India

Kiran Bedi: A police chief with a difference

Before she retired in 2007, Kiran Bedi was one of India’s top cops. As the first and highest-ranking female officer in the national police force, she earned a reputation for being tough yet innovative on the job. Her efforts to prevent crime, reform prisons, end drug abuse, and support women’s causes earned her a Roman Magsaysay Award, the Asian equivalent of the Nobel Prize. Bedi also served as a police adviser to the UN Secretary General. She’s well-known for having introduced the practice of Vipassana meditation to Indian prisons, as documented in the film, “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana.”

Now I’m going to give you a story. It’s an Indian story about an Indian woman and her journey. Let me begin with my parents. I’m a product of this visionary mother and father. Many years ago, when I was born in the ’50s — ’50s and ’60s didn’t belong to girls in India. They belonged to boys. They belonged to boys who would join business and inherit business from parents, and girls would be dolled up to get married. My family, in my city, and almost in the country, was unique. We were four of us, not one, and fortunately no boys. We were four girls and no boys. And my parents were part of a landed property family. My father defied his own grandfather, almost to the point of disinheritance, because he decided to educate all four of us. He sent us to one of the best schools in the city and gave us the best education. As I’ve said, when we’re born, we don’t choose our parents, and when we go to school, we don’t choose our school. Children don’t choose a school. They just get the school which parents choose for them. So this is the foundation time which I got. I grew up like this, and so did my other three sisters. And my father used to say at that time, “I’m going to spread all my four daughters in four corners of the world.” I don’t know if he really meant [that], but it happened. I’m the only one who’s left in India. One is a British, another is an American and the third is a Canadian. So we are four of us in four corners of the world.

And since I said they’re my role models, I followed two things which my father and mother gave me. One, they said, “Life is on an incline. You either go up, or you come down.” And the second thing, which has stayed with me, which became my philosophy of life, which made all the difference, is: 100 things happen in your life, good or bad. Out of 100, 90 are your creation. They’re good. They’re your creation. Enjoy it. If they’re bad, they’re your creation. Learn from it. Ten are nature-sent over which you can’t do a thing. It’s like a death of a relative, or a cyclone, or a hurricane, or an earthquake. You can’t do a thing about it. You’ve got to just respond to the situation. But that response comes out of those 90 points. Since I’m a product of this philosophy, of 90/10, and secondly, “life on an incline,” that’s the way I grew up to be valuing what I got. I’m a product of opportunities, rare opportunities in the ’50s and the ’60s, which girls didn’t get, and I was conscious of the fact that what my parents were giving me was something unique. Because all of my best school friends were getting dolled up to get married with a lot of dowry, and here I was with a tennis racket and going to school and doing all kinds of extracurricular activities. I thought I must tell you this. Why I said this, is the background.

This is what comes next. I joined the Indian Police Service as a tough woman, a woman with indefatigable stamina, because I used to run for my tennis titles, etc. But I joined the Indian Police Service, and then it was a new pattern of policing. For me the policing stood for power to correct, power to prevent and power to detect. This is something like a new definition ever given in policing in India — the power to prevent. Because normally it was always said, power to detect, and that’s it, or power to punish. But I decided no, it’s a power to prevent, because that’s what I learned when I was growing up. How do I prevent the 10 and never make it more than 10? So this was how it came into my service, and it was different from the men. I didn’t want to make it different from the men, but it was different, because this was the way I was different. And I redefined policing concepts in India. I’m going to take you on two journeys, my policing journey and my prison journey. What you see, if you see the title called “PM’s car held.” This was the first time a prime minister of India was given a parking ticket. (Laughter) That’s the first time in India, and I can tell you, that’s the last time you’re hearing about it. It’ll never happen again in India, because now it was once and forever. And the rule was, because I was sensitive, I was compassionate, I was very sensitive to injustice, and I was very pro-justice. That’s the reason, as a woman, I joined the Indian Police Service. I had other options, but I didn’t choose them.

So I’m going to move on. This is about tough policing, equal policing. Now I was known as “here’s a woman that’s not going to listen.” So I was sent to all indiscriminate postings, postings which others would say no. I now went to a prison assignment as a police officer. Normally police officers don’t want to do prison. They sent me to prison to lock me up, thinking, “Now there will be no cars and no VIPs to be given tickets to. Let’s lock her up.” Here I got a prison assignment. This was a prison assignment which was one big den of criminals. Obviously, it was. But 10,000 men, of which only 400 were women — 10,000 — 9,000 plus about 600 were men. Terrorists, rapists, burglars, gangsters — some of them I’d sent to jail as a police officer outside. And then how did I deal with them? The first day when I went in, I didn’t know how to look at them. And I said, “Do you pray?” When I looked at the group, I said, “Do you pray?” They saw me as a young, short woman wearing a tan suit. I said, “Do you pray?” And they didn’t say anything. I said, “Do you pray? Do you want to pray?” They said, “Yes.” I said, “All right, let’s pray.” I prayed for them, and things started to change. This is a visual of education inside the prison.

Friends, this has never happened, where everybody in the prison studies. I started this with community support. Government had no budget. It was one of the finest, largest volunteerism in any prison in the world. This was initiated in Delhi prison. You see one sample of a prisoner teaching a class. These are hundreds of classes. Nine to eleven, every prisoner went into the education program — the same den in which they thought they would put me behind the bar and things would be forgotten. We converted this into an ashram — from a prison to an ashram through education. I think that’s the bigger change. It was the beginning of a change. Teachers were prisoners. Teachers were volunteers. Books came from donated schoolbooks. Stationery was donated. Everything was donated, because there was no budget of education for the prison. Now if I’d not done that, it would have been a hellhole.

That’s the second landmark. I want to show you some moments of history in my journey, which probably you would never ever get to see anywhere in the world. One, the numbers you’ll never get to see. Secondly, this concept. This was a meditation program inside the prison of over 1,000 prisoners. One thousand prisoners who sat in meditation. This was one of the most courageous steps I took as a prison governor. And this is what transformed. You want to know more about this, go and see this film, “Doing Time, Doing Vipassana.” You will hear about it, and you will love it. And write to me on KiranBedi.com, and I’ll respond to you. Let me show you the next slide. I took the same concept of mindfulness, because, why did I bring meditation into the Indian prison? Because crime is a product of a distorted mind. It was distortion of mind which needed to be addressed to control. Not by preaching, not by telling, not by reading, but by addressing your mind. I took the same thing to the police, because police, equally, were prisoners of their minds, and they felt as if it was “we” and “they,” and that the people don’t cooperate. This worked.

This is a feedback box called a petition box. This is a concept which I introduced to listen to complaints, listen to grievances. This was a magic box. This was a sensitive box. This is how a prisoner drew how they felt about the prison. If you see somebody in the blue — yeah, this guy — he was a prisoner, and he was a teacher. And you see, everybody’s busy. There was no time to waste.

Let me wrap it up. I’m currently into movements, movements of education of the under-served children, which is thousands — India is all about thousands. Secondly is about the anti-corruption movement in India. That’s a big way we, as a small group of activists, have drafted an ombudsman bill for the government of India. Friends, you will hear a lot about it. That’s the movement at the moment I’m driving, and that’s the movement and ambition of my life.

Thank you very much. (Applause) Thank you. Thank you very much. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

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Dalai Lama appoints American as monastery abbot

Via NPR.

Michel Martin: if you wanted to predict just who the Dalai Lama might select to lead one of the faith’s most important monasteries, you probably wouldn’t think about a boarding school educated, globe-trotting New York photographer whose grandmother was one of the most celebrated fashionistas of her time, but that’s just who the Dalai Lama did select, saying his, quote, “special duty is to bridge Tibetan tradition and the Western world,” unquote.

Nicholas Vreeland is the new abbot of the Rato Monastery in India and he joins us from there now. Welcome. Thank you so much for joining us.

NICHOLAS VREELAND: Thank you. It’s an honor to be here.

MARTIN: Now, in my introduction I made it sound as if you’re some sort of fish out of water, but when I think about it, probably not. You were born in Switzerland, lived in Germany and Morocco and New York. Your father was a diplomat. Your mother was a poet, and fashionistas will certainly know that your late grandmother was the longtime editor of Vogue magazine.

So I wanted to ask if, in a way, all this was preparation for your life now.

VREELAND: Well, I don’t know that it was preparation. I suppose that living in a lot of countries prepared me for living in a Tibetan refugee settlement where the monastery that I belong to was reestablished, but I’ve been here now – I’ve been a member of this monastery for over 27 years, and so it’s sort of home.

MARTIN: How did you first learn about Buddhism? And if you can describe it, what do you think it was that appealed to you?

VREELAND: I was in a French school in Germany and I began reading Tintin books when I was about six or seven, so Tintin and Tibet was my first introduction to Tibetan culture, to Tibetan Buddhism. Then I went to – I should say I came to India in 1972 to visit my godfather, who was the political officer in a little then country, now part of India, called Sikkim. It was a Tibetan culture that Sikkim had with Tibetan Buddhism as their religion. That was my introduction.

MARTIN: What is it that you think appealed to you, if you can even describe it?

VREELAND: It puts the responsibility for where you are on your shoulders. We, by our past actions, determine where we are today. How wealthy I am, how healthy I am, the opportunities that I have – all of those things are determined by my own past virtuous or non-virtuous actions.

MARTIN: Can you remember when you decided to become a monk? And I am assuming that that’s kind of a complex process and decision, but to the degree that you can, can you tell us why you think you chose this path?

VREELAND: I was working as the picture editor for the Vanity Fair that was being reestablished. We were working on the dummy issue and I was studying with my teacher, a Tibetan Lama in New York, and my mother had been discovered to have cancer, and all these different influences made me realize that to devote my life to a spiritual path was the most valuable thing I could do.

MARTIN: If you’re just joining us, this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. We’re have a Faith Matters conversation with the venerable abbot Nicholas Vreeland. He is abbot of one of the most important monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism, the Rato Monastery in Southern India, and he’s telling us about his journey to that place.

And you know I want to ask you your family reacted when you told them that you were becoming a monk. I can imagine that Diana Vreeland, who was so committed to style and fashion, was not as enthusiastic as one might think about your shaving your head and committing to a life of saffron and red robes.

VREELAND: No. She wasn’t very enthusiastic, but she understood it. She had seen me become more serious about my study of Buddhism, my practice of Buddhism. We were very close. The years before I came here to become a monk, I spent a few of those years actually living with her. My parents were both very supportive and understanding and have remained supportive, as has my brother.

MARTIN: Now, could you tell us about how you reacted when his holiness, the Dalai Lama, selected you to become the abbot of this important place in Tibetan Buddhism? How do you – how did you react to that?

VREELAND: Well, it was really a surprise. I must say that I’m sitting in the abbot’s chambers in the monastery here in the south of India. I helped design and rebuild the campus of the monastery recently and never would I have imagined that I would be inhabiting these quarters. I mean, it’s just – I might have designed it rather differently had I thought that I would end up here. It came as a big surprise.

MARTIN: Could you tell us about the ceremony when you were officially enthroned?

VREELAND: Initial ceremony was the investiture, which took place in California, actually. His holiness, the Dalai Lama, proclaimed me the abbot and I made three prostrations and made an offering to him and he then offered me a scarf and said congratulations to the new abbot of Rato Monastery and then advised me on just what he wished me to do.

I then came to India to assume my position. It was a sort of formal procedure. Early in the morning, at 5:00, I was led from my room in the monastery to the abbot’s chambers and I was told to sit on the throne and then the administrators made three prostrations before me and made symbolic offerings. And then, after prayers were said in my room, I was led to the temple and there in the temple were all the monks of Rato seated and they all bowed when I came in and I made my three prostrations to the throne of his holiness, the Dalai Lama, and assumed my position on the throne of the abbot.

And then each of the monks in the monastery came and offered me a symbolic white scarf, which is a sort of Tibetan way of showing one’s respect. And that was it. I was the abbot.

MARTIN: And there it is. As we mentioned earlier, the Dalai Lama, his holiness, said that he felt that your mission is to unite the two or to be a bridge between the traditions and the Western world, so I hope that we will speak again, that maybe we could be part of that, you know, bridge.

But before we let you go, I wanted to mention that you’ve been the director of the Tibet Center in New York for some time now, and so I envision that you’d be going back and forth. What else do you think it means to be that bridge? Do you have any sense of how else you envision that role?

VREELAND: What I can bring as a Westerner, as someone born, raised and educated in the West, to this very, very traditional, ancient world – Tibet was a country that was totally closed off to the rest of the world until 1959 and the monastic traditions helped maintain a curriculum which was extraordinary – which is extraordinary, and I wouldn’t want to, in any way, tamper with that.

However, it is necessary that we bring modern day procedures to this society, so that’s one part of my responsibility. The other is helping to bring my knowledge and experience of this world, this Tibetan world, to the West as a Westerner.

But ultimately all I can really do is be myself wherever I am, and my self is a Tibetan Buddhist monk. My self is an American. And so wherever I go, just being myself as best I can is the way in which I might be actually bridging these two worlds.

MARTIN: The venerable Nicholas Vreeland is the abbot of the Rato Monastery. It’s in Southern India. He’s also the director of the Tibet Center in New York, but we were able to reach him in India.

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The quiet hell of extreme meditation

Michael Finkel, Men’s Journal Magazine: These are my final words: “Why a camp chair?” I speak them to a man named Wade. Wade from Minnesota. I’m in line behind him, waiting to enter the Dhamma Giri meditation center, in the quiet hill country of western India, for the official start of the 10-day course. Wade tells me that this is his second course and that he learned a valuable lesson from the first. “I’m so glad I have this,” he says, indicating the small folding camp chair tucked under his arm. I utter my last question. It’s never answered. One of the volunteers …

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Spiritual help for violence victims

Sanjeev K Ahuja,, Hindustan Times: The terror-struck managers, supervisors and engineers at Maruti Suzuki’s Manesar plant — who witnessed violence at the factory premises on July 18 — have been attending meditation and spiritual classes at the Brahma Kumari Om Shanti Retreat Centre (ORC) since July 30. ORC members have also delivered discourses for the workers, who were arrested on the first day of the attack, in Gurgaon jail.

“The first batch of 35-40 managers attended a two-day workshop on July 30-31. ORC director BK Ashsa Didi also addressed the staff.

Besides meditation, the workshop also stresses upon how workers should overcome fear and improve inter-personal relations,” said BK Sanjay of ORC.

“A total of four sessions have been organised till now, the most recent one being on August 13-14. More sessions will follow next week,” he added.

Situated at a distance of 35km from Gurgaon, ORC is located at Bhora Kalan, 1km off the Delhi-Jaipur highway.

The participants stay at ORC during the workshop and get up as early as 4am.

“The session addresses the issue of overcoming fear. The participants include those who were either attacked or witnessed the violence and want to overcome their fear through meditation and other techniques,” said Ashok, a programme coordinator.

He said the decision to conduct training sessions for the managers and supervisors was taken at a meeting held two days after the
violence.

On July 18, irate workers had attacked managers, supervisors and engineers at the Manesar plant and burnt properties.

The violence erupted after a worker Jiya Lal allegedly slapped a supervisor. A general manager was killed and 100 others, including two Japanese staff, were injured. Maruti had declared an indefinite lockout which in force till date.

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Yoga and meditation for Indian Olympic hockey team

Set to return to the Olympic stage after eight years, the Indian hockey team is working hard on being a mentally strong unit by practicing yoga and meditation before the London Games.

“Olympics is the topmost event and we are playing there after eight years. So, naturally there is pressure to perform. We are practicing Yoga daily for 40 minutes to enhance mental strength,” said Indian captain Bharat Chetri.

“We also have an interactive sessions with coach Micheal Nobbs and Trainer David John daily in which they share their good experiences. John has also started an innovative mental visualisation session on a daily basis which is a sort of meditation,” he said.

The mental visualisation sessions have been a regular affair for the past one month.

“We take part in mental visualisation sessions before every match for the last one month. It is a sort of meditation. We all lie down and forget about the external world. David (John) then makes us imagine the real match situation according to the opponent,” he said.

“We all imagine that how we are going to react in that situation. It is so useful that we choose team composition and make strategy according to that,” he added.

Chetri is well aware that Mission London is going to be very tough for them but he goes by the new mantra of “convert your weaknesses into your strength”.

This is what London Olympic (1948) gold medallist Lezley Claudius and Keshav Dutt told Chetri before the team’s departure for the Europe tour.

“I know London Olympics will be a very tough challenge. But I got a chance to meet Mr Claudius and Mr Dutt before our departure. They told me to convert weaknesses into strengths. Whenever we have a bad period on field, this mantra comes into my mind and inspires me to excel,” said the veteran goalkeeper.

“We have to improve our passing. We played well in some matches on the Europe tour but passing is not upto the mark. We are working hard on it,” said the captain.

According to him the strength of the team lies in bonding.

“Team bonding, focus and attacking game are our strengths. We have an excellent forward line and I am sure they will live upto the expectations,” he said.

“We are playing together for the last six months. There is great coordination among players. If one has a problem, all are there to solve that. Being a captain, I am very fortunate to lead such a bunch of great players,” said Chetri.

India will play their first match against Holland on July 30 and Chetri is confident of winning that.

“It is a tough match but we are ready for that. We are confident that if we play to our potential, we can win that. Our penalty corner specialists Sandeep Singh and VR Raghunath have some new weapons in their armour and they will open their cards in Olympics only.” he said.

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Indian golf star Anirban Lahiri counting on meditation for victory

Indian star Anirban Lahiri will be banking on meditation to guide him to a successful title defence at the Panasonic Open India which starts on Thursday.

The in-form Lahiri will lead an international cast of Asian Tour stars at the Delhi Golf Club which includes Ben Fox of the United States, Prom Meesawat of Thailand, the highest ranked player this week, Siddikur of Bangladesh and Indian-specialist Rikard Karlberg of Sweden.

Lahiri credited his meditation for his superb form this year where he won his second Asian Tour title at the SAIL-SBI Open at the same venue last month and qualified for his maiden …

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Meditation to help Indian students keep stress at bay

Dipti Sonawala: With a view to helping school students to de-stress themselves, the [Maharashtra] state education department has decided to introduce compulsory sessions of meditation in schools across the state.

According to officials, the new initiative — Mitra Upakram — will be implemented from the next academic year so that students are able to fight stress and stay mentally fit. The officials of state education department say this will help sensitise students and also help in improving their concentration.

Throwing light on the initiative, Dr Shridhar Salunkhe, director of secondary and higher secondary education, said, “It has been observed that the level of …

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Transcendental billionaire

Naazneen Karmali, Forbes: Every day busloads of tourists arrive in Gorai, a seafront suburb of Mumbai, and head to Esselworld and Water Kingdom, two popular theme parks built by Indian billionaire Subhash Chandra’s Essel Group.

Since 2008 the traffic to Gorai has jumped several-fold. Around 10,000 of those people are seeking something other than a ride down a water slide. They are going to the giant golden pagoda. You can see it from miles around rising from the trees in a sharp fingerlike spire aimed at the clouds.

The people are going to the pagoda to sit in Vipassana, an ancient Buddhist meditation style seeing …

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Life on a 10-day ‘Buddhist boot camp’ in the Himalayas

wildmind meditation news

Matthew Green, Financial Times: The guru looked troubled. A spry 75-year-old, who could have passed for 60, he usually wore an expression as pure as his ivory robe. Peering into my cell, he watched as I wept harder than I could remember, for a reason my mind could not fathom. Then he beamed. “You are very lucky,” he said. “This is a very big sankara leaving your body – perhaps it was an illness that even a doctor could not cure.”

Perplexing as his words sounded, their meaning would become clear later. All I could grasp then was that the Indian meditation master believed that my mysterious meltdown had taken me a step closer to enlightenment. The Himachal Vipassana Centre clings to the flank of a valley above the town of McLeod Ganj, in the foothills of the Himalayas in northern India, where exiled Tibetans, led by the Dalai Lama, co-exist with a backpackers’ nirvana of hostels, trinket shops and bars. Smiling monks sporting off-the-shoulder purple habits scurry past temples swathed in incense, while earnest-faced Europeans, Japanese and Israelis zigzag along paths of self-discovery. Late-night singalongs of Bob Marley classics with guitar-playing strangers are virtually compulsory; Vipassana is optional. Just as well: it is the closest thing on offer to a Buddhist boot camp…

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“The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom Selected and Edited by Jack Kornfield”

The Buddha Is Still Teaching

“In these pages you will find the Dharma … Dharma is kept alive by those who follow the path,” writes Jack Kornfield, the beloved American Buddhist teacher and co-founder of Spirit Rock meditation Center, near where I live in San Francisco.

For the past two months I have had this little book in my messenger bag, a compilation of selections that Kornfield tells us will “bring the Dharma eloquently to life for us in our own time, place and culture.” Indeed it is full of inspiration, and has been a treat to open it, never knowing what treasures will await on the page, as I ride the train during evening rush hour, as I relax at home after supper, when I read after my morning meditation.

Title: The Buddha Is Still Teaching: Contemporary Buddhist Wisdom
Author: Selected and edited by Jack Kornfield
Publisher: Shambhala
ISBN: 978-1-59030-692-5
Available from: Shambhala, Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.co.uk Kindle Store; Amazon.com and Amazon.com Kindle Store.

The selections are generally quite short, ranging from one sentence to a few paragraphs, and they are drawn from many teachers who have inspired my own Buddhist practice over the years. I have been making a practice of reading one selection from this book and then just savoring it as I look around the crowded train, has I take in the silence of the evening, or as I make breakfast.

This book is “dedicated to the generation of teachers who have so beautifully carried the lamp of the Dharma to the West” and is organized in four sections: Wise Understanding; Compassion and Courage; Freedom; and Enlightenment and The Bodhisattva Path, drawn from 75 different teachers. A reader could stay with one section for a while and look for connections between the teachings, or could skip around, allowing the teachings to mix spontaneously. She could read one selection a day or finish a whole section. There are many ways to enjoy this book.

I have enjoyed rediscovering quotes from books I read long ago, now re-reading them with fresh eyes. Words that seem timely and wise from familiar teachers like Dilgo Khyentse, my own teacher’s teacher, from Thich Nhat Hanh, Shunryu Suzuki, Pema Chödrön and Charlotte Joko Beck. And also from teachers less familiar to me, such as Taizan Maezumi, Tulku Thondup, and Noelle Oxenhandler. There is a balanced representation of teachers from different traditions. And I enjoyed hearing the voices of so many women Buddhist teachers. The book has a lovely format. It is small, but dense, the pages are beautifully laid-out and the font is pleasing to the eye.

Jack Kornfield introduces the volume as “a Buddhist treasure: the equivalent of new Buddhist sutras.” He reminds us that the teachings of the Buddha are “the Lion’s Roar, words of fearlessness and unshakable freedom”. I would agree that the wisdom of the Buddhist teachers in this book do point to this fearlessness and freedom. I was, however, surprised to find that not all entries were by Buddhist teachers. In fact, there were even three entries by Gandhi, whose words Kornfield explains “echo those of the Buddha.” He describes these entries as “the good medicine of the Dharma.”

I would argue that Gandhi’ sentiments are not appropriate in such a book, and are not taken by all as “good medicine.” Gandhi was not a Buddhist, he was a Hindu. In his political career Gandhi had a lot of conflict with the community which some refer to “The new Buddhists”, those traditionally considered in Hinduism as “untouchable”, who were followers of the social reformer Dr. Ambedkar. Gandhi opposed many meaningful reforms that would have fundamentally changed the injustice of the caste system in newly-democratic India, and he called the oppressive, non-Buddhist, caste system “the backbone of Indian society.” Gandhi is not a hero to this community, and it seems insensitive to include him in such a lovely volume, considering the ways he blocked Dr. Ambedkar’s political reforms. It is also particularly ironic, since one entry of Gandhi’s is entitled “Religion and Politics”. This selection ends by saying that “those who say that religion has nothing to do with politics do not know what religion means.”

I believe it would have been more inspiring and more appropriate in such a book to include a quote from Dr. Ambedkar, who actually converted to Buddhism, as a way of escaping caste oppression. “Buddhism alone among the world’s religions,” Ambedkar wrote, “is compatible with the ethical and rational demands of contemporary life.” In terms of “Religion and Politics,” Ambedkar famously said, “My final word of advice to you is educate, agitate, and organize. Have faith in yourself. With justice on our side, I do not see how we can lose our battle. The battle to me is a matter of joy. The battle is in the fullest sense spiritual.” This is “the Lion’s Roar” for our times.

Jack Kornfield himself says that the task of selection was difficult, and I can only imagine that it must have been so. This is, in fact, a lovingly-compiled book and a source of inspiration in many ways. Kornfield writes in his introduction that the book demonstrates that “two and-a-half millennia have nothing to diminish the freshness of the Buddha’s teaching, or their universal applicability of our lives.” Yes! Kornfield also writes that, “The Buddha insisted that his awakened disciples, when traveling to new lands, teach the Dharma in the language and vernacular of their times.” If we believe that the Buddha’s teachings are universal, and appropriate to our times, then let us expand that view to our fellow Buddhists who live outside the United States, and have embraced Buddhism as a way of rejecting 3,000 years of an oppressive caste structure.

The instructions are to read the selections in this book slowly, to listen to them. “Let these luminous words bring The Buddha’s awaking to your own heart and mind. Reflect on them, practice them, let them transform your life.” It is a lovely invitation. Eh ma ho!

“These are the teachings that are good in the beginning, good in the middle, and good in the end.” Gautama Buddha

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