Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Tar Sands in Maine

The Sierra Club Maine and the First Parish Church Environmental Justice team are co-sponsoring a public forum on Thursday, November 29th at 7PM in Fellowship Hall in Pilgrim House of the First Parish Church (on Cleaveland Street, Brunswick).

They will talk about a proposed plan to pump tar sands (diluted bitumen) through a 60 year old pipeline from Canada through Maine's Lakes Region, past Sebago Lake and to Portland Harbor and then shipment on Casco Bay.

The forum will feature a presentation about the realities and risks of shipping tar sands dilbit through pipelines, including the economic and environmental impacts to communities on and near the pipeline route from Bethel to South Portland and the impacts on climate change. Presenters include: Glen Brand, Director of the Sierra Club Maine, and Montreal attorney, Shelley Kath, who is a Senior Consultant for the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington DC.

Please go and invite friends from the colleges and in the community.

Monday, 26 November 2012

Orthodox Pastafarian Jedi

What with all this Buddha and Jesus talk on the blog my religious standpoint has come into question. TO be honest I am probably most closely aligned with the Orthodox Pastafarian Jedi.

I see Buddha and Jesus and all the great thinkers and philosophers and lovers of mankind as teachers. Maybe they saw something beautiful and were kind enough to tell others about it. It could be that they had some important things, some insights that I cannot overlook. I see them as psychotherapists of the whole of the human psyche, as fingers pointing to the moon.

But really, my faith, if I must say, is in pasta and in the force. It comes through, like Dan Savage in the fast lane, when I use the force to play Jedi mind tricks on the Italian waiters so that I can get more pesto and loads of extra Parmesan. Here in Vietnam I worship his noodleiness over a large bowl of Pho almost every morning.

May he touch us all with his noodley appendages and may the force be with you

How Westerners Miss the Mark

The Buddha told people that they were also Buddhas. He said he was the same as everyone else but that he was awake and they were still asleep. - He said that everyone has Buddha Nature or th ability to be awake id we can aware of it.

According to Doubting Thomas, that well traveled old apostle, Jesus Christ said it too:

'When you become acquainted with yourselves
then you will be recognized
and you will understand
that it is you who are children of a living father.

But if you do not become accquainted with yourself
then you are in poverty and it is you who are the poverty.'

So what is our problem anyway, we are also floating here in empty space on the thin crust of life with the same amount of nothing as the buddhists and Taoists... and yet... with thousands of years of this beautiful spiritual philosophy we miss the mark. As John Giorno complains 'none of us here got enlightened.

I have a dear friend on the way to Plum Village now and I talked with her about it:

I told her that I have been listening to a lot of Thich Nhat Hanh and SFZC podcasts and that they help me to clear things up 'life and death and all of the thoughts and ideas I have about them... Like a crystal clear lake to reflect the world in... somehow expanding my mind and heart while making them both clam and quiet.'
She said 'i know this feeling when i finally manage to meditate... its getting calm and warm and i feel deep trust in everything... i feel the oneness and the all love... Metta'
I told her a fourth hand story I heard that explains why it is so hard for westerners to meditate: Thai monk told an American meditator that Westerners do it all wrong. He said that if you want to build a table you have to follow a process: first go to the forest to select a tree, then cut the tree and mill it onto boards, then draw and carefully cut the pieces, then put them all together. Then, and only then, you should start to sandpaper and make it smooth. But we westerners go to the forest with sandpaper; we try to meditate although we have not yet worked out what kind of practice we are doing.

My friend said: 'i understand, and also westerners are used to just go to the stores and buy a table'

We just listen to the dharma like we are in a shop. Like we are shopping for a new table. Trungpa Rinpoche called it 'Spiritual Materialism'. We like to wear Metta and Buddhism and Compassionate living like a new dress from the shop, like a new table in the kitchen.

She said 'We can not just take this old coat off so easily.'

Thousands of years with the beginnings of enlightenment, all clouded by greed and manipulated to create and support violent and oppressive power structures. We have a big heavy old coat to remove and a chilly environment to do it in.

We need all the Metta we can give.

Sunday, 18 November 2012

Resource Rights

I have just come across a new paper and am incredibly impressed. It's a great piece regarding villager's resource rights in 'National Production Forests' and 'National Protected Areas'.

Porter-Bolland L., Elllis E.A., Guariguata M.R., Ruiz-Mallén I., Negrete-Yankelevich S. and Reyes-García V. 2012. Community managed forests and forest protected areas: An assessment of their conservation effectiveness across the tropics. Forest Ecology and Management.

The authors offer an assessment of 77 case studies from around the world. Their work reveals that tropical forests managed by communities show a lower annual deforestation rate than forests within official 'Protected' areas.

Thursday, 1 November 2012

The Birth of Engaged Buddhism

Shambala Sun's John Malkin asked Thich Thay Nhat Hanh "Will you describe the origins of Engaged Buddhism and how you became involved in compassion-based social change?"

Thich Nhat Hanh said "Engaged Buddhism is just Buddhism. When bombs begin to fall on people, you cannot stay in the meditation hall all of the time. Meditation is about the awareness of what is going on-not only in your body and in your feelings, but all around you.

When I was a novice in Vietnam, we young monks witnessed the suffering caused by the war. So we were very eager to practice Buddhism in such a way that we could bring it into society. That was not easy because the tradition does not directly offer Engaged Buddhism. So we had to do it by ourselves. That was the birth of Engaged Buddhism.

Buddhism has to do with your daily life, with your suffering and with the suffering of the people around you. You have to learn how to help a wounded child while still practicing mindful breathing. You should not allow yourself to get lost in action. Action should be meditation at the same time."

The Grand Canyon at Sundown

This morning I am left asking myself what this whole thing is really about. 

What are we doing here?  

The thing to do really is just to hit the long grey dusty road again road and find out. 

Here is most of Bob Dylan's 'Last Thoughts on Woody Guthrie' - Without the angst and frustration in the middle. 
When yer head gets twisted and yer mind grows numb
When you think you're too old, too young, too smart or too dumb
When yer laggin' behind an' losin' yer pace
In a slow-motion crawl of life's busy race
No matter what yer doing if you start givin' up
If the wine don't come to the top of yer cup
If the wind's got you sideways with with one hand holdin' on
And the other starts slipping and the feeling is gone
And yer train engine fire needs a new spark to catch it
And the wood's easy findin' but yer lazy to fetch it
And yer sidewalk starts curlin' and the street gets too long
And you start walkin' backwards though you know its wrong
And lonesome comes up as down goes the day
And tomorrow's mornin' seems so far away
And you feel the reins from yer pony are slippin'
And yer rope is a-slidin' 'cause yer hands are a-drippin'
And yer sun-decked desert and evergreen valleys
Turn to broken down slums and trash-can alleys
And yer sky cries water and yer drain pipe's a-pourin'
And the lightnin's a-flashing and the thunder's a-crashin'
And the windows are rattlin' and breakin' and the roof tops a-shakin'
And yer whole world's a-slammin' and bangin'
And yer minutes of sun turn to hours of storm
And to yourself you sometimes say
"I never knew it was gonna be this way
Why didn't they tell me the day I was born"
And you start gettin' chills and yer jumping from sweat
And you're lookin' for somethin' you ain't quite found yet
And yer knee-deep in the dark water with yer hands in the air
And the whole world's a-watchin' with a window peek stare
And yer good gal leaves and she's long gone a-flying
And yer heart feels sick like fish when they're fryin'
And yer jackhammer falls from yer hand to yer feet
And you need it badly but it lays on the street
And yer bell's bangin' loudly but you can't hear its beat
And you think yer ears might a been hurt
Or yer eyes've turned filthy from the sight-blindin' dirt
And you figured you failed in yesterdays rush
When you were faked out an' fooled white facing a four flush
And all the time you were holdin' three queens
And it's makin you mad, it's makin' you mean
Like in the middle of Life magazine
Bouncin' around a pinball machine
And there's something on yer mind you wanna be saying
That somebody someplace oughta be hearin'
But it's trapped on yer tongue and sealed in yer head
And it bothers you badly when your layin' in bed
And no matter how you try you just can't say it
And yer scared to yer soul you just might forget it
And yer eyes get swimmy from the tears in yer head
And yer pillows of feathers turn to blankets of lead
And the lion's mouth opens and yer staring at his teeth
And his jaws start closin with you underneath
And yer flat on your belly with yer hands tied behind
And you wish you'd never taken that last detour sign
And you say to yourself just what am I doin'
On this road I'm walkin', on this trail I'm turnin'
On this curve I'm hanging
On this pathway I'm strolling, in the space I'm taking
In this air I'm inhaling
Am I mixed up too much, am I mixed up too hard
Why am I walking, where am I running
What am I saying, what am I knowing
On this guitar I'm playing, on this banjo I'm frailin'
On this mandolin I'm strummin', in the song I'm singin'
In the tune I'm hummin', in the words I'm writin'
In the words that I'm thinkin'
In this ocean of hours I'm all the time drinkin'
Who am I helping, what am I breaking
What am I giving, what am I taking
But you try with your whole soul best
Never to think these thoughts and never to let
Them kind of thoughts gain ground
Or make yer heart pound
But then again you know why they're around
Just waiting for a chance to slip and drop down
"Cause sometimes you hear'em when the night times comes creeping
And you fear that they might catch you a-sleeping
And you jump from yer bed, from yer last chapter of dreamin'
And you can't remember for the best of yer thinking
If that was you in the dream that was screaming
And you know that it's something special you're needin'
And you know that there's no drug that'll do for the healin'
And no liquor in the land to stop yer brain from bleeding
And you need something special
Yeah, you need something special all right
You need a fast flyin' train on a tornado track
To shoot you someplace and shoot you back
You need a cyclone wind on a stream engine howler
That's been banging and booming and blowing forever
That knows yer troubles a hundred times over
You need a Greyhound bus that don't bar no race
That won't laugh at yer looks
Your voice or your face
And by any number of bets in the book
Will be rollin' long after the bubblegum craze
You need something to open up a new door
To show you something you seen before
But overlooked a hundred times or more
You need something to open your eyes
You need something to make it known
That it's you and no one else that owns
That spot that yer standing, that space that you're sitting
That the world ain't got you beat
That it ain't got you licked
It can't get you crazy no matter how many
Times you might get kicked
You need something special all right
You need something special to give you hope
But hope's just a word
That maybe you said or maybe you heard
On some windy corner 'round a wide-angled curve

But that's what you need man, and you need it bad
And yer trouble is you know it too good
"Cause you look an' you start getting the chills


And where do you look for this hope that yer seekin'
Where do you look for this lamp that's a-burnin'
Where do you look for this oil well gushin'
Where do you look for this candle that's glowin'
Where do you look for this hope that you know is there
And out there somewhere
And your feet can only walk down two kinds of roads
Your eyes can only look through two kinds of windows
Your nose can only smell two kinds of hallways
You can touch and twist
And turn two kinds of doorknobs
You can either go to the church of your choice
Or you can go to Brooklyn State Hospital
You'll find God in the church of your choice
You'll find Woody Guthrie in Brooklyn State Hospital

And though it's only my opinion
I may be right or wrong
You'll find them both
In the Grand Canyon
At sundown