Sunday, May 31, 2015

A Threat

Focused awareness is difficult not because we are inept at some spiritual technology but because it threatens our sense of who we are.

---Stephen Batchelor, in Buddhism Without Beliefs---

Spice Island Plantain Bites

2 cloves of garlic, crushed (or pressed)
1 tablespoon of creamy peanut butter
1 teaspoon of fresh lime juice
1/4 teaspoon of salt
1/4 teaspoon of dried oregano
1/4 teaspoon of dried mint
1/8 teaspoon of ground allspice
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne
1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper
3 medium-size ripe plantains, peeled and mashed
2 tablespoons of olive oil

Preheat the oven to 200 degrees F.

In a medium-size bowl, combine the garlic, the peanut butter, the lime juice, the salt, the oregano, the mint, the allspice, the cayenne and the pepper and blend into a paste.

Add the mashed plantains and mix until everything is well combined.

Shape the mixture into 1-inch balls, using about 1 tablespoon of the mixture for each.

Heat the oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Place the balls in the hot oil, in batches, and press down on them lightly with a metal spatula.

Fry, turning once, until the bites are golden brown on both sides.

Transfer the finished bites to a paper towel covered plate to drain, then place them in the warmed oven until all the bites are cooked.

Serve hot with your favorite salsa or with rice or by themselves.

The Threefold Refuge

The Pali:

Buddham saranam gacchami.

Dhammam saranam gacchami.

Sangham saranam gacchami.

The English:

To the Buddha as a refuge I go.

To the Dharma as a refuge I go.

To the Sangha as a refuge I go.

No Harm

...the Buddha's teaching leads us to the realization that we must always strive to harm no sentient being, human or nonhuman, whether or not it is in our selfish interests to do so.

---The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights, by Norm Phelps---

Your Work

Your work is to discover your path.
Once you discover it,
pursue it with all your heart.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 166---

The Swastika

Svastika, usually written swastika in English, is the Sanskrit word for a symbol in the form of a cross with its four ends bent at an angle of 90 degrees. The Pali equivalent is sovatthika. Although often associated with Nazism today, the svastika is a very old symbol and was used in ancient Mesopotamia, Pre-Colombian America, India, and China. It was probably originally meant to be a symbol of the sun. In Chinese art, the Buddha is often represented with a svastika in the center of his chest. This was an iconographic way of depicting the idea that the Buddha has a heart of radiance and light.

---A Guide to Buddhism A to Z, by S. Dhammika---

If Begins With You

Love yourself and be mindful,
both day and night.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 157---

Saturday, May 30, 2015

The First Paean of Joy Uttered By the Buddha Immediately After His Enlightenment

Through countless weary lives
I have sought the builder of this house
and could not find him.

Now, I have found you, O Builder,
and you shall build no more.
The rafters are broken,
the ridge pole is shattered.
I have beaten out desire
and my mind is now free.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verses 153 and 154---

Acceptance of Who You Are

Be gentle with yourself. Be kind to yourself. You may not be perfect, but you are all you've got to work with. The process of becoming who you will be begins first with the total acceptance of who you are.

---Bhante Henepola Gunaratana---

June - Pride Month

President Obama declares June LGBT Pride Month
--All People Are Created Equal, Including LGBTs--
The President said:
From the moment our Nation first came together to declare the fundamental truth that all men are created equal, courageous and dedicated patriots have fought to refine our founding promise and broaden democracy's reach. Over the course of more than two centuries of striving and sacrifice, our country has expanded civil rights and enshrined equal protections into our Constitution. Through struggle and setback, we see a common trajectory toward a more free and just society. But we are also reminded that we are not truly equal until every person is afforded the same rights and opportunities – that when one of us experiences discrimination, it affects all of us – and that our journey is not complete until our lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) brothers and sisters are treated like anyone else under the law.
During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Pride Month, we celebrate the proud legacy LGBT individuals have woven into the fabric of our Nation, we honor those who have fought to perfect our Union, and we continue our work to build a society where every child grows up knowing that their country supports them, is proud of them, and has a place for them exactly as they are,

Sometimes Our Best Teacher. . .


A Question

What Are the Foundational Teachings of the Buddha Dharma?

The Four Noble Truths (This includes the Eightfold Path)
........1...There is Dukkha (Stress, Anxiety, Worry, Dissatisfaction)
........2...Dukkha has a cause - Thirst or Desire
........3...There is freedom from dukkha
........4...This freedom is realized by following the Noble Eightfold Path
..................Proper Understanding
..................Proper Intention
..................Proper Speech
..................Proper Action
..................Proper Livelihood
..................Proper Effort
..................Proper Awareness (Mindfulness)
..................Proper Meditation (Concentration)

The Three Jewels
........The Buddha
........The Dharma
........The Sangha

The Five Aggregates (Skandhas)
........Form (Our Environment)
........Feelings or Sensations
........Perception or Awareness
........Response (Mental Formations)

The Three Marks of Existence
........Dukkha (Stress, Anxiety, Worry, Dissatisfaction)

Cause and Effect
........If this exists, that exists; if this ceases to exist, that also ceases to exist.

Karma and Vipaka
........Karma is Intentional Action; doing, speaking, thinking.
........Vipaka is the Consequence or Result, the Ripening of an Intentional Action.

The Six Perfections (Paramitas)
........Ethical Practice

The Different Styles of Teaching and Practicing the Buddha Dharma

There are many different ways to teach and practice the Buddha Dharma.

A method that touches you, that helps you, may not be as meaningful to someone else.

What helps someone else may not seem so meaningful to you.

Many approaches are offered. Each of us comes to the Teaching and the Practice from a myriad of different backgrounds and histories.

The Dharma is the same, the style of one Teacher to the next may differ. The style of one Practice from the next may differ.

As long as the essentials are there, it is valid, helpful, and needed.

The Buddha's Teaching

The Buddha's Teaching does not avoid one and favor another. The Teaching is given equally to all. Those who receive it use it as they can, according to their needs and their abilities.

When A Family Member Tells You To Shut Up About Equality

A man from Tennessee, named Kevin Thorton, received the following message from a relative:

"Government has NO RIGHT to direct religious organizations to recognize gay or any other marriage for that matter. Forcing your lifestyle on religious organizations is no better than religious organizations forcing their views on you. And before you start singling out Christians, in Islam homosexuality is punished by death. Yet the media has you all gassed up against Christians. Me personally I couldn't care less who or even what you marry. Just stop telling me I have to accept it. Mind your business and I'll mind mine. Why is that so Goddamn hard?"

Kevin responded to the message point-by-point:

"Government has NO RIGHT to direct religious organizations to recognize gay or any other marriage for that matter."
Except that it already does. For straight marriages. For interracial marriages. Hopefully soon for gay marriages.
"Forcing your lifestyle on religious organizations is no better than religious organizations forcing their views on you."
Let's talk about this phrase "forcing your lifestyle." I hear it a lot. It often accompanies the words "shoved in my face." Such violent terminology. What are you afraid of? Get your dollars ready, here comes a mandatory, greasy lap dance from yours truly. You might be planning a quiet evening with your family tonight, but too bad. My boyfriend and I can't wait to make out in your living room. Can you guys pick up some poppers?
Let me suggest, while Christianity certainly has a long and dark history of forcing its views on others, we gays are just asking for equal and fair treatment. Consider that it might feel like a face-shoving only because it's somewhat new. You'll get used to it.
"And before you start singling out Christians, in Islam homosexuality is punished by death."
I know. It's terrifying and abhorrent to see ISIS throwing those poor men off rooftops. Did you see where some men had been tricked into thinking they were going on a secret date, only to be stoned to death? Can you imagine if that happened here? To me? Rips my heart out.
Wait. You didn't mean that in a "just be thankful you aren't being thrown off a roof" sort of way, did you? Not only would that be a cruel and insulting stance to take, it's complete bottomfeeder mentality. It's settling for simply not being as terrible as the other guy, rather than rising to excellence. America thinks of itself a beacon of freedom. On the cutting edge of liberty. (Oh, except Ireland beat us to it this time.)
"...the media has you all gassed up against Christians."
I'll be honest. This one gets my gay goat. Not once have we spoken as adults. Yet somehow you are assuming my opinions are flippant, that the "media" has tricked my gullible self into a vapid stance. Let me catch you up on where I've been since we last saw each other in, like, 1989. In high school I was the church golden boy. Our small-town religious community thought of me as a kid with a promising future for Jesus. The next Billy Graham perhaps. So when puberty hit and the first waves of sexuality came to be, it was troublesome. I tried to deny and suppress to no avail. I was gay. And in that community, there's nothing worse. By the time I was attending Exodus Ministries "pray away the gay" meetings, it had all escalated into full on emotional torture. Looking back, it was absolutely mental abuse. I digress.
All this to say, my thoughts and opinions are hard-won. I suffered for them. I didn't flip a coin. A talking head on a liberal news channel isn't thinking for me. I'm actually living this experience. I find it so curious that many heterosexuals have obviously theorized about the gay experience without listening to those who are actually in it.
"Me personally I couldn't care less who or even what you marry."
When you imply that you don't care "who or what" I marry, it's degrading. It hints at the idea of two men marrying is a step toward a man marrying a tree or a dog. I'll choose a "who" thank you. His name is Del Ray. He's really wonderful and I hope that it will be legal for us to marry in Tennessee someday. If you can find it within yourself to care even just a little about who or what I marry, I'll send you an invitation. (And I fully expect one of the more expensive registered items to make up for all this nonsense.)
"Just stop telling me I have to accept it. Mind your business and I'll mind mine. Why is that so Goddamn hard?"

You personally don't have to accept it, I suppose. It's America after all. Think, believe and say whatever you wish. However, telling a community who was previously without a voice to shut up is a bit suspicious. That's why it's so goddamned hard.

---This exchange was found on Huff Post Gay Voices, May 30, 2015---


The Buddha taught man that the greatest of conquests was not the subjugation of others but of the self.

---K. Sri Dhammananda---

The Complexity of the Universe is Something Science Continues to Explore

Not knowing the answer to a question is not a valid excuse for making up a fairytale to explain it.

---Armin Navabi, in Why There Is No God---

Friday, May 29, 2015


Meditation is not an escape.

Meditation is not a medical procedure.

Meditation is not a quick-fix.

Meditation is a tool.


Never speak harsh words
either to yourself or another.
For harsh words return
and trouble is the result.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 133---

No Harm

For all beings are like you;
they too, want happiness.
Knowing this, never harm another
and happiness will find you.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 132---

Horseradish Butter

1/4 cup of grated horseradish, drained
10 tablespoons of unsalted butter, at room temperature
Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Dump the horseradish into a bowl.

Add the butter, a little at a time. Mix well after each addition.

When the horseradish and the butter a well mixed, use a plastic scraper to rube the seasoned butter through a drum sieve.

Season the butter to taste with the salt and the pepper.

Using plastic wrap, roll the butter into one or two sausage shapes. Refrigerate or freeze the rolled butter until it is needed.

This butter is very good on hot vegetables or toast. Very good on crackers or hot rice or potatoes. Be creative,

A Very Long Parade


To enter the practice you need to do just two things: relax your body and relax your mind.

---Master Sheng Yen---


One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them.

---The Buddha---

Neither Tarry Nor Hurry - Always the Middle Way

Without stalling and without hurrying did I cross the flood. For when I stalled I sank and when I hurried I was whirled about. And so, without tarrying and without hurrying did I cross the flood.

---The Buddha---

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Neither Kill Nor Harm

All who live, fear pain and death.
Knowing you too will die some day,
neither harm nor kill another.

All who live, fear pain and death.
See yourself in others
and who can you harm?

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verses 129 and 130---

Jalapeños en Escabeche

1 pound of fresh jalapeños
2 carrots (about 6 ounces)
1 onion (about 6 ounces)
2 cups of water
2 cups of distilled vinegar
1/2 cup of vegetable 
4 cloves of garlic, peeled
1 teaspoon dried oregano, crumbled
1 dried bay leaf
Salt and black pepper to taste

Rinse the jalapeños and pierce each with a fork. 

Peel the carrots and cut them crosswise into 1/4-inch slices. 

Peel the onion and cut it vertically into 1/4-inch slivers.

In a 3- to 4-quart pan over high heat, combine the jalapeños, the carrots, the onion, 2 cups water, the vinegar, the oil, the garlic, the oregano, and the bay leaf. 

Bring the mixture to the boil.

Reduce the heat and simmer just until carrots are tender-crisp. 

Add the salt and the pepper to taste.

Pour the into jars and cover.

Allow to cool completely and then refrigerate for at least 1 day. 

Use a slotted spoon to serve.

These jalapeños and carrots will keep for up to 2 months in the refrigerator.

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Buddhism and Animal Rights: Boundless Compassion For All Sentient Beings

Buddhism ought to be an animal rights religion par excellence. It teaches the unity of all life; it holds kindness and compassion to be the highest virtues; and it explicitly includes animals in its moral universe. Buddhist rules of conduct—including the First Precept, “Do not kill”—apply to our treatment of animals as well as our treatment of human beings. This would lead us naturally to expect Buddhist to oppose all form of animal exploitation.

There is, in fact, wide agreement that most forms of animal exploitation are contrary to Buddhist teaching, although crimes against animals are sometimes—inexplicably—treated as minor offenses. Hunting, fishing, animal husbandry, and the use of animals in entertainment are forbidden to Buddhists. But on the question of meat-eating, controversy and confusion reign. Many Buddhist eat meat—although many do not—and monks, priests, and teachers sometimes defend meat-eating as consistent with Buddhist teachings.

Western Buddhist—influenced by a lifetime of the most animal-intensive diet the world has ever known—are especially creative in fashioning Buddhist rationales to justify their addiction to meat, eggs, and dairy. In 1994, in a form on meat-eating published in Tricycle, a popular Buddhist magazine, Bodhin Kjolhede, Abbot of the American Zen Center in Rochester, New York, and dharma heir to Roshi Philip Kapleau, viewed with dismay these efforts to use the Buddhadharma to rationalize meat-eating. "It is sad to see how many American Buddhists are managing to find a self-satisfying accommodation to eating meat. Some airily cite the doctrine of Emptiness, insisting that ultimately there is no killing and no sentient being being killed. Others find cover behind the excuse that taking life is the natural order of things and, after all, 'the life of a carrot and the life of a cow are equal.' " Most of his fellow contributors used the forum to promote precisely the kinds of accommodations to which Kjolhede objected.

This is a critical moment in the history of Buddhism. The next great Buddhist manifestation, Western Buddhism, is still in its formative stage. It has not yet ossified into an orthodoxy that brooks no dissent. There is still time to reject these "self-satisfying accommodations" and tie ourselves firmly to the ethical foundation of the Buddhadharma: boundless compassion for all sentient beings. And it is vital that we do so. Buddhism cannot be true to itself until Buddhists resolve their ambivalence toward nonhuman animals and extend the full protection of their compassion to the most harmless and helpless of those who live at our mercy in the visible realms.

---The Great Compassion: Buddhism and Animal Rights, by Norm Phelps---

Learn, Over and Over, Learn

Turn away from mischief,
turn again and again . . .

Learn to do good
and do it again and again.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verses 117 and 118---

The Greatest Conquest

The conquest of oneself
is better than the conquest of others.
Then victory.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 104---


Better than a thousand meaningless words
is one word which brings peace.

---The Buddha, in The Dhammapada, verse 100---

A View Based on Sectarianism

The popular association of shikantaza—the practice of “just sitting”--with Soto Zen (the Chinese Caodong Chan) and koan practice with Rinzai Zen (Chinese Linji Chan) is a later projection of Japanese sectarianism on earlier Chinese Chan. It is a view that has introduced itself to the West.


Perspective 101

In the Morning Bell Chant there is a stanza that says: Everything is created by mind alone.


Chill, Baby

Peace and Truth and the Quest For Reality Can Frighten People


Those of us on the path of Buddhist practice, because we have been practicing looking deeply, might have fewer erroneous views and our perceptions might be closer to being complete and true, but they are still perceptions.

---Thich Nhat Hanh---

Pineapple Atole

1/4 cup of cornstarch
1 cup of cold water
1 quart of whole milk
1 cup of sugar
1 cinnamon stick (use Mexican canela for an authentic taste)
2 cups of chopped fresh pineapple

In a medium pan, mix the cornstarch with the water. Bring this mixture to the boil, stirring constantly, until the water begins to thicken, then reduce the heat to low.

Stir in the milk and the sugar. Add the cinnamon stick.

Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until the milk is hot and begins to steam.

Remove the pan from the heat.

Puree the pineapple in a blender until it is smooth.

Pour the pineapple puree through a fine-mesh strainer into the pan of milk.

Return the pan to the heat, and cook, stirring frequently, until the mixture begins to steam.

Remove the cinnamon stick and serve at once.


For wisdom is free of conceptions, thus it has no limits and is beyond comparison.



The end of delusion is called reality. If you want to realize the forbearance of birthlessness, you need to get free of greed and anger, understand that there is no self in people or things, and wander freely beyond the realm of sensation.

---Fu Hsi---


The wise do not prosper from the misfortune of others.

---The Buddha---

Satisfaction or Dissatisfaction

Profit and loss, defamation and fame,
praise and blame, suffering and joy;
all of these are impermanent; and thus
why should any of them cause satisfaction
or dissatisfaction?

---Mahasamghika Vinaya---


If you do not know how to be satisfied,
even if you are rich you will be poor.
If you do know how to be satisfied,
even if you are poor you will be rich.

---The Sutra of Bequeathed Teachings---

Sharing in Its Highest Form

Do not think only of your own joy,
but vow to save all beings from suffering.
This is sharing in its highest form and
purity beyond all poisons of this world.

---The Avatamsaka Sutra---

Judging Others

Do not insult others and do not judge them;
simply observe yourself in the light of truth.

---Ekottarika Agama---

Lighting Up the Dark

Our actions of the past, those actions guided by anger or greed or selfishness, are like clouds over the moon.

Our decision to change is like a torch in the dark.

Meditation and Wisdom

Good friends, how then are meditation and wisdom alike? They are like the lamp and the light it gives forth. If there is a lamp there is light; if there is no lamp there is no light. The lamp is the substance of light; the light is the function of the lamp. Thus, although they have two names, in substance they are not two. Meditation and wisdom are also like this.

---The Sutra of Hui-neng---