We can produce explanations. We can, otherwise, produce rationalizations. But really, don't you think it's very sad (tragic?) that most folk are geared up to make good use of excuses? Sophistry ham-strings development; because we are fallible and our knowledge is limited we have a righteous need for explanations; excuses distract and mis-lead.
Cynicism concerning human nature and pessimism concerning our future ... pure poison.
Hans Kung; Explanatory Remarks Concerning a "Declaration of the Religions for a Global Ethic"
Council for a Parliament of the World's Religions
"Towards A Global Ethic" ...
"Urban Dharma" has a document by that name
There are excerpts here, and this is a very nice document.
December 1-7, 2003
Santa Sabina Retreat Center, San Rafael, CA
Please join The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche for a week of engaging talks, powerful meditation instruction, and songs of enlightenment from the Kagyu and Dzogchen traditions.
This year, Rinpoche will present Dzogchen teachings based on "The Aspiration Prayer of Samantabhadra" as presented in his book, PENETRATING WISDOM. Part of the Dzogchen tradition of Vajrayana Buddhism, is a prayer of the path to complete awakening and a prayer of instruction for a more genuine and correct path. It expresses the different manifestations of rigpa, our basic awareness, in ordinary life, expressing aspiration for realization of rigpa, realization of the genuine path, and realization of the genuine teacher. (see Nalandabodhi)
The Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche is the founder and president of Nalandabodhi, a non-profit religious organization dedicated to bringing genuine Buddhist teachings to the western world. Ponlop Rinpoche is a prominent lineage holder in both the Kagyu and Nyingma traditions of Tibetan Buddhism. Considered one of the great scholars of his generation of Tibetan teachers, Ponlop Rinpoche combines scholarly acumen, a deep mastery of Buddhist meditative traditions. Known for his humor, vitality, and mastery of the English language, Ponlop Rinpoche is able to reach western minds with uncommon ease and clarity.
Guest teachers include Acharya Tashi Wangchuck from Rumtek Monastery, Lama Lodro of the Mahasukha Center in San Francisco, and Patrick Sweeney teaching yoga and lujong.
For detailed information on the retreat program, costs, recommended readings, and registration, please visit www.nbboulder.org/openret.htm, e-mail us at email@example.com, or call 303.440.0716.
May all being discover that path through serving others."
I have apparently been alone in wanting my daily life to have the quality of life that one finds in a monastic setting. At least, alone recently, since this notion comes to me not from speculation but, rather, from experience: once through Roman Catholicism (in a "formation house", where individuals considering the priesthood lived together in anticipation of their vocation) and once in a Soto Zen Priory.
I have never wanted any other form of life, and know this again from experience: in the 70s, enjoying the fruits not only of having had a high paying communications job in the arctic but also the profit from some rewarding investments ... all this on top of the good salary from a responsible position with this country's national broadcaster (CBC Radio); no joy ... lovely home, vehicle, clothes, diet, entertainment, travel ... no joy.
Having raised 5 kids in the hills of glorious Cape Breton, I know the splendour of the lord in his manor house ... but no joy.
Without suggesting that a practice environment is for everyone, I can help but wonder aloud why and how it is that this situation seems to be available /to nobody/! I have, for these decades muttered (under my breath, most times) that a world without communal living would be the death of me. Well, things have come to pass where this may be the case. After 11 years on disability, I am not so empoverished as to be in continuous suffering (though the short rations do damage quite on their own), but I'm vulnerable to situation ... and without a communal instinct, the world is one of "devil take the hindmost".
Is nuclear family and rugged invidualism the only expression of dharmic life? Is the only alternative traditional monasticism? Have we not learned that /beyond independence is _interdependence_/? Can we pretend that this small planet will support billions of splendid individuals? /Who/, I ask, can dissolve the chimera of individualism if not engaged buddhist?!
At 49, with bad feet, after a pretty hard path, I'm looking at the prospect of homelessness. Let there be no talk of sane society or compassion here: what I see is self-serving cant and hypocricy, just the sort of thing that one would expect from a souless cult. Is that what we really have? Isn't seeing things as they really are a key principle? Is the Buddhist project motivated only by personality politics?
Perhaps I am alone in seeing the great good of living communally according to a set of fine principles such as those offered as abhidharma ... but I can't believe that to be so. And those others who feel as I do, shall they as well be drowned in an ocean of egoistic consummerism?
A couple of weeks ago I had a profound insight into my PTSD, but didn't get it quite right: it turns out that I taint moments of success /not/ because I have come to believe myself unworthy, but rather (and, friends, incredible as it might seem, this next detail explains away my writer's block!), because that "success" was actually negative ... retrograde ... pathological ... carcinogenic, in a spiritual/psychological sense.
You see, on an afternoon in September of 1973, astonished to realize that the industrialized democracies of the north and west to which I had pledge my life, vowing to put myself in harm's way to defend their principles, were so far off track that they would orchestrate the bloody and horribly brutal overthrow of an entirely legitimate elected government in a sovereign country (Chile, headed by President Allende, by General Pinochet, with the direct aid and assistance of the CIA). Later that afternoon I lost my mind; after spending a while bashing my head against the locker in my barracks room, things got /really/ bad. The next day (vowing to show no sign of my new understanding), I got into a little discipline trouble that brought me to command's attention, and that began the process by which I extricated myself from the red-carpet carreer that lay ahead of me. But, and here's the point, before I started bashing my head to make the record skip, I had thought through the super-structures of military projection of power through to how our conventional lives are instrinsically fascistoid. Bottom line: we begin our lives dependent, and grow into independence. But unless we mature into inter-dependence (enter Buddhist psychology, complexity theory, and the actualization of authentically affectionate community) we are prone to the most sophistic of egoic compulsions, and these leave us vulnerable to manipulation.
The writer's block? easy: with great difficulty, I have managed (only just barely) to maintain the social context that I needed to check things out ... first, wealth and material success (70s), then more public success (family and politics; 80s), then a near-yogic poverty (90s). But the fact is, whenever I start to speak frankly, people draw away ... however much they may compliment me later ("damned by faint praise" I called it in conversation with a therapist friend, at which point she flew into a rage and refused to see me again!!), even those who would most rightly be my friends chose to withdraw. And so, much like a novel writer, I couldn't release the work before it was complete, could I?!
If this were a work of theory, I could have proceeded incrementally. But it isn't ... the only true resource I had was my own experience, since what happened in 1973 showed me that corporatist institutions were cunningly deceiptful (and yes, paranoia is a constant danger!), and individuals self-reports are almost impossible to de-construct (we're all of us subject to an amazing array of pressures and stresses, much like post-hypnotic suggestion in the way they operate; just think of Matrix ... it works because we truly deeply believe it works); seeing how good people slip into mind-phuckingly effective apologist bullshit has easily been the hardest thing for me to bear.
"Individualism", especially the more materialistic sort, is like drinking salt water ... it drives us mad even as it makes us thirst for more. The consummerism that is killing the planet (and making us slaves to the corporations) is a symptom of that individualism.
We must, while safe-guarding the autonomy that energizes and in-spires democracy, develope mundane interdependence beyond the market place. This will take place when we remind ourselves of the deep pleasures that arise from life in community. (Betcha your anti-social reaction kicked in just now ... am I right?!)
Now, you tell me ... should I be homeless on the street in October? or do I deserve the help I need to kick this off. (I've organized speaking events, workshops, teach-ins, protests, demonstrations ... all I'm aiming at is a network of ummmmmm Autonomous Social Centers.)
I need 1) decent footware 2) CDN$450 so I can find a room for October 3) some evidence that I'm being heard.
Watch for my re-launching of the "Green Future Foundation".
In the land of the ark, in the desert, one might even learn the meaning of such basics as food, and water. In war, we learn death. Or we do not learn, and so pass that lesson on to generations not yet born.
May we learn from this day's dead children.