Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Lesbian Rights Pioneers to be Legally Joined at Last

San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom plans to officiate at the private ceremony in his City Hall office before 50 invited guests. He picked Martin, 87, and Lyon, 84, for the front of the line in recognition of their long relationship and their status as pioneers of the gay rights movement.

Along with six other women, they founded a San Francisco social club for lesbians in 1955 called the Daughters of Bilitis. Under their leadership, it evolved into the nation’s first lesbian advocacy organization. They have the FBI files to prove it. …
Lesbian couple of 55 years ready to say ‘I do’ – Yahoo! News


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Buddhism and Politics – Council on Foreign Relations

From Myanmar to Tibet, saffron-robed monks have been taking to the streets in protest against political repression. Paul Harrison, a professor of Buddhist studies at Stanford University, discusses Buddhist teachings and the acceptable role of monks in politics.

Buddhism and Politics – Council on Foreign Relations


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Tibetan Buddhism’s next leader?

In mid-May, a serious young man of 22 who is revered as the 17th Karmapa – now the second-most-important figure in Tibetan Buddhism – will make his first visit to the United States. The trip comes eight years after his dramatic flight to India from a monastery near Lhasa at the end of 1999, when he was just 14 years old. This is the first time that a skittish India has allowed him permission to travel abroad. His flight from Tibet was a considerable embarrassment to China.

The Karmapa Lama, spiritual head of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism, is now the only major Tibetan lama recognized as a reincarnation of his lineage by both the Dalai Lama and the Chinese government since it overran Tibet in the 1950s. The Panchen Lama, the third of a triumvirate and previously the second-highest ranking among the three lamas, vanished into Chinese custody as a boy in 1995 and has been replaced by Beijing’s own political appointee.

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Bush Wants Control Over Military Lawyers

Washington- The Bush administration is pushing to take control of the promotions
of military lawyers, escalating a conflict over the independence of uniformed
attorneys who have repeatedly raised objections to the White House’s policies
toward prisoners in the war on terrorism.

    The administration has proposed a regulation requiring “coordination”
with politically appointed Pentagon lawyers before any member of the Judge Advocate
General corps – the military’s 4,000-member uniformed legal force – can be promoted.

    A Pentagon spokeswoman did not respond to questions about the reasoning behind
the proposed regulations. But the requirement of coordination – which many former
JAGs say would give the administration veto power over any JAG promotion or
appointment – is consistent with past administration efforts to impose greater
control over the military lawyers.

Bush Wants Control Over Military Lawyers


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The battle over the new Dalai Lama

Imagine a committee of the Left parties … secretly meeting in Kolkata to select the reincarnation of the CPI-M leader.

After a couple of days, white smoke may appear above the building where they are meeting and a Vatican-style announcement made, Habemus Pappam (‘We have a new pope’ or, in this case, a new general secretary).

You may politely tell me: ‘Do not play an April fool joke on me.’

Unfortunately, it is not a joke. It has happened in China. The stage was set for the tragicomedy when, on July 13, the Communist government in Beijing decided to implement the ‘Measures on the Management of the Reincarnation of Living Buddhas in Tibetan Buddhism.’ … The battle over the new Dalai Lama


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An Atheist Reponds to Mitt Romney’s Speech on Religion

As an atheist and a father of three young children, the speech Mitt Romney delivered at the George H. W. Bush presidential library today shocked me to my core.

If this is the drift of this country, towards a politics that explicitly excludes my standing as a worthy citizen because I do not believe in one of the major monotheistic religions, Christianity, Judaism or Islam, then I seriously do not know what I will do to sustain for myself, and instill in my children, the strong sense of belonging that I currently feel as a citizen.   An Atheist Reponds


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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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Chinese checker: Dalai’s new succession plan

 The signs were everywhere. A regent saw three Tibetan alphabets floating in a turquoise lake; a small house with blue-tiled roof near a mountain with a monastery on top appeared in the dreams of a senior abbot; a huge star-shaped fungus began to grow on a pillar in the eastern side of the hall in the Potala Palace where the 13th Dalai Lama’s embalmed body was kept in lotus position; and one day the deceased monk’s head turned towards the east. All signs and dreams pointed towards a hamlet in the east.

Chasing the signs, cracking the dreams and rejecting potential candidates, when a party of Tibetan monks and officials, traveling in the disguise of traders, reached a door in a cluster of houses in eastern Tibet, a toddler welcomed them with a warm smile, identified the prayer beads, walking stick and reading glasses of the 13th, and pleaded with the group to take him to his palace in Lhasa.

Chinese checker: Dalai’s new succession plan-Special Report-Sunday Specials-Opinion-The Times of India


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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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China Demolishs Tibetans Buddhist Statue

China Demolishs Tibetans Buddhist Statue « Status of Chinese People

New eyewitness accounts have revealed that local Tibetans attempted to prevent the demolition of a statue of Guru Rinpoche (Padmasambhava) near Mt Kailash in the Tibet Autonomous Region (TAR) on September 28. Approximately 20 Tibetans were seen forming a human shield around the two meter high statue before they were dispersed and the statue demolished by armed security personnel.


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Iraq’s Cabinet Approves Lifting Immunity for Security Firms

An Iraqi government spokesman says Iraq’s cabinet has approved a law that lifts immunity from prosecution for private security firms in Iraq.

The spokesman, Ali al-Dabbagh, said Tuesday the measure will subject all security companies to Iraqi law and will revoke the immunity given to foreign security contractors by the U.S.-led Coalition Provisional Authority in 2004.

He says the law is being referred to parliament for ratification.

VOA News – Iraq’s Cabinet Approves Lifting Immunity for Security Firms


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An Interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Chris Megerian, The Emory Wheel: Your role as Dalai Lama has been very unique from all previous Dalai Lamas in your political nature. I was wondering how you saw the role of the Dalai Lama evolving in future generations.

DL: Future generations? Nobody knows. *laughs*

CM: Do you think it will remains as political a role as it has been recently?

DL: No, no, no. As early as 1969, I publicly made statement to whether the very institution of the Dalai Lama should continue or not for the Tibetan people. Some people, you see, get the impression that the Dalai Lama institution is so important for Tibetan nation or Tibetan Buddhism. It’s wrong. Some occasions the Dalai Lama institution very strong. Some occasions, the Dalai Lama institution, it has ceased. But Tibetan spirituality, Buddhism, Tibetan nation will remain. So for my own case, ’til my death, I am fully committed to promotion of human value and promotion of religious harmony. After me, after my death, my responsibility now finished. *laughter*

So as a Buddhist, I believe, you see, the next sort of rebirth. I don’t know where rebirth comes, whether this planet, or some other planet more peaceful. More happier. *laughs* Next question. …

An Interview with His Holiness the Dalai Lama | The Emory Wheel