Tuesday, February 10, 2015
It's been awhile since I've written and I have the afternoon off so I thought I'd give it a try. Also tonight I start a two month retreat so it's my last chance for awhile.
I haven't been writing much because I'm giving my brain time to reprogram it's synapses. I have an idea how synaptic reprogramming works, but that doesn't make it any easier or faster. I'm also pretty certain changes are reversible. It's my guess that synaptic and behavior patterns, once formed, are never completely erased -- which, incidentally, is a good reason to keep practicing, whether your primary practice is meditation, mindfulness or yoga.
There were a lot of posts I thought of writing in 2014 and one of them is why blog? Blogging seems counter-intuitive since I don't have any inclination to be famous. The original reason I started blogging was for friendship. Certainly not because I think I have lots of answers. I don't feel I'm that knowledgable or skilled in a variety of the topics I find myself thinking about, though I have to admit I've wondered how much that line of thinking is due to conditioning I've unknowingly received, at least in part due to gender.
The best reason I can think of for blogging is that it may be a good way to learn, as well as share what I've learned from life up to now. I also have to admit I think it's a more productive way to to spend my 'free' time than shopping for things I don't really need. Shopping seems to be another method many people use to create a projection of self.
Other posts I wanted to write over the last year include:
My ever-evolving thoughts on happiness.
Sharing some of the interesting conversations and experiences I've had while traveling.
My thought's on Dogen's Instructions for the Cook and various commentaries, especially Uchiyama's. Incidentally, from what I've gathered, Uchiyama's definition of religion concerns precisely that question of how to live one's life.
The fact that, given interdependence, I don't think there is such a thing as an orginal thought, each thought is merely a thought experienced by a unique place-time-being.
How to contribute to a better world for all beings. Along those lines, thoughts and questions concerning religion, politics, gender and race, the economy and the environment.
More on feminism, especially since feminism hasn't been a topic I've spent much time thinking about in my life. In fact, in contrast to some, most days gender has been a topic I prefer not to be confronted with.
Finally, I've also decided that, as extra motivation both for writing and for learning, I'm going start advertising particular petitions, volunteer projects, and/or donation sites. Today's site is from Avaaz. Please check it out:
Perhaps, since I'm not going to be able to write for awhile, it's okay to also mention pressuring our governments and contributing to efforts to rebuild various places recently destroyed by conflict including Gaza, the Central African Republic, and Sudan. We're all culpable and I honestly believe that part of the frustration each of us feels, whether we recognize it or not, is our own internal frustration over not being able to help or help enough.
Until next time, happy sitting!
Posted by Happi at 18:34
Friday, August 29, 2014
Saturday, July 12, 2014
Shakyamuni Buddha was a Feminist & the Buddha is your Mom (III) - Ajahn Brahm and gender equality: a petition
For more on women in Buddhism and the issue of ordination I also recommend a plethora of posts on Bhante Sujato's blog, as well as recent articles and posts (and associated comments) by Rev Danny Fisher, Hilary Cadigan in Chaing Mai City News, Bhikku Cintita Dinsmore, Justin Whitaker at American Buddhist, Joan Halifax in the Washington Post, and a recent review of efforts to restore Zen's female lineage by Mary Fowles in Tricycle.
Posted by Happi at 13:01
Saturday, July 5, 2014
Posted by Happi at 23:38
Thursday, April 17, 2014
Shakyamuni Buddha was a Feminist & the Buddha is your Mom: Patriarchy, Materialism, Capitalism versus What the Buddha Taught (I)
Yes, Shakyamuni Buddha was a feminist. Even though he probably didn't know because of the biases of his society. I assume that Shakyamuni didn't know since he initially excluded women from his sangha.
Why do I say that Shakyamuni was a feminist when the word 'feminist' and the feminist movement didn't exist in his time? According to Wikipedia feminism is "a collection of movements and ideologies aimed at defining, establishing, and defending equal political, economic, cultural, and social rights for women." Logically sentient beings of the female gender comprise half of the total. It's that simple.
It's sad that ~ 2500 years and many generations later sexist biases* linger even among those affirming what the Buddha taught. Sexist biases exist in the internalized conditioning and rationalizations of both men and women. In fact, recent trends suggest that sexist behaviors and biases are on the rise, whether as a result of increased economic stressors, as a backlash against the effects of the first waves of feminism on the psyches of both men and women, or as a result of a media and entertainment industry that caters to competition and greed. That the same is true for racism and classism is not cause for complacency though it can be a source of compassion.
One reason anti-feminist and sexist biases still exist within "Buddhist" communities and sanghas may be that what the Buddha taught has been passed through the generations via patriarchy -- a patriarchy every bit as stuck in the biases of it's various societies as Shakyamuni was. Women have been the oft silent and/or silenced in all branches of the tradition.** Nonetheless, the path out of suffering Shakyamuni recommended included the eight-fold path and the immeasurables of loving-kindness (benevolence), compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity -- maternal qualities, qualities that through a combination of genetics and cultural conditioning are more often expressed by those of the feminine gender though admittedly in imperfect fashion. From the Metta Sutta:
"Even as a mother protects with her life
Her child, her only child,
So with a boundless heart
Should one cherish all living beings..."
One of the reasons I've been reticent to identify with feminism in my life is my own bias against militant and/or confrontational approaches it's been associated with in the past. A militant confrontational approach seems to be the very antithesis of what the Buddha taught and more often than not closes the doors of communication, as well as conflicting with the kindness and nurturing I'd like to see more of for all beings. I, like I assume many women in my generation, typically considered advocating for feminist causes as risking losing the very qualities I treasure, whether in myself or others. Thankfully the current generation of feminists recognize this aspect of the conflict and the fact that it is played out in the oft confused aspirations and expectations of both genders. ***
In contrast, I've been willing to identify with what the Buddha taught precisely because it fosters qualities of nurturing, kindness, relationship, non-violent communication, cooperation and collaboration over the greed, materialism, competition and capitialism that are so abundant in our society. However, a 'Buddhism' that uses the emptiness of phenomena and no-self to justify inaction and ignorance at the expense of the above qualities is a selfish 'Buddhism'.
It wouldn't be accurate to say that the only time women are mentioned in the Buddhist tradition is when they are mentioned in relation to the numbers of ordained Buddhist women and scandals of abuse.**** On the other hand, given that the relationship between men and women is so immediate to our daily experience I'm surprised that it hasn't been the subject of more discussion in 'Buddhist' communities and sanghas I've belonged to since it is rich fodder for examining the subtle and more explicit ways our biases and ignorance contribute to and maintain inequality -- whether it be the inequality of sexism, racism, or classism. We hear so much about injustice, tragedies, disasters and war, but we prefer to remain superficial and ignorant about the injustices that occur on a daily basis in our homes, backyards, communities and work. Not just mothers are suffering -- everyone on the planet and even the planet itself are.
* Everyday Sexism, Laura Bates; Why So Slow: The Advancement of Women, Virginia Valian
** The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women, Florence Caplow and Susan Moon
*** Feminism is for Everybody: Passionate Politics, bell hooks; Toward a Worldwide Culture of Love, bell hooks (Shambhala Sun)
**** The Feminist Future of Buddhism, Barabara O'Brien (About.com Buddhism)
Saturday, April 5, 2014
If all the mothers who have loved me since beginningless time are suffering,
What is the use of my own happiness?
Therefore, to really exchange
My own happiness for the suffering of others is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Though I may be famous, and revered by many,
And as rich as the God of Wealth himself,
To see that the wealth and glory of the world are without essence,
And to be free of arrogance, is the practice of a bodhisattva.
For a bodhisattva who desires the joys of virtue,
All who harm him (her) are like a precious treasure.
Therefore, to cultivate patience toward all,
Without resentment, is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Merely for their own sake, even shravakas and pratyekabuddhas
Make efforts like someone whose hair is on fire trying to put it out:
Seeing this, for the sake of all beings,
To practice diligence, the source of excellent qualities, is the practice of a bodhisattva.
Knowing that through profound insight thoroughly grounded in sustained calm
The disturbing emotions are completely conquered,
To practice the concentration which utterly transcends
The four formless states* is the practice of a bodhisattva.
To be continually mindful and alert,
Asking, “What is the state of my mind?”
And accomplishing the good of others is the practice of a bodhisattva.
For his own benefit and that of others, Thogme, a teacher of scripture and logic, composed this text at Rinchen Phug, in Ngulchu.
* The four formless states, or absorptions: (1) the sphere of infinite space, (2) the sphere of infinite consciousness, (3) the sphere of nothing at all, and (4) the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception. They correspond to the states experienced by the gods of the four formless realms, which are the result of sustained absorption in samadhi without profound insight.
Friday, December 20, 2013
Were there someone
in the world
who feels as I feel,
we would talk all night
in this grass hut.
(From Tanahashi's translation of Ryokan poems Sky Above, Great Wind. Another verse follows below.)
Genju recently posted a review of this wonderful book along with some of her own brush work reminding me of this poem. It's reminiscent of much of the poetry I love in that it calls out to our wish to share in wonder an appreciation of life and of each other.
In actuality though, what would such a conversation involve? Most likely an exchange of trivialities that falls short of the wonder we wish to share our experience of. Silence and sitting tend to be more effective ways of experiencing and sharing that sense of wonder, as well as increasing our experience of wonder in every day life.
(Photo of a portion of Soyoung L Kim's 100 Cups of Tea. More of her work can be found at saatchionline.)
I don’t regard my life
Inside the brushwood gate
there is a moon;
there are flowers.
I'm grateful to have this blog in which to share some of that sense of wonder with any person who wanders by.