Here is a nice little article at No Zen in the West about the tension between the personal and communal aspects of buddhist practice and how they play into the political sphere. I’ve observed a dangerous inclination for some zen practitioners to be sort of new-agey and have a hands off approach to politics and this article speaks to it well.

          July 17th, 2017

From this article: “The dharma is not an excuse to turn away from the suffering of the world, nor is it a sedative to get us comfortably through painful times. It is a powerful teaching that frees and strengthens us to work diligently for the liberation of beings from suffering.”

          April 4th, 2017

Here’s Jonathan Tepperman in an excerpt from a recent World Affairs podcast:

I don’t think terrorism is an existential threat [to the United States] …because the number of Americans killed every year in terrorist attacks is vanishingly small. More Americans are hit by lightning every year than die in terrorist attacks. More Americans drown in their bathtubs every year than die in terrorist attacks. The number of Americans killed by terrorism since September 11th, 2001 is something like 100 or 150. It’s minuscule. And that’s compared to more than 40,000 Americans who have been killed in handgun incidents. And double or triple that figure who’ve been killed in car accidents. The existential threat, if it’s there, comes in overreacting, in responding the wrong way to terrorism but not in the terrorism itself.

And then there are a lot of scary trends in the world. There are a lot of countries that are behaving in scary manners today. None of these represent existential threats to the United States either. Not China. Not Russia. For the simple reason that The United States is so overwhelmingly preponderant today in terms of wealth, innovation, and in its military power, that none of these countries can offer real competition.

Now climate change. There’s a real existential threat that defines the idea of an existential threat. And political dysfunction. Gridlock. The failure of our legislative branch to legislate. That potentially represents an existential threat because until that is resolved in some fashion none of these other problems can be addressed.

          February 4th, 2017

From Rebecca Solnit in this article:

“Naïve cynics shoot down possibilities, including the possibility of exploring the full complexity of any situation. They take aim at the less cynical, so that cynicism becomes a defensive posture and an avoidance of dissent. They recruit through brutality. If you set purity and perfection as your goals, you have an almost foolproof system according to which everything will necessarily fall short. But expecting perfection is naïve; failing to perceive value by using an impossible standard of measure is even more so. Cynics are often disappointed idealists and upholders of unrealistic standards. They are uncomfortable with victories, because victories are almost always temporary, incomplete, and compromised — but also because the openness of hope is dangerous, and in war, self-defense comes first. Naïve cynicism is absolutist; its practitioners assume that anything you don’t deplore you wholeheartedly endorse. But denouncing anything less than perfection as morally compromising means pursuing aggrandizement of the self, not engagement with a place or system or community, as the highest priority.”

          November 27th, 2016



Thank christ for the internet. Thank christ for Salman Khan.

A glossy 15 minute survey:

          March 1st, 2016