Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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7 Top Pet Scams

…human affection for animals is increasingly an open-arms invitation for pet scams. Animal lovers are easy prey for crooks. Our love, especially for four-legged pals, can be so intense that we fail to spot the scam when it’s pulled.

This week we’ve compiled a list of the 7 most common pet scams currently doing the rounds. If you’re an animal fan, you may save yourself a lot of heartache, not to mention hard-earned dollars, by getting wise to these con tricks. …

7 Top Pet Scams That Cost Money and Even Animal Lives


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Nice Folks, Those Insurance People – BOOOOO CIGNA!

On Thursday, the family rallied supporters online and staged a protest at Cigna’s Glendale office with about 150 people, including many members of the local Armenian community and the California Nurses Assn., which had released statements supporting the family’s cause.

Later in the day, Cigna released a statement approving the transplant payment.

“Although it is outside the scope of the plan’s coverage, and despite the lack of medical evidence regarding the effectiveness of such treatment,” spokesman Wendell Potter wrote, “Cigna HealthCare has decided to make an exception in this rare and unusual case, and we will provide coverage should she proceed with the requested liver transplant. Our thoughts and payers are with Nataline and her family at this time.”

Nataline died about 6 p.m.

Family blames HMO for teen’s death – Los Angeles Times


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From Tricycle.com

Ask Pamela Gayle White about Tibetan visualization practice. The noted translator and dharma teacher will be taking questions until December 21.

Buddhism emphasizes the emptiness of all phenomena and does not posit a personal god. Does that mean that Buddhism is amoral and nihilistic? Read Joseph Goldstein‘s answers from our most recently featured Q&A here.

Can you teach your child about death? Read Family Dharma: The Elephant’s Footprint. Beth Roth writes about helping our children understand death.

On Generosity: Gifts That Keep Giving. Joan Duncan Oliver profiles some of the better options for compassionate gift-giving this holiday season.

And keep an eye on our Editor’s Blog where we report on books, Burma and all Buddhist issues of the day!


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Excuse me for not dying

What would Buddha do?

Every spring and fall, enlightenment-seekers from all over come here to find out, converging for arduous weeklong retreats at the Bodhi Manda Zen Center in a red rock canyon among the thermal springs and Indian pueblos west of Santa Fe.

Dressed in black robes, they strive to live in the moment and awaken to the oneness of everything by rising at 3 a.m. for 18-hour sessions sitting lotus-style in the zenda, or meditation hall, eating communal vegan meals in silence, chanting and taking restorative dips in the hot pools.

But mostly they come to practice with an impish, smooth-faced Japanese monk, Joshu Sasaki Roshi, a 100-year-old Rinzai Zen master, one of the oldest in the world, who tells followers, “Excuse me for not dying.”

Monk says, ‘Excuse me for not dying’ / Rinzai Zen master challenges students with tough love – Buddhist style


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Listen To The Supremes

This week, the U.S. Supreme Court and the U.S. Sentencing Commission took aim at the disproportionately harsh sentences meted out for crack-cocaine offenses, suggesting that Americans and their democratic institutions might finally be waking up to the gross racial disparities haunting our prison system.

State Prisons: Listen To The Feds


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Prayer and humor hold a combat trauma unit together in Afghanistan

First comes a chirping alarm over the PA system, then a woman’s lilting voice wafts over this dusty military camp: “Attention on the FOB, Attention on the FOB. Mustang blue. Mustang blue.” The tone belies the seriousness of the matter, which is that casualties are incoming and the Army’s 396th Combat Support Hospital team – “the Mustangs” – should be ready. The number of victims are color-coded: red for one, white for two, blue for three, and black for mass casualties.

US medics, nurses, doctors – and a chaplain – converge in interlocking tents that form the hospital, preparing for the arrival of three Afghan National Army soldiers injured when their vehicle rolled over an improvised explosive device. … Military chaplains


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Stop the epidemic of rape in Congo

Every single day, women and girls in the Democratic Republic of Congo
are being brutally raped, beaten and killed in epidemic proportions.
Congress has a chance to positively impact this catastrophic situation
by passing the International Violence Against Women Act (IVAWA). Before
another day of violence goes unanswered, please sign CARE’s appeal now, telling Congress to pass this legislation immediately.


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Blessed, or spoiled?

We have so many things happening in our lives that I suppose the idea of a day when we reflect on the good things makes a certain amount of sense.  However, it seems a bit of a shame that, as a society, we don’t stop to think about our blessings more frequently.

Some of the folks I hang out with are prone to having get-togethers with a gratitude theme.  There is a discussion, with each person taking a turn and expressing the things in their lives for which they are especially thankful.  On other occasions, when I was allowing life to get me down, it was suggested that I ought to make a “gratitude list” to help me concentrate on the positive aspects of a life that has been, overall, not only decidedly positive, but in some respects absolutely miraculous.

Those of us who have lived on the outer edges of existence — whether through physical sickness, mental illness, poverty, addiction, war, or combinations thereof — are perhaps a bit better-equipped to recognize the extremes than most folks.  That, alone, is a lot to be grateful for. 

They say that we have to have experienced unhappiness in order to appreciate joy.  While that might depend, to a degree, on our definition of joy, it is nonetheless true that a life lived on an even keel can seem pretty unremarkable when, in fact, the benefits of such a life are unimaginable for billions of people elsewhere (and perhaps nearby) on the planet.  Thanking a supreme being for such a life is the same as saying “We’re glad you love us more than all those people you have allowed to live in poverty and misery” — hubris by nearly anyone’s definition.

And, yet, isn’t that sometimes our attitude?  Do we not take the position, tacitly, if not openly, that we deserve the things we have by virtue of some sort of entitlement?  That we are in some way chosen?  That we are just the least bit better than all those other folks, or else we would not have been so blessed? 

Some people say that we’re only as big as the smallest thing that can annoy us.  I say that as a society we’re only as rich, spiritually, as the poorest of those among us, and that spiritual development must include development of a sustainable global economy with a decent standard of living for everyone. 

Even if some of us have to settle for a little less.

Before it’s too late.

Before we run out of things for which to be thankful.

Because, no matter what we have been led to believe, we’re really not that special.


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Bangladesh Toll Climbs

DHAKA, Bangladesh, November 19, 2007 (ENS) – Cyclone Sidr has now killed more than 3,200 people and left millions of others homeless in Bangladesh, one of the world’s poorest countries. Bangladesh officials say they fear that possibly as many as 10,000 people may have perished in the storm.

Packing fierce winds of 190 kilometers per hour (118 mph) that gusted to 240 kph, Sidr slammed into the coast of Bangladesh early Friday. Classed as a category 4 cyclone, it is the deadliest storm to hit the nation in a decade.

Although the storm has now passed, the death toll is predicted to climb as the bodies of human beings and cattle are still being found floating in the sea and rivers.

Now’s our chance to live up to our national self-image, and make ourselves look good to the Muslim world as well.  Think we will?

Powerful Cyclone Claims 3,200 Lives in Bangladesh


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FreeRice.com — Fun and Fulfilling

FreeRice has a custom database containing thousands of words at varying degrees of difficulty. There are words appropriate for people just learning English and words that will challenge the most scholarly professors. In between are thousands of words for students, business people, homemakers, doctors, truck drivers, retired people… everyone!

FreeRice automatically adjusts to your level of vocabulary. It starts by giving you words at different levels of difficulty and then, based on how you do, assigns you an approximate starting level. You then determine a more exact level for yourself as you play. When you get a word wrong, you go to an easier level. When you get three words in a row right, you go to a harder level. This one-to-three ratio is best for keeping you at the “outer fringe” of your vocabulary, where learning can take place.

There are 50 levels in all, but it is rare for people to get above level 48.

  • Click on the answer that best defines the word.
  • If you get it right, you get a harder word. If wrong, you get an easier word.
  • For each word you get right, we donate 10 grains of rice to the United Nations World Food Program.

Ten grains of rice may seem pretty cheesy, but FreeRice began on October 7th, 2007 and as of 14 November they had donated 1,897,053,670 grains.

http://www.freerice.com/


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An Orthodox rabbi mixes faith and patriotism in Afghanistan

Afghan women in dark-colored head scarves and blue, pleated chadris (full head and body veils) queue up at the gate. Egyptian soldiers usher them in, and as the Afghans move from table to table, American soldiers, semiautomatic rifles slung across their backs, reach into the boxes and hand them sweaters, shoes, baby clothes, notebooks, and toys.

Chaplain Felzenberg rummages through a separate box and extracts woolen caps that one of his daughters knitted – “Bless her heart, he says, “she put them in separate bags but didn’t mark the sizes.” Then he pulls out a loose-fitting top he last saw on his wife. “It’s going to be emotional to give some of this out,” he says, “but hey….”

While his supplies last, he hands clothing from his ultra-Orthodox Jewish home to Muslim Afghan children whose mothers wear the orthodox-Muslim chadri.

Military chaplains: An Orthodox rabbi mixes faith and patriotism in Afghanistan | csmonitor.com


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For injured soldiers, new clothes from volunteer sewers

The organization Sew Much Comfort has turned out 45,000 shirts, shorts, pants, and other garments that are altered for special needs.

For injured soldiers, new clothes from volunteer sewers | csmonitor.com

The Monitor needs a new headline editor, but that doesn’t detract from the story.