Friday, October 2, 2009

International Day of Non-Violence

Today is October 2nd, the birthday of Mahatma Gandhi.
(If you don't know who Ghandi is, then I will probably die a little inside)
Also, in honor of the man who made the world mindful of non-violence, today is the International Day of Non-Violence, as declared by the UN in 2007.

I hope this young holiday will gain recognition over time, now more then ever as global cultures merge and different ways of living are brought to light.

I also wish I could think of way to say this in a way that would inspire. But on 3 hours of sleep, this is the best I can do. The message is simple: At all times, there is an alternative to violence. At all times, kindness is possible. And often the best way to diffuse an a situation of escalating violence, whether it be violence of words or violence of action, is to step back and respond with non-violence.

I suppose we could go into debate whether violent self-defense is justified. The truth is, I don't know, and every situation is unique. I am certainly not going to condemn the farmer's daughter in India who disarmed and killed a terrorist with his own gun as he and his buddies attacked her family. Her village, and nearby villages are constantly bullied by such militas, who use violence to get what they want. To incorporate non-violence in such a situation would be very difficult.

But I am not a farmer's daughter living in an area plagued by such horrors. I am an Alaskan college student, who lives a very fortunate life. I think most of us live fortunate lives. While I do try everyday to be mindful of my actions and speech, this is not an easy thing to do. But today, in honor of a man who captured the world's attention with his non-violence, I will focus on violence in my life, and how it can be met or remedied. Violence of action has never been a problem of mine, but violence of words can be, mostly in venting frustration. Words can hurt more then fists.

So today, on Ghandi's birthday, and the International Day of Non-Violence, what do you plan to do?

Monday, September 14, 2009

Today

I had a wonderful epiphany.
And now I've forgotten it.
So it goes ^_^

Tuesday, September 8, 2009

And we're back!

After a long and eventful summer, I'm back home and back into the blogosphere. Well, I never really left, but very few Buddhist-related things happened to me, thus very few blogs were posted on Coffee Shop Dharma.
However, as I dive back into school, with all its homework and anxieties, I also dive back into the wonderful world of Buddhism, as it always helps me cope with stress and keep the bigger picture in mind. I started out by attending a few special nights at the local zendo, where my teacher's teacher, Yoshitani-roshi of Nagasaki, visited from Japan to talk for a few nights, and reside over a full moon ceremony. His talks revolved around a brief chapter written by Dogen about the nature and proper form of zazen, as well as addressing the proper form of other gestures, such as gassho and prostrations. For many, I'm sure, it was review, but I found it immensely helpful.

The full moon ceremony was the first I've ever attended. It was quite beautiful and not swamped down with too much tradition. Every chant, every gesture had a purpose, and I could do it a thousand times and not feel as it I'm "going through the motions."

I wrote more detail of my experience at the zendo at my personal blog, Epiphany in Motion. Now that school is in session and I finally have stable and reliable internet access, there will be more postings on Coffee Shop Dharma. I would like to thank what few readers I have, as well as the entire community of Buddhist bloggers for creating such beautiful dialogue in our virtual reality.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Buddhist Enzymes

A lot of people feel threatened by science, thinking that it somehow violates or denies the existence of God. Of course, maybe they feel threatened because their definition of "God" is too specific. If we let go of the notion of "God" in the strict biblical sense, and start looking at God as more of a force, or better yet an ultimate collection of all forces (both known and unknown) working together in an immensely complex and dynamic balance which makes up the universe as we know it. That's a possibility I am comfortable with . God isn't so much a personality (wrath, love, jealousy), more of an unfathomable system binding everything together.

I find that enzymes are good metaphor for things such as religion, human/culture interactions, ect. (Nerd Alert!)

Enzymes contain a cavity called an "active site." A group of molecules, known as a substrate, will bind to the enzyme by fitting into the active site. To explain how enzyme interact with the substrate, they first created the "lock and key" model. This model claims that a specific substrate will bind in a specific active site, one that has the same shape. The active site itself is static and won't change shape. Think of two puzzle pieces fitting together. You can't jam them to make them fit. Either they fit, or they don't.

However, in 1958, scientists realized that the active sites of enzymes aren't static, they're dynamic, and can reshape itself to accommodate substrates with different shapes. Enzymes are still extremely specific, but the specificity is related more to the chemical make-up of the enzyme rather then mere shape. A good example is a hand going into a glove. While the overall shape of the glove is the same (glove shaped), it's slightly different when there is a hand in the glove versus an empty glove.

As a Buddhist, I like the induced fit model better because it fits with Buddhist teachings about the dynamic state of the universe. (Buddha taught that nothing is impervious to change.) The lock and key model also deals in absolutes: either it fits, or it doesn't. Absolutes are a big no-no in Buddhism, and especially for me. I always prefer to find a way of compromise to make thing's work.

As for my belief in a supreme creator, the simple answer is this: I don't know. How can I? The world's leading scientists don't know, and I'm merely a college junior.

Conclusion:
Enzymes are awesome. And don't forget to smile ^_^

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Hello again!

Wow, it has been forever since I've blogged.
School has been taking up most of my life. Which is fun at times, but I haven't been keeping up with a lot of fellow Buddhist bloggers, and that's makes me a little sad. You guys are so awesome. Sorry for losing touch.

And of course, last night I had an awesome thought that I knew I should post in this blog. But of course, I forgot it this morning. Oh well.

I realized these past few months that the hardest thing I've ever had to learn, and something I still struggle with, is to just sit.
College is all about running around and trying to get everything accomplished, so to take time out to just sit is hard for me. But also important for me. It's the thing we do most in Zen Buddhism. And I still struggle with it.
Oh well. Life is about learning.

Also, a friend of mine brought up an interesting topic: What is the Buddhist view-point of sin? How does a Buddhist atone for sin, or do they at all?
Any comments?

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Korean President Reaches Out to Buddhist Leaders

I found the following article at The Buddhist Channel Website. Last year, South Korean President, Lee Myung-bak, (a devout Presbyterian) who drew up controversy with his wide-spread discrimination against Buddhists, including removing the locations of famous Buddhist temples from maps, and declaring South Korea a"Christian nation." Thus caused widespread protest and peaceful demonstraitons, with resulted in a half-hearted government apology. However, in the wake of econmic crisis, he seems to be making a genuine attempt at reconciliation. He appeared at a Buddhist conference yesterday with his wife, and stated:

"I thank the Buddhist community for taking the lead
in overcoming the economic crisis and bringing the public
together. The government will also honor Buddha’s
teachings and will put forth every ounce of its energies to
revive the economy and unite the people.”

He also thanked the Buddhist community for embracing different values in a multi-religious country, and attributed the Buddhist spirit has helped the country avoid religious conflicts.


It's good to see a Christian take on the values set before him by Jesus and actually embrace and accept the Buddhist community. While there may be political motive behind this, I like to think the best of people, and hope that his efforts are in genuine spirit. I also posted this to my other blog (http://religiousdiversityblog.blogspot.com)


http://www.buddhistchannel.tv/index.php?id=45,7926,0,0,1,0

Friday, March 20, 2009

Sexual Assault in the Military is Sharply Rising

Department of Defense Report Indicates Sexual Assault in the Military is Sharply Rising

The Department of Defense released a report this week that shows an 8 percent increase of sexual assault involving service members from fiscal year 2007. Sixty-three percent of the 2,908 reported sexual assaults were rape or aggravated assault. The report also showed that 8 percent more cases were referred to trial from 2007.

The Department of Defense estimates that only about 20 percent of cases are reported. Dr. Kaye Whitley, director of the Pentagon Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, told the BBC that "Given the fear and stigma associated with the crime, sexual assault remains one of our nation's most under-reported crimes in both the military and civilian community." She also indicated that the rise in reporting could be because "The department has been aggressively pursuing efforts to increase reporting and convince more victims to seek care and support services."

Media Resources: BBC 3/18/09; US Department of Defense Report 3/17/09; US Department of Defense Press Release 3/17/09

http://feminist.org/news/newsbyte/uswirestory.asp?id=11587

**********************************

The biggest reason why I am not a fan of the military. A woman serving overseas in Iraq is more likely to get raped by a fellow serviceman then get shot by an enemy combatant. Sadly, our military has an ugly reputation of this. "41% of female veterans seen at the clinic say they were victims of sexual assault while in the military, and 29% report being raped during their military service."

Rapist in the Ranks
http://www.latimes.com/news/opinion/commentary/la-oe-harman31mar31,0,5399612.story

Rape of Iraqi Women by US Occupation Forces
http://www.aztlan.net/iraqi_women_raped.htm

Another KBR Rape Case
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080421/houppert

Five Soldiers Rape, Murder 14 year old Iraqi girl
http://www.thenation.com/doc/20080421/houppert

U.S. Soldier pours kerosene on raped, slain Iraqi
http://www.cnn.com/2006/WORLD/meast/08/07/iraq.familyslain/index.html

Private War of Women Soldiers
http://www.salon.com/news/feature/2007/03/07/women_in_military/


I find myself confused by the brutality of human nature, the lack of compassion by our servicemen. How could a someone do this to another person?



Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Favorite Quan Yin statue

This is a famous statue of Quan Yin has always been one of my favorites. It is a Chinese carving from the Shanxi Provence, estimated to have been created around 1000 AD. I love it for a variety of reasons. All the well known symbols associated with Quan Yin, (such as the jar, a dragon, lotus flowers, dove/swallow, ect) which are present in other depictions, are missing in this one. The clothing is non-traditional.
Undoubtedly, my favorite thing about this statue is the pose. All at once it is casual, tough, and intelligent. It is a refreshing break from the typical meditation, standing, and sleeping poses we see so often today. It breaks the mystic atmosphere and makes her seem very human.
What is your favorite Buddhist depiction?

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Interfaith Experiment

First, I would like to apologize for my lack posts and activity, I am a college student and this semester has been a heavy load. I do appreciate all the wonderful comments and have been keeping track of some wonderful posts by my favorite bloggers.

I have started a new blog on an interfaith experiment I have designed. For the next year, I will study Judaism, Islam, and Christianity in order to learn more about their similarities and differences, their inner conflicts, and how they have shaped the world around me. I'll also continue with my Buddhist practice, so there will be some Buddhist insight as well. I'll still be up keeping this blog from time to time depending on energy and time.

Wish me luck, and if you are interested in following my observations, or would like to leave a comment or suggestion, the blog can be found at http://religiousdiversityblog.blogspot.com/

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Healthcare In Iran

As an aspiring health-care professional, I found this to be rather interesting. (I will admit to slight skepticism to some of the statistics, such as "Iran has a 100% vaccination rate," due to the fact such statistics may have been given by the government itself which has been known to lie before.) But the fact that they have exemplary health care is wonderful, and a very good place in this culture for women to advance. Health care, women's advancement, well-being of the people; whats not there for a feminist Buddhist to love?

On another feminist note, slide 8 talks about how the birth rate of women has gone down from 6 to 2. Anybody who knows anything about the connection between lower birthrates and higher education for women can agree this is (often) a good thing. I wish they mentioned how they did this. Did they do this via education and promoting safe birth control methods? (yay!)
Or did they do it through forced methods, such as sterilization? (boo!)
I think this culture is a fairly pro-life one, and I am unsure of the abortion statistics in Iran. (I'll look it up later when I have more time.)

It also says that this lowered birth rate has been fully supported by the country's religious leaders. Are they supporting it for the sake of the women's welfare, or because their population has exploded in the past 5 decades?

Anyways, check it out and let me know what you think:
http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1874914_1836922,00.html

Friday, February 20, 2009

Random Feministing

I haven't posted much lately, mostly because I've been consumed by school. 18 credits is alot, but I am enjoying this semester.
Anyways, I was going through my StumbleUpon and came across this. Whether you are man or women, pro-life or pro-choice, this is something one must keep in perspective. It made me thankful.

Lest We Forget the Era Preceding Roe vs. Wade
found at: http://articles.latimes.com/2003/jan/21/local/me-patt21

I could tell you, on this 30th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s Roe vs. Wade ruling, about the politics of abortion: how conservatives earn “pro-life” props by sticking it to poor women and young women with mean-spirited rules and bans; how President Bush appointed to a federal reproductive panel an anti-abortion doctor who wouldn’t prescribe birth control for unmarried women; how Senate Republicans may make it illegal for teenagers in states that limit abortion for minors to travel to get abortions in states that don’t. (Gee, why didn’t they try that on the underage spring-break party animals who used to drive from New England to Florida so they could drink legally till they puked?)
I could tell you about the violence, too, the torching of clinics, the harassing of patients – a Los Angeles woman who had had abdominal surgery was pummeled by “pro-lifers” until her stitches tore – and the intimidation, the killings of doctors, nurses and staff by zealots.
But I’m going to tell you about how it was before abortion was legal, and if the “pro-life” forces get their way, this is how it will be again.
**********************
Every big-city hospital had one – a septic abortion ward, for women who had nearly killed themselves trying to abort a pregnancy.
Dr. Daniel Mishell is now professor and chairman of the ob-gyn department at the Keck School of Medicine at USC. In the years before Roe vs. Wade, he was a resident at Harbor General Hospital near Torrance and later at what is now County-USC hospital.
The women he treated “were the sickest patients, I’ll tell you that, because of what they did and the infections they got” – appalling infections like gas gangrene, which killed tissue and sometimes the patient. “We had ladies who got so infected they went in shock and their kidneys shut down. A lot of them did die.”
At any one time, 15 or 20 women lay in the county hospital septic abortion ward, an additional half a dozen at Harbor. They were too sick to talk, but Mishell knew the common thread: usually unmarried and abandoned by the man, uniformly, suicidally desperate.
They jabbed into their uteruses with knitting needles and coat hangers, which Mishell sometimes found still inside them. They stuck in bicycle pump nozzles, sometimes sending a fatal burst of air to the heart. They’d try to insert chemicals – drain cleaner, fertilizer, radiator-flush – and miss the cervix, corrode an artery and bleed to death. Mishell once put a catheter into a woman’s bladder and “got a tablespoon of motor oil.”
“I’m telling you, it was really an awful situation. It touched me because I’d see young, [otherwise] healthy women in their 20s die from the consequences of an infected nonsterile abortion. Women would do anything to get rid of unwanted pregnancies. They’d risk their lives. It was a different world, I’ll tell you.”
(Why didn’t they just get birth control, you wonder. Because some state laws still defined contraception as “obscene,” and not until 1965 – in living memory of some of you reading this – did the Supreme Court say contraceptives were legal for married couples. The unmarried didn’t get that right until 1972.)
The women Mishell treated were poor working women. The rich had other means of breaking the laws against abortion, with doctors as discreet as they were expensive. Mishell spent 1961 working in Sweden, and remembers frequent calls from colleagues back home wanting to send their pregnant, prosperous patients over to get abortions.
It’s the American way, the “country club exemption.” If you have the money and connections, there’s always a way around the law, whether it’s taxes, the draft or abortion.
*
On a fine morning a while back, in a pleasant Southern California kitchen, I was talking with a woman who, 40 years ago, was known to the world as Sherry Finkbine.
She was host of a children’s TV show, had four kids and was pregnant with her fifth when she took pills her doctor-husband got from Europe. They turned out to contain thalidomide, a drug that creates nightmarish deformities in fetuses.
No American state, no American law permitted her to abort the deformed fetus, so she flew to Sweden, and for a time she was reviled from her hometown to the Vatican.
In her kitchen that morning, she told me, “I’m a real believer in freedom of choice. And if you think abortion is horrible, then for God’s sakes I would never try to talk you into it.” It is “the most intimate, personal, heartbreaking decision anyone has to make – a human issue that doesn’t have any business in a political campaign
Two things happened in her life on Jan. 22, 1973: Her step-granddaughter was born, and her youngest daughter wrote to congratulate her on the bittersweet news of the Roe ruling: “The Supreme Court finally decided to listen to you.” Her mother’s answer: “Fortunately for your generation and the generations to come, man will no longer sit in legal judgment of abortion.”
And yet here it is, 30 years later, and hers, the first generation of American women to live with the legal protection of Roe vs. Wade, may also turn out to be the last.

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Saturday, January 17, 2009

Let It Go

found at http://vi.sualize.us/

Intoxication of Power

I found this article at http://gay-religion.blogspot.com/2009/01/follow-jesus-like-nazis-followed-hitler.html
It can also be found on Huffington Post.
Be warned, it's a little disturbing.

On April 17, 2005, at the southern California Anaheim Angels sports stadium thirty thousand Saddleback Church members, more than ever gathered in one spot, assembled to celebrate Saddleback's 25th anniversary and listened as Rick Warren announced his vision for the next 25 years of the church: the P.E.A.C.E. Plan.

Towards the close of his nearly one hour speech, Pastor Warren asked his followers to be as committed to Jesus as the young Nazi men and women who spelled out in mass formation with their bodies the words "Hitler, we are yours," in 1939 at the Munich Stadium, were committed to the F├╝hrer of the Third Reich, a major instigator of a World War that claimed 55 million lives. Rick Warren has exhorted Christians towards Nazi-like dedication in at least several public speeches and also during a one hour video recording of a talk by Warren, explaining his P.E.A.C.E. Plan, that is currently hosted on the official P.E.A.C.E. Plan website (see 'video page', "The Global P.E.A.C.E. Plan"). A version of the anecdote can also be found on page 357 of Rick Warren's 1995 book The Purpose Driven Church, which sold over one million copies.

During his Anaheim stadium speech Warren, sometimes called 'pastor Rick' talked about a number of visions and communications he had received from God. By calling on his church members to follow Jesus with the fanatical dedication with which the Nazis, or Hitler Youth, gave to Adolf Hitler, Rick Warren appeared to be in effect asking his Saddleback members to be fanatically dedicated to Warren's own leadership, given his role in divining God's intent for the Saddleback church flock. During his speech, Rick Warren also explained that God had personally instructed him to seek, for the good of the world, more influence, power and fame.

Warren moved on, from his celebration of Nazi dedication to purpose, and held up Lenin, and Chinese Red Guard efforts during the Cultural Revolution, as behavioral examples for his Saddleback flock, whom Warren called on to carry out a "revolution".

Concluding his motivational speech, the Saddleback Church founder instructed his ranks in the stadium to hold up signs, from their official programs, with the preprinted message "whatever it takes". Warren then introduced, as leader of the first nation on Earth in which the P.E.A.C.E. Plan would be implemented, Rwandan President Paul Kagame.

In 1998 under Kagame's leadership Rwanda, along with the now officially "Purpose Driven" nation of Uganda, invaded the Democratic Republic of The Congo, touching off a conflict that has claimed more civilian lives than any since World War Two. On December 12, 2008, the United Nations accused Rwanda of aiding Congolese warlord Laurent Nkunda, accused of massacres and human rights violations and whose recent offensive has created several hundred thousand Congolese refugees.

In March 2008, Rick Warren's Saddleback launched an official national "Purpose Driven Living" program in Uganda, a country which was indicted in 2005 by the International Criminal Court for perpetrating "massive" human rights violations by invading and looting the natural riches of the Congo. Uganda is know for brutalizing its own population too. In the late 1990s under president Yowerie Museveni, whose wife Janet Museveni has spoken at Saddleback Church conferences, the Ugandan military drove upwards of two million Acholi tribe members in Northern Uganda, through a terror campaign of massacres and bombing, into crowded concentration camps on the Congo-Uganda border where many languish to this day, in what one Former Undersecretary for the UN has described as an ongoing, slow genocide.

Mega-pastor Warren, who will give the opening prayer at the inauguration of president-elect Barack Obama on January 20, 2009, aspires to great moral and spiritual leadership. Rick Warren has called for a second Christian Reformation, and he has stated his intent of inspiring 'one billion' Christians, half of all Christians globally, to become personally and 'radically' committed to changing the world.