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Archive for the ‘Current Events & Protest’ Category

All violence is injustice.  Responding to violence with violence is injustice, not only to the other person but also to oneself.  Responding to violence with violence resolves nothing; it only escalates violence, anger, and hatred.  It is only with compassion that we can embrace and disintegrate violence.  This is true in relationships between individuals as well as in relationships between nations.

~~  Thich Nhat Hanh, “Cutivating Compassion to Respone to Violence”

This quote is a bit of a hard one to chew on right now.  First because it feels like we are enveloped in a violent world.

We’ve ravaged the planet.  Multiple countries are at war in the world and no one except, maybe France, has declared war. . . or so it seems. Our political candidates are inciting mobs to injure people and some are saying hateful things about certain groups that if the candidate laid a hand on the people they hate so much, it would be called a hate crime because of their protected status.

A war on drugs.  On cancer.  On the left.  On the right.  Women.  Abortion.  Christmas.  We seem to have a constant sale on wars and we can’t get enough.  And all of this violence and absolutely nothing feels just.

On a personal note, this quote is a bit tough to meditate on becuase I find myself getting so angry when I read Facebook.  I want to (and admit I sometimes do) post messages that are mean, name-calling, etc.  It is all just TOO much.

But then, I take a minute and reflect which then leads me to reflect on more things for more time.  One of the things I keep trying to bring to my mind’s eye is a picture from a Thich Nhat Hanh talk (I don’t remember if he said this in 2003 when I saw him or if it was an audio Dharma talk).

He said when you are seated on your cushion, sit tall and steady.  And place your hands on your lap, palms up, and imagine a baby Buddha sitting in your palms.  Hold your hands like you are cradling the baby Buddha and allow a half-smile to come to your face as you glance down at the baby.

I find when I can remember to do this, to take the time, it settles me.  I try to think, what if whomever I am angry at was the baby Buddha.  How would my anger, my frustration, my mindlessness affect the baby? Would I want to do that to the baby Buddha?

And lately, I have been asking myself, can you hold the whole planet like it is the baby Buddha?  Some days I can and I feel at peace.  Other days, I don’t think I can hold anything because I have fists, not open palms.

Right now, where are you?  Can you sit and imagine yourself as the baby Buddha?  The planet?  The person who cut you off on the parkway?  Your boss?  The person at the grocery store?  Can you imagine any little bit of love that can start to cool the embers that envelope us all on this planet?

Take gentle care and remember those around you are suffering just like you.

Love and peace, Jennifer

 

 

 

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This morning, I was reading a Facebook post by Robert Reich.  I had seen his commentaries on Facebook and in the last week, what I have seen has appeared normal, sane, and much more positive than a lot of other things out there.  So, I decided to “like” him on Facebook so I could read more things from him.

Just after this morning’s post, I know he is a man with a lot to say, both from his intellect and from his heart.  He described being with his 102 year old dad and feeling the need to hide our current state of affairs from him and I totally get that.  And I have a lot of respect for him wanting to shelter his dad from the enormity of just how crazy and scary our world is right now.

How many things his dad has lived through!  My grandfather would be 102 in Feb ’16 if he were still alive.  One of my dad’s cousins just posted that her dad would be 100 years old if he was alive too.  How to even imagine what it means to have lived for 100 years, let alone the last 100 years in the world.   I think back to when Mike died 20 years ago or even Lois dying 15 years ago.  It’s painful to search for people you loved (love) and find no trace of them on the net.  It’s like they didn’t exist.  You can find everything on the net, right?

Even as a child, I was curious about the fight between good and bad, light and dark, saviors and villains.  Maybe it was all the Catholic school teachings?  Maybe it was just from seeing movies, news, tv, etc.  Maybe those “inherent” dichotomies are just born into us?  I’m not sure.  But this is something I think of, time to time, when I let my world get quiet.  We’ve come so far in the treatment of HIV and AIDS.  And yet, where would we be if the US was not so slow to talk about it.  Thank goodness for Rock Hudson and Reagan having HIV sitting in his living room.

On one hand, we have fewer and fewer people acknowledging any religious tradition and many of us do not turn to Judeo-Christian religions for our ethics and morals, or our solace when nothing makes sense.  But we do have people who have made it their spiritual journey to fight for the planet, those less fortunate, those with particular illnesses, and I think that should be commended.

We don’t have to kneel in the pews to praise the glory of the dawn or the expanses of the universe or hold intentions that the hate in the world will one day dissipate.  We have more kids, young kids, trying to solve the problems in the world — the kid who wants to clean the plastic out of the oceans, a 10 year old who sings to the elderly, a 13 year old that sends teddy bears to kids in Haiti after the earthquake, etc, etc.  Maybe listening to our children makes more sense than to listen to the vile hate and evil on the tv and internet today.  You know, the reports of cities make it illegal to feed a homeless person or setting up metal spikes to keep them from holding up outside of buildings.  Or those who spew hate about a particular religion or people. . .

I try to stay away from the news, and try to focus on my world and try to figure out how to break the confines of hate, gossip, treachery, and ill will.  I try to work with those things within my own heart and mind because if I can’t how do I expect anyone else to?  If I can’t what makes me think anyone else will take on that huge task, especially alone like I currently am.

But folks, it’s not a time to give up easily or to flirt with things like spirituality, rightness, goodness, kindness, advocacy, community, etc.  I think we need to take a stand.  Hundreds of people took a stand during WWII.  And I mention WWII because I am a bit of an amateur historian when it comes to the segregation, hostility, brain washing, mass evil that has come to be a part of the history of that time.  And though the world said, let we not forget, I think we have forgotten in the gravest ways.  Where has this rise in antisemitism taken off like a wild fire?  How long have we allowed China to create its own Holocaust within Tibet?  Why do we stand for the mass extinction of our lands, our world that feeds us and can help us to stay whole and healthy?  When does the side of good rise up and do something about all the dangers?

I honestly don’t know what I would do if I were Prof Reich.  I applaud his love and need to protect his dad.  And I bet his father has a world of wisdom to share with us after living for so long.  I hope as a scholar, not a son, the professor has archived his father’s thoughts, ideas, and wisdom.  Heck, I know I want to archive the silly little songs my dad has sung to me while I was growing up or the feel of a hug from him or mom, or to learn every one of mom’s recipes by heart, to have something of her close to me.

I have to admit, I long for the 1980s, yes, beyond just the music (Depeche Mode forever).  I was in my teens, I had two hart working parents and a pain in the neck older brother.  I still had grandparents.  I still lived in the places I had always known.  I had friends, had created friendships, that would still be with me today.  I learned how to be charitable with my time whether it was hanging out on a Friday night to give drunk kids rides or it was going to The Jewish Home for the Elderly of Fairfield and giving love to wise old lonely people when I could get their after school.  Whatever was going on in the world, I think we were sheltered, or at least I was.  I didn’t even realize the person who slept in the bedroom next to mine had HIV.  It was still a time of innocence for me.

And may in our old age, we want to recreate an age of innocence for those older adults that we love.  We want them not to fear the world since aging and dying can be such big fears.  Maybe we want to create a time, like after birth, when the baby is so loved and we are so mindful of their every accomplishment and every beautiful breath?  Wouldn’t it be lovely to have friends make quilts and blankets, and stop by with flowers, or pick up prescriptions, or just to send a not of love?

I am so honored that Prof Reich shared such a deep a meaningful situation from his own life with us.  We are so much stronger, so much more human, when we can be ourselves and share who we are from the heart.  This is the kind of person who I want to know more about. . . his father too.  These are the people who have integrity and want to see good come from this little experiment on this planet that we all signed up for. . .life.

The battle between good and evil will always be there, as long as humans are there.  I pray with every person who takes up a microphone to speak out against Muslims, or people of color, or the President, that there are just as many people encouraging our brave kids to do better to help the world.  I hope there are more people learning yoga and sitting on their zafu.  I hope there are more people who rise to see the sun return to us as they sit and are thankful for the grace in this world.  And I hope there are just as many in the wee hours of the night, finishing school programs, writing songs, praying for world peace, and looking into their own hearts.  I add enough anger, frustration, lack of caring into the world and I need to recommit myself to being that young girl who saw the beauty and awe leaving early for school just to be closer to the Divine.  I need to remember who I am which is an advocate, an educator, and hopefully a person to planet peace in the darkest places.

Prof Reich, wherever you are, I wish you love and peace as you spend time with your dad.  I hope you feel the strength, power, and wisdom of your community as you enjoy each moment with him.  And, probably most importantly, I hope you feel my gratitude for you being genuine and sharing the bittersweetness in want to protect your dad.

Namaste!

May the merit of all our good flow into the universe a thousand-fold.

May the love we feel for those close to us also reach those people who feel unlovable.

May those we love never doubt that we love them with our whole existence and we would not betray the sacredness of them or our relationship to them.

May the merit of every word, every song, every syllable, every breath keep hope alive that there is a different way and we can find a peaceful existence in this threatening world.

Metta, now and always,

Jennifer

 

 

 

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I know, I know…. if you have been a subscribed reader, you know I’ve been away for a long time.  A very long time.  If it’s your first visit, welcome.  And know that if you are squeamish about the deep stuff (dying, grieving, loss, betrayal, anger, fear, the unknown), you may want to pass on this.

Seems like that happens  when at times, we maybe going through less reflective times where you just can’t hold anything more in your raw aching heart (Think Chogyam Trungpa Rinpoche if you will).

For some time now, I have felt lost and I don’t know if I’m still lost or if I am found but I do know that things that you to mean something to me have come back.  It’s like I had a Hummel or a Llardo figurine and I placed it at the back of the china cabinet, to collect dust.  A few person situations and people in my life turned on the little light in the hutch and I’m interested in dusting because it’s so dark and crowded.  I’m interested in allowing what is covered-over to be new again and at the same time, grant me access to my history, my dialogue, and my connections.

It also helps that I have been reading again… no, I mean beyond a blog or a Facebook entry, real reading.  For periods of time, due to migraines, I’ve had to step away from reading and music because it was just too much stimuli.  Right now, I have the energy to get re-involved with these things.

I’m currently reading, Peace Begins Here, by Thich Nhat Hanh.  I consider him my root teacher as his videos and practices were some of the things that led me to Buddhism in the first place.  I wanted to (finally) start, Calming the Fearful Mind by Thay (Thich Nhat Hanh’s affection nickname), but I found that I needed to back up a bit.  There’s too much in the noisy, busy, colorful, fear-based, politician-heavy world right now and I could not just jump right in.  I did; however reach for these books as a result of the Attacks on Paris on 11/13/2015, and Beruit on 11/12/13, and all of the other disasters that week.

I dedicate the merit of my reading and sharing, meditating, and praying, and silence to those who were ripped from this world, the first responders, the families who are now grieving, and the people of Paris & Beruit, Syria, every country, every where…

I dedicate the merit to the killers as well.  I know, I know, you’re grabbing a pencil and piece of paper (I just dated myself), to give me a laundry of the reasons to hate the members of ISIS, terrorists, Muslims, (all of the nameless “thems” that we want to hate so much.  Why do they deserve merit after such cowardly, hateful events?   Well, becomes someone has to.  Because if not, then hatred wins.  If not, than I have lost more of my humanity than I realized.  If not, then we are doomed to destroy ourselves.

Here is an excerpt from Thay’s book Peace Begins Here that began my journey inward:

Like everyone else on this earth, I long to have a home in which I can feel safe.  It is in human kindness, the kindness that is in me and in your, that I find this safety.

Yes!!!!  Yes!!!!! (I can’t find the like button on the page of the book).  There is so much in those two sentences, but I will “unpack” them another day.

Thay goes on to write:

That is my refuge and it is everywhere, even if sometimes it is hidden from my eyes.  I am learning to touch it and cultivate it more and more in myself and others.

It was with those words, I began to cry. . . we have a huge refugee crisis on our hands, right now, in this world, and our leaders (and many voters) have a mountain built on top so as not to see the pain that is global right now.  And if that wasn’t bad enough, they put a wall of barbed electric wire around it to keep them from ever looking and to keep others from trying to penetrate it.

But no, it’s not just theirs; it’s ours too.  We elected the politicians, or worked for these powerful people. . . we didn’t speak up, we didn’t didn’t struggle to find our own light, or let a million other things help us evade one primordial piece of wisdom:  we are all refugees and we all need each other, need a place in this world.

When I lost trust in myself and in others, it is because I forget that this kindness is there.

And that’s when I turned my Kindle off.  And allowed myself to grieve.  Not a single tear down the cheek or the simple cry that comes from a Kleenex commercial, but the kind of grief that hits you where your deepest pain is.  Yeah, that’s where this is. . . in the depths of our existence (my existence), we have lost trust in ourselves and our world.  I have lost trust in myself, others, and this world that feels pretty alien.

So, let’s try to sit with this for a bit and re-read it:

When I lost trust in myself and in others, it is because I forget that this kindness is there.

It is these few words, from one simple paragraph in a book that I am choosing to meditate on, in the days to come, so that we might begin a dialogue.  We may not be able to bring about world peace, but if there is any peace left in any of our hearts, than there is hope.

I hope you join me as I sit with my thoughts, feelings, and sensations.  As I allow these words to weave in and out of my being.

Namaste.  Jenn

 

 

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Yes, that’s right, you read it correctly!

Yes, it’s not a typo!

Check this out!

www.interdependencemovement.org

“In a world where global interdependence is not simply an aspiration of idealists, but a brute fact of forces that bind us together — global warming, financial capital, AIDS, telecommunications, crime, migration, and terrorism — many people still think in narrow, insular terms.

Reality is global, but consciousness too often remains local — constrained by town and nation.

In the year 2000, a small group of scholars, civic and political leaders, and artists from a dozen nations met to design a program that might help raise consciousness around the realities and possibilities of interdependence.  Their efforts were given impetus by the tragic events of September 11, 2001, and the group created a project that would:

  • Make September 12, the day following the memorial of 9/11, an international celebration of interdependence as “Interdependence Day”.
  • Draw up a “Declaration of Interdependence“, making it clear that both liberty and security require cooperation among peoples and nations and can no longer be secured by sovereign nations working unilaterally.
  • Develop a Civic Interdependence Curriculum that would make interdependence a central concept in Civics and Social Studies programs in as many middle and high schools around the world as possible.”

WOW!  How awesome is that?

Have you heard of this?  I had not.

I know the concept of interdepence from Buddhism. . .  Thich Nhat Hanh, of course, has written about interdependence, the net of Indra, and inter being.

And when I woke up this morning, several Buddhist friends had “Happy Interdependence Day!” as their status post on Facebook.

I decided what a great supplemental blog post for today, since I am at home and trying to stay out of the heat.

When I googled “interdependence” so that I could find a photo too attach to the post, I stumbled across the website for the Interdependence Project.

You know what I really like this? Isolation

I think that despite all of our social media, massive transportation systems, and variety of devices to “be together”, we are farther and farther from each other.

We don’t know how to be present.

We don’t know how to listen.

We don’t know how to cultivate compassion for people in pain or people who are different.

I really want to embrace this theme.

Now, before I say this next part, I am going to preface it.

Some of the happiest times of my life were spent at the beach in Fairfield, CT, with a picnic basket and my best friend, hanging out until it got dark enough for fireworks.  Then the thrill of the display, walking home from the beach in the heat of the July night, usually giggling with my best friend over the cute Prep School boys we saw at the beach.  And the night would be rounded out with ice cream at the Firehouse Deli off of the Post Road.

Okay. . .so now I am grown up and far away from Fairfield 😦

And I really have a hard time on July 4th.

I hate what we do to the environment.

It bothers me that we spend millions of dollars on fireworks that last 30 minutes when kids don’t have pencils for school or wholesome food in their bellies before they go to bed.

I think about the sounds . . . battle sounds. . . that bother my friends dog, or give people nightmares. . .I think about all of our military personnel who have been overseas and heard similar noises, not for fun and games but for real.  I think about the trauma they have come home with, that we don’t know how to treat and how to make them whole again.

http://usnews.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/07/03/12486023-independence-day-irony-ptsd-has-many-vets-dreading-avoiding-fireworks

I get that our country was founded by people giving their lives to create a free society.

But we spend millions, guzzle diet coke and eat hot dogs (Brats in you’re here in the Midwest or Peppers and Sausage if you are back home). . . we wave our flags made in China, and we listen to two crazy groups try to sell us on a candidate in November, both of whom will probably do very little to make the world a better place because they are under the influence of the powerful and wealthy.

I don’t see the point.

I don’t see the point when we could come together with our talents and create something different.

A week or two ago, I watched Restaurant Impossible with Robert Irvine.  He was “on a mission” to help the First Lady, Michelle Obama, turn around a small non-for-profit that feeds kids in DC.  Cute show, of course I was tearful by the end.

But then I sat there frustrated.

Why do we need a show to do this?

Why aren’t we tilling the soil near schools so that every class could have a small agricultural project in the classroom and fresh veggies in the dining hall?

Why don’t we just do it?  Don’t we get that those kids could some day be our nurses, our engineers, the people who will take care of me when I am old, the people who will teach generations to come?

Why don’t we just save them now?

Why do we have to have a television show when we need to reign in the FDA for letting them put chemicals in our food?

And they just passed pizza off as a “vegetable” because it has some tomato paste on it?

Wow!

I know by now, it might feel like this is a rant, like I am anti a lot of things that are American and I really am not.

I am sad that there is so much to do and we can be so unskillful with our resources, time, effort, and means.

Things won’t change until we all start to really understand and embrace our interconnection, our interdependence on each other and our world.

We need to want better for the widow down the road who now has cancer herself.

We need to want current school books with accurate information to help our kids grow in knowledge, ethics, and service to others.

We have to want fresh water, healthy food, clean air, and safety for all before things will change.

And how do we change?

One at a time it appears.

One at a time, connecting with others is how we make a difference.

So, start on your cushion or your block, focus on your breathing.

Find others who know that they are breathing too.

Google groups that want to help us breathe cleaner air or volunteer for groups that provide asthmatic kids with summer camps.

Spend 10 minutes today writing a letter to someone . . . to Mrs. Obama, to the FDA, or sign a petition.

Spend $10 and by a Dharma book or other inspirational book for a library, a prison dharma program, or a children’s classroom.

Make a difference. . . because when you do, it helps you and it helps me.  And together we change the world.

Don’t believe it?

Yes, we can. . . remember that slogan?

Well, yes, we were able to win an election with the collective power that we channeled.

And then we got complacent.

So can we again?

Yes we can every day, at every moment.

Find a cause, you don’t have to take them all on.

Don’t have money because of the rocky economy?  Do you have time, talent, hope?

If you do nothing else but sit on your cushion and spend 10 minutes doing Metta meditation, you will have given this world a great gift of independence and interdependence.

If we don’t start to cultivate mindful awareness now, when will we?

If we don’t start to realize that we are all connected on this planet, we won’t have a planet.

Reach out, sit down, pick up a phone, walk in a circle. . . whatever you can do. . . but don’t wait. . .

And lastly, Mark your calendar for Sept 12, 2012 and celebrate our interdependence and interbeing in this wild, wonderful world we can home.

Peaceful wishes to you and those you love.

Om Mani Padme Hum

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You may remember them like the photo above…

But who would have thought that a world would mourn?

Do we ever know just how one person’s life can make a difference?

For those of you who don’t know. . .

This is Adam Yauch, rapper with the Beastie Boys. . . and he died yesterday at the age of 47 after living with cancer for 3 years.   Here he is below with his beloved daughter.

Yes, all of us from the East Coast who grew up with rap on our radios have to grow up and turn gray. . .

But the music and the causes you grew up believing in don’t ever really leave your heart. . .

Many people think that music, particularly genres like rap, are filled with nothingness, nonsense, and noise.

But music is an innate part of who we are, what we believe in. . . what moves us, soothes us, and connects us.

Here’s what people are saying about Adam, his contributions, his life, and his music. . .

http://www.projecthappiness.org/2012/04/01/adam-yauch/

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2139869/Adam-Yauch-dead-Justin-Timberlake-Dalai-Lama-lead-tributes-Beastie-Boys-rapper.html

http://www.tibetoday.com/

Beastie Boys were not artists that I listened to a lot while growing up, but one of their songs was in one of my favorite movies — Pump Up the Volume. . .I won’t post a link to it because of the language, but I can still remember Christian Slater jamming to this song. . . Wow, we were young and impressionable…

And I remember another song from that movie…

Stand by Sonic Youth

Here are some of the lyrics..

Stand
In the end we’re still over you
While you’ve done all the things you’d set out to do

Stand
There’s a cross that you have to bare
Things to go through if you’re going anywhere

Stand
For the things you know are right
It’s the truth that the truth makes it so uptight

Stand
For the things you want are real
You have you to complete and there is no deal. . . 

That’s kind of what the movie was about… standing up, being counted, not backing down… making a difference (yes, it was a teen rebellion movie — like those great John Hughes’ movies like Breakfast Club. . .

The point is, Adam Yauch, lived his life by standing up for what he believed… like a Free Tibet!

http://www.tibetoday.com/Adam-Yauch-of-the-Beastie-Boys-dies-at-47.htm

http://www.savetibet.org/media-center/ict-press-releases/ict-mourns-passing-adam-yauch

And Stand they did…. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TYeCQNbBfmg  — Check out protest song against the G W Bush Era!

BUT . . .

Never underestimate the influence you might have in this world.  From your music, to your work, to the children you raise, you effect all of us!

And never forget that there is no such thing as an untimely death.

We may die before we are old.

We may die in ways that surprise the world.

But despite our false sense of security, we are of the nature to have ill-health, to age, and to die. . . at any moment. . .

So what song are you going to live the world with?

What cause have you fought for?

What have you given your heart and soul to?

What has mattered to you?

The Beastie Boys’ most famous song is probably “You have to fight for your right to party” — I ask you..

What have you fought for with your life?

How have you affected all of us with whom you are interconnected in the most intimate and obtuse ways?

We all don’t lead Adam’s or Dick Clark’s lives.  We won’t all be Mother Teresa.  But in every moment, we create and recreate this consensual reality. . .

Choose your words wisely, but say them.

Choose your actions with good intent, but carry them out.

Choose to say yes, with no regrets.

Choose to matter and make a difference.

Related Articles

Related Links

And here is a link to their Slow and Low…  from the Tibetan Freedom Concrete

And Right Right Now Now on Conan, joined by the one and only Doug E. Fresh.

“Still around the way is where we’ll stay
Say what we mean, mean what we say
Trajectories from the past are taking their toll and
What we do now is future moulding
Columbine bowling, childhood stolen
We need a bit more gun controlling

Right, Right, Now, Now
What is goin’ on?
We, We, Gotta, Gotta
Get it goin’ on
Be, Be, Fore, Fore
It’s Too Far Gone
We gotta work together, it’s been too long. . .

I’m getting kind of tired of the situation
The US attacking other nations
And narration, on every station
False election’s got me losing my patience
I’m a funky-ass Jew and I’m on my way
And yes I got to say f^&* the KKK
And oh yeah hey, how about today?
If you want to set it off then let me hear you say . . . “

And lastly, here is a clip of the Boys on Charlie Rose.

Peace Out!

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Just a few days ago, 4/2/2012 our country experienced another school shooting.  This time it was in Oakland, CA.

I had started this post at least a few weeks before this last shooting, to get ready for the anniversary of the Columbine H.S. Shooting of 4/20/1999.

I was so excited to see this article in the Shambhala Sun:

http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=25281

And my heart sank when I heard the news, just after I deleted an old sitcom I had been watching during a study break.

We’ve had so much violence in our schools.  So much trauma in a place that should be safe for children.

We need to get Russell Evans’ words out there and help get mindfulness out to schools for the sake of our kids, our teachers, our community, and our future.  I am so glad that there are young people out there in the world like Russell doing amazing work.

We need this millennium old teaching probably more now than ever!

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http://www.shambhalasun.com/sunspace/?p=25601

Just read this link on Facebook and am deeply saddened for the Shambhala Community.  Raymond was the Asst Circulation Manager at Shambhala Sun and Bodhidharma Magazines.

Raymond had already been the victim of a hate crime once, for being an outspoken GLBT activist.  And yesterday he was murdered in Halifax.

Sadness washes over me as I read the loving tribute that his friends and colleagues have left as they begin to mourn.

I wish them comfort, safety, peace, compassion, and lovingkindness, all of the things that were robbed from Raymond as he was murdered.

May all of his communities stand stronger, wiser, and more tolerant for having known him and been touched by his life.

With profound sadness,

Jen

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