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social justice

Support our retreat scholarship fund

We’re grateful to be able to offer our spring 2020 retreat in a full Gift Economy model, with scholarships available for all who need them. More than half of the retreat participants have requested some amount of scholarship support, and it is only through the generosity of the larger community that we are able to fulfill these requests and make …

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How [and why] to have hard conversations! (Family holiday edition)

Here come the turkeys. It’s time once again for the increasingly ragged American tradition of sitting around a cluttered dinner table with people you love but have issues with, trying to make the occasion about gratitude, and trying not to trip any of the land mines nestled between the cranberries and gravy. Chief among the nestled dangers for many of …

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Ancestral Trauma & the Insight into Previous Births

The Buddha’s insights into the nature of identity and its relationship with pain and distress are expressed in three important concepts: Dependent Origination (paṭiccasamuppāda), wandering (saṃsāra), and selflessness or insubstantiality (anattā). These are among the most challenging teachings in the tradition partly because they are based in phenomena that few practitioners can observe directly: past lives, the process of cause …

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Dāna & the ancient practice of Gift Economy

In my home tradition of Theravāda Buddhism, teachings are traditionally given freely, without a set price or limitation. When this works well, those with more material resources and those with less can both give to support the community, each in a way that is sustainable for them.

Wildfires, Unrighteous Rulers

The worst fire ever in California history in terms of death toll (the “Camp Fire”) just burned down the entire town of Paradise, outside of Chico. And the president, as usual, said unfactual, unhelpful, unkind things (like that if people had just raked leaves more, like they do in Finland, this wouldn’t have happened). Wow. In so many ways. So …

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Mettā is a Prayer for World Peace

A few days after the Pittsburgh Synagogue bombing by an anti-semitic white nationalist, we practice and discuss the radical communal prayer called mettā (Loving-kindness, benevolence, friendliness). How radiating mettā to All Beings, including the difficult ones, is the same as praying for world peace. Meditation: Breath, whole body, and radiating mettā to all beings (10.30.18) Talk: Mettā is a prayer …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 2

Continuing from Part 1, I talk here more about the value of anger, and differentiating types of strong aversive emotion. Anger, rage, critique, and tone. What’s skillful or unskillful for individual or communal liberation? Self-protective nervous system responses, tone-policing, who gets to decide who speaks and how, and how a classical Buddhist approach might not actually be the same as …

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Toward an Enraged Buddhism, Part 1

Reevaluating anger and rage on a week where writing about rage, and especially women’s rage at injustice, is hitting threshold in my community. A simple promo post for this talk initiated a lovely, spread out conversation with folks on FB, including Rebecca Solnit, who has written eloquently (as always) on this. There’s a bunch of good links in the comment …

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Reflections on Right Speech After the Kavanaugh Hearings

Like so many folks, I was troubled by the Senate hearings on Brett Kavanaugh’s fitness for the Supreme Court. Besides the disgusting display of male privilege and delusion the entire thing displayed, AND the heartbreakingly familiar ritual of powerful men completely dismissing a woman’s fully respectable testimony, there was the lying, plain and simple. And of course this is an …

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Positionality is Ancestral Karma

Two talks on the complex current discourse known as “positionality”, which basically means that the social roles and conditioned state we experience the world through determine how and what we can perceive and know. I propose that the practice of inquiry into positionality is both a foundation for the insight into the emptiness of the sense of self (anattā), and …

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