Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Buddha World: The Mission To Build A Buddhist Amusement Park

As bizarre as it sounds, there really are some folks building a Buddhist-themed amusement park in Thailand.  And, even more bizarre, when you read about what’s being done it makes perfect sense.  I put it on my list of things I’ll regret not having done when I’m facing the bardo.

But I can do the next best thing, and so can you.  A couple of young filmmakers are attempting to raise enough money to fly to Thailand and make a documentary about the park.  (No, I don’t know if they have deer in the park, so don’t ask.)  Folks have underwritten their travel and living expenses, and they’re trying to raise $4K by August 26th for equipment and other expenses.

Subscribing with a reasonable donation (minimum is $1.00) will get you various bennies like a DVD of the finished film, etc.  This is a great chance to be a part of a worthwhile effort to spread Dharma awareness.  Give the website a look, and if you think it’s worth a few bucks, cough some up.  It may be the closest you’ll ever get to a trip to Thailand.

http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/buddhaworld/buddha-world?ref=live


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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.


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The Banyan Deer — a parable of courage and compassion (Book Review)

It’s remotely possible that even those folks who consider themselves “serious” Buddhists may not have gotten around to reading the Nigrodhamiga-jataka (part of the Pali Jataka, a collection of 500 stories about the Buddha’s earlier lifetimes).  Somehow, I find myself able to forgive such lapses.  However, in addition to being a renowned writer of, among other things, childrens’ books, Rafe Martin has apparently delved into it — at least the first few stories.

Martin’s latest book, a slim volume entitled The Banyan Deer, is a not-too-modernized retelling of one of the Jataka tales (number 12).  The writer has stayed with the common construction of Buddhist parables and allegories, building on the central theme, step by step, until the lesson is completely delivered.  This repetitive form is common in oral storytelling. The repetitive and progressive structure helps listeners learn the stories themselves so that they can pass them along in their turn.

The Banyan Deer
has an archetypical theme that speaks to all compassionate hearts, especially those of children.  Martin tells the story of the deer king Banyan who, through his compassion for the members of his flock, turns the heart of the human king who has been hunting them and convinces him to spare them and their descendants from further hunting.  This teaching and conversion theme is another that is common in Buddhist folklore, and it carries a message that is critical to Dharma in the present day.

Too long have I lived with danger
to let it fall so heavily on others.
How can I abandon them and be
at peace myself, knowing that my
freedom was bought at such a price?

…”Imagine that,” said the young deer.
“Yes, imagine it.”

Rafe Martin has told a story that is especially suited for reading to children.  It has the feel of one of those tales from my childhood that I constantly nagged the adults to read to me again, pleeeeease?  Don’t get the idea that it’s just for kids, though.  Its lesson addresses the major problem in the world today, and its concepts of interbeing and compassion could well be our salvation in a physical sense — no metaphysics required (nor desired).

The Banyan Deer
, by Rafe Martin
Wisdom Publications, Boston, 2010
ISBN 978-0-86171-625-8
Order it from Amazon

Clarification: The publisher provided the writer with a complimentary
copy of the book in return for this review.


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MEDITATE AND DESTROY

Meditate and Destroy is an 81-minute documentary about punk rock, spirituality, and inner rebellion. It shows how author Noah Levine (Dharma Punx, Against the Stream) uses his personal experience and punk-rock sensibilities to connect with young people in juvenile halls and urban centers around the country.Featuring t attoos, motorcycles, and an engaging punk rock soundtrack, Meditate and Destroy takes a look at Buddhism’s place in the world of punk.

Official Film Website- NOW ON DVD!!!

Interesting.


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The Tibet film China loves to hate

“The Sun Behind the Clouds”: The Tibet film China loves to hate – Andrew O’Hehir, Movie Critic – Salon.com

It isn’t literally true that there’s a new documentary about Tibet every six weeks, but it does kind of feel that way. What sets apart “The Sun Behind the Clouds,” made by the Tibetan-Indian filmmaking duo Ritu Sarin and Tenzing Sonam, is both context and content. The film includes extensive interviews with the Dalai Lama, who is less circumspect than usual about the political and moral challenges facing his “Middle Way” strategy of arguing for greater Tibetan autonomy under Chinese rule. Sarin and Sonam also lift the veil on potentially explosive divisions within the Tibetan exile community, which is torn between spiritual and cultural loyalty to the Dalai Lama and a widespread longing for true independence. (The filmmakers clearly belong to the pro-independence camp.)

This film also became the centerpiece of an altercation last year…

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Vancouver crackdown on homeless

Winter Olympics on slippery slope after Vancouver crackdown on homeless | World news | guardian.co.uk

The anxiety stems from a recent provincial government law empowering the police to force rough sleepers into shelters in extreme weather, a move which homeless groups appear to view as an Orwellian effort at civic image control. Police officers have been told to use only “non-forceful touching” in implementing the Assistance to Shelter Act, but that has not stopped critics calling it the Olympic Kidnapping Act.

Hey, it worked for China.


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Do great artists live by a different moral code than the rest of us?

Research of Culture | Miller-McCune Online Magazine

As French film critic Agnes Poirier told the Guardian of London: “We are prepared to forgive artists a lot more than we are prepared to forgive ordinary mortals.”

And, apparently, we cut them more slack than we do sports figures. You’d have to be pretty hard-core to equate raping a 13-year old girl with adultery, and yet…


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Vatican newspaper discusses Simpsons’ theology

Marking the 20th anniversary of the Simpsons, created by Matt Groening, the paper described the show as a “tender and irreverent, scandalous and ironic, boisterous and profound, philosophical — and sometimes even theological — nutty synthesis of pop culture and of the lukewarm and nihilistic American middle class.”

More…

Who knew they were fans?


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Richross2Disney has long been the most gay friendly studio in Hollywood, having had a couple of gay production chiefs over the years, most recently Nina Jacobson, now an independent producer after being forced out in a studio purge several years ago. The studio’s theme parks have allowed unofficial Gay Day celebrations for years, prompting a host of venomous attacks from various Christian right anti-gay zealots. But Disney now has a really big first — Rich Ross, Hollywood’s first openly gay studio chief….


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The new “Body Worlds” exhibit shocks Berlin

Sex after death: The new “Body Worlds” exhibit shocks Berlin – Alan Nothnagle – Open Salon

Woody Allen once quipped to Newsweek in 1975, “The difference between sex and death is that with death you can do it alone and no one is going to make fun of you.” Back then he might have been right, but today neither sex nor death can guarantee you privacy.

Gunther von Hagens has seen to that. Once again, the famous – and infamous – German anatomist with the pale face and the black fedora has practically written his own headlines with a new “Body Worlds” exhibition in Berlin featuring two “plastinated” male and female corpses engaged in sexual intercourse….


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8.5% of US Youths Who Play VIdeo Games Show Multiple Signs of Addiction

U.S. Youths Addicted to Video Games, Study Finds – washingtonpost.com

A new study concludes that children can become addicted to playing video games, with some skimping on homework, lying about how much they play and struggling, without success, when they try to cut back.

In what is described as the first nationally representative study in the United States on the subject, researcher Douglas Gentile of Iowa State University found that 8.5 percent of American youths ages 8 to 18 who play video games show multiple signs of behavioral addiction.