Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!

Bisexual, Female, Western and Buddhist: There are a lot more of us than you might think!, by Sally Ember, Ed.D.: written in response to Black, Bisexual, and Buddhist: Zenju Earthlyn Manuel is not afraid to embrace who she is. by Kimberly Winston, August 05, 2015
http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

Zenju Earthlyn Manuel relates that she “often sees surprise in the faces of the students as she is introduced.” She believes this is due to the fact that “she doesn’t look like many of them expect. She isn’t Asian. She isn’t a man. And she isn’t white.”

ZenjuPic4
Zenju Earthlyn Manuel, photo from TRICYCLE article in online Buddhist magazine, http://www.tricycle.com/blog/black-bisexual-and-buddhist

She recently published: The Way of Tenderness: Awakening Through Race, Sexuality, and Gender, known here as “her second book of dharma, or Buddhist teachings, published in February by Wisdom Publications. In it, Manuel, who follows the Zen tradition, calls on Buddhists not to ignore those ways they may be different, whether it’s because of their color, gender, or sexual orientation.”

She and others call this idea a “‘multiplicity of oneness’—–[which] is somewhat controversial within Buddhism, where the teachings have tended to focus on moving beyond the physical to find the spiritual. But Manuel and a handful of other Western Buddhists—–including a number of African-American teachers–—are embracing the idea as crucial to enlightenment, a state free from anxiety that is the ultimate goal of Buddhism.”

Manuel and I have a lot in common, so I felt moved to respond to this article about her and her teaching, her writing and her spiritual life. I resonate with some aspects; others are quite different for me.

Manuel is 62; I am about to be 61. That means we are contemporaries who are natives of the same country.

She reports that she “has had a multiplicity of lives, all of which inform her work.” My C.V.—my academic and total resume—is over seven pages long. I have also moved over thirty times, having lived in states on both coasts, the midwest and the southwest of the USA. These varied aspects of my professional and personal lives must constitute a “multiplicity,” don’t you think?

Her personal history includes “violence, poverty and prejudice,” which my life contains, also. Heavier on the violence and prejudice than the poverty, for me, but all were there.

Manuel states that she has “been an activist since the tumultuous 1970s”; I started being a vocal, active feminist activist while still in grade school, moved into anti-war and anti-nuclear power activism, continued with feminism and got into reproductive rights activism and other issues as well. I started earlier by about 10 years, but then we both kept on keeping on.

Manuel says that she “has also known fear and rejection because she is bisexual,” but I mostly do not have that experience, perhaps because I didn’t “come out” publicly as bisexual until the 1990s, when it seemed almost no one cared anymore and I was a confident adult with a supportive community and family. I did lose a female friend in college in the early 1970s when I clumsily invited her to be my lover, but usually I did not experience either rejection or fear due to my sexual orientation. Not everyone I approached agreed to be my lover, but their rejections had nothing to do with my being attracted to both genders. So, our lives diverged there significantly.

She “was raised a Christian but discovered Buddhism in 1988,” whereas I was raised Jewish and discovered Buddhist in the early 1980s. However, I had already been meditating in the Transcendental Meditation (T.M.) tradition since 1972. Similar, but not the same, here.

Mostly, though, we share significant components of our cultural, personal and historical location and background. The major difference is that she is Black and I am White/Anglo. Our other intersecting social identities create affinities that few other commonalities could, especially since our experiences led us both to become immersed seriously and deeply in Buddhist practice.

Appallingly, however, she had the misfortune to have had a couple of Zen teachers who “suggested if she ‘dropped the labels’ of ‘African-American,’ of ‘bisexual,’ of ‘woman,’ she would ‘be liberated.’ That is ridiculous and has nothing to do with authentic Buddhism. I’m sorry she had those teachers or allowed them to affect her. Obviously, by trying to accomplish this (the impossible), she was not “liberated.” Furthermore, these attempts did not ease her suffering; in fact, she reported that she became more unhappy.

Eventually, she discovered on her own what Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism (my tradition) has always taught: embrace everything, cling to nothing. While bushwhacking her own path through Zen traditions that were not friendly to her, she arrived at, in her words: “’complete tenderness’—–the experience of walking through her pain, knowing it, living with it, but not being controlled by it—–by confronting her suffering caused by her upbringing and identity as an African-American bisexual woman.”

I challenge this idea, though, that her suffering was “caused” by her identities at that point. I would conclude instead that her suffering was exacerbated early in her Zen journey by the ignorance and arrogance of those Zen teachers who misdirected her, then aggravated by her willingness to follow their misdirections for too long. It isn’t who she was that was the problem; it’s he ways a few teachers positioned who she was with respect to her spiritual path that caused her pain.

Despite being misled by some teachers, Manuel continued within Zen all the way to becoming ordained as a Zen Priest, when she was “given the name ‘Zenju,’ which means ‘complete tenderness.’” She now leads a small, all-female sangha that meets where she lives, in Oakland, California (near San Francisco), many of whom are also identifying as women of color.

I’m glad she found a way through all that, but it was so unnecessary. There are many USA-based Zen sanghas, some right near her that I am personally aware of, in which she would not have had those experiences. We could say it was her karma to have had those encounters, and we’d be correct, since everything we experience is always due to our karma.

But, it is not inherent to the nature of Zen or Buddhism to treat students in those ways. I need to emphasize this truth, since it appears from this Tricycle article and perhaps her book (I haven’t read it, so I’m not sure) that it is inevitable that students of backgrounds similar to hers will encounter prejudice and extreme difficulties due to their social identities everywhere they go in Buddhist communities. Simply not true.

I have observed, though, that too many Buddhist communities in the USA and Canada are populated by a disproportionate number of middle- and upper-class Whites/Anglos in comparison to the number of participants from other ethnicities and class backgrounds. I’m glad to say that these imbalances have been recognized by most leaders and other members: many sanghas are doing extensive outreach to rectify them.

I don’t know if Manuel’s Oakland Zen sitting group is deliberately all women or intentionally mostly women of color; perhaps it is open to everyone, but her being who she is, as the teacher, attracted more practitioners similar to her. That does happen, that spiritual teachers attract students who see themselves as similar to their teachers.

The only similarity that actually matters, though, is that we are all human and we all need to train our minds, develop more compassionate hearts, and liberate ourselves from delusions that cause suffering. Therefore, I believe deliberately segregating ourselves by gender, class, background or any other social identity is a mistake when it comes to creating and maintaining spiritual community. I know there are specific occasions when such segregation can be useful or necessary, but mostly, let’s not.

Clearly, the Buddhist path works well for Manuel and she believes it can work well for other women of color, bisexual or not. In that, we agree.

The Buddha supposedly taught over 84,000 types of meditation so that each individual who wants to practice will be able to find a path that works. In a large enough community with sufficient numbers of paths and teachers, I’m sure that is possible: everyone who wants to learn to meditate in the Buddhist tradition could do so.

Northern California, USA, is such a locale, with dozens or even hundreds of Buddhist teachers and sangha options scattered throughout the rural, suburban and urban areas, each slightly or very different from the other. I used to live there and I miss it a lot.

St. Louis, Missouri, USA, is not such a locale. It is not bereft entirely of Buddhists or Buddhist communities, but there is none in my exact tradition. I find that I am not so interested in attending the groups that are dissimilar. I enjoy meditating on my own just fine. I do miss my sangha and those important, guiding interactions, but not enough to join some other group, yet.

Meanwhile, this female, bisexual Buddhist who was raised Jewish and is White/Anglo is meditating and attempting to liberate in this lifetime alongside or including, but not despite, my social identities. I am lucky to have occasional conversations with my spiritual teacher, Lama Padma Drimed Norbu, by telephone, and regular contact with geographically distant sangha members via SKYPE, social media and email.

May all beings benefit. I wish you all the best in your practices.

Buddha thinking creates happiness

For #1000Speak for #Compassion: What Compassion Means to Me

Today is the second date of this year for bloggers and posters all over the world to join this growing movement, #1000Speak for #Compassion by posting a response to: “What does compassion mean to you?”

1000 Speak for Compassion 6-20-15

For #1000Speak for #Compassion: What Compassion Means to Me

1000 voices Compassion invitation


My first empowering Tibetan Buddhist teacher, the late His Eminence Chagdud Tulku Rinpoche, taught frequently on the topic of compassion because, as he said in every teaching I ever attended of his, motivation is the the most important part of anyone’s practice, with an emphasis on bodhicitta, “the awakened heart,” which means spontaneously emanating compassion. Compassionate motivation ought to be at the forefront of every thought, word, and action for everyone who has taken Refuge with a Buddhist teacher.

This is important because the surface Refuge vow, not to harm, does not seem to include any motivation or intention within it. Yet, it does; it must.

For Buddhists, to experience Compassion is to have the heartfelt wish to alleviate all other beings’ suffering, which we do as best we are able in every moment.

In contrast, to Love another is to put that being’s happiness (not temporary, mundane happiness, but ultimate, liberation-from-delusion-and-suffering-type-happiness) above our own.

There are pitfalls, especially for Westerners, which many Buddhist teachers explain and admonish us about.

—“Idiot compassion” is ill-advised. This type of response is reactive, gooey, “Awww” at a kitten video on YouTube feeling, or pity: not actual compassion at all. See above definition for a refresher. It also encourages the acceptance of what ought never to be accepted by being misguided as to what compassion entails. People who do harmful things must face the consequences. We can feel compassion toward them WHILE exacting appropriate measures to ensure they do no further harm.

—“Enabling” is not loving or compassionate action, yet putting others’ ultimate happiness above our own can sound like a recipe for co-dependence. The practitioner must be able to discern between aiding someone to attain some kind of superficial, temporary, mundane pleasures and assisting someone to gain ultimate, spiritual liberation: only the latter is the kind of happiness we strive to accomplish for/with others.

Pity is not compassion (see above). This is more complex than it may appear, however, because pity requires a hierarchy: “I am above you, I am better (off) than you, and therefore, I am in a position to judge, assess, and perhaps help you” and “I feel sorry for you (sympathy)” are those scripts.

—Contrast pity with actual compassion: “I feel with you (empathy). I have been and sometimes still/often are where you are now. We are more the same than different. When I am able to help you, I do so knowing that I, too, frequently need similar help.”

—Without compassion for oneself, it is impossible to feel genuine compassion for others. Self-compassion is not self-indulgence, however, and does not absolve one of taking responsibility, being accountable and striving to improve oneself at all times.

Compassion includes no “free pass.” Feeling compassion towards someone does mean we excuse or accept their every word, action or intention as wonderful. We can maintain our ability to evaluate others’ actions and work to prevent future harm WHILE we feel compassion for their situation and confusion. See above, for “idiot compassion.”

Meditation on exchanging-self-for-other is the key to experiencing spontaneous compassion for all beings. This means that we learn to see ourselves as the same as all other living beings: fundamentally wanting the same things and living in bodies unite us. At first, we pray to experience compassion for all, but usually, we feel compassion primarily for those we already care about and love. Therefore, in our practice, we state that we do feel compassion for all beings, even when we don’t. Eventually, with sufficient practice, we spontaneously feel nonjudgmental, evenly spread compassion for all beings, regardless of their status, condition, relationship to us, or location.

I have noticed a dramatic rise in my ability to feel compassion, even for the most heinous criminals, horribly harmful people, by remembering two things:
1. This being is merely trying to be happy, but because of karma and experiences, is completely confused as to how to achieve that and actually works against that goal, making their own misery and misery for others as well as bad karma.
2. This being and I are connected, as all beings are connected: somewhere, sometime, in some physical form or another, we have been/are each other’s mothers.

WORKS EVERY TIME.

I wish you all the best and may all beings benefit.

1000 Speak for Compassion

“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”: Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

I am so pleased to welcome Fran Connor as my guest blogger today. Fran is a scriptwriter/screenwriter, novelist and blogger living in France but hailing from the UK who was my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors for Episode 25.

Fran has several well-considered opinions, which he calls “rants,” that he’s decided to share with us all today. Comment here and send comments directly to his email , as requested.

For more information about how to reach Fran and know more about his writing, or to become a guest 0on CHANGES or become a guest blogger on my site, see below his post.

Thanks for visiting!


“#Censorship, #Violence, #Buying Ratings, and #Compassion”
Fran Connor’s Guest Blog Post

changes 1

#Censorship

That’s a title that immediately puts writers on one side of the line or the other, with a few sitting on the fence getting a corrugated derriere.

But we all participate in censorship when we write, don’t we? And if we don’t, should we?

I’m working on a project at present that involves people in the seventeenth century. Rich people. The ones who lived in huge mansions bought with the proceeds of the slave trade.

And I got to thinking about the protagonist. A man of his time. Good to his family. A God-fearing churchgoer. He helps the poor villagers in his English village by providing meat from the deer on his estate during the winter. He provides schooling for the village children so they can learn to read, write and better their chances in the future. He treats his wife as almost equal. ‘Almost’? Yes, almost, because he is a man of his time. And, of course, he’s kind to his dog.

He makes his fortune by shipping slaves across the Atlantic. He’s following his Christian faith; the Bible allows him to deal in slaves.

STOP! You can’t have that. Oh no, no no. How can you have a sympathetic Christian main character who makes his living from slavery? It simply would not be tolerated by many readers of today’s novels usually attracted to this genre. Not unless he “sees the light” on the way to Damascus, and my guy doesn’t see the light. Such characters existed. Perhaps historians could get away with it in an academic tome, but not a novelist aiming at an Historical Romance clientele.

Or, could I get away with it? It may stir up some complaints, and as we know, even bad publicity can be good for sales.

So I will have to make him earn his fortune elsewhere in order not to alienate my readers. I need to censor my writing.

What if I were not to censor my writing and went ahead glorifying a man who chained people in the depths of a sailing ship in horrendous conditions for months? I would probably have rotten tomatoes or worse thrown at me at the book signing!

Sadly, there would be people out there who would love such a character. It would strengthen their racist and bigoted opinions. I wouldn’t want that, so I should censor the piece.

It isn’t a case of being politically correct. It’s a case of trying not to deliberately upset people. I think most of us would do the same: self-censor. Apart from anything else, it would be literary suicide to annoy your readers.

What do you think?

Tell me at: francis@connorscripts.com


#Violence

Then we have the horrific depiction of violence against women in many novels, films and on TV. Why? What’s the point?

The point is that it sells. Sex sells. It always has and always will. And for most of us, there is nothing wrong or evil about sex between consenting adults, either heterosexual or same-sex. But, sex mixed with violence is a heady concoction and unleashes the demons inside some readers and viewers.

There are those who would argue that it does no such thing. After thirty-three years in a UK police force, I would argue to the contrary. But I’m not an intellectual, as I have already said, so I suppose one of those would dispute my claim.

Why are we fixated on murder and violence? Have we not come far from the days of Imperial Rome, where a good afternoon’s entertainment was to see men fight to the death or lions eat unfortunate victims? I think the answer to that is: “No, we haven’t.”

I self-censor my sex scenes to ensure that I do not depict women as victims. Many other writers do the same. Some do not.

Most people will be fortunate not to be murdered or not know anyone who has been murdered. It is, thankfully, still a rare crime in most civilized countries. If someone close to you has been murdered or you have been sexually assaulted, how do you feel about the subject being the source of entertainment?

Should the depiction of women as victims or murder as entertainment be censored by the authorities if writers won’t self-censor?

I don’t know the answer to that. Do you?

Please send your views to: francis@connorscripts.com


#Buying ratings

We all want to see our work hit the number one best-seller target on Amazon, but how far are we willing to go in order to achieve that goal?

Like most authors, I use the various tactics available for increasing my exposure and soliciting reviews. Recently, however, I came across a site that “guaranteed sales of at least one thousand books” if they were priced at $0.99. The cost of this service was $1400.

One thousand sales in a short period will push your ratings quite high. Now I’ve been in this game for a few years, I’m no expert, but I’m no fool either. I can’t think of any way that one can guarantee that one thousand people will buy your book at $0.99. There must be an angle, a catch, something fishy going on. I can’t claim to know what it is, but I would suggest that it could be the use of clever software or simply one person buying one thousand Kindle copies. Would that strike an alarm in Amazon? Again, I don’t know, but I expect that it would.

The supplier of this service spends out $990 but gets paid $1400. Not a bad return.

My point isn’t getting at the supplier. Someone sees a niche in the market and fills it. That’s enterprise. My point is: why would we consider purchasing the service? Because it may lead to more genuine sales and perhaps or possibly or maybe lead to recovering your $1400 outlay?

I suggest that you are unlikely to get any reviews, good or bad, from the alleged purchasers of your $0.99 book. So, is it ethical to use this service? Do ethics have any place in today’s cut-throat publishing scramble?

If you have any views on this, please send them to: francis@connorscripts.com


One more rant! #Compassion

I saw in late May that the state of Texas decided to execute a man who was in his late sixties after he had served thirty-one years in prison awaiting execution and going through all the legal appeals. His last one obviously had failed. He had been convicted of four murders and may well have been guilty, although that is not always a given.

One often hears politicians and others saying “God Bless America.” On the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 atrocities, I heard President Obama say “May God continue to bless America.”

Makes me wonder why God would bless a country that lacks compassion.

This is just the view of a Brit. You can argue with me at: francis@connorscripts.com


The comments above are those of author and screenwriter, Fran Connor, and not necessarily the views of the host of this blog, Sally Ember, Ed.D.


Fran Connor is the author of:

The Devil’s Bridge

devil's bridge final fron
http://www.amazon.com/Devils-Bridge-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00N02YN6C/

Someone to Watch Over Me

someone to watch over me 2
http://www.amazon.com/Someone-Watch-Over-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00XV2MW2I/

Sophia and the Fisherman

sophia final 3
http://www.amazon.com/Sophia-Fisherman-Fran-Connor-ebook/dp/B00VQVQAME/

Visit Fran: http://www.connorscripts.com


Fran Connor was also my guest on CHANGES conversations between authors, an almost-weekly, Google+/Youtube video chat show, on Episode 25. Watch conversations with my previous CHANGES guests any time: http://goo.gl/eX0D8T

OPENINGS 7/8 and beyond! #Authors, especially those in sci-fi/speculative fiction and who blog, learn more about and get yourself on CHANGES, and
#Readers, recommend an #author to be scheduled as a guest: http://goo.gl/1dbkZV


If you’d like to be a Guest Blogger, please visit my Guest Bloggers’ Hall of Fame and learn what’s involved.

Thanks for visiting, commenting, following, and enjoying this site! http://www.sallyember.com

Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

We have more than a year to go and the field is crowded and, to me, depressingly unfit to run for President in 2016. In listening to, watching and reading about the current candidates, I despair. So, I’m dispensing FREE advice to them. I hope they listen and behave appropriately.

Top 10 Characteristics #Presidential #Candidates for the #USA 2016 Race Should Have

  1. Honesty. Seems obvious, but so far, every candidate from the two main parties, except Bernie Sanders, seems to be an inveterate, pathological liar. Bad start. Even worse are Presidents who lie to us: had way too many of those in the last few decades, right?
  2. Integrity. Also seems obvious. Again, sorely lacking in every mainstream candidate to date, except possibly Bernie Sanders. When is the last time we had a President holding office with integrity? Jimmy Carter? Pathetic crew we’ve had since then. Bums and liars, every one.

    See saw characterics
    image from http://www.free-management-ebooks.com

  3. Reliability. I want a President who can be relied upon to behave in consistent ways, espouse similar beliefs today as he/she will in four years and did four years go or more, and generally be somewhat predictable, while being open to learning and changing, when appropriate. Few candidates do exhibit this criterion, but it is fulfillable.
  4. Relatability. Have some qualities, experiences, life achievements that I can relate to, that we have in common. We don’t have to be exactly alike, but if a candidate has NOTHING in common with me except having a human body and being a parent, how can I believe that such a President would be able to consider and be empathetic to me, my circumstances?
  5. Advocacy. I want candidates who demonstrate strong passion, commitment, diligence, devotion and inspiration for their chosen causes, especially those that help people, geographic areas, other aspects of political life that have few advocates. I might not like what these candidates are supporting, but I would respect their ability to advocate and expect them to engage in advocacy successfully, when President.

    Characteristics
    image from http://www.viacharacter.org

  6. Ethics. This may seem redundant, but our Presidencies have been sorely lacking in all of the above characteristics for so long it seems we must be specific and particular, here. I want Candidates who hold strong moral positions and do not waver, even if those are based on their religious beliefs which I do not support or adhere to, myself. However, it is unethical for Presidents to impose their personal beliefs on the political system. I want them to know that and behave (and vote/veto) accordingly. “Separation of Church and State” is not just a bumper sticker. Marriage equality, anti-racism, compassion for the poor and downtrodden, equity, age/ability/gender/class fairness and anti-sexism are ethical positions my Candidates should also support completely. Do we have any like that, besides Bernie Sanders?
  7. Intelligence. Candidates must be educated AND intelligent. They must understand and employ science, logic, appropriate argument and rational thinking in all areas. A President must know what questions to ask, whom to ask, and when to say “I need more time and more information before deciding.” A President has to know whom to trust and which “research” is bogus. Is that so much to ask?
  8. Compassion. Kindness, empathy, sympathy, caring: emotional intelligence, or EQ, lead to and contain enormous compassion and are fundamental to the kind of person I want to run for President, critical for anyone actually getting elected. Not just for those “like us,” or for those we already care about, but compassion for ALL. That’s what I’m talking about. We have had many Presidents in the last few decades sorely lacking in compassion, with dire outcomes for us and the world that were caused by that deficiency.
  9. Humor. We really can’t have Candidates without a sense of humor. It’s not only boring, it’s scary when they can’t laugh at themselves, at appropriate jokes, at silliness. We need a President who isn’t afraid to be mockable, who will go on Saturday Night Live and be funny. Knowing when to be serious and when to be humorous are essential qualities for MY President!
  10. Health and Longevity. Here is where things fall apart for Bernie Sanders. What is the point of running if the candidate won’t be able to serve for more than one term? Not to be ageist, and I hope I’m wrong, but since he’s already almost 74, how could Sanders possibly serve in one of the most stressful, time-intensive jobs ever devised, as he goes into his early 80s? Serve well, I mean. Possible, but not likely, right?

Qualities
image from http://blogs.gartner.com

All right. If current Candidates (or future ones) do NOT measure up, BOOT THEM OUT! Demand better Candidates! Run, yourself, if you measure up!

“Top 10 Scientific Benefits of Compassion” for #1000Speak for Compassion day

“Top 10 Scientific Benefits of Compassion” is a reblog from Emma Seppala from December, 2013, that is still very timely.

http://www.emmaseppala.com/top-10-scientific-benefits-of-compassion-infographic/

Excellent! Everyone and the planet and all beings benefit!

Kindness Blog

To view correctly, please click the image and then click again to magnify!

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“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

from the organizers:

“Be A Part Of A Movement: #1000Speak for #Compassion” 2/20/15

1000 Speak for Compassion

“How cool would it be if we could get 1000 bloggers on the same day to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgement etc.?
“We could call it 1000 Voices For Compassion.
“Who’s in?
“When: February 20, 2015

“How: Write a post TODAY on your blog or Facebook or Google + or LinkedIn or Instagram or any other social media you use about #compassion. What does it mean to you? How has it affected you? How can we bring more of it to those who need it?

“Really, there are no rules, just as long as it’s about compassion.”

From the Facebook group devoted to this event:

Let’s get 1000 bloggers to write posts about compassion, kindness, support, caring for others, non-judgment, care for the environment etc, and ALL PUBLISH ON THE SAME DAY (Feb 20th) to flood the Blogosphere with GOOD! Use the hashtag #1000Speak to promote this event.

I am one of the more than 1000, today.

My post about compassion:
As many of you know, I am a Buddhist (in this and many lifetimes, apparently) in the Tibetan Vajrayana Nyingma tradition. During the many times I’ve listened to teachers speak and I have read the writings of others on topic of compassion, the definition of compassion is what stays with me consistently. According to Buddhism, compassion arises spontaneously within us and moves us to do our best to alleviate the suffering of others.

For me, the companion to this definition is the Buddhist view of love. In the Buddhists’ view, when we feel authentic love, we are moved to speak, think and act in ways that would be most likely to bring about the circumstances that generate happiness for the object of our love and do our best to prevent their being unhappy, even when it means we put them first, above ourselves.

Furthermore, His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama has been quoted repeatedly, as other teachers before and around him have, also, as giving advice along these lines: “If you want to be happy, focus on helping others be happy.”

Add in the multiple lifetimes component, or karma, and we hear this advice repeatedly throughout Buddhist teachings: “If you want to discover what your past lifetimes were like, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words. If you want to plant the seeds of your future happiness, look at your present behaviors, thoughts and words.”

NOW is what matters most.

Dalai Lama Compassion

Then, there are the instructions and advice for daily living that arise from teachings on The 6 Paramitas (usually translated as “6 Perfections”), such as Pema Chödrön, an American woman who became one of the first Western Tibetan Buddhist nuns, teachers and authors, spoke about in The Places that Scare You, page 98

THE SIX WAYS OF COMPASSIONATE LIVING
Generosity. Giving as a path of learning to let go.

Discipline. Training in not caushing harm in a way that is daring and flexible.

Patience. Training in abiding with the restlessness of our energy and letting things evolve at their own speed. If waking up takes forever, still we go moment by moment, giving up all hope of fruition and enjoying the process.

Joyful enthusiasm. Letting go of our perfectionism and connecting with the living quality of every moment.

Meditation. Training in coming back to being right here with gentleness and precision.

Prajna (or transcendent wisdom). Cultivating an open, inquiring mind.

The Places that Scare You cover

Putting that all together has given me a great blueprint for my life. I base my minute-by-minute and larger decisions on determinations of how I can be most effective in helping others be happy, especially those I love, by practicing the 6 Paramitas. I combine that with seeking what I am able to accomplish that might help alleviate others’ suffering, even that of strangers or beings I do not know or come into contact with in my current circumstances.

With those aims in my heart, I make it my daily spiritual practice to try to live my life imbued with compassion and love for others.

I frequently fail.

I am impatient. I am selfish. I get angry. I am self-centered. I forget my aims. I lose sight of my heart-centered, larger goals by getting trapped in minutiae and short-term satisfaction. I want what I want and too often I see everything as a zero-sum game I am determined to win. I have been trained in these values, these behaviors and these perspectives: they are second-nature to me.

That’s the reason it’s called spiritual practice: we have to keep trying, keep re-dedicating ourselves to the attempt, moment by moment, day by day. These attitudes do not come naturally to me; I was not provided with a lot of role models on how great it is to be kind, to be generous, to be diligent, to be focused on others’ happiness, to put myself second. I have to strive more sometimes than others, but I usually have to try. Hard.

It is difficult. Scary. Frustrating. Discouraging.

But, I am resolute. Committed. Determined. I have taken vows to this effect, starting with the most basic vow that all Buddhists take, the vow not to harm.

My best moments are characterized by a look back, comparing it to now, and noticing that I haven’t had to put in any effort to feel and act in compassionate ways. When these urges arise spontaneously, I am even more joyful. I know I have had a successful moment when the love I feel for someone really does inspire me to be unselfish and put them first.

When embodying the 6 Paramitas as best I can is making others as well as ME happy, it’s a good moment, a good hour, a good day, a good life.

Excellent moments are surrounded by many in which I am ordinary, selfish and ungenerous.

I re-dedicate myself and continue to practice.

Just keep going

Some days, some moments, my compassion and love practices seem to have taken root.

I hope yours do, also.

Participate in #1000Speak by following this link and the links within the following post.
http://driftingthrough.com/2015/01/16/be-a-part-of-a-movement-1000speak/


Very cool #Author moment report: Last month, as I was writing this blog post and looking for an image via Google’s free images, I put in: “‘Keep Going’ Buddhist,” and what came up?
The book cover for my own book, Volume I, The Spanners Series, This Changes Everything!!! It was pretty far down, but it was there!

It is part of my practice to write Buddhist-themed books with practicing Buddhists as characters, but how did Google know that? Wow!
http://goo.gl/ujmgns

This-Changes-Everything----web-and-ebooks

18 Tweets/3 photos inspired by the live speech of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, 2-23-14, Berkeley, CA

His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, the long-time spiritual leader and former political leader of Tibetans in Exile visited the United States for several weeks in February, including a meeting with President Obama (link to news report about that visit below this post) and right here in the East Bay, Berkeley, California, today (Sunday), 2/23/14. It was sold out, but streamed live. I watched.

Here are 18 Tweets and 3 photos as well as link for more information about the Tibetan Freedom movement, below, inspired by today’s talk.

1. The Tibetan children’s singing of the Tibetan National Anthem w/H. H. the #DalaiLama followed by USA’s is both sweet & bitterly sad, to me.

2. Right now in Berkeley with Congressional Rep. Barbara Lee [Berkeley, CA, USA 13th Congressional District]

HH DL in visor 2014
image taken from live stream by Sally Ember, Ed.D., with cellphone camera; from video by http://www.ustream.tv/channel/how-to-achieve-happiness

3. H. H. went to put on his visor because lights too bright.

4. After Rep. Barbara Lee of #Berkeley intros H. H. the #DalaiLama, they sit together in his chair; he tells her: Stay there while he talks!

HH DL and Barbara Lee 2014
image taken from live stream by Sally Ember, Ed.D., with cellphone camera; from video by http://www.ustream.tv/channel/how-to-achieve-happiness

5. #DalaiLama: “Climate change is a disaster and will get worse.” “Individuals need community to be happy.” “Oneness of humanity is essential.”

6. #DalaiLama: “Money only provides you physical comfort,..not inner happiness//Genuine happiness not depends on external//Be compassionate.”

7. #DalaiLama is talking about sincerity of heart and I keep hearing the song from “Bye, Bye Birdie,” “You’ve Gotta Be Sincere.”

8. #DalaiLama:”The 20th century was the century of bloodshed and violence//should have paid more attention to compassion, love, harmony, peace”

9. #DalaiLama:”The Leading Nation of the Free World….should make significant contributions to education//Build sense of oneness of humanity.”

10. #DalaiLama:”All religions emphasize love & compassion//all should teach these//help bring inner peace//become a compassionate human being.”

11. #DalaiLama:”All religious traditions use different methods & philosophies to reach the same aims, to be compassionate// religious harmony.

12. #DalaiLama:”A nation’s being secular means to be not at all negative towards any religions: respect all faiths and nonbelievers.”

13. #DalaiLama: (not a quote; summary) To challenge the religious or political elite requires us to go against those that exploit the people.

14. #DalaiLama:”Honesty and inner values bring immense benefit to individuals and society//That is how to achieve happiness in life.”

15. #DalaiLama Q: how to motivate children to be happier and do well in school? “Not only through words, but through actions.”

16. #DalaiLama Q”What happens to the soul or loved ones after death?” A Death means “change your old clothes for new clothes” change body only.

17. #DalaiLama More about how to die: “Depends on beliefs.” “Consider God or meditate on compassion, whichever you believe in. Visualize love.”

18. #DalaiLama Q=”What do you do all day? What do you like to do for fun.” A= Daily, I dedicate my body, speech & mind to the welfare of others.

A better photo from this year, looking about the way His Holiness did today, visor and all, but with a different assistant next to him.
HH Dalai Lama different speech 2014
image from Tibetan TV, then article.wn.com

Want to learn more about and perhaps contribute to Tibetan’s Freedom Movement? http://www.freetibet.org/donate/now

Want to learn more about His Holiness’ visit with President Barack Obama this past Thursday, 2/21/14?
http://www.aljazeera.com/news/americas/2014/02/obama-host-dalai-lama-at-white-house-20142215611541188.html