All This Awful S**T – Can We Boil It All down into a Single Fight for Values?

Every time I look at the news, I’m greeted by a new, awful report about how something I deeply value is about to be thrown under the bus. It’s mind-boggling, not to mention emotionally exhausting. Just out of curiosity, I made a list of what is currently under direct threat (be sure to scroll down to the rest of my post, because this is a long list): A no-holds-barred fight against climate change, the most dangerous challenge we’re facing (with... Read more

Thank God for the Vital Path Between Denial and Anxiety

Some image or event will push me over the edge into a dark, disorienting anxiety. The untimely death of a friend or loved one. A prolonged power outage that highlights how utterly dependent we are on our fragile infrastructure. A picture of one of the many floating islands of garbage in our oceans. Another article about how greed wins out over the long-term well-being of people and planet. I slip from a generally happy state into a panicky realization that the... Read more

Meditation: Why it Helps, Even Though it’s Not Doing Anything

Those of us who practice meditation sometimes have a hard time explaining the practice to people who don’t. Basically, we just sit there, doing nothing. We forgo entertainment, and we even try not to think when we’re sitting there! Why would we want to take precious time out of our busy lives, just to waste it? There are different ways to answer this question, but in a way, the answer doesn’t matter. The best thing to do is just try... Read more

When I Practice Not-Knowing Instead of Trying to Figure Everything Out

I’m really worried about the 100 days following January 20th. As if there weren’t already enough things to worry about in my personal life and the rest of the world! My way of reacting to this kind of stress is to try to Figure Everything Out. I read, watch videos, familiarize myself with schools of thought on politics, economics, and activism. I discuss how to respond as a the leader of a religious community with leaders of other religious communities. I ask myself... Read more

News Getting You Down? Don’t Check Out! Just Witnessing Helps

Avalokiteshvara, by Anonymous (China) 1600-1800 – Ninad Katyare, CC BY-SA 3.0 An awful lot of my friends have been complaining lately about how overwhelming and depressing it can be to read the news. I sympathize; right now the headlines seem like an endless litany of reports about situations that are already incomprehensibly bad, or examples where hope for positive change appears to be swirling inexorably down the drain. But wait! Before you decide to check out –... Read more

Calming Your Mind Buddhist-Style – A 30-Second Method for Non-Buddhists and Buddhists Alike

Sitting – Flickr Commons – Anthony Arrigo In recent weeks, given the political turmoil in the world, I’ve heard from a lot of people who are wondering how to calm their minds. It’s painful and unhelpful to be caught up in anxiety, anger, reactivity, despair, fear, and worry about the future. In addition, these kinds of emotions are what Buddhists call afflictive – that is, they are self-perpetuating and suck up a lot of our energy. Stewing in anxiety,... Read more

The Wise Use of Anger – A Lesson for (Us) Namby-Pamby Liberals

In my last two posts I have counseled thoughtfulness, caution, and compassion in our speech and actions as we navigate our new political environment. That’s my job, as a priest and Zen teacher. However, the other day I watched this video, Aftermath 2016 by Tess Rafferty (click here for 3.5 minute version), and something in me recognized a truth I can’t ignore. In sharing this video, part of me worries that as a priest I shouldn’t associate myself with anything embellished... Read more

Appropriate Speech When Talking Politics: the Buddha’s Five Conditions

Most of us need to talk to others about political matters. We need to vent and process, and try to understand. We need to keep ourselves conscious of what’s happening in our world so we can respond appropriately. At the same time, our conversations about politics can get exhausting, depressing, agitating, repetitive, divisive, judgmental, and even hateful. They can discourage us from staying politically engaged – right when we need to stay engaged. The Buddha laid out five things to... Read more

Five Things To Do Now That Trump Has Been Elected

One: Grieve Half of the people in our country (maybe slightly less than half?) just said a big f___ you to immigrants, Muslims, Mexicans, refugees, minorities, poor people, women, disabled people, LGBT people, the environment – the list goes on and on. Why? I wish I knew, but here’s the political outcome I feel most confident about right now: I’m going to be able to keep more of my money for myself. For a beautiful description of our grief, read “Here’s Why We... Read more

Politics and the Buddhist Precept “Do Not Speak Dishonestly”

13th century Zen master Dogen taught that “to study Buddhism is to study the self.” Let me tell you, studying the self is a lifelong process! I constantly learn new things about myself, and much of what I learn isn’t flattering. Most recently I have begun noticing how often I speak dishonestly when expressing my political opinions. Oh, don’t worry – I’m not speaking dishonestly about how I feel. I’m completely honest about that. Here’s how dishonesty creeps into my political speech: I... Read more
POPULAR AT PATHEOS Buddhist