I am sometimes happily reminded that Buddhism in the West or the world isn’t just quiet private practices punctuated by occasional scandals.
It’s worth being cognizant of the idea, propagated by evolutionary psychologists, that we need about five good interactions with something or someone for every bad one. The idea is that we are hard-wired to over-react to negative stimuli because that is what we’ve needed in order to survive. So just one bad interaction with a person after one or two or three good ones and we might (perhaps subconsciously) see that person as, overall, bad or dangerous.
The idea has found its way into popular relationship advice as well: namely encouraging us to make very sure that we affirm, encourage, and express love and appreciation for our partners and loved ones at least five times for every time we might offer critical advice or express discontent. In business talk this has been described as giving a criticism sandwich, making sure any critical feedback is sandwiched between positive thoughts.
How much this pop-psychology maps on to solid science or philosophical scrutiny is debatable; and how much the scientific work maps onto a larger reality is also debatable. Nonetheless, I think it is generally wise to find balance in the criticism and affirmative work we put out there.
In Buddhism, there are a LOT of great things happening. Just perusing recent news stories from Buddhistdoor Global, we see that:
- Buddhists and supporters of Tibetan culture just held a fantastic fundraising concert in New York City
- A Korean Zen Master just brought 100,000 stoves to the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh
- Female Buddhist monastics in Thailand are working hard for official recognition and equality
- The University of Arizona has launched an impressive Buddhist studies in China initiative and is offering lots of scholarships
- The Taiwanese humanitarian organization Tzu Chi helped out victims of last fall’s California wildfires
These stories might just pass us by, but they are pretty amazing in their scope: Buddhists from all over the globe helping others, sometimes near, sometimes far, sometimes fellow Buddhists, sometimes not.In more recent news, a Zen Buddhist center in California was hit hard by torrential rains over the last week or so and sustained extensive damages to their property:
As some of you may know, a devastating storm moved through much of California over this last week. Yokoji saw unprecedented, sustained and heavy rain—up to 9 inches over the course 36 hours. Coupled with snow melt from higher elevations, this caused torrential water flow to erode essential areas of our grounds and access road.
We are encouraged that the preventative work done over the last 5 years to divert water flow and prevent flash floods was successful, and the buildings are safe from flooding and major water damage. However, the sustained force of the water moving through the creek that runs through the Center caused serious erosion that exposed our gas, septic, water and power lines in several places. The force of the water also created a chasm over 12 feet deep near our solar panels, and it is currently threatening their foundations. The dirt road leading to the Center is impassable in several areas, and is in need of repairs from heavy machinery before cars can get in and out of the Center.
All residents at Yokoji are safe, and have been working diligently with Tenshin Roshi over the last three days to repair what they can. However, we will need the help of local resources, including heavy equipment and skilled workers, and dirt and gravel to reinforce the roads. At this point, we cannot give an accurate estimate of what these repairs will cost. What is most needed right now is a cushion of cash flow so that we can make these vital repairs to Yokoji’s grounds, protect our solar panels, and make travel in and out of the Center possible.
We are calling upon you once again—our community, members, and sangha—to provide whatever financial support you can so that we can make these significant repairs. This will also allow us to assess weak points in our road and the Center’s physical infrastructure, allowing us to continue to build preventative measures and minimize destructive erosion in the future. We ask that you give only what you can, and know that your generous dana will help make it possible for us to make these essential repairs and continue serving all those seeking a refuge for meditation and Zen practice. Please make a donation and show your support.
The organization quickly reached their $5000 goal showing yet again the generosity of Buddhists and supporters out there. If you are or know of Buddhist organizations doing great things or in need of support, please don’t hesitate to let me know, either in comments here or via email (see my about me page).
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