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An interesting look at Buddhists doing something one might not expect. Well, okay, maybe doing 2 things one might not expect; Protesting and using social media in ways other than teaching Buddhism or reaching followers. But then, perhaps it’s not as unexpected as one might think on first glance. The issues that are presented by the Trump administration are plentiful indeed, depending on your individual politics. The travel ban, or whatever he might wish to call in on any given day, is obviously the most contested so far. I’m sure that his policies and my own philosophies will clash many times.

Do have a read, dear reader. I hope you find it interesting.

Buddhist teachers, on social media, respond to “Muslim travel ban” (Updated)

 

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Towards Lhasa

We discussed the smell

Of the monk who set himself on fire,

Shaking our heads in half-disbelief

As our tour guides made dinner.

We camped early along the banks of

The Lhasa River,

The terrain rough-hewed and ragged.

The sunset, intense orange and purple, matching

The orange flames of our campfire matching

Those that ate his flesh.
In Liuwuxiang we waited as our gear dried.

We inquired, with barely a concern,

As to precisely where he burned,

How much further to the spot in Ngawa and

Was the spot worshiped like a shrine?

To forgotten freedom?  Was there

A plaque to commemorate?
No one talked to us about the Why.

Half- hearted questions met with steel eyes.

Such questions are better not asked

Such words carry too much weight

Baggage packed with an official taboo

Burning the tongue before utterance.

 

We discussed the smell of a monk on fire.

His ashes washed away long ago

But the smoke still presents a challenge

The stench of burning flesh

A common pain that may never leave.

 

 

 

Poets note: Most of the self immolation that has occurred in Tibet have been in the Ngawa region, not in Lhasa. Access to Ngawa is forbidden by the Chinese government for most from the west, and internet access has been severely restricted. I chose to use Lhasa in this poem to reinforce these restrictions.

For more information, go to this website; https://www.freetibet.org/about/self-immolation-protests

 

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A fascinating look at White Privilege, Buddhism and teaching. The authour, Tara Brach, is the daughter of ” an attorney who practiced a lot of civil rights law, and he had a very racially mixed group of friends, which was quite unusual at the time. In grammar school, I was one of five white kids in an otherwise African American school. I’ve also lived for extended periods of time as an outsider, including wearing religious garb—all-white clothing and a turban—for ten years. So I assumed that I was somewhat awake to these issues, but I got the rug pulled out from under me thanks to some friends of mine in the D.C. area who started letting me know what life was really like for people of color, beyond my bubble of experience.”

The article continues to describe how she learned from her non-white friends about white privilege, about racial profiling, about a decision by a black mother not to raise her children on the thought of hope, but instead, “I want to give my son fear. I want him to be afraid, because I am scared to death that he’s going to either get arrested or killed every time he leaves the house.” She didn’t want her son being cocky or oblivious to the risks he faced as a young African American male—she’d rather he be scared and alive. I had assumed that doors would open for my son, that he’d have opportunities and that he could take advantage of those opportunities if he trusted himself. I realized that my assumption was white privilege.”

This is a truly thoughtful article, well written and provoking in a very informative way. White privilege is a construct that is so deeply embedded in our society that it will take perhaps generations to dislodge, but the truth is that we have to start somewhere. The best place perhaps to start is within us. By educating ourselves, we can then help with the education process to raise awareness and erode centuries of damage, distrust and prejudice, but we need to be self-aware first. We need to know how it affects us individually and as a member of a racist society.

I truly urge all to read this article, reflect on her experience and ask yourselves about your own perspective. How can you use this to grow?

 

Here is the link..;When Tara Brach came to recognize her own white privilege, it revealed painful blind spots. That changed her as a dharma teacher and leader. Artwork by Hildy Maze.

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The second of a series of responses, each one aimed at perhaps differing truths, but also at trying to make sense and reach a sense of peace with the events of late. As Leonard Cohen has said about himself, I’ve also explored the various religions of the world, only to find out that I wasn’t deeply religious, spiritual, yes, but somehow during the search the brightness kept creeping in. It comes as no surprise to me at all that a path back to some semblance of sanity would come from a Buddhist website and that this set of beautiful thoughts from zen masters would finally start to give me a sense of peace after a very angry, shocking, pain filled week. May we all try to find peace after these blows and those yet to come. We know what we need to do, sleep, wake up, sweep the garden, meditate and let the world be as it is, giving light where and when we can. If we get the chance to enlighten someone, we take it, if not, we repeat the above routines and find our own peace.Not that we sit back and let anything happen, no, but we are mindful. Namaste.

Buddhist teachers respond

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This is the first of posts about the US election and the victory of Mr. Trump. I must admit I’m still processing my feelings, dealing with my shock, my bitterness, my anger and a very deep sorrow, among other feelings. I hope to post my own reactions soon, and am hoping, dear reader, that they will be something more positive, as much as possible, than what I’ve been writing on the privacy of my own computer.

I hope you find the article helpful, if not enlightening.

Don’t Bite The Hook

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