Zen riddles of all time (Money, Karma, or a Zen Strawberry), one we call...
Mara's Cliffhanger Koan
A person traveling across a field encountered a tiger and fled, the tiger giving chase. Coming to the edge of a cliff, clambering over, and taking hold of the root of a wild vine, s/he was now stuck in a precarious position over the edge. The tiger sniffed and snarled above. Trembling, the person looked down and saw another tiger sniffing and snarling below. Hanging onto the vine for dear life, the person suddenly realized that there were two mice, one white the other black, gnawing at the vine.
Curious in the Garden of Eden
Then suddenly there, next to the vine, s/he noticed a luscious strawberry. Grasping the vine tightly with one hand, plucking the strawberry with the other -- how sweet it tasted!

(This koan might make more sense if the Zen strawberry were replaced with a Jewish apple -- a "deadly poison" appealing enough to distract one from the bigger predicament it would get one in).

What does this koan mean?
"Enjoy life to the fullest"? "Catch as catch can"? "Seize the day/Carpe diem"? It could, but it more likely has a whole different meaning, as explained by Dr. John Suler.
According to Suler's Zen Stories To Tell Your Neighbors:  

"One reader claimed that Thomas Cleary once told him that the original ending of this story was quite different. According to Cleary, D.T. Suzuki changed the ending because he thought the original [ending] would not appeal to Westerners. The story was then picked up by others, such as Paul Reps. In the original version, the strawberry turns out to be, in fact, deadly poison."

So the "strawberry" is quite like sensual distractions -- that lead again and again to death -- in our precarious samsaric situation. 
Samsara simplified as only Six Realms
Samsara (a wheel depicted in the Tibetan thangka on the right) literally means "the continued wandering on" from rebirth to rebirth and, inadvertently, redeath to redeath. What is our motivation? Why are we doing this?
The Buddha saw and understood that sentient beings have three mindless motivations: craving for sensual pleasure, craving for renewed existence (again becoming as if grasping for eternal life), and craving for annihilation. 
We chase these three life after life, and reappear according to karma in search of them in pleasurable and miserable states.

World after world, revolving in samsara
Including black and white micsuggests birth and death, duality, this versus that thinking. 
With birth comes death, but only after old age, sickness, good times, and youth. It just revolves this way ad nauseum until we say something like: "Is that all there is? Because if that's all there is, then someone stop this Ferris wheel. I want to get off!"