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

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 - to deactivate your Facebook account, stop checking the news, or absorb yourself in activities that make … [Read more...]

Five Things To Do Now That Trump Has Been Elected

One: GrieveHalf 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 Grieve Today" by John Pa … [Read more...]

How to Open Your Eyes but Not Lose Heart

You don't have to be a rocket scientist or a radical thinker to conclude humanity is on a path toward the kind of dystopian world imagined in the bleakest of scifi novels. We can't keep trashing our planet without dire consequences. We can't keep using up our non-renewable resources as if we have an infinite supply. We can't keep acting as if it's each man for himself (or country for itself) without the social fabric of our world completely disintegrating.If we keep on this path, we'll have a … [Read more...]

Invoking “The More”

"...the finitude of mundane existence cannot satisfy the human heart completely. Built into the human makeup is a longing for a 'more' that the world of everyday experience cannot requite. This outreach strongly suggests the existence of the something that life reaches for in the way that the wings of birds point to the reality of air." - Huston Smith, Why Religion Matters: The Fate of the Human Spirit in an Age of Disbelief If you don't have Faith in Itand don't want tothere's nothing t … [Read more...]

What Did Thich Nhat Hanh Mean by “Accepting this Civilization Can Be Destroyed?”

A friend recently sent me a link to an interesting Youtube video featuring a short interview with Thich Nhat Hanh. In it, Canadian environmentalists David Suzuki and Jim Hoggan discuss the ecological emergency we are facing on this planet, and the problem of public apathy about or denial of climate change.Thich Nhat Hanh listens carefully and then responds, “You have to accept that this civilization can be destroyed. Not by something outside, but by ourselves. In fact, many civilizations have … [Read more...]

What Good Is Religion, Anyway?

Written as part of a Patheos symposium in response to the following prompt: "We all know the media mantra, 'What bleeds, leads.' Bad news sells, and there's nothing like a juicy religious scandal to drive traffic. Yet, for every sordid religious story, there are any number of quiet stories of charity, compassion, self-sacrifice, and service. In our obsession with bad news, are we missing of the GOOD of religion? How is your tradition contributing to the flourishing of the world? How has your … [Read more...]

Everyone Is on a Path Toward Greater Wisdom and Compassion

A friend of mine has a saying, “It takes all kinds of people to make the world go ‘round. Unfortunately.”Other people are the most challenging aspect of our lives, particularly when we strongly disagree with their views, choices and behaviors. The ideal of unconditional love and acceptance of all people can sometimes seem like reckless folly, but on the other hand we can exhaust ourselves with endless worries about, and judgments of, the actions of others.Try this idea on for size: accor … [Read more...]

Let’s Start a Global Movement!

Would you be willing to adopt the following Seven Principles and become a Global Citizen?I dream of a mass movement: People everywhere - regardless of nationality, race, faith, class, political party - committing to these core principles, or something like them. Our future depends on living according to these kinds of values - as individuals, communities, nations, and as a species.I've personally longed for something simple to devote myself to. There are so many causes, so many issues... … [Read more...]

We’ve Got to Passionately Love Life Itself

I've heard folks speak in placid tones about suffering and destruction due to climate change, widespread poverty and inequality, and the mass extinctions of species. It's as if they have passed judgment on humankind and decided the degeneration of our societies and the degradation of our environment are fair punishments for our misdeeds. They seem to think we might as well resign ourselves to our universal comeuppance because we deserve it.I understand it can be easier to resign yourself th … [Read more...]

Bringing Racism and Violence into the Meditation Hall

At my Zen center last night I took the risk of departing from our regularly-scheduled programming to bring racism and violence into the mediation hall. This definitely compromised the peacefulness and calm of spiritual community that many of us value as refuge from the turmoil in the rest of the world. However, it seemed like we were missing a practice opportunity if we ignored the news that another white man had been able to shoot and kill an unarmed black man without facing any legal … [Read more...]