Burma

Briton jailed in Burma for ‘insulting’ Buddha image named prisoner of conscience by Amnesty

wildmind meditation newsPhilip Sherwell, The Telegraph: A British bar manager jailed in a notorious Rangoon prison for insulting Buddhism is to be named as a prisoner of conscience by Amnesty International as his family and human rights activists campaign for his release.

Philip Blackwood’s case has become embroiled in the political ascendancy of radical Buddhist nationalist monks in the run-up to landmark elections in Burma next month.

His supporters have argued that his prosecution for religious defamation for uploading an image of Buddha wearing headphones to advertise his bar was a maneuver by the military-backed government to court nationalist support in the former British colony also …

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On having lovingkindness for hackers

Two days ago I got an email message from a friend, saying that Wildmind had been hacked. Uh, oh. It was about 12:25PM, and the timing sucked, since I was just meeting with a couple of friends who were helping me move the last of my stuff out of the house I’ve been living in for the last nine years. As soon as that was over, it would be time to pick up my kids from school, feed them, and then take them back to school for an ice cream social and art show.

In the email my friend had sent me a screen shot, showing a screed criticizing Israel and the US. The night before, on Google Plus, my social network of choice, a western Buddhist monk living in Burma, Bhikkhu Subhuti, had posted that his site, and 60 other Buddhist sites, had been hacked by Muslim activists. I didn’t know if the group that attacked our site was involved in those attacks, but it seemed possible.

Our web hosts contacted me moments after my friend did, telling me that they’d locked down the site, preventing any public access.

When I had a chance to look behind the scenes, devastation awaited me. The hackers weren’t just trying to publicize their message, but were out to do damage. They’d deleted almost all the files and images needed to run the site, and had destroyed the database containing the thousands of articles that have been posted here over the years. But I wasn’t too upset, since I was aware that our web hosts keep backups.

It took 24 hours to restore the site, and to add new security features that will, I hope, stop a repeat of that incident.

Am I angry at the hackers? To my surprise, I’m not. One of the Buddha’s teachings has been my guide through this time:

In this way, monks, you should train yourselves: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to that very person, making him as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.

Bhikkhu Subhuti shared a similar sentiment:

The only thing one can do is be loving towards them and let them know that fighting is useless, counterproductive and loving-kindness prevails!

And of course change passwords too!

There’s one other thing that’s been in my mind, which is connected with the fact that the hackers were Muslim. This incident has been a good opportunity to remember that Buddhists in Burma have been persecuting the Rohingya Muslim population. This persecution has included rioting, murder, and arson. Monks in Burma have instigated these attacks, which are of course entirely the opposite of what the Buddha taught, since in the Buddha’s teaching there is no room for “righteous anger,” and the Buddha pointed out that any moment of anger or hatred is a moment in which you are not following his teaching.

Yes, it’s a pain to have your work vandalized. It’s a pain to have to spend many hours fixing things. It’s a pain to have those niggling worries that it might happen again.

But compared to the pain of having a family member murdered, or of being driven from your home, or of having your business burned down, the inconvenience I’ve experienced has been of little significance.

Of course it’s ironic that Bhikkhu Subhuti’s site was attacked despite him being a positive force for reconciliation between Buddhists and Muslims in Burma, and that our site was attacked despite us being vocal in condemning the acts of Buddhists who perpetrate hatred and violence. But this is just an illustration of the fact that hate is blind.

So I’m not going to join in with the cycle of hatred this time. It would just cause me more pain, and make the world a more hateful place. My response to these hackers is to accept difficulties with equanimity, think of them with kindness, and, of course, to change my password.

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An open letter to President Obama from the Buddhist Teachers Network

Barack Obama

TO PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA
from the BUDDHIST TEACHERS NETWORK

URGING YOU TO ADDRESS ANTI-MUSLIM VIOLENCE AT THE UPCOMING ASEAN MEETING IN BURMA/MYANMAR

Dear President Obama,

We as 381 Buddhist Teachers in America represent a large community that is deeply concerned about the growing anti Muslim violence in Myanmar and across Asia, and the plight of the 1.3 million Rohingyas, many forced to live against their will in inhumane internment camps and permanent ghettoized communities. We know you have been supportive of all Burmese people and have encouraged peace and reconciliation across the nation. Your upcoming visit to Burma is an important opportunity to strengthen your capacity as a peacemaker. We urge you to once again express concern for Burma’s Muslims and Rohingyas in your public speeches and as well as in your diplomatic engagements there. We believe you can do so in a positive way, honoring the Burmese legacy of tolerance and Metta, values shared across all the great spiritual traditions, as nations including our own face challenges of injustice and prejudice. Thank you for your care in this matter that affects so many lives in Burma.

See also:

Yours Respectfully,

Dr. Jack Kornfield, Spirit Rock Center. Woodacre, CA
Hozan Alan Senauke, International Network of Engaged Buddhists Berkeley, CA
Ven. Bhikkhu Bodhi, Chair, Buddhist Global Relief (BGR), President, Buddhist Association of the United States (BAUS), Chuang Yen Monastery, Carmel NY
Dr. Robert Tenzin Thurman, Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhism, Dharma teacher, Menla Mountain Retreat Center, Phoenicia NY
Dr. Reggie Ray, Dharma Ocean Foundation, Boulder and Crestone, CO
B. Alan Wallace, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies, CA
Lama Surya Das, Spiritual Director, Dzogchen Center, Cambridge, MA
Gina Sharpe, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY, MY
Carol Wilson, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Joseph Goldstein, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Dr. Rick Hansen, San Rafael, CA
Will Kabat-Zinn, Spirit Rock Mediation Center, Woodacre, CA
Dr. Donald Rothberg, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Gil Fronsdal, Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA
Lama Palden. Sukkhasiddhi Fdtn. Fairfax
Trudy Goodman, InsightLA, Los Angeles, CA
Tara Brach, Insight Meditation Center, Washington, DC
Sylvia Boorstein, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Roshi Joan Halifax, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center
Pamela Weiss, SF Insight, San Francisco, Ca
Sebene Selassie, director New York Insight Meditation Center, New York, NY
Venerable Dr. Pannavati, Co-Abbot, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Venerable Pannadipa, co-abbot, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Acharya C Dhammaratana, Embracing Simplicity Hermitage
Susie Harrington, Desert Dharma, Moab, UT
Steve Armstrong, Vipassana Metta Foundation, Maui, HI
Kamala Masters, Vipassana Metta Foundation, Maui, HI
Matthew Brensilver, PhD, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society , San Francisco, CA
Jane Baraz, Berkeley, CA
Art Jolly, Oakland, CA
Dr. Nikki Mirghafori, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Narayan Helen Liebenson, Cambridge Insight Meditation Center
Cambridge, MA
Konda Mason, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Maureen Shannon-Chapple, InsightLA, CA
Kokyo Henkel, Santa Cruz Zen Center, CA
Roshi Pat Enkyo O’Hara, Village Zendo, NY, NY
Santacitta Bhikkhuni, Aloka Vihara, Placerville, CA
Kate Lila Wheeler, Compassion Sangha
Somerville, MA
Tempel Smith Spirit Rock Center. Woodacre, CA
JoAnna Harper, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Los Angeles, CA
Erin Treat, Durango Dharma Center, Durango, CO
Richard Shankman, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Gregory Scharf, Insight Meditation Society, Barre MA
Ralph Steele. Buddhists of New Mexico
Stan Lombardo, Kansas Zen Center, KS
Daishin McCabe, Soto Zen Buddhism
George Pitagorsky, NY Insight Meditation Center, NY
Zipporah Portugal, Insight Meditation Society NYC, NY
Kirsten Rudestam, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Kathryn Turnipseed, Albuquerque, NM
Bill Spangle, Kagyu Changchub Chuling, Portland, OR
Dora DeCoursey, Kagyu Changchub Chuling, Portland, OR
Lori Wong, Insight Meditation Central Valley, Modesto, CA
Kirtan Coan, Winston Salem Dharma Community, NC
Rev. Gaelyn Godwin, Houston Zen Center, Houston, TX
Claire Stanley, Ph.D., Vermont Insight Meditation Center, Brattleboro, VT
Rev Christine Palmer, Soto Zen, Mill Valley, CA
Jeanne and Steve Lowry, Gathering Waters Sangha, Milwaukee WI
Rev. Eido Frances Carney, Olympia Zen Center, Olympia, WA
La Sarmiento, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, MD
Gordon Peerman, Insight Nashville, TN
Ruby Grad, Portland Insight, Portland, OR
Dr Pawan Bareja, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Ann Buck, InsightLA, Los Angeles, CA
Janice Clarfield, WestCoast Dharma
John Mifsud, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Ayya Dhammadhira, Mahpapajapati Monastery, Pioneertown, CA
Rev. Judith Randall, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Wildecy de Fatima Jury, EBMC, Oakland, CA
Daniel Bowling, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Shell Fischer, Insight Meditation Center, Washington DC
William (bill) Brooks, Insight Meditation Community of Fredericksburg, VA
Gary Buck, PhD., Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Francesca Morfesis, Insight Meditation Society, Barre, MA
Elizabeth Rapaport, Albuquerque Vipassana Sangha , NM
Jundo Cohen, Treeleaf Sangha
John Blackburn, Tennessee Community of Mindfulness, TN
Deborah Ratner Helzer, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, MD
Vanee Songsiridej, MD, Peace Sangha, WI
Ron Vereen. Durham, NC (Triangle Insight Meditation Community)
Gary Singer, New York Insight, NY
Susan Orr, Sacramento Buddhist Meditation Group, CA
Dosho Port, Great Tides Zen, Portland, ME
Cornelia Santschi, Newark Community Meditation Center, Newark NJ
Katy Wiss, Westchester Insight Meditation Community, Danbury, CT
Maureen Fallon-Cyr, Durango Dharma Center, CO
Lesley Grant, Marin Mindfulness Institute , CA
Oren J. Sofer, Oakland, CA
Susan Bachman, Insight Meditation Center, Redwood City, CA
Don Morreale. Colorado Insight Meditation Community, CO
Carol Cook, Prescott Vipassana Sangha – Prescott, AZ
Patricia Dai-En Bennage, Mt. Equity Zendo, Jiho-an, Muncy, PA
Zenkei Blanche Hartman, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Katherine Barr, Durango Dharma Center. CO
Judith Roitman (Zen Master Bon Hae), Kansas Zen Center, KS
Rev. Nonin Chowaney, Nebraska Zen Center / Heartland Temple, NE
Ocean Gate Zen Center Shinshu Roberts/Jaku Kinst
Sharon Beckman-Brindley, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, VA
Denis Martynowych, Seattle WA, Seattle Insight Meditation Society
Richard A. Heckler, PhD, Pundarika Foundation, CA
Mary Helen Fein, Mountain Stream Meditation, Nevada City, CA
Linda Ruth Cutts , San Francisco Zen Center / Green Gulch Farm Zen Center / Tassajara Zen Mountain Center, CA
Amy Selzer, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
Ani Gilda Paldrön Taylor, Portland Sakya Center, Portland, OR
Janet Lipner, Buddhist Peace Fellowship
Kate Wylie, Vermont Insight Meditation Center, VT
Shinchi Linda Galijan, Tassajara Zen Mountain Center
Howard Cohn, Mission Dharma, San Francisco, CA
Susan Ezequelle, Insight Meditation Center
Rikki Asher, Chan Meditation Center, Rego Park, NY
Charmaine Henderson. New York Insight Meditation Center and North Fork of Long Island Insight Meditation Sangha
Rev. Edward Keido Sanshin Oberholtzer, Lewisburg, PA
Joseph Priestley Zen Sangha
Shinge Roko Sherry Chayat, Abbot, Zen Studies Society, Livingston Manor, NY
Caverly Morgan, One House of Peace, Portland, OR
Charles A. Lingo, Jr
True Seal of Virtue, Chan An Duc, Breathing Heart Sangha, Mindfulness Practice Center of Atlanta, Decatur GA
Stephen Brown, Berkeley CA
Lisa Ernst, One Dharma Nashville, TN
Susan Kaiser Greenland, Inner Kids, CA
Keri Pederson, Seattle Insight Meditation Society, WA
Tenney Nathanson (Sensei), Desert Rain Zen, Tucson, AZ
Rev Furyu Schroeder, Abiding Abbess, Green Gulch Farm, San Francisco Zen Center, CA
Debra Seido Martin, Zen West/ Empty Field Zendo, Eugene, OR
Santussika Bhikkhuni, Karuna Buddhist Vihara, Mt. View, CA
Arthur Silacci, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Rev. Therese Fitzgerald, Dharma Friends, Maui, Hawai’i
Alicia Dougherty, Prescott Vispassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Toni Greene
Camille Hykes, Natural Dharma Fellowship, Boston, MA
Anna Suil, Santa Cruz, CA
Shinzen Young, Vipassana Support International
Deborah Alberty, Vipassana Sangha
Richard Brady, Mountains and Rivers Mindfulness Community.
David Lawson, Still Mountain Buddhist Meditation Center, Ann Arbor, Michigan
Martha Wooding-Young
Barbara Casey
Chan Linh Thong, True Spiritual Communication, Peaceful Refuge Sangha, Ashland, OR Kristi Holmstrom
Dr. Karen Hilsberg, Order of Interbeing, Culver City, CA
Laura Goldstein
Rik Center, Mindfulness Care Center, San Francisco, CA
Myokei Caine-Barrett Shonin, Myoken-ji Temple/Nichiren Buddhist Sangha of Texas
Houston, TX
Ernestine Enomoto, Honolulu Mindfulness Community, Honolulu, Hawaii
Helen C. Morgan, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
Rev. Keiryu Lien Shutt, AccessToZen.org
Kristen Larson, NO Sangha – Diamond Sangha lineage, Port Angeles WA
Lhundup Jamyang (Marleen Schreuders), FPMT
Shastri David Stone, Chicago Shambhala
Andrew Palmer, Sensei, Open Source Zen (Vast Refuge Sangha, Wet Mountain Sangha, Springs Mountain Sangha), Colorado Springs, CO
Douglas Kaishin Phillips; Empty Sky Sangha; West Cornwall, CT and Lexington, MA
George Bowman Zen Priest, Furnace Mountain Zen Community, Clay City, KY
Joan Sutherland, Roshi, Awakened Life & The Open Source, Santa Fe, NM
Younes Mourchid, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA
Leslie Baron
Gretchen Neve, Shambhala Center of Chicago
Jeanne Anselmo, Plum Village Tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh
Leslie Rawls, Dharma teacher, Charlotte (NC) Community of Mindfulness
Kenn Duncan, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, AZ
Mahin Charles, San Francisco, CA
Ven. Bodhin Kjolhede, Abbot, Rochester Zen Center, Rochester, New York.
Shoyo Taniguchi, Ph.D.
Kaye Cleave, San Francisco, CA
Jill Allen
Cynthia Loucks, Prescott Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Tubten Pende, Santa Cruz, CA
Annik Brunet, Sukhasiddhi Foundation, Fairfax, California
Jack Lawlor, Lakeside Buddha Sangha, Evanston, Illinois
David I. Rome
Myoshin Kelley
Susan Antipa
Geoffrey Shugen Arnold, Zen Center of NYC
Venerable Chang Wen, Buddhist Monk, Dharma Drum Retreat Center, Pine Bush, NY
Noah Levine, Against The Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Los Angeles, CA
Ann Barden, Insight Meditation Ann Arbor, Ann Arbor, MI
Karen Drimay Gudmundsson, Gelongma FPMT, Land of Medicine Buddha
Rev. Konin Melissa Cardenas,
John Yates PhD Dharma Treasure Buddhist Sangha, Upasaka Culadasa
Susannah Freeman White
Glenda Hodges-Cook, Louisville Vipassana Community, KY
Dr. Gareth Sparham
Philip Davidson & Kay Davidson, Mindfulness Meditation For Richmond
Tsechen Ling, University of Michigan, University of California
Ruben L.F. Habito, Maria Kannon Zen Center, Dallas, TX
Gerry Shishin Wick, Roshi, Great Mountain Zen Center, Berthoud, CO
Nancy Baker,NY, NY, No Traces Zendo
Jacqueline Mandell, Samden Ling, Portland, OR
Ethan Nichtern
Bruce Wilding
Rev. Shinkyo Will Warner, Lexington Nichiren Buddhist Community, KY
Michael Schwammberger – Chan Phap Son
B. Alan Wallace, Santa Barbara Institute for Consciousness Studies
Tim Olmstead, The Pema Chodron Foundation, The Buddhist Center of Steamboat Springs. CO
Dr Daniel M. Ingram, MD
Sheridan Adams, IMCB
Tim Geil, Seattle Insight Meditation Society
Gyalten Palmo, Tse Chen Ling Center
Jonathan Landaw, Land of Medicine Buddha, Soquel, CA
Dr. Libby Howell, Desert Lotus Sangha, Phoenix, AZ
Rev. Ronald Kobata, Buddhist Church of San Francisco, SF, CA
Lorne Ladner, PhD. Guhyasamaja Buddhist Center.
John Dooley, Prescott Vippasana Sangha, AZ
David Chernikoff; Boulder, CO; Insight Meditation Community of Colorado
Maria Janca, Sangha in Prescott AZ
Josh Korda, Dharmapunx New York + Againsthestream
Chas Macquarie, President, DZIMC
Stephanie Tate, Glass City Dharma, Toledo, OH
Rev. Henry Toryo Adams, San Mateo Buddhist Temple, San Mateo, CA
Kenneth Folk
Rev. Maia Duerr, Upaya Zen Center, AZ
Matthew Daniell, IMS, Barre MA & IMC Newburyport, MA,
Dr. Nicholas Ribush, Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive, Lincoln MA
Dharmacharini Viveka Chen, Triratna Buddhist Order, SF, CA
Amy Miller, Foundation for the Preservation of the Mahayana Tradition (FPMT)
Ani Samten Palmo, Sebastopol, California
Helen Farrar, IMCW, Buena Vista, VA
Jill Shepherd, IMS, Barre, MAr. Danny Fisher, Greensboro, NC
Chan Phap Tri, Rose Apple Society’s Center for Contemplative Practice, VT
Dr. Jan Willis, Agnes Scott College, Decatur, GA
Anne Klein /Lama Rigzin Drolma, Dawn Mountain Tibetan Buddhist Center, Houston, TX
Leslie(Lhasha) Tizer, Insight Meditation Tucson, AZ
John Orr and the New Hope Sangha
Jill Hyman, Insight Santa Cruz, Santa Cruz, CA
Karma Lekshe Tsomo, Sakyadhita International Association of Buddhist Women
Grace Gilliam, East Bay Meditation Center, Oakland, CA
Erin Selover, Berkeley, CA
Wendy Garling, Garden of Dharma, Concord, MA
Rev. Nomon Tim Burnett, Red Cedar Zen Community, Bellingham, WA
Rachelle Quimby, Spirit Rock Meditation Center in Woodacre, CA
Terry Ray, Insight Meditation Community of CO
Ed Mushin Russell, Prairie Zen Center, Champaign, IL
Caitriona Reed & Michele Benzamin-Miki, Manzanita Village
Barbara Brodsky, Deep Spring Center, Ann Arbor MI
Roberta Orlando, San Francisco, CA
Marinell Daniel, Woodacre, CA
Koshin Paley Ellison, New York Zen Center for Contemplative Care, NY
Joel Levey
Michael Dempsey, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley, CA
Augusta Hopkins, San Francisco Insight, CA
Rodney Smith, Seattle Insight Meditation Society, WA
Jason Murphy-Pedulla, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Amma Thanasanti Bhikkhuni, Awakening Truth, Colorado Springs CO
Esteban and Tressa Hollander
Rev. Myo-O Marilyn Habermas-Scher, Dharma Dance Sangha in Minneapolis, MN
Wendy Zerin, MD, Insight Community of Colorado Boulder, CO,
Rev. Wendy Egyoku Nakao
Cynthia McAfee, Kensington, CA, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley
Deborah Kory, Berkeley, CA
Joseph Curran, Insight Meditation Center of the Mid-Peninsula, CA
Rev Joan Hogetsu Hoeberichts, Heart Circle Sangha, Ridgewood, NJ
Samu Sunim, Zen Buddhist Temple, New York, NY
David Rynick, Abbot, Boundless Way Zen Temple, Worcester, MA
Larry Mermelstein, Nalanda Translation Committee
Sarah Bender, Springs Mountain Sangha, Colorado Springs, CO
Deborah Todd
Elizabeth Hird, Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Hai Nguyen, Sinh Thuc Meditation Center, Wardensville, WV
Eric Rodriguez, Ventura, CA
Pamela Kirby, Redwood Valley, CA
John Makransky, Foundation for Active Compassion,
Bodhipaksa, Triratna Buddhist Order, NH
Diane Perea, Berkeley CA
Ven. Seikai Luebke, Pine Mountain Buddhist Temple, Maricopa, CA
Gail Ganino, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, Berkeley, CA
Ajahn Prasert Avissaro, Wat Buddhanusorn, Thai Buddhist Temple, Fremont, CA
Liz Brown, Berkeley, CA
Mushim Patricia Ikeda, East Bay Meditation Center
Bruce Kristal
Tulku Sherab Dorje, Blazing Wisdom Institute
Bhiksuni Thubten Chodron, Sravasti Abbey, Newport WA
Rev. Sumi Loundon Kim, Buddhist Families of Durham, Durham, NC
James Baraz, Insight Meditation Community of Berkeley (IMCB) & Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Chris Crotty, Against the Stream Buddhist Meditation Society, Cloucester, MA
Rev. Heng Sure, Berkeley Buddhist Monastery, Berkeley, CA
Diana Winston, UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center
Heather Sundberg, Mountain Stream Meditation Center, Nevada City, CA
Kenneth Keiyu Ford, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Diana Lion, Berkeley, CA
Guy Armstrong, Spirit Rock Center, Woodacre, CA
Erin O’Connor, New York Insight, Brooklyn NY
Hal Nathan, San Francisco, CA, Partners Asia
Anushka Fernandopulle, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Charmi Neely, Mindfulness Meditation Group of Staunton-Waynesboro, and Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, CA
Dr. Janice Sheppard, Madison Insight Meditation Group/Madison Vipassana, Inc., Madison Metropolitan Area, WI
Byakuren Judith Ragir, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Charles Agle, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Washington, DC
Amy Predmore, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, Charlottesville, VA
Wes Nisker, Spirit Rock, Woodacre, CA & YogaKula in Berkeley, CA
Gendo Allyn Field, Upper Valley Zen Center, White River Junction, VT
Rev’d James Ishmael Ford, Boundless Way Zen Buddhist Network, Providence, RI
Sosan Theresa Flynn, Clouds in Water Zen Center, St. Paul, MN
Rev. Jill Kaplan, Zen Heart Sangha, Woodside, CA
Jennifer Stanley, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Washington, D.C.
Rev. Genjo Marinello, Seattle Zen Temple
Josho Pat Phelan, Chapel Hill Zen Center, Chapel Hill, NC
Silvia Garcia Pereira, Insight Meditation Community of Washington,
Mitra Bishop, Mountain Gate, Ojo Sarco NM
Rev .Jisho Warner, Stone Creek Zen Center
Anna Roudebush, Insight Fort Wayne, IN
William F. Mies, Arnold, MD
Barbara A. Lahman, North Manchester, IN
Ann Herington
Iris Diaz, Oakland, CA
Peter Schneider
Tamara Dyer
Rev Robert Schaibly/Brother True Deliverance, The Order of Interbeing
Angie Boiss, Floating Zendo, San Jose, CA
Kay Davidson
Eiko Joshin Carolyn Atkinson, Everyday Dharma Zen Center, Santa Cruz CA
Marjorie Markus, NYC, Community of Mindfulness
Kathy Schwerin, Community Dharma Leader, Dharma Zephyr Insight Meditation Community
Haju Sunim/ Linda Lundquist, Zen Buddhist Temple, Ann Arbor, MI
Catherine Brousseau, Insight Meditation Community of Washington
Rev. Zenki Mary Mocine, Abbess Vallejo Zen Center, Vallejo, CA
Les Kaye, Kannon Do Zen Center, Mt. View, CA
Rev. Domyo Burk, Bright Way Zen, Portland Oregon
Devi Weisenberg, Inverness, CA, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Taigen Dan Leighton, Ancient Dragon Zen Gate, Chicago, IL
Dr. Bill Knight, Muskoka Mindfulness Community
Manny Mansbach, Vermont Insight Meditation Center
Cornelia Shonkwiler, Middle Way Zen, San Jose, CA
Susan Lee Bady, Brooklyn Sangha of New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
David Silver, Insight Meditation Community of Charlottesville, VA
Tonen O’Connor, Milwaukee Zen Center, WI
Daniel Terragno, Rocks & Clouds Zendo, Sebastopol, CA
Trish Magyari, Insight Meditation Community of Washington (IMCW), Baltimore, MD
Joen Snyder O’Neal, Compassionate Ocean Dharma Center, Brooklyn Center, MN
Barbara Rhodes, Kwan Um School of Zen
Stephanie Golden, Brooklyn NY and of NY Insight Meditation Center
Jennifer Jordan, IMCW Family Program
Abby Cassell, NewYork Insight, Brooklyn Sangha
Elizabeth Fryer, St Louis Insight
Ann Pendley, Knoxville Insight Meditation, TN
David Flint, Dharmacarya, New York City, NY
Jon Aaron, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
David Loy
Jim Dalton
Robert Beatty, Portland Insight Meditation Community
Debra Kerr, Oakland, CA, Alameda Sangha and East Bay Meditation Center, CA
Merra Young, Rivers’ Way Meditation Center, TCVC, Common Ground Meditation Center, Minneapolis, MN
Nina Wise, San Rafael, CA
Soren Gordhammer, Santa Cruz, CA
Jill and Bruce Hyman
Gil Fronsdal, IMC Redwood City, CA
Meg Agnew, Dharma Wisdom Seattle Sangha
Kitsy Schoen, East Bay Meditation Center
Ellen Furnari, PhD, Buddhist Pathways Prison Project, Solano prison, Vacaville, CA.
Hugh Byrne, PhD, Insight Meditation Community of Washington, Silver Spring, MD
Chaplain Eileen Phillips, BCCC, Mt Stream Meditation Center and Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Tere Abdala-Romano
Bob Stahl, Guiding Teacher Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Frank Ostaseski, Founder, Metta Institute, CA
Jayla Klein, Insight Santa Cruz, CA
Anna Douglas, Spirit Rock, Woodacer, CA
Philip L. Jones, Silent Mind Open Heart Sangha, Columbia, MO
Jennifer Kim, New York, NY
Leslie Tremaine
Rebekah Laros, Spirit Rock Meditation Center, CA
Brian Lesage, Flagstaff Vipassana Meditation Group, AZ
Nina Nagy, New Canaan, CT
Gregory Gerber
Jeff Scannell, Montpelier Insight Meditation, VT
Elaine Retholtz, New York Insight Meditation Center, NY
Laura Crawford Hofer, Eugene, OR
Tina Rasmussen, Ph.D., Awakening Dharma, San Francisco Bay Area, CA
Anne Briggs, Insight Meditation Community of Chestertown, Chestertown, MD
Alice Alldredge, Open Door Sangha, Santa Barbara , CA
Devon Hase, Madison City Sangha
Nancy Hilyard, Oceano, CA
Berget Jelane, San Jose Insight Meditation, CA
Barbara Poe, Prescott Vipassana Sangha, Prescott, AZ
Kerry Walsh, San Anselmo, CA
Luke Lundemo, Jackson MS Meditation Group, MS
Jai Uttal, San Anselmo, CA
Tomi Kobara, Awakening in Deep Refuge sangha – East Bay, CA
Nancy Taylor, Teton Sangha, Jackson Hole, WY
Elissa Epel, Ph.D., UCSF, San Francisco, CA
Russell Long, Ph.D., San Francisco, CA
Sakula Mary Reinard, Portland Friends of the Dhamma, Portland, OR
Michele Ku, Yes, East Bay Meditation Center, Berkeley, CA
Betsy Rose, Berkeley CA & Spirit Rock Meditation Center
Gayle Markow, San Francisco, CA
Philippe Daniel
Arpita Brown
Jessica Graham, Eastside Mindfulness Meditation , Los Angeles, CA

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Buddhists and violence

It’s been reported that Aaron Alexis, the former U.S. Navy reservist who went on a shooting spree on a naval base, leaving 13 people dead, including him, was a Buddhist.

This isn’t of course the first time a Buddhist has acted violently. While Buddhism generally has a peaceful history, Buddhist institutions have persecuted non-Buddhists and those from other Buddhist traditions and have sometimes supported war (Japan in the Second World War is a notable example). And Buddhist individuals have committed pretty much every violent act you can imagine, for their own personal reasons, whether that’s greed, hatred, or, in Alexis’ case apparently, mental illness.

Is it possible, in the face of all this, to say that Buddhism is a religion of non-violence? My response would be, it depends what you mean by “Buddhism.”

There is nothing whatsoever in the teachings of the Buddha that supports violence. This was something that the Buddha never once compromised on. He famously said that even ill will — not violence, but mere ill will — cannot be justified under even the most extreme provocation:

“Monks, even if bandits were to savagely sever you, limb by limb, with a double-handled saw, even then, whoever of you harbors ill will at heart would not be upholding my Teaching. Monks, even in such a situation you should train yourselves thus: ‘Neither shall our minds be affected by this, nor for this matter shall we give vent to evil words, but we shall remain full of concern and pity, with a mind of love, and we shall not give in to hatred. On the contrary, we shall live projecting thoughts of universal love to those very persons, making them as well as the whole world the object of our thoughts of universal love — thoughts that have grown great, exalted and measureless. We shall dwell radiating these thoughts which are void of hostility and ill will.’ It is in this way, monks, that you should train yourselves.”

This may seem like an impossible standard. And in fact it almost certainly is! The point is simply that the Buddha’s teaching does not see ill will as anything but destructive. Ill will is antithetical to the practice is the Dharma. If you’re experiencing ill will, then in that moment you are not following the Buddha’s Dharma.

This rather goes against a certain way that we tend to see things. We tend to think that if a person is a Buddhist then they’re a Buddhist, as if the label “Buddhist” was somehow intrinsic to them, as if it described some permanent attribute they had. But people are not really Buddhists in that way. People who call themselves Buddhists at best follow the Buddha’s Dharma some of the time (perhaps almost all of the time, but perhaps hardly any of the time). When we’re being patient and kind in the face of provocation, we’re following the Buddha’s teaching. When we’re experiencing ill will — or practicing violence — we’re not following the Buddha’s teaching. In fact we’re undermining our own practice. Our “Buddhism” is something that comes in and out of focus, or is even something that goes in and out of existence. When we’re being violent we’re not really “doing Buddhism” — we’re doing something else.

The problem with the word “Buddhism” though is that it encompasses much more than “the teachings of the Buddha.” It can encompass all official or semi-official practices and teachings that have emerged, among people who call themselves Buddhists, since the time of the Buddha. And in this sense, as we’ve seen, “Buddhism” is sometimes violent. Right now monks are instigating violence in Sri Lanka and Burma. They see their religion, or culture, or nations as being under threat by non-Buddhists (Tamil Hindus and Rohingya Muslims respectively). And so they’ve been leading riots and committing violent acts. There’s no justification in the Buddha’s teaching for acting this way, but these actions are still obviously part of “Buddhism” in a wider, cultural, historical sense.

Really we need to use separate terms when we’re talking about Buddhism as the teaching of the Buddha and Buddhism as “the stuff Buddhists do and teach.” The term Buddhism is actually quite new, and a western invention, and, as we’ve seen, ambiguous. It’s probably better to talk about “the Buddhadharma” (a traditional term meaning “the teaching of the Buddha”) and save the word “Buddhism” for the cultural phenomena that have arisen from those teachings, even though they sometimes contradict them. But we’re unlikely to be able to establish or maintain that clarity of terminology, and so we’ll probably have to just keep coming back to saying “Buddhists may be doing violent things, but the things they’re doing aren’t in line with the Buddha’s teachings, which are uncompromisingly non-violent.”

But Alexis was not a Buddhist representative. He’s not a Buddhist teacher. He’s just another tragic figure with a mental illness and access to high-powered weaponry — and a person who, at times, practiced Buddhism. The time he took a gun and used it to kill people is not one of the times he was practicing Buddhism.

Let’s be careful not to say that Alexis wasn’t a Buddhist, though. I saw one person say the following: “While you may here in the coming days that ‘Aaron Alexis is a Buddhist,’ you will know that while anyone may claim they are a Buddhist and anyone can attend services or meditation, that doesn’t make them a Buddhist.” But this is falling into the “No True Scotsman Fallacy,” which in this case takes this form:

  • Buddhists are not violent.
  • Aaron Alexis was a Buddhist and he was violent.
  • Therefore Aaron Alexis was no true Buddhist.

This is a fallacy because it seeks to retroactively exclude Aaron Alexis from the category of people called “Buddhists” in order to preserve the “integrity” of the statement “Buddhists are not violent.” Buddhists can certainly be violent. It’s just what when they are being violent they’re not practicing the Buddha’s Dharma. And when Buddhists are being violent, and in so doing failing to follow Buddhist teachings, they’re therefore not reflecting anything about the Buddha’s teaching except perhaps that in the face of mental illness or extreme emotional imbalance, the Dharma sometimes isn’t enough.

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Buddhist writer and teacher survives plane crash in Burma

New York Post: Allan Lokos, world-renowned founder of the Community Meditation Center on the Upper West Side, was among the survivors of a horrific plane crash in Burma on Christmas Day.

Lokos and his wife, Susanna Weiss, who run the CMC on Columbus Avenue, were vacationing in Myanmar and were seated near the back of the Air Bagan flight from Mandalay to Heho Airport, en route to tourist destination Inle Lake. The plane carrying 71 passengers crash-landed in dense fog in a rice field and burst into flames, killing two.

Weiss broke a lower vertebrae in her back during the impact, and Lokos, 72, has …

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A vision of peace in Burma

Meditation on peace, by Alamsyah Rauf (Alamsyah)) on 500px.com
meditation on peace by Alamsyah Rauf

 

There’s been so much bad news from Burma recently, with Buddhist monks advocating violence against the Muslim minority and being attacked by security forces as they tried to prevent the expansion of a Chinese copper mine, that I thought I’d post this lovely image of a Burmese boy monk meditating.

The photographer, Alamsyah Rauf, says that he used a 1/5th second exposure on a tripod to blur the water a little yet keep the monk sharp. Do visit his page, and if you like the photograph then consider supporting the artist by buying a copy.

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Violent raid breaks up Burma mine protest

Thomas Fuller, New York Times: Security forces in Myanmar mounted a violent raid on Thursday against Buddhist monks and villagers who have been protesting the expansion of a copper mine. The crackdown was the largest since the civilian government of President Thein Sein came to power 20 months ago.

Witnesses said dozens of monks and other protesters were injured when the security forces used incendiary devices that set fire to protesters’ encampments outside the offices of the Chinese company in charge of the project. The company has a partnership with the powerful military in Myanmar, formerly Burma.

Photos from Burmese online news sites showed …

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Ethnic hatred tears apart a region of Burma

Thomas Fuller, New York Times: The Buddhist monastery on the edge of this seaside town is a picture of tranquillity, with novice monks in saffron robes finding shade under a towering tree and their teacher, U Nyarna, greeting a visitor in a sunlit prayer room.

But in these placid surroundings Mr. Nyarna’s message is discordant, and a far cry from the Buddhist precept of avoiding harm to living creatures. Unprompted, Mr. Nyarna launches into a rant against Muslims, calling them invaders, unwanted guests and “vipers in our laps.”

“According to Buddhist teachings we should not kill,” Mr. Nyarna said. “But when we feel …

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Obama to visit Burma as part of first post-election overseas trip

Peter Baker, NYT: President Obama’s first postelection overseas trip will be this month to Asia, where he is to make a historic visit to Burma as it moves toward democracy and reinforce his desire to reorient American foreign policy more toward the Pacific during his second term.

The White House announced on Thursday that the newly re-elected Mr. Obama would head to an annual international economic summit meeting in Cambodia and stop in Thailand and Myanmar. No sitting American president has visited either Myanmar or Cambodia, allowing Mr. Obama to underscore his commitment to the region.

The trip fits into a larger geopolitical …

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