Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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72-Year-Old Nepali Is World’s Shortest Man

Chandra Bahadur Dangi

(Reuters) – Home to Mount Everest, the world’s highest peak, the scenic country of Nepal on Sunday added another height-related superlative – of having the world’s shortest man.

A Guinness World Records team measured Chandra Bahadur Dangi at 54.60 centimeters (21.5 inches)…. Read more…


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Buddhism, Cosmology and Evolution

…Biologists and earth scientists agree that in the 20th century a sixth mass extinction began, and the only one to be caused by a particular species: us. Coral reefs are likely to be the first entire ecosystem to be eliminated from the Earth by human activity. A quarter of plant and animal species may vanish by 2050, an evolutionary crisis that is related to global climate breakdown but usually overshadowed by it. In essence, our present economic model is pushing all life on Earth towards tipping points for both biodiversity and the climate system.

This is quite possibly the biggest news for 65 million years, but it barely makes the mainstream news at all, because it raises taboo questions for the industrial growth society that we have come to take for granted…

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/john-stanley/buddhism-cosmology-and-ev_b_1286165.html?ref=religion


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Why Do Addicts Keep Using Despite The Consequences? — Part 2

Previously we mentioned that the pleasure center is a portion of the brain over which we have no conscious control, and that it can be stimulated by a variety of chemicals — some of them produced inside our bodies and some that we introduce from outside.  We said that the pleasure center rewards us for activities that it interprets as contributing in some way to our survival, whether they be social interactions, exercising, or more prosaic things such as eating.  We also stated that these pleasurable feelings, when pursued too far or for too long can create problems.  Now we need to examine how that happens….

http://sunrisedetox.com/blog/2011/08/24/addiction-alcoholism-compulsion-2/


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Bodhisattvas

A pair of 72-year-old scientists, saying they have much to be grateful for and little to lose, have formed the Skilled Veterans Corps, enlisting volunteers willing to venture into the radioactive Fukushima Daiichi plant. Officials have accepted their offer.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-japan-nuclear-old-20110704,0,7843713.story


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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.


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A Personal Note To My Loyal Readers

This is a permanent post.

New material is below this entry.

If you have been around here much, you will have noted that lately my posts have dropped off dramatically. It’s not that I’ve lost interest in Digital Dharma, but rather a matter of time constraints.

For about a year I have been writing a blog for a chain of drug and alcohol detox facilities. I took on the job primarily because it was a unique way to facilitate the spread of information and hope regarding addiction and recovery. Over the past few months it has turned into a sort of full-time part-time position, and my duties have expanded to writing informational material that will eventually be placed in such a way as to reach most everyone who contacts any of the facilities.

This is far more reach than I had hoped for Continue reading


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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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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…


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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.


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Reviews of Brad Warner’s “Sex, Sin and Zen” on Tricycle Editor’s Blog

You guys have read my review (which is also excerpted), but the other three give a different perspective. Check ’em out.  Check out the reviewers’ blogs, too.

“Sex, Sin and Zen” on the Tricycle Editor’s Blog


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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.


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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


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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.


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The Revival of Musar

A woman writes in her journal every night, focusing on her struggles with anger. Two friends sit down over coffee and discuss their recent efforts to perform at least three acts of generosity every day. A man posts on an online forum about how easily he is distracted by needless concerns but how daily Jewish prayer has helped him to focus his mind. A group studies Jewish teachings on greed, and they commit themselves to taking concrete steps to limit their consumption. Another group pores over a medieval Hebrew text about pride, and they conclude their weekly study session by chanting some of its words out loud to a haunting Jewish melody.

These American Jews display a good deal of moral seriousness, a tendency towards introspection, and a concern with the virtues to a degree that is somewhat uncommon in mainstream American Jewish culture. In describing their behavior, they might refer to the Jewish tradition of “Musar” (“moral discipline”) and explain that they are carrying on the legacy of a nineteenth-century, Lithuania-based movement known as the “Musar movement.” Most American Jews have not heard of the Musar movement, and many, upon learning about it, would write it off as requiring too much self-criticism, too much moralizing, and too much work. And yet interest in Musar has been steadily growing in contemporary America, in part as a counter-cultural phenomenon….

Institute for Advanced Studies In Culture