Digital Dharma

The Middle Path, One Day At A Time


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Are You a Perennialist?

Perennialism rejects a modern world that has slipped off the rails. Yet it also embraces all variations of Christian, Muslim, and Jewish faith, as well as Asian religions and indigenous schools of thought. Perennialists believe that all religions are part of one great religion; that all wisdom makes up a great river of truth that all modern people should return to for what the Gospels call “living water.”
Faith Without Borders


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Whalers to be tracked

The Australian prime minister, Kevin Rudd, set his country on a diplomatic collision course with Japan yesterday amid reports that he plans to send an armed vessel to monitor a whaling expedition to the Southern Ocean.

Japan’s annual scientific hunt plans to slaughter more than 1,000 whales in the area this year, but it is the plan to kill 50 humpbacks – a protected species – that has most angered anti-whaling nations….

Whalers to be tracked | Environment | The Guardian


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Harry Potter And The $4 Million Book

How well is Amazon doing? Well enough to spend millions on a publicity stunt: Yesterday the company paid $3.98 million for a single copy of “The Tales of Beedle the Bard,” written by Harry Potter author J.K. Rowling.

OK.  Let’s see a Christian author do the same thing — and donate all the proceeds to charity.  Hmmmm….?

Harry Potter And The $4 Million Book (AMZN) – Silicon Alley Insider


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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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Buddhist Rap?

Japanese monks and nuns held a fashion show — replete with rap music
and a catwalk — at a major Tokyo temple Saturday to promote Buddhism.

In the “Tokyo Bouz (monk) Collection” held at Tsukiji Honganji,
nearly 40 monks and nuns from eight major Buddhist sects joined in the
event aimed at winning back believers.

Following a rap version of a Buddhist sutra, five monks from each
school walked on the runway, then chanted prayers and wrapped up in a
grand finale with confetti resembling lotus petals.

“We wanted to show the young people that Buddhism is cool, and
temples are not a place just for funerals,” said Koji Matsubara, a
chief monk at Tsukiji.

Japanese monks try to promote Buddhism through fashion, rap music – International Herald Tribune


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Priests are happy without wives

I never have been able to understand lay folk who are obsessed with the abolition of celibacy. It may well be an appropriate modification of the church in a time when most American young men do not find the priesthood an attractive way to spend their life. However, a cursory reading of the research literature on the personal and professional satisfaction among the clergy and reports from the spouses and children of Protestant (and Greek Orthodox and rabbinic) clergy indicates that family relations are an enormous problem for many of them. In addition to the usual problems of spouse and children to which all humans must respond, married clergy are subjected to pressures from their parishioners (who often assume that the spouse is an unpaid member of the parish team) and ecclesiastical authority who often assume that ministerial families must be like Caesar’s wife — beyond reproach in every way.
Priests are happy without wives :: CHICAGO SUN-TIMES :: Andrew Greeley


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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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Dalai Lama challenges China – with a referendum on reincarnation

In calling for a vote among traditional Tibetan Buddhist communities from the Himalayas to Mongolia, the Dalai Lama is challenging the dominance of communist governance over tens of millions of people and thousands of square miles of land within China. As well as Tibet, huge numbers of his followers are found in the provinces of Sichuan, Qinghai, Gansu and Inner Mongolia.

Dalai Lama challenges China – with a referendum on reincarnation | Special reports | Guardian Unlimited


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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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2008 TED Prize winners

The TED Prize was introduced in 2005, and it is unlike any other award. Although the winners receive a prize of $100,000 each, the real prize is that they are granted a WISH. “A wish to change the world”. There are no formal restrictions on the wish. We ask our winners to think big and to be creative.

TED | TEDBlog: Announcing 2008 TED Prize winners


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Buddhist Boomers — a meditation on how to stave off decline

OpinionJournal – Taste

A colleague recently took me to task for consulting Jews and Christians on how to keep American Buddhism alive. He didn’t agree with either premise–that Jews and Christians could offer advice to Buddhists, or that Buddhism was in any danger of decline. But he was wrong on both counts. American Buddhism, which swelled its ranks to accommodate the spiritual enthusiasms of baby boomers in the late 20th century, is now aging. One estimate puts the average age of Buddhist converts (about a third of the American Buddhist population) at upwards of 50. This means that the religion is almost certain to see its numbers reduced over the next generation as boomer Buddhists begin to die off without having passed their faith along to their children. And Jewish and Christian models offer the most logical solution for reversing that decline.

The basic problem is that non-Asian converts tend not to regard what they practice as a religion. …

…Having left the religion of their birth, often with good reason, American converts tend to be wary of anything approaching religious indoctrination, even if that means failing to offer their children the basics of a religious education. This has the advantage of giving Buddhist children great freedom of religious expression, with the disadvantage of not giving them any actual religion to express. The result is a generation of children with a Buddhist parent or two but no Buddhist culture to grow up in. …   OpinionJournal – Taste