A free press: Part one
28 minutes ago
I am most grateful for one organization, Lighthouse Trial Publishers (I agree with a great deal of their articles) which is disturbing the wickedness that continually infiltrates Christianity. I know personally that Northwest Nazarene University is full of demonic agendas. They hated me (a juror) for complaining to them concerning one of their professors who defended a dangerous drunk driver in court. He endeavored to come across as Mr. Religious, being a professor at a Bible university. He attempted to show the police as incompetent. They were totally competent as the video of the incident revealed. The defendant was convicted as rightly guilty. The whole trial was ugly and the response from the college to me was cruel and undeserved. They treated me like a criminal for complaining...
Below is a link to a video* of a lecture that took place at Northwest Nazarene University in Idaho, one of the Nazarene Universities that is strongly promoting the contemplative/emerging spirituality. The lecture, presented by NNU Thomas Oord and College of Idaho, Denny Clark, was taught by Dr. Jay McDaniel, a self-proclaimed “Christian” Buddhist universalist sympathizer who is said to be highly influenced by the late Catholic panentheistic monk, Thomas Merton. This is an 83 minute video, but for those who want to understand the paradigm shift that has occurred in the church and continues wooing millions with the mystical, universalist spirituality, this video is well worth the watch. But we warn you, it is very disturbing. Here is are two quotes from Jay McDaniel in the video:
“God has been … luring all people in the world toward different forms of wisdom … and we don’t have to equate them. It’s possible that a Buddhist might know something that’s truly different from what a Christian knows and they might be complimentary rather than contradictory. ”
“I think everything is interconnected. That’s part of my Buddhism.”
When asked by a student whether he believed that Jesus was “the way, the truth, and the life,” McDaniel stated that if Jesus had meant to say that He himself was the way, the truth, and the life, it would have been egocentric and arrogant of Jesus – He only meant to point people in the right direction – letting go of ego and grasping love. McDaniel stated also that Buddhist mindfulness (eastern meditation) is just as truth filled as doctrine and theology. He said there was an overemphasis in the church on doctrine calling it bibliolatry (idol worship of the Bible).
*The date that the NNU lecture with Dr. Jay McDaniel took place is October 12, 2006. Because the Nazarene universities are continuing to move in the same direction (toward the new mystical spirituality) as they were then, we believe it is appropriate to post this video now.
One of your blog posts quotes statements, from another website, about my book How to Stay Christian in College. Unfortunately, the quoted paragraph contains several misleading distortions. Before they go viral, allow me to correct them. Thank you for the opportunity.
1. “The book has references in the back of some editions to mystic emergent Tony Jones.” I have never read the works of Mr. Jones, have no idea what they are about, and have certainly never referred to them. Authors have no control over advertisements placed in the backs of their books by the publishers.
2. “Budziszewski himself is a proponent of contemplative prayer practices.” The term “contemplation” can mean many things, but the author means New Age mental practices, which I have consistently opposed. I have never encouraged Christians to work themselves up into altered states of consciousness.
Comment by J Budziszewski | January 6, 2010
Mr. J. Budziszewski,
You are a Catholic according to this website: http://www.ignatiusinsight.com/features2005/jbudziszewski_int1_feb05.asp Catholics are mystics who worship demons—false saints, verified by Wikipedia, Catholic Encyclopedia, Catholic websites, etc. God declares all idols are of demons. True Christians must not partake in the worship of idols and idolaters are kept out of heaven. Mysticism is forbidden throughout God’s inerrant Word, the Bible.
Are the statements below true?
“Susan made a quick call to Lighthouse Trails and asked what we knew about this author. We had not heard of him, but quickly learned that J. Budziszewski (pronounced Boo-jee-shef-ski) was an author and professor who had converted in 2004 from Protestantism to Catholicism We also learned he was a proponent of contemplative practices. He is a featured professor on contemplative-promoting Focus on the Family’s TrueU.org online university, telling students to practice lectio divina as a form of meditation…”
“It seemed quite ironic that someone who had left the Christian faith to follow contemplative Catholicism wrote a book to instruct high school students how to remain Christian while in college, when he had converted away from evangelical Christianity. And knowing that a Calvary Chapel high school was using this book was troubling. Interestingly, the first person Budziszewski quotes in How to Stay Christian in College is Lutheran-turned-Catholic priest, the late Richard John Neuhaus, who many would consider a friend in the emergent/Catholic conversation…”
Comment by Val Lee | January 7, 2010
Dear Mrs. Lee, I made two corrections: First, I do not promote New Age practices — in fact I oppose them. Second, I did not “reference” the works of the other author whom the article mentioned — I don’t even know who he is. The correction of these errors is my only purpose in writing to you. I am sorry that you are so misinformed about what Catholics believe, but I do not wish to be drawn into an argument with you about that. I recommend that Scripture be read in the spirit of prayer. Don’t you? Assuming that you allow the post, this will be my final comment. Peace be with you.
Comment by J Budziszewski | January 7, 2010
Human remains have been found near a home where investigators were searching for the body of a missing man who won millions of dollars in the lottery nearly four years ago, Florida sheriff's officials said.
Abraham Shakespeare, a 43-year-old truck driver's assistant, has been missing since April - though he wasn't reported missing until November. He had won a $31 million lottery jackpot in 2006, opting for a lump sum payment of nearly $17 million...
The remains were found at a home owned by the boyfriend of Dorice Moore. Polk County Sheriff Grady Judd has previously called Moore a "person of interest," though she has not been charged. Judd has characterized the case as a homicide.
On Dec. 5, Moore told The Ledger newspaper that she helped Shakespeare disappear, but now wants him to return because detectives were searching her home and car and looking for blood on her belongings.
In Tashilhunpo, pilgrims flock to pay homage at shrines honouring the Panchen Lamas. One of them contains a golden statue of the tenth Panchen Lama, who died in January 1989. The central government donated more than 60 million yuan and 600kg of gold for its construction. The tenth Panchen Lama stayed in China after the Dalai Lama’s flight to India in 1959. He was imprisoned during the 1960s and 70s, only to emerge in the 1980s as China’s chief spokesman on Tibetan Buddhism (even though he was privately critical of China’s stringent controls). Pilgrims appear unfazed by his ambivalent career, crowding forward to offer small banknotes and add yak butter to the flickering lamps in front of his statue.
This and several other Tashilhunpo shrines display three photographs of Panchen Lamas side by side, with the tenth in the middle, his predecessor to the left and the 11th to the right. The young man who now holds the title embodies China’s attempt at control over Tibetan Buddhism. He was appointed in 1995 at the age of six in a ceremony attended by top Chinese officials. China refused to accept the boy recognised by the Dalai Lama as the new incarnation. This alternative, non-state-sanctioned Panchen Lama has not been seen in public since and is believed to be under close watch somewhere in China. His photograph is displayed in some monasteries far from Lhasa, but certainly not at Tashilhunpo. Bianba Tsering, my guide, said all Tibetans accept the official Panchen Lama as the rightful heir.
China’s success, so far at any rate, in keeping Xigatse relatively calm will make it all the more inclined to try the same tactic when the Dalai Lama dies. Tibetan Buddhism could well end up with two Dalai Lamas—one in Tibet, but another living outside China and able to speak out. For the Communist Party it will be a dangerous game.
When Sheng Yen died of renal failure at the age of 79 in February 2009, Republic of China President Ma Ying-jeou and mainland China Religious Affairs Minister Ye Xiaowen both attended his funeral. Kung fu movie star Jet Li and well-known Taiwanese actress Brigitte Lin issued public statements, while as many as one million followers, mostly ethnic Chinese, mourned around the world. Today, when you ask almost any adult in Taiwan about Sheng Yen, the result is likely to be a story about his good works in areas such as typhoon relief or suicide prevention.
Not that this self-deprecating monk sought fame for its own sake. Beginning in 1976, he spent three out of every six months in the United States, a country where he was not widely known outside his circle of Chinese disciples and a small number of American students. At his small temple in Queens, a borough of New York City, and at a meditation center in upstate New York, he led smaller groups in the same rigorous Zen retreats that attracted hundreds of practitioners in Taiwan.
Further, Mahāmati said: Why is it, Blessed One, that when the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas are established in the Samādhis and Samāpattis, and when they are baptised at the most exalted stage, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones, bestow their sustaining power on them?
Replied the Blessed One: It is in order to make them avoid the evil ones, karma, and passions, to keep them away from the Dhyāna and stage of the Śrāvakahood [i.e., to keep karma and passions away from Dhyāna and Śrāvakahood or presumably to have Bodhisattvas grow beyond just being one on a cushion and a disciple], to have them realize the stage of Tathagatahood, and to make them grow in the truth and experience already attained. For this reason, Mahāmati, the Tathagatas, Arhats, Fully-Enlightened Ones sustain with their power the Bodhisattva-Mahāsattvas. If they were not thus sustained, Mahāmati, they would fall into the way of thinking and feeling as cherished by the wrong philosophers, Śrāvakas, or evil ones, and would not attain the highest enlightenment.
Seeking help in building bi-partisanship, President Obama reached out today to a noted advocate of Zen Buddhism: Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
"I was hoping that, Coach, you were going to bring some books for Republicans and Democrats in Congress maybe to get them to start playing like a team together," Obama joked in honoring the pro basketball champions at the White House.
Jackson, who applies Zen principles in his coaching, wrote a book called Sacred Hoops: Spiritual Lessons of a Hardwood Warrior.
The Lakers won the National Basketball Association title last year, but got their White House ceremony today because they are in town to play the woeful Washington Wizards.
I am absolutely appalled by your behavior in your first term in office - I've no other way to put it. Please re-think your State of the Union Message.
If you take the doomed "centrist" path, you risk all for which tens of thousands of Americans worked their butts off. You risk undoing the New Deal with your ideas on a bipartisan commission on mandates. You risk contributing to the 40,000 Americans who die every year from a lack of health insurance.
And perhaps most importantly, you risk the credibility of the United States in the world, both with your economic policies designed to impoverish and weaken our economy, and by continuing the human rights abuses of the Bush regime.
The United States needs a full-throated progressive policy, not this lukewarm centrism.
I read that you said you would be comfortable being a good one term president instead of a two term president. These policies will doom you to another fate: a cowardly one term president, one who could not find the courage to take on the strong interests, one who could not find the courage to speak truth to power, but one who had no problem with ignoring or alienating those people and groups in America who stood with the weak and desperate.
Please re-think your State of the Union Message.
There's still time to change things, and most of America would rally to your support if you started speaking for them again. Note: you will never have the Tea Partiers, so don't even try.
Henry Mittwer was born in Yokohama in 1918. His father was an American film distributor who first came to Japan in 1898 as a seaman en route to the Spanish-American War being waged in the Philippines...
An early but formative experience was the Great Kanto Earthquake in 1923, which killed more than 30,000 in Yokohama alone. Mittwer, then 5, remembers grasping his mother in terror as they ran from a house that was convulsing around them. The family had to camp out in their yard for several days before their house was again fit for habitation...
From 1942 Mittwer lived in five of the 10 internment camps the U.S. War Relocation Authority had thrown up in scarcely inhabited areas of the western U.S. for nearly 120,000 Japanese and Japanese-American detainees. Some of them had as little as one-eighth Japanese ancestry...
After the war, the Mittwers eventually returned to Los Angeles. However, beset by lung disease, job dissatisfaction and the news that his mother had died in 1955, before he was able to visit her in Japan, Mittwer became increasingly depressed.
About that time, he met Zen priest Nyogen Senzaki, one of the early proponents of Zen practice in the U.S. He became drawn to Zen teachings and started regular meditation sessions "to clear the cobwebs from my brain."
In 1961, Mittwer finally returned to Japan alone, becoming a disciple of the chief abbot of Kyoto's Myoshinji Temple, Daiko Furukawa. At Myoshinji, Mittwer assisted with visiting American priests and with the young acolytes who were in the temple's care. He said matter-of-factly, "One day I was asked, 'Why don't you become a priest?' So I was tonsured."
After the abbot's death, he met Hirata Seiko, the abbot of Tenryuji, who invited him to become his student. His family finally joined him in 1965 and they lived together on the temple grounds...
Mittwer professes no bitterness about his wartime experiences, saying merely, "You have to take it as an experience, one of many in one's life."
He said he tries to lead his life according to the deceptively simple words of the worldly (and often ribald) Buddhist priest and poet Ikkyu, who wrote, "Don't do bad things; do good things."
Replied the Blessed One: When the self-nature and the habit-energy of all the Vijñānas [the product of seeing, hearing, smelling, tasting, touching, and attitude-formation], including the Ālaya["dwelling" or "storehouse" consciousness], Manas [mind], and Manovijñāna["sixth sense" consciousness], from which issues the habit-energy of wrong speculations—when all these go through a revulsion, I and all the Buddhas declare that there is Nirvana, and the way and the self-nature of this Nirvana is emptiness, which is the state of reality.
Further, Mahāmati, Nirvana is the realm of self-realization attained by noble wisdom, which is free from the discrimination of eternality and annihilation, existence and non-existence. How is it not eternality? Because it has cast off the discrimination of individuality and generality, it is not eternality. How about its not being annihilation? It is because all the wise men of the past, present, and future have attained realisation. Therefore, it is not annihilation.
According to reports January 16, 2010, during the opening ceremony of the International Buddhist Conference in Gujarat State, India, the Dalai Lama remarked that due to the fact that he was from purely Tibetan parents, he was Tibetan in appearance, but an Indian in spirituality. Thus, his comments and ideas originate from Indian traditions.
[B]ased on the reports from VOA April 15 , Indian Bhupendra Kumar Modi told reporters that the Dalai Lama mentioned before that he was by nature an Indian, and would try to obtain Indian nationality if the conditions were right. Later, the Dalai Lama's remarks and actions bore out Modi's words.
The Dalai Lama pleases his Indian masters not only by showing his willingness to be a "son of India," but also by effacing the originality of the Tibetan culture. The Dalai Lama uses such words to dwarf the rich Tibetan culture with distinctive local characteristics. He could not be more subservient.
The Dalai Lama might have forgotten many historical facts when saying so. For example, Chinese Buddhism played a very important role in the formation and development of Tibetan Buddhism, and the Sakyamuni statue in the Jokhang Temple was taken to Tibet by Princess Wencheng in Tang Dynasty. In addition, during the Yuan Dynasty, the Chinese government established a special department to handle Tibet-related military and political affairs and put Tibet under the control of the central government. Of course, he also forgot that in the Qing Dynasty, the Dalai Lama's reincarnation and enthronement had to be confirmed by the central government. For instance, the 7th Dalai Lama was conferred the title by Emperor Kangxi in 1719 and the 8th Dalai Lama was confirmed by an official dispatched by Emperor Qianlong in 1762.
He also claims that the Tibetan language derived from India and he is a "son of India," will such a guy really want to protect Tibetan culture?
All things dull and ugly
All creatures short and squat
All things rude and nasty
The Lord God made the lot
Each little snake that poisons
Each little wasp that stings
He made their brutish venom
He made their horrid wings
All things sick and cancerous
All evil great and small
All things foul and dangerous
The Lord God made them all
Each nasty little hornet
Each beastly little squid
Who made the spikey urchin
Who made the sharks? He did!
All things scabbed and ulcerous
All pox both great and small
Putrid, foul and gangrenous
The Lord God made them all
With his round cheeks and ample belly, the Buddha may rank somewhere close to sumo wrestlers on most Americans' list of go-to sources for healthful eating tips.
But the ever-present image of a fat and happy Buddha owes more to China's ideal of prosperity and ability to mass-produce figurines than to historical accuracy. In Japan and India, the Buddha is depicted as trim and lithe, said the Rev. Jan Chozen Bays, a Zen priest and pediatrician, and his teachings may be key to overcoming Americans' increasingly troubled eating habits.
The act of judging judgment is in itself judgment - even if hiding behind a label of compassion. Some may disagree with the choice of words or interpretation of the Dharma. That's OK. No one has to believe a word of it. We all have issues. It's Samsara. How's that for an issue?
"Buyer Beware" would fit if someone were selling the ideas. I share freely what's worked for me. Sure you can argue that we're selling books. But they don't print themselves. Perhaps you'll read the book before being so non-judging and compassionate. But if you hate the 12 Steps please don't use them. They too are free and for people who want them, not people who need them. The "guided meditation" podcasts are also free.. Please don't listen if you don't like them. Thousands of people do like them and continue to ask for more.
To each their own, of course. I'm just reporting what I see. Of course, your book aside, let's be honest here: you anticipate, based on your belief in 12 Step programs, that indeed there is a quid pro quo for "sharing freely" what's "worked for you" because the 12 Steps imply precisely that - "Spiritual Awakening."
BTW, I don't "hate" the 12 Steps; that's kind of odd, if you think about it; kind of like a "War on Drugs." I also don't "hate" the use of mummies for medicinal purposes, supply side economics, or Calvinism.
As far as guided meditations are concerned, they likely have their place in therapeutic settings, but I stand by my words, and you shouldn't take offense. Ever hear of Roy Masters?
So, I really do mean it, please be at peace, but, as with any proselytizers, please don't be shocked if people actually consider what you say.
I think your practice of Buddhism is right for you, and might be right for other people, but if you take umbrage at people scrutinizing your words, how open minded is that?
...a mental state (state theory) or set of attitudes and beliefs (non-state theory) usually induced by a procedure known as a hypnotic induction, which is commonly composed of a series of preliminary instructions and suggestions....
Contrary to a popular misconception - that hypnosis is a form of unconsciousness resembling sleep - contemporary research suggests that it is actually a wakeful state of focused attention and heightened suggestibility, with diminished peripheral awareness.
Skeptics point out the difficulty distinguishing between hypnosis and the placebo effect, proposing that hypnosis is so heavily reliant upon the effects of suggestion and belief that it would be hard to imagine how a credible placebo control could ever be devised for a hypnotism study.
It could be said that hypnotic suggestion is explicitly intended to make use of the placebo effect. For example, Irving Kirsch has proposed a definition of hypnosis as a "non-deceptive mega-placebo," i. e., a method which openly makes use of suggestion and employs methods to amplify its effects...
If AA is right and pain is the touchstone of all spiritual growth then the Buddha was right when he pointed out that all actions in samsara (endless cycle of of rebirth) lead to suffering.
We can meditate until our pursed lips are purple with exertion to transcend the pain of being or we can learn to be, being-as the ache inside our souls pulses on.
Another view might be that Awakened Ones have given us the teachings, methods and advice for how we can come to our own place of self-love and stop hurting ourselves and others. They're different beings than us but share the same Awake nature. Please don't confuse this with the infantile notion that we're all one being. (That thinking is a kind of sickness in my view.)
The way I'm talking about enlightenment here is more analogous to all of the infinite molecules, elements and matter and consciousnesses that make up everything sharing the same basic space. This cup and that cup are two different cups in that yours was made then and of different colored material and mine another time and this color but the same in that they're not as separate or independently arising as they appear. Yet yours holds wine and mine sparkling cider. Please don't mix them up!
Anywhere people are suffering, Scientology's yellow-shirted "volunteer ministers" can be found lurking near news cameras and claiming to help people with their bullshit technology. They performed "purification rundowns" on recovery workers sifting through the ruins of the World Trade Center after 9/11, administered "touch assists" to victims of the tsunami, distributed literature after the Virginia Tech shooting, and are on the ground in Haiti right now warning the starving, dehydrated populace about the dangers of psychiatry...
So precisely what does this desperately needed help consist of? To be fair, Scientology claims to have airlifted some actual medical professionals to Porte-au-Prince, a move that is hard to argue with even if the doctors are cultists and are accompanied by a retinue of recruiters and glorified masseuses who are there not to help but to carry on their "crusade to build a better world," as the web site for the cult's volunteer ministers program puts it, through the application of L. Ron Hubbard's paranoid and power-mad fantasies.
The retreat was led by two teachers. They topped and tailed the sitting sessions with a few helpful words, and were also on hand lest any participants develop problems, an important safeguard as prolonged silence can be unsettling. One of them also gave a talk on the second evening, and she explained the central Buddhist doctrine that meditation is designed to address: the reality of suffering.
Suffering here is meant in a broad sense, everything from the faintest feeling that something is wrong, to the profound injuries that human beings inflict on themselves and each other. It's a worldview that is humanistic and tragic. The first of the Buddha's noble truths is that life is suffering. It's called a "noble" truth since that realisation is also the first step towards an ennobled life, namely one in which the suffering can cease.
That's where meditation comes in. It's a technique designed to develop mindfulness, the awareness and acceptance of suffering existence. Meditation itself needn't always be painful. It might be pleasant, even elating. But the aim is neither to cling to experience, nor to reject it, but rather to know it as it is. Hence, the "insight" in insight meditation. "To understand all is to forgive all," the proverb says, and the Buddhist version would be, "To understand all is to let go of all". It just takes practice...
The raison d'être of Gaia House is the wellbeing of the those who come to stay in it. That seems like a pretty good raison d'être, and it is. However, it comes with risk. Meditation-as-therapy flirts with narcissism when it is devoted to observing yourself, for that can lead to self-absorption and self-obsession. It's a danger inherent in any community devoted to a particular task, though perhaps more so in one that lacks a reference point beyond the individuals taking part.
Religious houses in a Christian tradition would be different, in theory at least. Ultimately, they don't exist for the wellbeing of the occupants, but for the glory of God...
Economically, French occupation was a runaway success. But Haiti's riches could only be exploited by importing up to 40,000 slaves a year. For nearly a decade in the late 18th century, Haiti accounted for more than one-third of the entire Atlantic slave trade. Conditions for these men and women were atrocious; the average life expectancy for a slave on Haiti was 21 years. Abuse was dreadful, and routine: "Have they not hung up men with heads downward, drowned them in sacks, crucified them on planks, buried them alive, crushed them in mortars?" wrote one former slave some time later. "Have they not forced them to eat excrement? Have they not thrown them into boiling cauldrons of cane syrup? Have they not put men and women inside barrels studded with spikes and rolled them down mountainsides into the abyss?"
Not surprisingly, the French Revolution in 1789 raised the tricky question of how exactly the Declaration of the Rights of Man might be said to apply both to Haiti's then sizeable population of free gens de couleur (generally the offspring of a white plantation owner and a black concubine) – and ultimately to the slaves themselves. The rebellion of Saint-Domingue's slaves began on the northern plains in August 1791, but the uprising, ensuing bloody civil war and finally bitter and spectacularly brutal battle against Napoleon Bonaparte's forces was not over for another 12 years. As France became increasingly distracted by war with Britain, the French commander, the Vicomte de Rochambeau, was finally defeated in November 1803 (though not before he had hanged, drowned or burned and buried alive thousands of rebels). Haiti declared independence on 1 January 1804.
As Stephen Keppel of the Economist Intelligence Unit puts it, Haiti's revolution may have brought it independence but it also "ended up destroying the country's infrastructure and most of its plantations. It wasn't the best of starts for a fledgling republic." Moreover, in exchange for diplomatic recognition from France, the new republic was forced to pay enormous reparations: some 150m francs, in gold. It was an immense sum, and even reduced by more than half in 1830, far more than Haiti could afford.
"The long and the short of it is that Haiti was paying reparations to France from 1825 until 1947," says Von Tunzelmann. "To come up with the money, it took out huge loans from American, German and French banks, at exorbitant rates of interest. By 1900, Haiti was spending about 80% of its national budget on loan repayments. It completely wrecked their economy. By the time the original reparations and interest were paid off, the place was basically destitute and trapped in a spiral of debt. Plus, a succession of leaders had more or less given up on trying to resolve Haiti's problems, and started looting it instead."
1. religious beliefs based on a literal interpretation of the Bible, regarded as fundamental to Christian faith and morals
2. the 20th-cent. movement among some American Protestants, based on these beliefs
3. a strict adherence to or interpretation of a doctrine, set of principles, etc., as of a social, legal, political, or religious group or system
Japanese tycoon Kazuo Inamori was named as the next chief executive officer of Japan Airlines Corp. after the carrier completed a 90 percent, two-day stock plunge on speculation it will file for bankruptcy.
“I’m a total novice when it comes to the transportation industry,” Inamori, the 77-year-old founder of electronics company Kyocera Corp., told reporters yesterday in Tokyo. “I’ve decided to accept because the government and the turnaround body want to prevent JAL’s failure by any means.”
Inamori, Japan’s 28th richest man according to Forbes and a Buddhist priest, takes on the challenge of overhauling a carrier that has posted three losses in four years on slumping travel demand. JAL, Asia’s biggest carrier by sales, has lost about $2.5 billion of market value since Jan. 5 on concern the government will support bankruptcy as part of a turnaround.
As would-be rescuers struggled to drag three unconscious victims from an Arizona sweat lodge ceremony in October, the leader of the event, James A. Ray, sat outside in the shade, according to newly released police reports.
In the reports, which were released Monday by judicial order, a woman whose husband was heating rocks for the ceremony told investigators with the Yavapai County Sheriff’s Office that she was able to pull one woman from the lodge. But, said the woman, Debra Mercer, when she told Mr. Ray that she needed to open up the back of the lodge to get the two other victims out, he replied that it would be “sacrilegious” to remove the tarps and blankets covering the wood frame structure and that she should do so only if necessary.
As Mr. Ray sat in a shaded chair outside, Ms. Mercer told investigators, she opened the tent and she and her daughter, Sarah, 17, and others helped pull out James Shore, 40, of Milwaukee and Kirby Brown, 38, of Westtown, N.Y.
[A]ny genuine debate format I am familiar with involves a competition of arguments, with individuals (or teams) pitted against each other to prove or disprove their “sides.” And if you read Douthat’s article, it seems to me that’s exactly what he was talking about — “debating” religions in public to see which one is “best.” I’m having nothing to do with that. If you want to have civil public discussions that’s fine, but that’s not “debating.”
A man came into the Zen Center smoking a cigarette, blowing smoke in the Buddha-statue's face and dropping ashes on its lap. The abbot came in, saw the man, and said, "Are you crazy? Why are you dropping ashes on the Buddha?"
The man answered, "Buddha is everything. Why not?"
The abbot couldn't answer and went away.
1. "Buddha is everything." What does that mean?
2. Why did the man drop ashes on the Buddha?
3. If you had been the abbot, how could you have fixed this man's mind?
Commentary: How do you meet the Buddha? Where do you throw away ashes? Its all very clear. Your correct function is always in front of you.
NOTE: There is an important factor in this case that has apparently never been explicitly included in its print versions [sic]. Zen Master Seung Sahn has always told his students that the man with the cigarette is also very strong and that he will hit you if he doesn't approve of your response to his actions.
...Since a baboon does not know or worry about what another baboon knows, it has no urge to share its knowledge. Dr. Zuberbühler stresses an intention to communicate as the missing factor. Children from the youngest ages have a great desire to share information with others, even though they gain no immediate benefit in doing so. Not so with other primates.
“In principle, a chimp could produce all the sounds a human produces, but they don’t do so because there has been no evolutionary pressure in this direction,” Dr. Zuberbühler said. “There is nothing to talk about for a chimp because he has no interest in talking about it.” At some point in human evolution, on the other hand, people developed the desire to share thoughts, Dr. Zuberbühler notes. Luckily for them, all the underlying systems of perceiving and producing sounds were already in place as part of the primate heritage, and natural selection had only to find a way of connecting these systems with thought.
Yet it is this step that seems the most mysterious of all. Marc D. Hauser, an expert on animal communication at Harvard, sees the uninhibited interaction between different neural systems as critical to the development of language. “For whatever reason, maybe accident, our brains are promiscuous in a way that animal brains are not, and once this emerges it’s explosive,” he said.
...If you treat your faith like a hothouse flower, too vulnerable to survive in the crass world of public disputation, then you ensure that nobody will take it seriously. The idea that religion is too mysterious, too complicated or too personal to be debated on cable television just ensures that it never gets debated at all.
This doesn’t mean that we need to welcome real bigotry into our public discourse.
Christians believe in a personal God who forgives sins. Buddhists, as a rule, do not. And it’s at least plausible that Tiger Woods might welcome the possibility that there’s Someone out there capable of forgiving him, even if Elin Nordegren and his corporate sponsors never do.
Or maybe not. For many people — Woods perhaps included — the fact that Buddhism promotes an ethical life without recourse to Christian concepts like the Fall of Man, divine judgment and damnation is precisely what makes it so appealing. The knee-jerk outrage that greeted Hume’s remarks buried intelligent responses from Buddhists, who made arguments along these lines — explaining their faith, contrasting it with Christianity, and describing how a lost soul like Woods might use Buddhist concepts to climb from darkness into light.
What is being missed, Lee and others have suggested, is a deep understanding of how the expectations and beliefs of the sufferer shape their suffering. “Culture shapes the way general psychopathology is going to be translated partially or completely into specific psychopathology,” Lee says. “When there is a cultural atmosphere in which professionals, the media, schools, doctors, psychologists all recognize and endorse and talk about and publicize eating disorders, then people can be triggered to consciously or unconsciously pick eating-disorder pathology as a way to express that conflict.”
The problem becomes especially worrisome in a time of globalization, when symptom repertoires can cross borders with ease. Having been trained in England and the United States, Lee knows better than most the locomotive force behind Western ideas about mental health and illness. Mental-health professionals in the West, and in the United States in particular, create official categories of mental diseases and promote them in a diagnostic manual that has become the worldwide standard. American researchers and institutions run most of the premier scholarly journals and host top conferences in the fields of psychology and psychiatry. Western drug companies dole out large sums for research and spend billions marketing medications for mental illnesses. In addition, Western-trained traumatologists often rush in where war or natural disasters strike to deliver “psychological first aid,” bringing with them their assumptions about how the mind becomes broken by horrible events and how it is best healed. Taken together this is a juggernaut that Lee sees little chance of stopping.
“As Western categories for diseases have gained dominance, micro-cultures that shape the illness experiences of individual patients are being discarded,” Lee says. “The current has become too strong.”
Mental illnesses, it was suggested, should be treated like “brain diseases” over which the patient has little choice or responsibility. This was promoted both as a scientific fact and as a social narrative that would reap great benefits. The logic seemed unassailable: Once people believed that the onset of mental illnesses did not spring from supernatural forces, character flaws, semen loss or some other prescientific notion, the sufferer would be protected from blame and stigma. This idea has been promoted by mental-health providers, drug companies and patient-advocacy groups like the National Alliance for the Mentally Ill in the United States and SANE in Britain. In a sometimes fractious field, everyone seemed to agree that this modern way of thinking about mental illness would reduce the social isolation and stigma often experienced by those with mental illness. Trampling on indigenous prescientific superstitions about the cause of mental illness seemed a small price to pay to relieve some of the social suffering of the mentally ill.
But does the “brain disease” belief actually reduce stigma?
In 1997, Prof. Sheila Mehta from Auburn University Montgomery in Alabama decided to find out if the “brain disease” narrative had the intended effect. She suspected that the biomedical explanation for mental illness might be influencing our attitudes toward the mentally ill in ways we weren’t conscious of, so she thought up a clever experiment.
In her study, test subjects were led to believe that they were participating in a simple learning task with a partner who was, unbeknownst to them, a confederate in the study. Before the experiment started, the partners exchanged some biographical data, and the confederate informed the test subject that he suffered from a mental illness.
The confederate then stated either that the illness occurred because of “the kind of things that happened to me when I was a kid” or that he had “a disease just like any other, which affected my biochemistry.” (These were termed the “psychosocial” explanation and the “disease” explanation respectively.) The experiment then called for the test subject to teach the confederate a pattern of button presses. When the confederate pushed the wrong button, the only feedback the test subject could give was a “barely discernible” to “somewhat painful” electrical shock.
Analyzing the data, Mehta found a difference between the group of subjects given the psychosocial explanation for their partner’s mental-illness history and those given the brain-disease explanation. Those who believed that their partner suffered a biochemical “disease like any other” increased the severity of the shocks at a faster rate than those who believed they were paired with someone who had a mental disorder caused by an event in the past.
“The results of the current study suggest that we may actually treat people more harshly when their problem is described in disease terms,” Mehta wrote. “We say we are being kind, but our actions suggest otherwise.” The problem, it appears, is that the biomedical narrative about an illness like schizophrenia carries with it the subtle assumption that a brain made ill through biomedical or genetic abnormalities is more thoroughly broken and permanently abnormal than one made ill though life events. “Viewing those with mental disorders as diseased sets them apart and may lead to our perceiving them as physically distinct. Biochemical aberrations make them almost a different species.”