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The 10,000 Things



Meanderings along the Way "To study the Buddha Way is to study the self, to study the self is to forget the self, and to forget the self is to be enlightened by the ten thousand things." - Eihei Dogen Zenji



Updated: 2017-06-25T06:51:12.441-04:00

 



But we've always done it this way

2009-08-22T15:48:21.157-04:00

Anyone that has worked in the world of business computing or other back room operations has run into this classic line of resistance to change:


"But we've always done it this way."


The Buddhist Though for the Day addresses this and similar manifestations of clinging.


While the Tathagata, in his teaching, constantly makes use of conceptions and ideas about them, disciples should keep in mind the unreality of all such conceptions and ideas. They should recall that the Tathagata, in making use of them in explaining the Dharma always uses them in the semblance of a raft that is of use only to cross a river. As the raft is of no further use after the river is crossed, it should be discarded. So these arbitrary conceptions of things and about things should be wholly given up as one attains enlightenment. -Buddha


All things are impermanent. What we have "always done" has not always been done nor will it always be done. It is simply the raft we have used for awhile to get from there to here. An interim measure that has served its purpose.

This clinging to the way we've always done things is the essence of conservatism. A blind need for permanence that fails to recognize that things are always changing all around us and in us at all times and in all places. Things that have served us well in the past become obstacles to moving forward.


"As the raft is of no further use after the river is crossed, it should be discarded."


As the European enlightenment-renaissance-scientific-industrial revolution went on the old ways of feudalism and mercantilism were abandoned to be replaced by nation-states, nationalism and capitalism. As Europeans crossed the ocean to settle the Americas they eventually discovered that the old ties that bound them to their former Kings and Lords no longer served a positive and useful purpose. Consequently, we broke those ties and moved on.

What drives us as individuals and communities to this clinging? We do it in our personal lives as well. We take photographs in order to hold on to precious moments in our lives. We attach to family, friends and relationships and all the while as we attempt to perfect them to our preconceived notions of how they should perfectly be we also resist the idea of change and potential... eventual... inevitable... loss occuring in them. We cling to our notions and idealized perceptions of the reality we create for ourselves.

Certainly fear and ignorance drive this. We fear loss. We fear not getting what we want. We tend to be ignorant of the inevitable impermanence of all things. Yet we see change happening and we cling in an attempt to resist that which cannot be resisted. We suffer as a result. Individually and collectively.



There's Something Happenin' Here...

2009-08-20T19:58:14.116-04:00

What it is ain't exactly clearThere's a thermometer over thereTellin' Congress they got to bewareI think it's time we contribute childrenwhat's that soundTake a look at that rising amount!There's battle lines being drawnAin't no reform if no public optionProgressives holding their groundGetting so much resistance from Blue DogsI think it's time we contribute, funds, to the OnesEverybody look at who's standing UP!What a field-day for the town hallsA thousand people in the streetTeabagging and carrying signsMostly say, crazy is on our sideIt's time we stop, hey, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downParanoia strikes deepInto the right it has creepedIt starts when their feed bullshit liesYou listen to Limbaugh or Beck and they lie to your faceWe better stop, hey, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downStop, hey, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downStop, now, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downStop, children, what's that soundEverybody look what's going downWith apologies to Stephen Stills and Buffalo Springfield.48 hours ago Blue American, FireDogLake and others started a fund raising effort to reward those members of Congress that are standing up strong for the American people. The battle in Congress over health care reform is a hard one. The insurance industry is pulling out all the stops (and all their cash) in an effort to turn reform into a give-away to the industry that will result in worse and more expensive health care coverage instead of actual reform.Over 60 members of the House of Representatives are standing their ground and making it clear that any health care bill that does not contain a Public Option will not pass the House. And they have the votes to ensure that.The response from the blogosphere has been nothing short of amazing. The original goal was $100,000. That was blown away in less than 24 hours. It was raised to $150k. That is in the past. It was raised to $250k and that was put in the distance as I typed this post. The current goal is $350,000 and we are well on our way to seeing that bid passed and raised even further.If you have some change in your change jar now is the time to dig deep and contribute to the effort. This is about real health care reform for America. 47 Million Americans don't have health insurance. Almost all of the rest of us have health insurance that is insufficient. All of us pay more for our health coverage and get less in return then the rest of the industrialized world. We need real reform that brings America into the modern world.But this effort is becoming one of such staggering magnitude that it is about more than just this one battle. The people of America are speaking up and making it clear that when we said we wanted health reform we meant it. We are sending a strong message to the teabagging minority, to what is left of the Republican Party, to the obstructionist Blue Dogs, to the corporate owned New Dems (DLC), to the White House, to the progressive caucus, and to the rest of the world.We will not be stopped. We will be heard. Our hired hands in Congress will do our bidding. The lobbyists will not be allowed to win.The American People are speaking.For your listening enjoyment: [...]



10th Best Buddhist Blog: Ann Coulter

2009-08-20T15:18:39.742-04:00

Hilariously, coming in at #10 Ann Coulter. This is perhaps the best take-down of her I've ever seen.


10. Ann Coulter: One of the key teachings of Buddhism is to develop enough space in your own mind that you can recognize, and choose how to deal with, the three poisons of greed, anger and ignorance. As root causes of suffering, we dedicate our practice to shining a light on the poisons in ourselves and others, in order to alleviate dissatisfaction. I can think of no better opportunity to practice compassion or deal with our own internal reactions than being faced with a living, breathing example of the three poisons run amok. Ann Coulter is a shining example of what happens when you (consciously or not) embrace the poisons and then package and sell them back to other people to increase their dissatisfaction without offering any hope or path to a more easeful way of being. This may be the best site site of all the best sites for Buddhists, as it offers an opportunity to practice how we deal with unskillful emotions in ourselves, and in others. It's easier being Buddhist in the familiar environments of Elephant Journal, Tricycle, or Buddhist Geeks - but what happens when we are confronted with button-pushing unskillful dogma?


That is where practice is, isn't it? If you've ever sat in perfect blissful Nirvana only to yell at the dog or the child or mentally cuss out the neighbor and their car alarm for disturbing your wonderfully harmonious and loving state of mind then you know that right living is something we need to practice in the real world of contentious behavior and not something we do sitting quietly on a cushion.

It is easy to laugh at the image of Ann Coulter as the personification of the three poisons... "a living, breathing example of the three poisons run amok..." but how sad and difficult a life it must be to live. It is difficult to deal with them in our own lives and minds when we aware of them and are trying to share peace with our worlds but to live in that state of ignorance where it seems right to spread self-centered hatred, discord and greed.

How sad indeed.

Here's a challenge... what skilful means does one practice when trying to be of service to an Ann Coulter?



A Buddhist View of Health Care Reform

2009-06-30T14:44:06.909-04:00

The basis of Buddhism is the The Four Noble Truths and The Eightfold Path that the historical Buddha taught in his first sermon following his enlightenment. What is this Four Noble Truths?Thus have I heard…Now this, bhikkhus [i.e. monks], is the noble truth of suffering: birth is suffering, aging is suffering, illness is suffering, death is suffering; union with what is displeasing is suffering; separation from what is pleasing is suffering; not to get what one wants is suffering; in brief, the five aggregates subject to clinging are suffering.This is the First Noble Truth. All of life is suffering. At first this seems a horrible view but it is not intended to deny that there is joy and happiness in life. Far from it. Rather to point out that suffering is an inevitable part of all aspects of life. Life is a wonderful thing. But ask any mother if there is some suffering involved in birth. Children are a source of great joy but ask any parent if there is not some suffering involved in parenting. And so forth.The five aggregates, also known as the five aggregates of existence, or the five skandhas, are form, sensation, perception, mental formations, and consciousness. Our sense of self is tied up in these aggregates of existence. At the heart of any suffering is our clinging to some form or other of one or more of these aggregates in our mind.Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the origin of suffering: it is this craving that leads to renewed existence, accompanied by delight and lust, seeking delight here and there; that is, craving for sensual pleasures, craving for existence, craving for extermination.This is the Second Noble Truth. Craving. Craving after what we do not have. Craving derived from the five aggregates of existence and given body and strength by our clinging or attachment to them. Including, craving for the relief from craving, craving for the relief from our own delusions. This is the true source or origin of suffering.Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the cessation of suffering: it is the remainderless fading away and cessation of that same craving, the giving up and relinquishing of it, freedom from it, non-reliance on it.Detachment from and extinguishment of our craving and clinging behaviors and nature. If you’ve ever wanted someone else (a child or spouse perhaps) to do something and experienced the powerlessness of watching them do what they want to do regardless of your wants and desires then you know clearly the nature of craving and clinging. If you’ve ever freed yourself from the resultant suffering simply by detaching yourself from your own desires for that person then you have experienced the cessation of that suffering. It is as simple, and as hard, as that.Now this, bhikkhus, is the noble truth of the way leading to the cessation of suffering: it is this noble eightfold path; that is, right view, right intention, right speech, right action, right livelihood, right effort, right mindfulness, right concentration.So what does all this have to do with health care?Without going too much deeper into Buddhist thought which traverses the borderlines between western philosophy, psychology and religion, let’s see how the eightfold path might clear some of the muddle going on in Washington, DC as well as the deep fog enveloping the traditional media reporting on the debate.Right view: bi-partisanship, triggers, co-ops, public options, market competition, socialism, single-payer, profit margins, trillion dollar price tags. In what way do any of these describe a working health care system?Right view would be to start by looking at the problem. What is, are, the problems with health care? Primarily, that some 45 million or more don’t have access to affordable coverage; that the costs for those of us that do are spiraling out of control; that the current structure of our health care system is unable to address these problems.Right Intent then, would be to define goals that solve the identified problems.[...]



Health Care Debate

2009-06-23T14:57:09.013-04:00

Things should be made as simple as possible, but not any simpler. - Albert Einstein The health coverage debate rages on with talk of trillion dollar costs, market competition, public options, socialized medicine, co-ops, triggers and a variety of other things. What is lacking is discussion of what the actual goals and needs are.It seems to me that there are two high-level categories required for health care coverage:1. Basic Care2. Catastrophic CareCurrently we incorrectly call basic care coverage “insurance.” There is no need for insurance for basic care. These are basic services and goods like any other. Everyone needs basic care just as we need food, shelter, and love. “Insurance” is the proper term for catastrophic care. Most of us will need catastrophic care at some time in our lives. It is a broad category that includes things such as chronic illnesses, cancer, end-of-life care, etc. These are generally very expensive, catastrophically expensive, and usually unpredictable. For these things we need insurance.Basic care on the other hand includes things like regular periodic check-ups. Treatments for minor accidents, everyday passing illnesses, and a certain level of diagnostic procedures. Diagnostic procedures need to be discussed further and perhaps even create a third category of coverage as many of these wonderfully useful and helpful, modern high-tech diagnostic procedures are very, very expensive and part of why health care costs in America are sky rocketing.Basic care should also include individual, child, and family health education; family planning services, pre- and neo-natal care, nutrition services and the like. Properly fed mothers make for healthy mothers. Healthy mothers in healthy homes make for healthy children. Healthy children make for healthy and productive adults. Healthy and productive adults need fewer health care services and therefore lower health care costs. Forget for a moment that we are the richest nation on earth. Ignore that we already spend more than any other nation on health costs. Consider that you are designing a health care system for your people from scratch. Consider that you have limited resources. What do you do first?First, we must provide basic care coverage for everyone. That is the starting point. Everyone is covered. Everyone gets the kind of basic, preventive, and educational care that:a. everyone needs b. lowers the likelihood of other problemsc. catches problems earlyd. lowers overall needs, risks, and costsOk, let’s say you’ve designed a basic care system that provides that for all your citizens. What do you do next? Next, we create an insurance system that provides coverage for catastrophic health care costs. Third, we tackle the problem of those in-between needs and costs. With whatever resources are available we expand up to include more in basic care and we expand down to include more in catastrophic insurance as resources allow.What else is involved? Research and development. One of the reasons we have such good health care in the United States is the sort of R&D work that goes on in our high-tech society. This is very expensive but very worth while. The question is how do we encourage R&D work and how do we compensate for it? That is a discussion for another time but one to keep in mind as the discussion moves to costs.What is missing from the above? Ummm… market competition, cost containment, co-ops, triggers, public options, socialized medicine and the like. Those are secondary concerns, secondary considerations having to do with politics, profit margins, and some very real concerns about cost. Some of that will come into play during a discussion about costs. But before we move there doesn’t it make sense to perform a needs assessment? To agree on what the problem is? To agree on what the goals are? Only then can one truly move on to system design and cost/benefit analysis. [...]



"Nothing is more dangerous in public affairs than the influence of private interests"

2009-03-09T15:48:15.729-04:00

Jean-Jacques Rousseau in his book The Social Contract, Book III, Chapter 4: Democracy says:"It is not good that he who makes the law should execute it or that the body of the people should turn its attention away from general perspectives and give it to particular objects. Nothing is more dangerous in public affairs than the influence of private interests, and the abuse of the law by the government is a lesser evil than that corruption of the legislator which inevitably results from the pursuit of private interests. When this happens, the state is corrupted in its very substance and no reform is possible. A people which never misused the powers of government would never misuse independence, and a people which always governed itself well would not need to be governed."Of which the key point to ponder is:"... the abuse of the law by the government is a lesser evil than that corruption of the legislator which inevitably results from the pursuit of private interests."Having just come through a time when our government has evidenced both such evil's... abuse of law and corruption of the legislators... it is worth pondering his view. Abuse of law has been horrendous. At first blush it seems to be easily the worst of these two evils. And indeed, I think that is true. However, Rousseau's point here appears to be that the one comes before the other and makes the second not only possible but subsequently impossible to get rid of. I think this is true.Corruption of our legislature by moneyed interests has weakened our democracy greatly. It has broken down the rule of law. It has led to alteration of our law, tax code, oversight and such to the benefit of the few over the needs of the many. It has created an environment of government for sale and one of power for powers sake in a dog eat dog environment where the idea that he who dies with then most toys wins.This is where the abuse of law in government comes from, this is what makes it possible. In an environment where the legislature was pure (or relatively pure), where money spoke no louder then poverty, law would be crafted towards the needs of the many not the wants of the few. Government policy would be geared towards the good of all not towards the greed of the few.The needs of the many require that power be kept in check. Hence foreign wars of adventure and profit for the moneyed class would not be allowed. Principles of democracy would be sustained and advanced at home and would form the basis of foreign policy abroad rather than principles of hegemony and empire.Hegemony and empire are structures of power. They have no place in the democracy of the many. They exist only in a world governed by the power games of the few. No hegemonic dreams, no glories of empire mean no torture of opponents, no creation of an atmosphere of terror to oppress the masses, no slaughter of innocents, no invasion of the rights and privacies of citizens at home. Corruption of the legislator weakens the legislature. The strongest branch of government here in America was intended to be the legislative branch. A weakened legislature leads to a power shift towards the executive. There are benefits to a strong executive. However, the executive is by nature a branch of individual power rather than government by the law of the many. And power tends to corrupt. Even the best person in possession of that much power will almost inevitably succumb to at least some temptation of power over law. A lower quality individual will succumb to such temptations quite rapidly and in full. Frankly, they will likely arrive in office having already done so.So, in attempting to solve the problems we have been experiencing in government it is necessary to take a two pronged approach. The first is what I call the band-aid approach. Immediately apply remedies to the problems at hand. An example of this would be to review all the signing statements and executive orders of the Bush/Cheney adm[...]



Sometimes they say stuff that pisses me off

2009-03-06T15:48:48.190-05:00

Oh my... Oliver Willis sends me this link from The National Review. It has long been a trite position of the right wing that those at the top of society are morally superior to the rest of us. It is their breeding, higher incomes, etc that prove their superiority. This is of course pure bunk. No matter how many times over the centuries or how many ways it has been thoroughly debunked it remains as a pet delusion of grandeur for them. Sometimes though they say stuff that just pisses me off... "And why is a president who needs them [the affluent] to keep on producing at the prodigious rates both society and the economy require, treating them as if they — not the slackers, the entitled, and the net tax consumers — were the problem?" The prodigious rates evidenced by the plummeting economy, half-sized DOW, and millions of jobs lost? Including many of their own? The net tax consumers are a good target. Perhaps all the corporations and businesses that receive subsidies, government contracts, and tax breaks ought to be charged a fair share of that. Perhaps the upper tax brackets that received the bulk of the disastrous conservative republican tax give aways that were a large part of the cause of our current problems ought to pay all that money back. And perhaps the author ought to provide some proof for the un-sourced slam about unnamed and unknown slackers, entitled, and net tax consumers? Oh yes, and speaking of tax consumers... perhaps the oil companies should pay for their own foreign wars and return the six trillion the government has spent on their behalf in Iraq and Afghanistan. "He calls it as he sees it, with intelligence, intensity, and insight into the unrelentingly hard-working lives of the most productive people in America." Provide proof please. Most productive people by what measure? And your concluding statement that they will turn to golf instead defeats your own argument. The truly unrelentingly hard-working lives of the low and middle class provide no options for turning to golf as an option. "No group of people contribute more to their community." Provide proof for this statement please because there are plenty of working poor and middle class that find time to coach kids sports teams, volunteer for fire departments, train as EMT's, volunteer at hospitals, take meals to shut-in’s, etc. Probably far more working poor and middle class that are the backbones of their communities by doing these things then “working affluent” sitting on charity boards sipping lattes. "More problematically, he is penalizing their success and giving them very clear incentives to ratchet back on productivity."No. He is trying to dig the country out of the economic disaster that conservative policy has created. Where else to look then for help then to those that benefited from these disastrous policies? Truly patriotic people would be looking for ways to help out the President in this effort. Similarly, truly productive people don’t need incentives to produce. They do so for the love of it. "So, what happens when the heart surgeons, dentists, litigators, and people who employ 10 or 20 other people in their mid-size businesses decide that they don't want to pay for the excessive, pointless spending that the president finds so compelling?" Pointless? Pointless? Learn some economics. He's not just spending money because he likes to spend money. He's spending money to save your jobs, your homes, your economic prospects, your small businesses, your large corporations, your 401k’s and the lives of the rest of us. "But while we're watching, "working affluent" is a far more useful and less loaded moniker than "the rich," which has overtones of dilettantes, poodles, and yachts." I agree. "Working affluent" is very a good and useful term. The working affluent are... A) working... and B) affluent. Therefore since they are working they can afford to pay taxes that those[...]



Why Indiana?

2009-02-15T16:32:14.330-05:00

Kos wrote a piece showing state shifts in Presidential voting the last two elections on Thursday. Take a quick look.Paul Rosenberg at Open Left followed up with a post pulling in Gallup poll numbers on change in party ID amongst voters. Take a look.These make for a great lead-in to a question that has been rumbling around in my head since November. Why Indiana?In particular it is a question for pollsters, strategists, and Indiana people out there… Why Indiana?In pondering this past election cycle I find myself surprised by only one thing… Indiana… well, two things, that one lonely electoral vote in Nebraska too. North Carolina came over to us one election cycle earlier then I expected but I consider that a very nice treat not a surprise. All the other states fell as expected. Except Indiana. Why did we win Indiana? And how do we build on that?I think pundits, pollsters, strategists, political consultants and politicians are likely to make some serious mistakes in evaluating this past election and using it to predict future results. Two major factors came together uniquely in the 2008 election that will not be repeated in the future. Those two factors are the complete and total disaster that was the Bush/Cheney administration and Barack Obama, the first African-American to be nominated and subsequently elected President in the United States of America.So, while some Democrats turned delusional in their victorious ecstasy gloat about “permanent Democratic majorities” and Republicans do whatever the Republican equivalent of navel gazing is while wailing and gnashing teeth over their massive defeat, the fact of the matter is that weak and poor governing on the part of Democrats could easily bring back the slim Republican majority that is their highest possible achievement level and return Democrats to the navel gazing self criticism that seems to come so easily to them. During this past election cycle Democrats were energized by the opportunity to finally be rid of the Bush/Cheney disaster and the desire to ensure that it was not continued by another Republican. Minorities and liberals amongst Democrats were further energized by the opportunity to finally advance the civil rights movement that has been stalled since 1968 by electing the first African-American to the Presidency. Make no mistake this is a huge barrier that has been broken. Independent voters were similarly energized by the opportunity to be rid of Republican mis-rule and the desire to give Democrats a chance to dig us out of this mess. Reasonable and responsible Republicans, the same.Which brings us to Indiana. Indiana is a very rural, conservative, white, Republican state. The last time it voted Democrat for President was in the Lyndon Johnson landslide against Barry Goldwater in 1964. Prior to that it was FDR’s first 2 elections during the depression. Going backwards between then and the birth of the Republican Party in 1860 Indiana has voted Democratic only 4 other times and of those 3 were in the 1800’s. In 2004 it was a 60% - 39% Republican state.So, is this just an anomaly like 1964? Or is there something to be learned here? FDR is the only one to put back-to-back Democratic victories together but even he didn’t manage to win Indiana in his next two elections. Working with that small amount of information… is it economic populism? Or are there other lessons to be learned here? [...]



Aaah! I love the smell of fair and balanced media in the morning!

2009-02-14T15:07:14.148-05:00

Schneider: Bipartisanship? What bipartisanship?While Bill Schneider carefully doesn’t blame but certainly implicates Congressional Democrats for the lack of bipartisanship in stimulus bill. And none whatsoever for House Republicans despite their 0 votes."All the talk about bipartisanship that we have heard over the last several months went down the drain," House Republican leader John Boehner complained on Friday.No counter quote from House Democratic leadership.Obama also ran into a wall in his effort to build a bipartisan cabinet when his choice for Secretary of Commerce, Republican Sen. Judd Gregg, withdrew his name from nomination.No mention of Obama’s having already brought in other Republicans.One reason is that members of Congress don't necessarily share Obama's passion for bipartisanship. Congressional Democrats see a partisan mandate in the last two elections. The voters threw out the Republican Congress in 2006. Then they threw out the Republican White House in 2008. If that is not a mandate for Democrats to govern, what is?No mention of House Republicans clear intent or comments about obstructing the Democratic agenda.Republicans saw the stimulus plan as a challenge to their core principles."We aren't interested in growing the size of government," Boehner said on the House floor.Oh really? Perhaps we should review House Republicans actions when they were in control and see just how important that principle really is to them. Oh… and by the way… it is pretty clear that the House Republicans core principle is gaining and holding power at any and all costs. Everything else is a secondary principle.Despite Obama's outreach to them, congressional Republicans felt excluded by the Democratic majority. At the same time, some House Democrats balked at the spending cuts made by the Senate in order to get even a modicum of Republican support.No mention of the White House removing sections of the original bill that Republicans objected to and then still didn’t allow a single one of their members to vote for.One reason for public suspicion: The stimulus plan came only a few months after the deeply unpopular Wall Street bailout. Most Americans resented the fact that the federal government -- indeed, the Bush administration -- was spending hundreds of billions of dollars to bail out the institutions that were responsible for the financial crisis.Ah yes. What was that about core princples and growing government? How much money did the Republicans authorize a Republican President to spend?Republicans will keep up a chorus of complaint and might try to undo pieces of it. If the economic recovery is slow -- and Obama has warned that it may take years, not months – Particularly if the Republicans continue to work against the interests of the American people by obstructing the President’s agenda.… the plan will be a continuing issue of partisan controversy. Of course it will. There are Republicans involved! [...]



Which of these statements is just like the other?

2009-02-13T19:38:44.372-05:00

Ryan Grim has Arlen Specter coverage at The Huffington Post:

"When I came back to the cloak room after coming to the agreement a week ago today," said Specter, "one of my colleagues said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' My Republican colleague said, 'Arlen, I'm proud of you.' I said, 'Are you going to vote with me?' And he said, 'No, I might have a primary.' And I said, 'Well, you know very well I'm going to have a primary.'"

"I think there are a lot of people in the Republican caucus who are glad to see this action taken without their fingerprints, without their participation," he said.

Specter was asked, How many of your colleagues?

"I think a sizable number," he said. "I think a good part of the caucus agrees with the person I quoted, but I wouldn't want to begin to speculate on numbers."


And Matt Corley has RNC Chair Michael Steele at Think Progress:

STEELE: Yeah, no, Glenn. I’m not gonna, look, I’m not going to soft pedal this with you. I’m not going to try to blow smoke either. The reality of it is, you are absolutely right. You have absolutely no reason, none, to trust our word or our actions at this point. So, yeah, it’s going to be an uphill climb.


Indeed.



What the American People have to say about bipartisanship

2009-02-12T22:06:33.261-05:00

Many people are quick to point out that Democrats make the mistake of thinking that “the facts speak for themselves” and therefore the facts should make peoples decisions for them. Experts make it clear that in fact (pun fully intended) people make their decisions based on emotions. They point out that Republicans won elections during the 1980’s and 1990’s by appealing to emotion and that Democrats lost by counting on the facts to speak for themselves. Be that as it may, it is still important to pay attention to the facts and learn what they have to say. So, let’s take a look at some facts from the 2006 and 2008 election cycles.The American People speak loudest through elections. In the 2006 election cycle the American people sent a strong message regarding their opinion of the Republican Party by handing the Democrats a clean sweep of the Republicans.In 2006:Democrats gained 6 Governorships by defeating 1 incumbent Republican and capturing 5 previously Republican held open seats.Republicans gained 0 Governorships.Democrats gained 31 US House of Representative seats by defeating 22 Republican incumbents, taking 8 previously Republican held open seats and 1 previously Independent held open seat.Republicans gained 0 House seats.Democrats gained 6 seats in the US Senate by defeating 6 Republican incumbents.Republicans gained 0 Senate seats.A complete sweep of this sort had never happened in the history of American electoral politics. Republicans did not win a single seat held by a Democrat. Not one. The American People took control of the US House away from the Republicans and gave it to the Democrats. The American People took control of the US Senate away from the Republicans and gave it to the Democrats. The American People took control of the majority of the 50 state Governorships away from the Republicans and gave it to the Democrats. At the State Legislative level Democrats also had sweeping victories taking majority control of several state legislatures but it was not quite the complete shutout seen at the federal and gubernatorial level.In the following election cycle of 2008 the American People continued with the strong, loud and ought to be clear message they are sending (shift to present tense intentional) to Washington by virtually duplicating the clean sweep of 2006 with a resounding victory for Democrats across the board.2008 was a Presidential election year. The American People took the Presidency away from the Republicans and gave it to the Democrats by electing Barack Obama to be the American People’s President of these United States of America with over a 9,500,000 vote margin. This translated to over a two thirds margin in the electoral college. A dominating, landslide victory for the Democratic candidate. This margin completely swamped the combined margin of the previous 2 Republican Presidential victories combined. George Bush’s electoral vote margin was a slim 5 in 2000 and a larger 35 in 2004 for a combined total of 40 electoral votes compared to Barack Obama’s single election margin of 192 electoral votes. An almost 5 to 1 ratio. The popular vote is even more demonstrative of the American People’s opinion of the Republican Party. George Bush won the 2004 election by roughly 3 million votes and, you may recall, lost the popular vote in 2000 by roughly a half million votes. This combined 2.5 million votes is again swamped almost 4 to 1 by Barack Obama’s 9.5 million vote victory.But wait. There’s more.Also in 2008:Democrats gained 1 Governorship by winning 1 previously Republican held open seat.Republicans gained 0 Governorships.Democrats gained 21 US House of Representative seats by defeating 14 Republican incumbents, taking 12 previously Republican held open seats.Republicans defeated 5 Democratic incumbents. 4 [...]



Republicans Vote in Favor of Great Depression

2009-01-28T21:47:02.853-05:00

The US House of Representatives passed the Economic Stimulus bill this evening. All 177 Republicans and 11 Democrats expressed their support of the Great Depression by voting against the bill.

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The final vote was:

188 in favor of the Great Depression
244 opposed
with 1 not voting.

We have not yet reached the goal but.. we shall soon, with the help
of God, be in sight of the day when poverty shall be banished
from this nation. - Herbert Hoover - Republican

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What sort of thinking you might ask leads one to oppose an economic stimululs bill intended to stave off the sort of nation wide misery that was seen in our parents and grandparents time"

Economic depression cannot be cured by legislative action or executive pronouncement. Economic wounds must be healed by the action of the cells of the economic body - the producers and consumers themselves. - Herbert Hoover - Republican


In other words, this little ol' thing will take care of itself. We don't need to do anything.

Kinda like... the 177 Republicans and 11 Democrats that voted agains the economic stimulus bill this evening.

The income of a large part of our people is not reduced by the depression but is affected by unnecessary fears and pessimism. - Herbert Hoover - Republican


In other words... don't worry, be happy.

CNN reported the other day that 20 companies were hiring! 20 whole companies! YAY!!!

Who are the 11 Democrats that think the Great Depression was so peachy-keen and neat-o that we ought to bring it back for a reprise you ask?

Allen Boyd - Florida
Bobby Bright - Alabama
Jim Cooper - Tennessee
Brad Ellsworth - Indiana
Parker Griffith - Alabama
Paul Kanjorski - Pennsylvania
Frank Kratovil - Maryland
Walt Minnick - Idaho
Collin Peterson - Minnesota
Heath Shuler - North Carolina
Gene Taylor - Mississippi



Failures, Bail-outs, Globalization and where we go from here

2008-11-24T12:40:59.007-05:00

Steve Clemons of the Washington Note opens a very important discussion today about globalization, off-shoring, bail-outs, and the responsibilities of corporations to the people bailing them out.In a different realm, Citibank has been a leader in off-shoring, pushing more and more of its financial services support base overseas.Now taxpayers are being asked to bail out these large firms which showed little interest in the economic health of the nation and which engaged in "winner-takes-all capitalism" where those at the top, like Robert Rubin, became mega-wealthy with little regard to the eroding conditions of America's middle class.American interests and the economic interests of firms were said by many economists -- including Lawrence Summers, Robert Rubin and others -- not to be tied to each other.Telecom and media CEO Leo Hindery, who served as senior economic policy advisor to the John Edwards for President campaign and then served on the economic advisory team to President-elect Obama, has been talking for a long time about getting the economic interests of major firms back in line with the interests of the American middle class and of America itself. Steve asks...Then, why isn't anyone asking the question of the CEOs of these firms about what their new social contract with America and working Americans should be after having their companies literally "saved" during this economic crisis? What if we see the funds from the bailouts go to increasing the rapidity of off-shoring to India, China, and elsewhere in Southeast Asia?Will that be the payoff taxpayers are expecting? I don't think so -- but few are talking about it.And then he suggests...Any big loans or bail-out equity acquisitions should come with a fundamental new condition: U.S. job creation and penalties for off-shored positions. That should be the price of dipping into the public coffers -- for all firms, whether financial or manufacturing.Personally, in theory at least, I don't think we should be bailing these bastards out at all. They took risks, let them suffer the consequences of those risks. Their business model failed. Let them fail. In the real world I have no interest in seeing the economy that is so closely tied in with these companies fall any further then it already is. But I don't think we should be bailing these companies out. We should be buying them, kicking the people that ran them into the ground to curb, and then figuring out where we go from here for the betterment of all the people in this country and not just to save a few elite butts.But... in counter-point to Steve....I’m going to have to take the other side of this issue. Democracy, capitalism, and nationalism have all three only been around a few hundred years (roughly 1600-1700’s) though the seeds of each go back further. Of the three I would say that Democracy has been a smashing success though it is still in the experimental stage and could use some tweaking (particularly here in the USA). Capitalism has shown some real strengths (promoting innovation and real economic growth) but it has also shown a great deal of instability, a tendency towards promoting one of the worst of human vices… greed… and an inability to promote the welfare of all.Nationalism has shown no discernable positive effects whatsoever and frankly has been an absolute disaster. Not that the feudalism which preceded it was any better.We are once again in a time of change. Democracy is here to stay and is spreading. It will continue to spread as long as the USA does not impede it by propping up dictators and undermining democratic movements as we too often did during the Cold War and still do, in the name of stability, to a smaller degree today.Capitalism needs some serious work. Per[...]



There is only Mind

2008-11-16T12:54:31.999-05:00

Rene Descartes said, “I think, therefore I am.”From Part IV of “A Discourse on Method”:“… as I then desired to give my attention solely to the search after truth… I ought to reject as absolutely false all opinions in regard to which I could suppose the least ground for doubt, in order to ascertain whether after that there remained aught in my belief that was wholly indubitable.Accordingly, seeing that our senses sometimes deceive us, I was willing to suppose that there existed nothing really such as they presented to us; and because some men err in reasoning… I, convinced that I was as open to error as any other, rejected as false all the reasonings I had hitherto taken for demonstrations; and finally, when I considered that the very same thoughts (presentations) which we experience when awake may also be experienced when we are asleep, while there is at that time not one of them true, I supposed that all the objects (presentations) that had ever entered into my mind when awake, had in them no more truth than the illusions of my dreams.But immediately upon this I observed that, whilst I thus wished to think that all was false, it was absolutely necessary that I, who thus thought, should be somewhat; and as I observed that this truth, I think, therefore I am (COGITO ERGO SUM), was so certain and of such evidence that no ground of doubt, however extravagant, could be alleged by the sceptics capable of shaking it, I concluded that I might, without scruple, accept it as the first principle of the philosophy of which I was in search.”I found Descartes rather ponderous and difficult to read but very interesting. Particularly Part IV in which he continues this process of knowing himself as existent. I am going to take this in a slightly different direction then he did but start at the same point.All I really know for certain is me. I think. That thought exists. Therefore there is something which thinks that thought. I will call it “I” or “me.”What else do I know for certain? Nothing. Descartes takes this next step and says he doubts. He then states that doubt is lesser than knowing therefore knowing is a more perfect thing then the imperfection of doubting. He, in thinking, doubts, therefore his combination of knowing (perfection) and doubting (imperfection) is less then perfect, therefore there must be something more perfect then he. He goes on to use this as the basis for his proof of the existence of God (absolute perfection).My question today is… What of the world, the universe? Is it real? Does it exist? I do not know. I’m not sure I can know. But let’s follow this path and see where it leads.I have already experienced doubt. In thinking the first thought, the fundamental principle that I exist because I think, what was my very next thought? “Is this true?” Is there a flaw in the logic? Is there a more fundamental truth underlying even this first principle? A review of the logical process concludes that it is correct. There is no flaw. I think, therefore I am. But I have no experienced doubt. So I know that doubt exists.So what of the rest of what I perceive as reality? Does it exist? I perceive reality. I look down at my hand and perceive it. I call it “my hand” but is it me? It is a part of what I call “my body” but it is not me. It is my hand. I do not have any sense of existing in it. So where do I exist? My sense is that I exist behind my eyes. My eyes appear to be my primary receptors. My sense of touch and my hearing come in somewhere behind vision and my sense of smell lags behind. I do not perceive my self as existing between my ears nor do I perceive my self as existing behind my nose. And I certainly don’t perceive my [...]



Q&A with Master Huang Po

2008-11-15T17:51:21.538-05:00

From The Zen Teaching of Huang Po:Q: If 'there's never been a single thing', can we speak of phenomena as non-existent?A: 'Non-existent' is just as wrong as its opposite. Bodhi means having no concept of existence or non-existence.Q: What is the Buddha?A: Your Mind is the Buddha. The Buddha is Mind. Mind and Buddha are indivisible. Therefore it is written: 'That which is Mind is the Buddha; if it is other than Mind, it is certainly other than Buddha.'Q: If our own Mind is the Buddha, how did Bodhidharma transmit his doctrine when he came from India?A: When he came from India, he transmitted only Mind-Buddha. He just pointed to the truth that the minds of all of you have from the very first been identical with the Buddha, and in no way separate from each other. That is why we call him our Patriarch. Whoever has an instant understanding of this truth suddenly transcends the whole hierarchy of saints and adepts belonging to any of the Three Vehicles. You have always been one with the Buddha, so do not pretend you can ATTAIN to this oneness by various practices. [John Blofeld's Note: We cannot BECOME what we have always been; we ca only become intuitively aware of our original state, previously hidden from us by the clouds of maya.]Q: If that is so, what Dharma do all the Buddhas teach when they manifest themselves in the world?A: When all the Buddhas manifest themselves in the world, they proclaim nothing but the One Mind. Thus, Gautama Buddha silently transmitted to Mahakasyapa the doctrine that the One Mind, which is the substance of all things, is co-extensive with the Void and fills the entire world of phenomena. This is called the Law of All the Buddhas. Discuss it as you may, how can you even hope to approach the truth through words? Nor can it be perceived either subjectively or objectively. So full understanding can come to you only through an inexpressible mystery. The approach to it is called the Gateway of the Stillness beyond all Activity. If you wish to understand, know that a sudden comprehension comes when the mind has been purged of all the clutter of conceptual and discriminatory thought-activity. Those who seek the truth by means of intellect and learning only get further and further away from it. Not till your thoughts cease all their branching here and there, not till you abandon al thoughts of seeking for something, not till your mind is motionless as wood or stone, will you be on the right road to the Gate. [Blofeld's Note: These word recall the admonition of so many mystics - Buddhist, Christian, Hindu, Sufi - who have committed their experience to words. What Huang Po calls the total abandonment of HSIN - mind, thought, perceptions, concepts and the rest - implies the utter surrender of self insisted on by Sufi and Christian mystics, Indeed, in paragraph 28 he used the very words: 'LET THE SELF PERISH UTTERLY'> Such striking unanimity of expression by mystics widely separated in time and space can hardly be attributed to coincidence. No several persons entirely unacquainted with one another could produce such closely similar accounts of purely imaginary journeys. Hence one is led to suppose that what they describe is real. This seems to have been Aldous Huxley's view when he compiled that valuable work The Perennial Philosophy.]Q: At this very moment, all sorts of erroneous thoughts are constantly flowing through our minds. How can you speak of our having none?A: Error has no substance; it is entirely the product of your own thinking. If you know that Mind is the Buddha and that Mind is fundamentally without error, whenever thoughts arise, you will be fully convinced that THEY are responsible for errors. If you could prevent[...]



Greed

2008-11-10T09:37:01.514-05:00


People are starving.
The rich gobble taxes,
that's why people are starving.

People rebel.
The rich oppress them,
that's why people rebel.

People hold life cheap.
The rich make it too costly,
that's why people hold it cheap.

But those who don't live for the sake of living
are worth more than the wealth-seekers.


Tao Te Ching #75 - Ursula K. LeGuin's rendition


LeGuin's commentary:
How many hundreds of years ago was this book written? And yet this chapter must be written in the present tense.

Not much more to be said than that.



Choices have consequences

2008-11-08T17:12:28.119-05:00

Choices are not necessarily good or bad. Consequences are not necessarily good or bad either. But it is a truth of physics that actions have reactions. It is a truth of philosophy that choices have consequences.A man made a choice to get involved in public service.The people of his state made a choice between him and somebody else on who would best represent them in the US Senate.They did this based on what he said about himself and his beliefs knowing that these would guide him in the subsequent decisions he would have to make in the Senate.Sometime later Vice President Al Gore made the decision to choose this man, Sen. Joe Lieberman, as his running mate and Vice Presidential candidate. He made this choice based on various factors but the main one was that this man would help other people chose him for President. For other reasons that choice didn't work out so well and we and the rest of the world have all suffered the consequences ever since.Joe Lieberman was known to be a man of integrity. He had strong beliefs, based his choices on those beliefs, and stuck by those beliefs no matter the consequences.Joe Lieberman made a decision to support the Bush War in Iraq. I strongly disagree with his choice but respect his right to make it and respect his right to stick by that choice... as blatantly obviously wrong as that choice has proven to be.The beauty of our democratic system is that we get to review the choices we make for representatives on a regular basis and change them if we decide they were wrong or a better choice is available. The members of the Democratic Party in the state of Connecticut had the opportunity to review their previous choice of Joe Lieberman as their Senator and they rejected him. Primarily, but not solely, on his staunch support for the Bush War. Unfortunately however, Joe Lieberman got two chances that year and the people of the entire state of Connecticut overrode the decision of the Democrats by electing Joe Lieberman as an independent candidate to the US Senate.Joe Lieberman was not happy with the decision of Connecticut Democrats but he made the decision to stick with the party and continued to caucus with the Democratic Party in the US Senate.But he also decided to stick, quite obstinately, with his support for the Bush War in Iraq and various other Bush-Republican positions that Democrats strongly opposed.The consequence of opposing the Democratic position so often on such integral issues and doing so in a very public manner is that many, many Democrats decided to oppose him equally as strongly. However, due to practical political situations, other Democrats decided to stand by him saying, "He's with us on everything except the war." This was not completely true but that was the position they decided to take and they stuck to it. Part of their decision was to allow him to retain his seniority within the Democratic Caucus and prominent Committee Chairmanships that came with it.Joe Lieberman then decided to support his friend and colleague, John McCain of the Republican Party, against his former parties candidate, Senator Barack Obama.Joe Lieberman then decided to actively, very actively, campaign on behalf of Republican John McCain against Democrat Barack Obama. Further, he decided to act as an attack dog (a role he had previously played while still a full member of the Democratic Party in an intra-party battle against Gov. Howard Dean) for the Republicans against Obama and engaged with very public, very strong, smear filled attacks against the Democratic candidate and the Democratic party.Joe Lieberman then decided to take it even further and campaign for othe[...]



Addendum to: To know without knowing...

2008-11-08T15:31:34.149-05:00

In a previous post "To know without knowing" was a brief mention of the six sense organs and their objects stemming from this brief section of The Heart Sutra:No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena.This morning I read a further exposition of this that may clarify it a little for folks not as familiar with this important piece of Zen thinking.From The Zen Teaching of Huang Po:The term unity refers to a homogeneous spiritual brilliance which separates into six harmoniously blended 'elements'. The homogeneous spiritual brilliance is the One Mind, while the six harmoniously blended 'elements' are the six sense organs. These six sense organs become severally united with objects that defile them - the eyes, with form, the ear with sound, the nose with smell, the tongue with taste, the body with touch, and the thinking mind with entities. Between these organs and their objects arise the six sensory perceptions, making eighteen sense-realms in all. If you understand that these eighteen realms have no objective existence, you will bind the six harmoniously blended 'elements' into a single spiritual brilliance - a single spiritual brilliance which is the One Mind. All students of the Way knows this, but cannot avoid forming concepts of 'a single spiritual brilliance' and 'the six harmoniously blended elements'. Accordingly they are cained to entities and fail to achieve a tacit understanding of original Mind.John Blofeld adds a note at the end of this reading:"This points to those people who are capable of understanding the doctrine intelligently but who have not yet entirely succeeded in throwing off the burden of concepts."Chan Master Sheng-Yen explores this further in his book There is No Suffering - A Commentary on the Heart Sutra:In the opening passage, the Heart Sutra first proclaims the emptiness of the five skandhas as a whole. In this passage it now goes on to state the emptiness of each skandha, analyzing them into the six sense faculties, the six sense objects, and the six sense consciousnesses, thus comprising the eighteen realms (dhatus).... In addressing the interrelations of these three sets of phenomena, we divide physical forms into inner and outer. Inner form refers to the six sense faculties. Outer form refers to the six sense objects. The six sense consciousnesses arise through the interaction of sense faculties and sense objects. Seeing is one faculty, and shape, size and color make up its object. The same is true for the nose and smells, the tongue and taste, the body and physical sensation. These, the five ordinary senses, we clearly understand; the sixth faculty, the mind, is harder to understand.First of all, the mind faculty (mana) contains a physical and a mental component. The mind's sense objects are the mental phenomena people identify with, and include all kinds of thinking and tones of emotion, plus the symbols we use to understand and communicate these ideas and feelings. In fact, besides the five sense faculties and the five corresponding sense objects, all phenomena are sense objects of the mind. They range from enthusiasm to dread, desires to erroneous views, lethargy to distraction, verbal language to icons. One characteristic of these mental objects is that they always connect to the past or future, and are never in the present. Only sensation - a sense organ contacting a sense object - happens in the present. The consciousness aspect of each sense organ - that related to perception, interpretation, and response - is already past. And, as we stated earlier, the consciousness aspect of each [...]



What Beautiful Day

2008-11-05T15:14:07.135-05:00

President-elect Barack Obama.Isn't that a nice sentence? It's a good day today. I don't think I've felt this good in a long time. Spontaneous celebrations in the streets across the nation last night. When has that ever happened after an election in this country? Something very special happened yesterday. President-elect Obama (I like writing that) was right in saying that one of the great things about America is that we can change and we have just proven that again.It is truly a new day. A day filled with hope, opportunity, and change.President-elect Obama was also right that it is time to end the ugly, ugly partisan division in this country.As a proud and unabashed liberal Democrat I would love to simply ignore the Republicans and push forward with a purely liberal agenda. However, for the heatlh of the nation sane, respectable and responsible Republicans need to step up and join in to assist with honest discussion of our common problems and concerns. The Time has come...... and while I agree with President-elect Barack Obama that we need to end the division of red and blue America because there is only one United States of America... rigorous honesty demands that I state unequivocably where the thoroughly ugly practice of hate and fear based divide and attack has come from. It began with some of Nixon's operatives and was expanded under Reagan and the first Bush. But it was the ugly ultra-conservative fringe that hijacked the Republican Party that perfected the exploitation of hatred and fear in order to divide America, stoke hatred, spread dis-honesty and force their destructive agenda on the nation.The American People Spoke yesterday to cap the message they sent in 2006 to reject completely the politics of division. None of us like it. Well, perhaps a fringe 1% or so gets off on it. But most Republicans don't like it any more then Democrats and Independents hate it with a passion.It's ok when we disagree on issues. It's ok when we disagree on solutions. It's ok when we disagree on priorities. It's ok when we disagree regarding private vs. public, state vs. federal, individual vs. community, domestic vs. international.Let's disagree. Let's talk about those disagreements. Quietly and calmly. Thoughtfully and most of all mutually respectfully. As Americans we can come together to tackle our common problems and craft solutions for the common good. Sometimes those solutions will follow a more conservative form and other times a more liberal form and sometimes a moderate combination of the two will work best.But nothing will work when we allow ourselves to get caught up in the politics of division. The results of the last 8-12 years show us that truth all too clearly.The economy, our broken health care system, our broken governmental institutions, two unending & unwinnable wars, fair vs. free trade, world starvation, terrorism and the desparation that feeds it, an energy crisis requiring a serious and sustained effort at converting to renewable and sustainable energy sources, an environmental problem growing day by day into a global climate crisis, signing statements and executive orders that need reviewing and reversing, world relations that need healing, and so much more.The incoming administration has their work cut out for them. They need and deserve the responsible help of all Americans regardless of political belief. That doesn't mean capitulation. It mean honestly working together to solve our common problems. It does mean ending obstructionism and the poltics of personal destruction and partisan divide.Today is a Beautiful day. Let [...]



To know without knowing...

2008-11-04T15:26:59.325-05:00

The Sick MindTo know without knowing is best.Not knowing without knowing it is sick.To be sick of sicknessis the only cure.The wise aren't sick.They're sick of sickness,so they're well. - Tao Te Ching #71 - Ursula K. LeGuin's renditionLeGuin's commentary:"What you know without knowing you know it is the right kind of knowledge. Any other kind (conviction, theory, dogmatic belief, opinion) isn't the right kind, and if you don't know that, you'll lose the Way. This chapter is an example of exactly what Lao Tzu was talking about in the last one - obscure clarity, well-concealed jade."One of the features of eastern thought of the Taoist and Zen Buddhist sort is the idea of the primacy of intuitive knowledge rather than the rationalist knowledge that has been the overarching primary feature of western thought since the enlightenment.What you know without knowing is true knowledge.This concept is very dangerous if not understood thoroughly. It is very easy to say "Ok, I'll go with my gut instinct. Whatever comes into my head first must be intuitive and therefore right so I won't question it."Um... not so much. This is the Bush approach. Go with your gut and don't question things. We fool ourselves into thinking our very shallow level thoughts are instinct or intuition or... a message from God.This is sickness.Zen Buddhism features emptiness as of critical importance.From The Heart Sutra:O Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed, Not stained, not pure; without loss, without gain. So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness.No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena. No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness, No ignorance and no end to ignorance.Unless you know Zen well that is an incredibly hard passage to fathom. But there are few ways to approach it. Unstained... There is another Taoist phrase that speaks to the heart of the matter... "The Sage leaves no traces."The Zen Mind is often defined as a still pool of water reflecting the moon. Our minds are usually like a pool with a thousand constant ripples running through it. The ripples are our constant stream of thoughts. The reflection of the moon is distorted by all the activity of thought. If the wind dies down and nothing disturbs the pool then the water settles to a flat and placid mirror that accurately reflects the moon.Likewise, if our minds become settled, placid, quiet then the reality of our environment can be taken in without pre-conceived notions, prejudices, and concepts staining and distorting actual reality.Unstained, undistorted input allows us to respond according to circumstances, in-tune, in harmony, thereby leaving no traces because nothing has been forced, no exertion made because no resistance exists to a natural action.Normal experience for humans beings is interpretive: No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind. No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena. No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness, No ignorance and no end to ignorance.The six sense openings perceive the six objects, interpret them for display and definition within the mind.How do we not do that? It is a natural sequence for us or so it seems.I am currently reading "The Zen Teaching of Huang Po" - On the Transmission of Mind Translated by John Blofield.There is a short sermon translated thusly:This pure Mind, the source of everything, shines forever and on all with the brilliance of its own perfection. But the people of the world do not awake to it, regardi[...]



MAHA PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA

2008-11-04T14:11:21.534-05:00



MAHA PRAJNA PARAMITA HEART SUTRA

Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, doing deep Prajna Paramita
Clearly saw emptiness of all the five Skandhas,
Thus completely relieving misfortune and pain.

O Shariputra, form is no other than emptiness, emptiness no other than form.
Form is exactly emptiness, emptiness exactly form. Sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness are likewise like this.

O Shariputra, all dharmas are forms of emptiness, not born, not destroyed,
Not stained, not pure; without loss, without gain.
So in emptiness there is no form, no sensation, conception, discrimination, awareness.

No eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, mind.
No color, sound, smell, taste, touch, phenomena.
No realm of sight, no realm of consciousness,
No ignorance and no end to ignorance.
No old age and death and no end to old age and death.
No suffering, no cause of suffering. No extinguishing, no path,
No wisdom and no gain. No gain and thus
The Bodhisattva lives Prajna Paramita
With no hindrance in the mind, no hindrance, therefore no fear;
Far beyond deluded thoughts, this is Nirvana.

All past, present and future Buddhas live Prajna Paramita
And therefore attain anuttara-samyak-sambodhi.
Therefore know Prajna Paramita is the
Great mantra, the vivid mantra,
The best mantra, the unsurpassable mantra,
It completely clears all pain; this is the truth, not a lie.
So set forth the Prajna Paramita mantra,
Set forth this mantra and say:

Gate! Gate! Paragate! Parasamgate!
Bodhi Svaha! Prajna Heart Sutra!



I'm sorry

2008-10-23T20:57:47.912-04:00

I had this nightmare last night...

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I am truly sorry and swear I will not allow this to come true.



New York Statewide Voter Roll and HAVA

2008-10-21T10:51:47.138-04:00

Cross posted from The Albany ProjectFollowing the debacle of the 2000 Presidential Election in Florida, Congress in its infinite wisdom created and passed the Help America Vote Act or HAVA.This considerably less than wonderful piece of legislation is best known for its requirements for modernization of voting technology. Many of us have spent the last several years fighting or the best possible voting technology here in New York as well as across the country.Another equally important feature of this typically crappy legislation which perhaps ought to be more properly known as the Hinder Americans Rights and Ability to Vote Act, is the requirement for the establishment of a statewide voter database within each state. As with the idea of modernized voting systems, the idea of a statewide voter roll with uniform controls is not a bad one. The problem with HAVA is the loose language in the legislation that makes it quite possible for each state to screw up the process more completely then it already was.Today we receive news that New York State has purged 1.6 million voters from the rolls. At first gasp this sounds horrible. What right does the state have to purge voters from the rolls? Well, reality is that voter rolls are very hard to maintain and always contain obsolete voter registration entries. If you have canvassed a town or district based on your localities voter roll you know how true this is. People move. People die. People get married or remarried and end up on the rolls under multiple names. 911 address changes result in all sorts of confusion and obsolete registrations. For example, the couple I bought my house from back in 1998 remained on the voter roll under the pre-911 street address after having moved out of state for several years after my wife and I moved in to the same home at the post-911 street address number.So odds are that the vast majority of the 1.6 million voters purged from the rolls are valid clean-up of obsolete entries. Key words here are "odds" and "majority."As with the actual voting systems the keys to whether any of this works reliably or not are the processes and procedures built around the system. A voter database is a simple thing. Nothing fancy or new fangled in the technology involved. Adding new voter registrations is also a very simple, straightforward process. Cleaning up old and or invalid entries is another story altogether. The good news for us here in New York is that Bo Lipari of New Yorkers for Verified Voting is, as usual, on the job. His BoBlog discusses the situation:"But a question has remained, how many voter records have been purged from New York State's voter rolls? Now we have an answer. I submitted a Freedom of Information Law request for all records in New York's NYSVOTER voter registration database. Early in October, I received a copy of NYSVOTER records from September 23, 2008. I wrote a program to analyze the 12,010,045 voter records and can now report the number of voters who have had their status set to "Purged" or "Inactive" in the Empire state, and the reasons given for the change.The data reveals that New York State has moved 1,661,244, or almost 14% of the voter records, from "Active" status to "Purged" or "Inactive", meaning they will not be in the poll books on Election Day..."Read the Full Story:http://www.nyvv.org/boblog/Permanent Link:http://www.nyvv.org/boblog/2008/10/21/over-1500000-nys-voters-purged/As Bo goes on to say, and is quoted in the TU article as say[...]



Governments are instituted... for what purpose?

2008-10-20T14:35:59.685-04:00

You might be somewhat familiar with the following words...IN CONGRESS, JULY 4, 1776The unanimous Declaration of the thirteen united States of AmericaWhen in the Course of human events it becomes necessary for one people to dissolve the political bands which have connected them with another and to assume among the powers of the earth, the separate and equal station to which the Laws of Nature and of Nature's God entitle them, a decent respect to the opinions of mankind requires that they should declare the causes which impel them to the separation.We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among MenWhy do we have a government? What is it's job? According to the Declaration of Independence the primary purpose is to secure certain "unalienable Rights" amongst which the authors appear to have felt were prominent... "Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness."They go on to say...... deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness. Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed.There are several good ideas here. First and foremost of course is... "Governments are instituted among Men deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed"... the idea that government derives its power from the consent of the governed. All power belongs with the people in other words. Naturally following from this primary idea is... "That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government"... that it is the right of the people to alter or abolish the government and institute a new Government as need be.And reiterating the reason for and purpose of government..."... laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness."They then state that such processes are not to be taken lightly or for just any old reason. In a previous statement they talk of government "destructive" of the ends for which it was created and here they talk about government in terms of "evils" before lauching into a laundry list of the problems they were suffering at the hands of the English King in their times."Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed."Prudence indeed. The Founders were dealing with a particular kind of trouble and making the hard decision of a complete break with their old[...]



To whom much is given much is expected

2008-10-19T14:23:22.661-04:00

Paul’s second letter to the Corinthian’s is a bit of a mish-mash. Some scholars believe it is not one letter but a composite of fragments of several letters. I can believe this is true. One of the main subjects addressed throughout the letter is the collection of funds to be sent to the Church at Jerusalem.The city of Corinth was quite wealthy, one of the richest cities of that time, and it is understood that the Church at Corinth was likewise. Macedonia to the north was considerably less wealthy but both were rich and living in abundance by comparison to the poor and impoverished of Palestine. One of Paul’s missions was to take up a collection of money from outlying churches and bring it back to Jerusalem which was the center of the faith at that time. In 2nd Corinthians 8:1-4We want you to know, brothers and sisters, about the grace of God that has been granted to the churches of Macedonia; for during a severe ordeal of affliction, their abundant joy and their extreme poverty have overflowed in a wealth of generosity on their part. For, as I can testify, they voluntarily gave according to their means, and even beyond their means, begging us earnestly for the privilege of sharing in this ministry to the saintsPaul tells of the good example of Macedonia which not only gives according to their means but begged for the privilege of giving beyond their means in order to share in the joy and ministry of giving to those in greater need.I gather from my reading that the Corinthians, as is often the case with those of great wealth, required a great deal of convincing and even conniving… I read heavy attempts at guilt trips in Paul’s writing to them… to likewise participate in the great ministry of sharing with those in need.2nd Corinthians 8:5-7and this, not merely as we expected; they gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God, to us, so that we might urge Titus that, as he had already made a beginning, so he should also complete this generous undertaking among you. Now as you excel in everything—in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you—so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking. Paul states how one overcomes self-centered reservations… “They gave themselves first to the Lord and, by the will of God to us….” And thenm goes on to use flattery (that other parts of the letter show are perhaps not deserved)… “Now as you excel in everything – in faith, in speech, in knowledge, in utmost eagerness, and in our love for you – so we want you to excel also in this generous undertaking.”Paul continues in a more serious and straightforward manner to discuss exactly what it is he is asking and expecting as the right thing for a righteous people to do:2nd Corinthians 8:8-15I do not say this as a command, but I am testing the genuineness of your love against the earnestness of others. For you know the generous act of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. And in this matter I am giving my advice: it is appropriate for you who began last year not only to do something but even to desire to do something— now finish doing it, so that your eagerness may be matched by completing it according to your means. For if the eagerness is there, the gift is acceptable according to what one has—not according to what one [...]