Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


Leave a comment

Detox And Treatment Pay For Themselves Many Times Over

There are still some who question the need for drug and alcohol detox and treatment, who feel that addicts and alcoholics’ issues are moral rather than physical and emotional, and that we deserve what life hands us. There is truly no way to argue such issues. Addiction has been accepted as a disease for half a century, and if folks choose to ignore that, nothing is left to say.

There are, however, good arguments for treatment and detox that have nothing to do with morality. Let’s look at some of them.

via Detox And Treatment Pay For Themselves Many Times Over.


2 Comments

Alicia Keys, Lady Gaga to sign off Twitter for charity

Alicia Keys and Lady Gaga take charity work seriously, and they’re going offline to prove it.

Gaga, Justin Timberlake, Usher and other celebrities have joined a new campaign called Digital Life Sacrifice on behalf of Keys’ charity, Keep a Child Alive. The entertainers plan to sign off of social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter on Tuesday, which is World AIDS Day. The participants will sign back on when the charity raises $1 million.

via The Associated Press: Keys, Lady Gaga to sign off Twitter for charity.


Leave a comment

An Oldie But A Goodie…

It’s time to re-post this; one of my best, IMNSHO:

I was considering the way some of us in the rooms seem to think of ourselves, based on the way we talk. We say, “I’m not a bad person trying to get better, I’m a sick person trying to get well.” Then we continue talking about our shortcomings and defects of character. We say things like “I’m an alcoholic, and my problem is Bill.” (I don’t measure up; I’m defective; I’m a problem.) That is not an affirmation.

The language of 12-step groups is the language of seventy years ago–more like a hundred if you consider when the authors got their actual educations. We now know a great deal more about psychology than in the era of Freud and Jung. We also know a great deal more about addiction and alcoholism.

Read More…


Leave a comment

Buddhist Calendar to Print

Jerry Whiting, of JetCityOrange, sends the following:

Name: Jerry Whiting

Website: http://www.JetCityOrange.com/Buddhism/

Hello,
For years now I’ve been making calendars featuring my photography. Long story but this year I did a series of 1-page calendars for 2011 featuring Buddhist images. They’re PDF files (and they’re free).
Nothing fancy. Just the way this householder keeps track of time.
enjoy!

Jerry Whiting

http://JetCityOrange.com/calendar/

As Jerry says, download and enjoy.  And bookmark his site.  I did.

 


Leave a comment

Humanoid Rights

‘…being a civil libertarian requires a sprinkle of paranoia — it means anticipating threats to freedom rather than waiting for them to mobilize, because often, that means it’s too late. “It’s striking how rapidly things move from being science fiction to being true threats to privacy, from face recognition to body scanners,” Stanley says. “It’s important to be ahead of the curve and frame the debate so they know what the civil-liberties issues are.”‘

Humanoid Rights | The American Prospect.


Leave a comment

Gay Teen Suicides

We now have another well-publicized suicide of a gay teenager.

It’s well-known in the mental health field that suicides come in clusters, especially in well-defined groups of teens.  I imagine that we can expect to see more gay teens at risk — especially since they might see their “sacrifice” as advancing the cause of gay equality by bringing attention to discrimination.

They might well be right, and that might be a slight upside to the loss of these kids.  Still, if you know a teen who might fit into this category, now would be a great time to show some compassion and support.  We don’t need sacrifices, we need live people with a conscience.  There aren’t enough.

I had a good friend who blew his brains out with his dad’s gun at age about 19, because he was gay, depressed, and got no support.  I still miss him.


2 Comments

Vacation With The Dead

The traditions of most religions, including many Buddhist sects, encourage us to contemplate death, our place in the world, and in the hereafter.  No one does it more determinedly than the Christians of Rome who, for two millennia, have been creating displays that can’t help but make visitors mindful of  life’s one certainty.

Vertebrae rosettes. A crown of thorns made from finger bones. An arch of skulls. Three skeletons of children lean huddled in a group as if to comfort one another. Behind them hangs an hourglass made of pelvis bones. Above soars the skeleton of a youth bearing a scythe of clavicles and scales made of kneecaps. Dirt and gravestones cover the floor. Mummified bodies wearing the cowled robes of …

vacationwiththedead


Leave a comment

World Gone Mad — Derrick Jensen

Unfortunately, Jensen tells it like it is…again. You won’t like it. I didn’t either, even though I already realized some of it. But he’s right. And we don’t have to like reality — only be able to perceive it.

I DON’T KNOW about you, but whenever I attend some “green” conference, I know I’m supposed to leave feeling inspired and energized, but instead I feel heartbroken, discouraged, defeated, and lied to….

Blindness to suffering is one of this culture’s central defining characteristics.


5 Comments

The Angry Monk: Zen Practice for Angry People

I love this line: “Wait a minute, there’s always at least one [asshole]. So if I’m looking around the zendo and I can’t find him—guess who the asshole is!”

And this one: “…spiritual work isn’t always ‘instructive’—it’s transformative, and this kind of transformation can get messy. The Sanskrit term for this is clusterfuck.

Zen practice is good for angry people. The form is tight. It squeezes that deep red heart-pulp, pushing up emotions from way down inside you. A lot of stuff comes up when you do this practice. Zen gets your juices flowing. And with these juices come seeds—the seeds of your behavior, your character, your anger, all flushed out into the open for you to see.

The Angry Monk: Zen Practice for Angry People


7 Comments

Book Review: Sex, Sin and Zen, a Buddhist Exploration of Sex – by Brad Warner

Apart from their both being Buddhist teachers, one does not often think of Brad Warner and the Dalai Lama in the same context.  Over the years, I’ve come to see that as a mistake.  Warner and His Holiness have one major thing in common: no matter what they write about, at the end you’ve gotten a good education in basic Buddhist philosophy and practice.  They give good Dharma.

One of the things that I find most charming about HHDL’s writings is the way he sticks with the basics.  My understanding of practice is that it is about incorporating the Eightfold Path into my life.  Many writers and teachers, even Zen teachers, get carried away with the details and seem to forget that Buddhism is about living, not about having scholarly discussions.  Both Brad and His Holiness manage to make their teachings accessible — albeit in radically different ways — without getting bogged down in esoterica.  I like that.  A lot of my own practice has been about getting over myself and my IQ, and they both help me a lot when it comes to simplifying my thinking.  Steve Hagen is another favorite for the same reason.

Sex, Sin and Zen* is not an attempt on Warner’s part to pontificate about what “good Buddhists” are supposed to believe with regard to the beast with two (or more) backs.  What it really comes down to is a very personal exploration of Buddhist ethics and teachings as they seem to him to apply to situations that he has experienced, or heard, or been asked about.  He doesn’t claim to have the answers — is, in fact, excruciatingly careful to make it clear that these are personal decisions — yet he provides a first-class framework to use in thinking about such issues as they apply to us.  I mean, this book includes an entire chapter devoted to examining the practice of well-known porn star Nina Hartley, and how she incorporates Buddhism into her work and marriage.  It would take a writer with a background in blogging for “Suicide Girls” to even dream of pulling that off — but Warner does, and we feel as though we learned something. (I felt a couple of shifts in my attitudes while reading it, and I consider myself about as sexually liberal as you can get.)

Of course the book is written in Brad’s eminently readable — albeit sometimes joltingly non-traditional — style:

We reflect on the effort that brought us this piece of ass
and consider how it comes to us.

We reflect on our virtue and practice, and whether
we are worthy of this piece of ass.

We consider sexual greed to be the obstacle to freedom of mind.

We consider this piece of ass to be good medicine to sustain our lives.

For the sake of attaining the Truth we now receive this piece of ass.

And:

If you’re too goddamned horny to think straight, then perhaps the best way to avoid misusing sex is to log on to Suicide Girls, or whatever website you enjoy, masturbate furiously, be done with it, and then go out into the world more mellow, less sex-crazed, and less likely to misuse sex in a far more damaging way.

See what I mean?

Sex, Sin and Zen may shock you, it may leave you flabbergasted at the idea that an ordained priest of any religion would think it appropriate to write in the way that Warner habitually does.  But you know what?  You won’t be bored; you won’t feel you’ve wasted your time; and — unless you work hard** at avoiding it — it will give you a lot to think about.

____________________

*Available in your favorite bookstore this Labor Day weekend.

**Hee hee, I said, “hard.”

Disclaimer: the writer was provided a complimentary copy of this book by the publisher.


8 Comments

Should Debate About Religion Be Open And Without Restraint?

Religion should not enjoy a privileged status, especially when many religious people strive to influence politics and public policy based on their religious beliefs. Do I violate some rule of civil discourse if I draw or publish a cartoon lampooning the Catholic Church’s position on abortion when the Catholic Church is trying to influence public policy on abortion? If so, I fail to understand the reason for such a rule. Such self-censorship merely serves to perpetuate the taboo mentality that has protected religion for too long.

http://secularhumanism.org/index.php?section=fi&page=expressing_religion

While I agree with the writer in principle (and the article is well worth reading), I have to reiterate a point that I have made a number of times on this blog.

Religion is not just another subject for debate. It is the foundation of the world view and basis of hope for billions of people.  Its roots go far deeper than belief in quantum theory or evolution, because what are believed to be its effects are discernible by ordinary people without arcane training, if they choose to interpret their world uncritically.

As compassionate practitioners, we owe it to believers to treat them gently. While it is true, as the writer points out, that they attempt to influence policy and government in the direction of their own beliefs, that is also true of other special interest groups, including secularists.

I believe it is fine to debate religious ideas, within reason, but debate is always with the consent of both sides. It is not accomplished with bludgeons on unwilling participants. We need to understand that when people’s core beliefs are threatened, they become defensive and inflexible regardless of the content of those beliefs. To pound, willy-nilly, on issues they find threatening will only stifle debate, not extend it. Furthermore, to attempt to alter someone’s core beliefs without offering something that will adequately replace the framework of his life is to commit cruelty of the first order. Morally, it no different from the acts of those who attempt to force religion on others.

Very few secularists were born to their belief system.  Most of us came to it after many years of searching for a direction that made sense to us.  Furthermore, some of us were traumatized by religious people, and have yet to deal adequately with those issues (which may explain some of the vehemence in discourse). So, let us debate if we must.  But let us also remember that minds are unlikely to be changed, and — above all — that when it comes to religion, logic is never an issue.

And let’s be gentle, understanding that discussion is not battle and that, even if it were, this is not one that we are really equipped to win.  We need to remember that secularist fanatics are no more correct in their behavior than religious ones, regardless of the logic in their arguments, because reasoned discourse requires mutual respect.  How can we demand that of believers if we do not deliver it ourselves?