Category Archives: America

Mind is the Forerunner of All Things

Aug 2014 Just back home and catching up on media news. Sad to see Bay Area comedian and actor Robin Williams committed suicide. Further proof that “Mind is the forerunner of all things”, in spite of fame, fortune, and an adoring public. Also sad to see the killing of unarmed young man of color Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri and the violent military police response to protests. Clearly the trauma of racism and militarism in the US continues to take its toll. May all beings be free from suffering.

Civil Rights Steps Forward and Back

July 2013 This past month has seen some major progress in the United States around civil rights for LGBTQ people, while at the same time the erosion of the Voting Rights Act is a cause for concern around civil rights of people of color. Dharma practice calls on us to see what is really true, and to step out of delusion. On the Voting Rights Act, Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg writes in the dissent:”40 years has not been sufficient time to eliminate the vestiges of discrimination following nearly 100 years of racial discrimination” and ““Throwing out preclearance when it has worked and is continuing to work to stop discriminatory changes is like throwing away your umbrella in a rainstorm because you are not getting wet,” indicating that to believe racism is not still at work in politics in these places and that these policies are no longer needed is believing a delusion. (see p 16 & 17 of her dissent for examples). So the work continues.

Meanwhile on the Prop 8 case, dismissed on standing, Chief Justice John Roberts finds that the plaintiffs could cite “no particular or personal injury” that would happen to them if same-sex couples were allowed to marry. That is, their objections and society’s fears around this are a fiction. The decision thus remains with each individual state, but since 81% of 18-29 year olds think it is no big deal, it is only a matter of time before there is justice on gay civil rights (after a lot of hard work along the way, of course). Meanwhile same-sex marriage is still illegal in 37 states, and you can still be fired for being LGBTQ in 29 states, which is why we need the Employment Non-Discrimination Act (ENDA), so this work also continues.

Bearing Witness to Suffering through Protest

Nov 2011 Those of you who have been reading my ramblings here can guess that I am excited to see the nonviolent Occupy Wall Street movement and similar protests gathering steam around the world. (See May 2011 blog post). Some say that these movements are not clear in their purpose. To me it seems like a clear statement along the lines of the First Noble Truth: there is dukkha (strain, stress, unsatisfactoriness) in our world now, in particular in the economic realm. Some people are testifying to this with their bodies and lives by bearing witness in public space. The movement has many possibilities for helping raise awareness and catalyze change for a more wise and compassionate society. Stay tuned for the cause, the possibility of removing the cause, and the path to liberation!

Occupy Image

Distribution of Wealth and Suffering

May 2011: The distribution of wealth in US society has become more unequal in the last 30 years than it has been since the Great Depression. While the top 1% has access to over 35% of the nation’s wealth, the bottom 80% has access to less than 13%.  This puts us close to Mexico and Sri Lanka in terms of inequality, rather then with other more affluent countries and has impacts on health, lifespan, and quality of life. Our situation as a society makes it a struggle for many people to live: for instance, more than 14% of the population are using food stamps to get by.  When asked to guess, most Americans think that our society is far more equal than it actually is.  As a dimension of recognizing interconnectedness and out of a sense of compassion, it is good for us to be aware of this and to feel out what a wise response is for us individually and collectively. Click any of the underlined links to learn more.

Rebirth in Ohio

Mar 2011: Here is an interesting video of an American boy who remembers a lot about his past life. There are many documented cases like this in Buddhist countries where kids (usually under age 6) have memories of their identity in their preceding birth, including their name, family members, where they lived, how they died, etc. This one is unusual in that the family did not believe in rebirth (nor, of course, does American society, broadly speaking). You don’t have to believe it, but it may make you consider the possibility! I like how the parents are loving and supportive of the little boy even though he surprises them.  “Child’s Nightmares and Memories Prove Reincarnation”