Saturday, April 13, 2013

On family life...

Dear friends,

Here is a discussion from India on the issue of family and the Buddhist way of life. It is ably translated, light hearted, and worthy of the hour of viewing required. I would like all my students to watch it. Be patient. Listen carefully. I also share it with the public as a service to humanity. Have  listen. Let me know your thoughts....

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Recognizing Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month (May) Is The Least We Can Do...

"NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim May 2012 as Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month."

Asian Americans and Pacific Islanders (AAPI) have made a tremendous contribution to my life as well as the human community. Growing up in riot torn 1960's Los Angeles County would have destroyed me long go were it not for the rise of Buddhism in Judeo-Christian American society. I'm particularly indebted to the Asian American Buddhist  community.  In the face great resistance, what began as 19th Century bonded Asian labor has become inseparable from the spine of America's greatness.

Racism and assimilation played a dubious role in suppressing their contributions. America is made stronger when the full story of its citizenry is openly told. We honor Asian Americans and Pacific Islander's Heritage whenever we recognize their truth without being asked to do so.  Caring means more than restitution.

We must acknowledge many Asians arrived on America's shores as Buddhist. Chinese immigrant service to completing the transcontinental railroad was inseparable from Buddhist, Taoist, Confucian culture. It's amazing to consider how many history books neglect to mention this simple point.

Quan Yin, c.1850 
San Bernardino,CA
Frontier America showed the Asian community no quarter.  It was as vile in  "taming" Asian American culture as it was every other non-white community. Asians were hung, neighborhoods were burned, communities were driven out of town, and citizenship was denied. Rape, torture, beatings, robbery, murder, extortion and all sorts of crimes were exacted upon them. Menial work, servitude, prostitution, drug cultivation and sales were often the only means of earning a living wage. Survival was not easy. Some Asian communities literally lived underground to shelter themselves from the onslaught.

Fresno, California

Extra-judicial violence and legislative predjudice were meted out against the Asian American community for a hundred years (c.1840 -1940). World War II ushered in a zenith of prejudice, racism, and discrimination causing grief throughout AAPI communities.

Japanese Americans were hardest hit during the war. Despite it all, their 442 Regimental Combat Team distinguished itself while shouldering segregation and interment as well violating the Buddhist creed of non-violence held by some families for centuries. It was they, not the so-called American Buddhist community of today, who found themselves making decisions that would alter American consciousness about the AAPI experience forever.

On the other hand, Japan's Zen Buddhist leaders supported the country's war on America. Japan's Shinto/Buddhist peasantry was conscripted to fight pitched battles in service of an emperor they believed to be a living god. While Japan's Buddhist soldiers died in the Pacific, Japanese American Buddhists died on behalf of American interests in Europe. At one point, the world's grisly battlefields laid strewn with Buddhist bodies on both sides. World War II was hell.

The Buddhist aspect of WWII is yet to be told. President Obama's proclamation of AAPI Heritage month opens the way for deeper dialogue. We are indebted to his leadership and must join together in our efforts to address predjudice of the past.

The Pacific Island experience of Hawaii also deserves recognition. Today, the aging remnants of American's 1960s hippie New Age movement, including the legendary Ram Das, pervade the Hawaiian Islands. Their new-found indulgence in Eastern spirituality flutters through palm trees in a myriad of exotic boutique tourist retreats. The Dalai Lama has visited twice--each time extolling the virtues of  peace and the taming of indigenous anger. At times it seems the spirit of Aloha has been righteously appropriated by luxury vacation marketeers and Western spiritualists.

Princess Ka'iulani at 10 yrs
Princess Kaiulani
This month however, let the stories of King Kameamea, Queen Ka Ľahumanu, Queen Liliuokalani and Princess Kaiulani resound in our hearts from the Hawaiian point of view. We owe it to them and the better part of ourselves.  Let's admit they were treated as a culture that stood in the way.  Their human legacy was subordinated then and now to secure America's Westernmost military outpost invasively peopled by an Anglicized civilian population.

Having been stripped of sovereignty, they had no choice. Hawaiians stood by powerlessly as the Japanese arm of Hitler's War defiled their sacred shores. They unwillingly paid a price that saved continental America tremendous grief. It's hardly ever mentioned that if it were not for Pearl Harbor the Japanese fleet may have targeted Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, or San Diego. Instead, Anglicized Hawaii is championed for taking the brunt of the war's first volley. The ancient Hawaiian Kingdom remains unacknowledged for enduring attack by the enemies of an America some would say illegally occupied native Hawaiian lands.

The Untouchables of India also deserve a place at the Asian American table. Despite the perception they only exist in India, the often exploited Untouchable community lives among us. Within the last decade torrid stories of sexploitation, pedophilia, fraud, slavery, and death have come forward. Hundreds of Untouchable men, women, and children sought justice and release from bondage in Berkeley, California (2001). India's Untouchable (Dalit) Ambedkarite Buddhist movement is the largest and most dynamic social uplift movement in the modern era. The amount of human beings involved is greater than those affected by Aung San Suu Kyi, Thich Nhat Hanh and the Dalia Lama combined. Jai Bhim. Yet, we know little of their plight in America and abroad.

All this and much more must be considered before the truth of Asian American and Pacific Island experience can be fully appreciated. We are all participants in the American democratic experiment whether our experience has been positive or negative. The AAPI experience has been both. When the results are finally in, my hope is that Buddhism in America will have a compassionate role of informed caring commensurate to its doctrine. A short list of AAPI contributions is worthy of recognition. But in truth, meditating for ten thousand million billion years could not express the gratitude we owe to the nameless faceless Asian American and Pacific Islander Americans who have contributed to our nation.

Well done Mr. President...

Monday, January 30, 2012

Taiwan Monk offers hope to African orphans with Buddhist teachings

Taipei, Taiwan -- Master Hui Li, chairman of the South Africa-based Amitofo Care Centre (ACC), decided to set up orphanages in Africa after an eye-opening visit to South Africa in 1992.

During that trip, Hui Li saw the devastating effect that HIV/AIDS was having on the children of the country and decided that Buddhist teaching were the solution to the misery he saw.

"The fundamental principle of Buddhism is that everyone is equal," the 56-year-old said in a recent interview with CNA. "Practicing Buddhism helps heal the kids and teaches them how to treat others with respect."

At present, he added, his non-profit organization has adopted more than 3,000 orphans across the continent in countries such as Malawi, Swaziland and Lesotho. Source

Friday, January 6, 2012

Buddha-shaped pears

Buddha-shaped pears grow on the trees at an orchard in Weixian county, north China's Hebei province. Hao Xianzhang, a local fruit farmer, spent six years to perfect the process by growing the pears inside molds.

Thursday, April 28, 2011

The Buddhist temple built using 1.5million recycled beer bottles

"Built using more than a million beer bottles, this incredible temple in the north-east of Thailand is a novel way to recycle any empties.

The resident Buddhist monks at the Wat Pa Maha Chedi Kaew complex encourage local authorities to deposit any used bottles at the temple which they then use to build new structures.

Having already built the a temple and even shelters, the monks who live in the town of Khun Han really have got into the spirit of recycling." Article

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Non-Violent Prisoner Strike in Georgia Crosses Racial Lines

Buddhist or not, this model of non-violence is worthy of note, globally.

"Non-Violent Prisoner Strike in Georgia Crosses Racial Lines
Fed up with their living and working conditions, prisoners across the state of Georgia last week staged a six-day mass peaceful protest that transcended racial boundaries.

Black, Latino and white inmates at least six prisons, including Hays State Prison, Telfair State Prison, Macon State Prison and Smith State Prison, banded together to show their unhappiness by staying in their cells. The families of some prisoners reported that corrections officers responded violently, destroying personal effects and beating inmates at one penitentiary while another facility cut off the hot water supply.

Inmates spent months coordinating the protest by using cell phones smuggled into the prisons.

They have demanded better living conditions, medical care and nutrition, more educational and self-improvement opportunities, wages for work performed in prison and better access to their families, among other demands." Article

Friday, February 26, 2010

Ron Allen....Detroit

2006 Los Angeles Poverty Department (LAPD) invited African American Buddhist priest and a Viet Nam veteran Ron Allen to direct poetry workshops on Skid Row. FRIED POETRY is a skilletful of individual and group spoken word pieces and music on the subjects of spirituality and recovery from addiction. In Fried Poetry, LAPDer's invoke their insights into recovery as means of healing self and society.

"There is no question that Dharma has taken hold in Detroit. In the face of great odds, closed-off highways and harsh winters, Still Point fills every Sunday. We have over 120 members now. There is a waiting list for seminary slots. Two years ago, Kogam Gary Schwocho started a sangha in Royal Oak, Muddy Water Zen. It will only grow. Bodhidharma Ron Allen is a one man prophet of the Dharma – he has his own set of formal students and has integrated Buddhist teachings into his plays and poetry, most notably his recent play about the Tibetan Book of the Dead." Article