thank you

May 31 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – Day 31!


three heads


acrylic on canvas ©

“Nowadays, there is a lot of talk about the need for world peace. Nevertheless, it is not happening. Why is it not happening? Because no matter how much people talk about it, as long as minds are still dominated by such mental distortions as attachment and anger, peace is an impossibility. You can drink all the tea you like, and still the anger is not abated. You can eat as much as you want, but still the anger is not abated. Anger and the other mental distortions decrease through the practice of the Buddha’s teachings. Here, we have the possibility to do something efficacious for world peace by subduing these mental distortions in our own minds. Further, while engaging in the practice oneself, if one encourages other people to enter into the practice, this is also very helpful and important to do.

“One of the responsibilities for those of us who are practicing Dharma is to avert war, especially world war, by continually offering very strong prayers that such an event may be avoided. Let us do so!

“One further point is the importance of having the company of other people who are following spiritual practice, sincerely engaging in practicing spirituality every day in their personal lives. This can be very helpful. In contrast, if one becomes very intimate with those who have no regard for spiritual practice, this tends to harm one’s own practice. Therefore, where possible, associate with people who are following the path.

“There is an account of two men in Pempo, an area to the north of Lhasa in Tibet. One was a heavy drinker and the other was not. They split up. The drunkard went to Reting Monastery and there encountered a very fine lama who told him of the disadvantages of alcoholism and taught him how to follow spiritual practice. He gave up drinking and became a very fine practitioner. The non-drinker went down to Lhasa, and there he got into the company of a bunch of drunkards. He stared “hitting the sauce,” and made a big habit of it and became, more or less, an alcoholic. This indicates the strong influence of people with whom one associates.

“To give one more analogy, if you are in a place that is all black with soot on the walls and you move around, you end up all black. Whereas, if you are in a place that is all white with whitewash on the walls, as in India, then you end up all white. Likewise, if one associates with smokers, one becomes a smoker, if one associates with tobacco snuffers, one becomes a snuff-inhaler. Generally, bad qualities tend to be contagious. If you can associate with people who are following good practice, it is very helpful.”

—Ven Gen Rinpoche (Geshe Lharampa Ngawang Dhargyey, 1921-1995), Seattle 1982

Thank you for following me on my project of posting a photo every day this month of a flower, real, or symbolic, and of a buddha image, abstract or figurative. The naturalist John Muir was raised to believe that, in the person of Jesus, GOD had become man, ie had incarnated or embodied as a God-man. Muir loved flowers and felt the presence and essence of the Divine embodied in flowers. Why, he wondered, if there could be a God-man such as Jesus Christ, why could there not just as likely be a God-flower, embodied in the form of every flower? I feel much the same way, often finding Buddha-nature manifest, emanant, in a humble, beautiful, innocent, natural flower. Quite often this evident presence and expression of the “original face” or essence of Buddha-nature is more evidently present in the form and face of a flower than in a statue or painting of the historical Buddha, or an image of a celestial Buddha or bodhisattva. While, at their best, such images of buddhas are often very flower-like! Flowers are buddhas, buddhas are flowers.  And of course the same can be said of clouds and trees and birds and bees, and seas, …and human beings. –Skyblue Greenstone


wear you love on your sleeve

May 30, 2016 – month of daily flower & buddha photos – day 30

copper bu

shop shelf copper-tone Buddha, wearing his price-tag on his sleeve


tiny flowers, showing to the world the Original Face of their True Nature

Joy in Everyday Life

As we make our journey of meditation, as we settle the mind, we start to shift from, “What about me?”—that self-indulgent, or self-preoccupied orientation, that seems so natural, that’s even encouraged by our society, our social values. We start to relax that. We start to settle, and notice the world around us, and ask a different kind of question, which is, “What about you? What about others? What about the world?” And that kind of change in our orientation is a natural by-product of our meditation practice. It naturally emerges from a settled mind to notice the world around us, and to begin to actually care.

Formally, in classical teachings that come from the Buddhist tradition, this is discussed as a transition from the hinayana, the “narrow vehicle,” the vehicle that is concerned with relieving our own suffering, that is concerned with working directly with the agitated mind, and helping to settle it, so that we could find some kind of relief. And, actually, so many people now come to meditation practice for exactly that,—for stress reduction, for a relief from individual agitation and suffering, mental suffering, that we add onto whatever is happening in our present experience.

But actually, meditation is much bigger than that, and evolves into what is called the mahayana, the “greater vehicle.” And it’s greater because there’s a concern for other, that our basic practice shifts from simply being to relieve our own pain, to actually noticing the pain of others and wanting to relieve that.

So the “great” in “the greater vehicle” refers to our motivation—that we have a larger viewpoint, that we actually are inspired to benefit others, benefit all sentient beings. And that’s a pretty radical shift, actually: to see that meditation practice isn’t just about making a better life for ourselves. Although it does that, it does help relieve the tremendous amount of chaos that we ourselves generate in relation to what happens in our life. But that actually we could practice and make our spiritual journey about other people, about serving this world and making this world a better place. So that is the inspiration of the mahayana.

…We have an analogy for this shift, this natural evolution in our meditation practice and spiritual path. And that analogy is the snow lion. The snow lion is an emblem of Tibet. It’s a mythical creature, said to have white fur, and this beautiful turquoise mane that flourishes in the mountain air, in the mountain breeze. The perch of the snow lion is the craggy mountain peak, and so we have this image of vast open space. If you can imagine yourself either in the highland meadows of Tibet or even the Rocky Mountains of Colorado, what you get is these amazing vast open vistas. This comes from a bigger view, a mind-set that isn’t wrapped up in petty self-preoccupation, but actually looking out at the world, and being concerned.

And this brings tremendous fresh air, the fresh mountain air that invigorates us. And it’s said that the snow lion, this mythical creature, follows the fragrances in the scented mountain air. So, an image of amazing delight that comes from a bigger view, a bigger view that is willing to be touched by the joys and sorrows of this world. An awakened heart that is beating in response to a bigger vision. So that’s the analogy we’ll be working with and exploring.

—Shastri Holly Gayley, PhD.

Buddhist meditation teacher

Professor of Religious Studies, University of Colorado, Boulder


What the hell, Bernie?!

Bernie Sanders. (photo: Karen Bleier/Getty Images)

What the Hell Does Bernie Sanders Think He’s Doing?

By Steve Weissman, Reader Supported News

31 May 16

oor Hillary. I know I’ve said that before, with tongue in cheek, of course. But the time has come to listen closely to what’s really bothering the former Goldwater girl. Time, as Slick Willie would say, to share her pain.

She had expected a stroll in the park to her anointment as Democratic candidate for president. But Bernie Sanders has made her life hell, forcing her to take left-leaning positions that will only make it more difficult for her to backtrack when the nomination becomes hers. He even pressured her to give his supporters a place on the 15-member panel that will draft the platform, a move that can easily saddle her with political positions around which she will have to struggle.

Nowhere is the threat greater than on support for Israel. She clearly announced that she intended to take the relationship with the Jewish state “to the next level.” But the platform drafters now include three Sanders supporters who are long-time defenders of Palestinian rights: James Zogby, head of the Arab-American Institute, Muslim congressman Keith Ellison, and social justice activist Cornel West. Along with two Congressional progressives, Elijah Cummings and Barbara Lee, and others on the drafting committee, the platform could contain wording far different from what she wants. It will likely defend both Israel’s security and fairness for Palestinians. It might even mention Israeli settlements and occupation of the West Bank.

What’s the difference? Who will even remember what the platform says? Normally, no one. But Bernie has changed the rules of the game. He and his supporters refuse to step aside, and they will use even-handedness to both Israelis and Palestinians as a new marker to define the Democratic Party. What kind of Jew does that? How can Bernie betray his own people? And how can left-wing Jews like Rabbi Michael Lerner say that Bernie Sanders and his balanced approach would even help heal the State of Israel?

Worse, Bernie and his bunch are playing the same game across the board. Climate change. Trade treaties. Breaking up the biggest banks. A $15 federal minimum wage. Universal health care. Taxing Wall Street to pay for tuition-free college education. And all the other ideas he is pushing. Either Bernie’s people get words they want in the platform, or they will use the fight to win further converts within the party and beyond.

Doesn’t Bernie remember that she and Bill redefined the Democratic Party? That the Democratic Leadership Council (DLC), Will Marshall’s hauntingly named Progressive Policy Institute, and mega-banker Robert Rubin, of Goldman-Sachs and later Citigroup, helped them make the party more pro-Wall Street, more pro-corporate, and more “free market?” Bill drew a line in the sand when he declared an end to the era of big government, welfare as we know it, and the long-standing regulation of Wall Street embodied in the Glass-Steagall Act and the Commodity Futures Trading Commission.

How do Bernie and his people truly think they can undo all that? Do they expect party officials to turn their backs on all the campaign contributions, not to mention high-paying jobs as lobbyists and corporate honchos? Do those who feel the Bern really see the Democratic Party returning to the down-at-the-heel days of FDR and the New Deal?

What effing idealists! Why couldn’t they just go away? Or join the Greens? Or become independents?

In Hillary’s book, anyone who wants to get anything done has to come to grips with the reality of Big Money, as she did when she joined Walmart’s board of directors, as Bill did as governor of Arkansas and even more as president., and as Barack Obama did when he accepted the backing of Rubin and Goldman-Sachs in 2008.

Surely Bernie can see that. Yet, even as he carries his presidential campaign all the way to the convention floor, his people are already laying the groundwork for a permanent progressive movement, hoping to use his growing popularity – and his unbelievably successful fund-raising email list – to create their own people’s agenda, expand their Berniecrat base, and elect a “Brand New Congress” for the mid-term elections in 2018. Who the hell do these people think they are? Are they trying to create a left-wing Tea Party that will purge those they see as DINOS, Democrats In Name Only?

Bernie himself is already raising money to defeat some of the party’s leading lights, people like Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Shultz, the party chairman who has done everything she could to help Hillary prevail. He’s even pushing for the party to throw Deb under the bus before the convention, which party leaders may have to do to prevent an embarrassing protest against her on national television.

But most worrying of all is the possibility that Bernie will use his speech at the convention to take leadership of the campaign against Donald Trump. If Trump wins, Hillary will be to blame. If Hillary wins, Bernie will take the credit. What a galling turnabout for Hillary that would be, especially after all her efforts – and those of her friends – to discredit Sanders and his highly independent supporters.

A veteran of the Berkeley Free Speech Movement and the New Left monthly Ramparts, Steve Weissman lived for many years in London, working as a magazine writer and television producer. He now lives and works in France, where he is researching a new book, “Big Money and the Corporate State: How Global Banks, Corporations, and Speculators Rule and How to Nonviolently Break Their Hold.”

Reader Supported News is the Publication of Origin for this work. Permission to republish is freely granted with credit and a link back to Reader Supported News.