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...]

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 ex … [Read more...]

Transforming the World by Transforming Your Heart

I suspect the phrase “transforming your heart” resonates with many of you, even if you aren’t quite sure what is meant by it. I think there are two reasons for this. First, we want transformation - of our selves, our families, our communities, our culture, our government, our economy, our world. Something needs to be done. Even if we are able to forget this for some periods of time because of our good fortune, all around us are reminders that weigh on us: the homeless person we walked by today; … [Read more...]

More Reflections on Activism as a Person of Faith

Yesterday I attended a rally in downtown Portland against fast-tracking the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP) trade deal. I went by myself and incognito (that is, no one could tell I was a Buddhist, let alone a Zen priest). That was fine, but I did find myself wishing a had bunch of Buddhist buddies with me, and that we could march together behind a banner saying "Buddhists for Climate Justice" or something like that. The rally was organized by the Oregon AFL-CIO, so the trade unions were there in … [Read more...]

My First Protest Rally

Just thought I'd write a little report about my first protest rally. I'm guessing my readers will fall into two basic categories with respect to protests: Either you have attended them before and they're no big deal to you, or you haven't attended one before and they present awkward, uncharted territory. Until yesterday I was in the second category.The rally was pretty cool and only took a little over an hour. It was held at noon next to the offices of our U.S. representative and senator, … [Read more...]

When It’s Time to Speak Out as a People of Faith

Last week one of the largest Zen Centers in the U.S. published an open letter urging California governor Jerry Brown to ban hydraulic fracking in the state. I was thrilled, but not all Zen folks will be, even if they agree on this particular issue. Speaking out as people of faith can be powerful, but it can also be divisive and confusing. When and where do we - as individuals and as faith communities - take a public stand?I'll offer this simple answer for you to chew on: we should take a p … [Read more...]

Three Ways Activists Alienate People – and What They Can Do about It

If, like me, you want to be an effective activist, it's good to keep in mind how you're liable to alienate people instead of getting them on your side.Activist are people who are actively trying to bring about change in the world. Ideally they also try to be responsible and considerate people, but they go beyond this by working for positive change in the cultures, systems, and organizations around them.I've felt for a long time I should be an activist of some kind - that I should pi … [Read more...]

I’m Afraid You’ll Stop Reading this Blog If I Talk about This

On New Year's Eve, 2014, I found out that we have two years - until 2017 - to cut carbon emissions, or risk catastrophic global consequences from climate change. As I heard the sounds of fireworks going off outside, I was reading Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs. the Climate. A knot started forming in the pit of stomach as I read: "In a 2012 report, the World Bank laid out the gamble implied by [the 2-degree Celsius] target [laid out in a non-binding international agreement a … [Read more...]

A Good Reason to Ignore Global Warming

Okay, let me be clear up front: I'm not saying it's good to ignore global warming! I am trying to point out that not all our reasons for ignoring it are selfish, lazy, or stupid.I've been thinking about this since my post Can We Really Save the World with Lifestyle Change? A Buddhist acquaintance of mine, Satya Vayu, left a long comment on that post expressing many things with which I agree. In fact, he expressed my views pretty perfectly, pointing out that governments and corporations are in … [Read more...]

Our First Meeting – the Ideal Becomes Actual and… Ordinary

Last night was the first meeting of my Zen Center's "Downtown Portland Group." Over the course of one short evening, an ideal manifested as something actual. The strange thing was it didn't feel dramatic or particularly significant to me. Instead, it felt somewhat uncomfortable, somewhat normal, and just as constrained by my humanness as everything I have ever done. In other words, ordinary - in the sense of "neither very good nor very bad, not particularly impressive or special."At one p … [Read more...]