Archive for the ‘Middle East’ Category

The world’s gone mad. . . or we’re all mad and the planets suffering. . . Ok, I think, sadly, it’s both.

According to HuffPo, the US has had 352 mass shootings in this past year, meaning in the past 336 days.  What the heck has happened to us?  And will we ever be able to fix it?

I lived in Co when Columbine happened.  Lived in WI and had clients in IL when the shooting at NIU  (Northern IL University) happened.  I went to high school less than 15 minutes away from Sandy Hook (Newtown, CT).  But that’s been the span of 16 years.  According to Global Research, (global research.ca) 90% of mass shootings from 1980-2005 were conducted by US, non-Muslim people.   Can we say it altogether now folks?  Non-Muslim people.

But we kid ourselves if we think the US government can change the mental health system.  It shouldn’t be the job of government per se, but perhaps a joint effort between the American Psychiatric Association, American Psychological Association, and NASW (National Association of Social Work).  But how do we do that when we give more and more to defense, to helping other countries, to Big Banks, etc and we keep getting more and more of our education AND social services budgets cut?  Whose got the chutzpah to say, 1% of the US budget is NOT ENOUGH for effective education services in this country and we need to take from somewhere else?  Even if someone like Bernie Sanders said, come on, our kids are getting less and less education and are falling further behind the rest of the world, who would agree with him and take a red pen to other budgets?

I was an adjunct for 2 semesters at a community college and I was absolutely floored.  I taught Psych 101 and the majority of the students in my class had middle school reading/writing levels or had so much of their own mental health, health, vocational problems (or someone in their family did) that they couldn’t be in class.  They wouldn’t stay for extra help.  I had a few students that asked me if I could counsel their families, which obviously I couldn’t.  I didn’t realize at the time how sparse the services were in this particular area until I had co-workers and friends tell me about their nightmares of trying to get through the system.  It was deplorable.  And the services they did fine were not interdisciplinary.  Two young people (under 21) given anti-psychotics as the first line of defense for mood problems.  Really?  That’s good help?

After the horrendous nightmare in Paris, I watched my Facebook feed.  I had a lot of people, even in my sangha or associated with that sangha or root teacher, kept asking in so many words, “How do we fix these people in the Middle East?”  And it was exasperating.  There were those of us who said you can’t change others, only yourself. . . and the question came more frequently, “Right, but how do we fix those people?”  It was a bit troubling to me that so many people connected to or influenced by Buddhism kept asking the same question.  Not because Buddhism is so special but because we have the Four Noble Truths and this should maybe be the first place we look.  The Four Noble Truths are:

  • Life has inevitable suffering.
  • There is a cause to our suffering.
  • There is an end to our suffering.
  • The end to suffering is within the Eight-Fold Path.

Okay, so first things first, life has inevitable suffering.  Okay, if we are breathing and have a pulse, we’re going to come in contact with or experience suffering.    There is no way to avoid suffering.  We suffer when our children are hurt or ill, when we feel betrayed, or when when we have physical illness or pain.  But one thing that you learn to do is to separate pain from suffering.  Sounds like a huge task, huh?  Some days it feels like that.  And I think (like they teach people in AA, you fake it until you make it) meaning that you say the words, think the thoughts, whether you believe them or feel them and with practice, you get to the point that you are actually living it.

For more about the Noble Truths and applying them to our current world, check back in a day or so for my next blog post where I continue to look at the Four Noble Truths.  In a few more days, I will also post about the Eight-fold Path as well.

May all beings everywhere find and experience peace.

May all beings everywhere accept that what is is what is.

May all beings everywhere feel loved, supported, and at ease in their worlds.

May all beings experience happiness.

May the merit of our words, actions, good deeds, compassion, understanding, and love help us and the world to find peace.

With deep respect and hope,










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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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