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James C.
To foster compassion is the purpose of life.
To foster compassion is the purpose of life.
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https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=uJWPFYygGPc

A decent documentary on the life of the Buddha. It is good that it mentions the need to go beyond mere discipline and practices of an ascetic nature.


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In the wake of the electoral fiasco that occurred in America so recently, let us all take a moment to "rise above this Iron Sky that's fast becoming our mind"...a thing so necessary in this age of terrorist networks and government officials who have forgotten who serves whom and how to celebrate the diversity, rather than violate the sanctity, of life. 'Iron Sky' is a brilliant song by Paolo Nutini. 

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I was (apparently) the first to try the new offering at Prismatic Coffee (on Bellamah Ave NW, off Rio Grande, South of I-40). The Chroma consists of an espresso shot with Earl Grey infused whipped cream,  a rice-cracker topped with raspberry preserves, and a shot of seltzer. The bergamot in the infused whipped cream pairs very well with the espresso, while the acids in the raspberry preserves and seltzer serve as a wonderful palate cleanser while also accentuating the Earl Grey flavors.

The Chroma is a Prismatic easter egg of sorts (not being on the menu). Ask for it by name ... and tell them Glass sent you.

In the background is a delightful Ethiopian pour-over, iced. The earthy, floral and fruity notes of which were not dulled even by having the Chroma first.

Thanks Luke (and Loren)!
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Spasmodic Torticollis (a.k.a. Cervical Dystonia) is a pain in the neck -  quite literally! It has been my constant companion for over 5 years now and its symptoms are responsible for the degeneration of my spine - compression at C5 and bone spurs (anterior osteophytes). It is not a cheap thing to keep managed and there is no cure. Having dystonia has taught me a great deal about myself and has enabled me to learn to better interact with my father who has had Parkinson's for 30 years due to massive Agent Orange exposure administered by the government he was serving but which has in almost all ways failed to serve him. 

I have just spent what may be the most painful week of my life, followed by an urgent care visit and that has resulted in what they are saying will be about a week's worth of pain alleviation before the symptoms manifest again just as they did and where they were and/or somewhere else.

I am writing these things here now, primarily for record-keeping for myself, and my family and friends, but also to let other dystonia sufferers  (and all those who sufferer chronic and acute pain) know they are not alone.

Our challenge is to realize that dystonia may have impacted our lives, but we need not let this impact define us; and while we may have lost the ability to live without constant pain or without the ability to control our own bodies, nevertheless we still have the ability to determine how we let that challenge impact our being. We can let it make us bitter and fill us with self-pity, or we can let it fill us with an understanding of the impermanence (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Impermanence) of all things, and a deepening compassion (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compassion#Buddhism) for all beings because all beings suffer (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukkha) - even those that may be more or less unaware of their suffering). And we should let this remind us that we are intimately inter-connected (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Prat%C4%ABtyasamutp%C4%81da) with all life so that what impacts us also impacts everything else in a multitude of ways and vice versa. The most effective way to move beyond the self-pity and/or anger which can arise do to our own suffering is to engage the process of realizing selflessness (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anatta). At least, that has been my own experience. By realizing selflessness, we cease to be merely dystonia sufferers and may become agents of and for compassion. 

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The town's given name is Idomeni—but for the increasingly desperate people stranded there, it is limbo. See what life is like for thousands of refugees stranded at Europe's tightening borders. http://on.natgeo.com/1VO8lo3

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Everything needed replacing at once - motorcycle boots, gloves and tires. I put some new Shinko 705's on front and back. WIth so many changes, riding the bike feels strange and new again - not least because the new tires are slick and not so great with the stopping or general traction. 

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The status quo is not maintainable over the long haul - let's do something about it in the upcoming elections - viable options are dwindling as we twiddle our thumbs.
« AN ECONOMY FOR THE 1% — How privilege and power in the economy drive extreme inequality and how this can be stopped »
and a particular aspect of the 'buddhist' economy…


   Oxfam's new report on inequality is linked below (or via www.oxfam.org/en/research/economy-1).
   It is likely to be followed, like virtually every year, by 99% of people burying their heads in the sand and pretending that "I can do nothing, but surely  [some unidentified, generic] 'others' should!"  and later acting on such views (notably by voting not only against the interests of most, but even against their own interests! and notably by consuming in ways that condone the system: complicit silence is all the system needs to perpetuate itself).
   It'd be so great if 50%+ of the population finally voted in agreement with whatever head-nodding they manifest while reading the report! With several key elections in the richest countries coming next year, this could wholesomely reduce much suffering in the world.

   Let's highlight a critical paragraph, for those who wouldn't even follow the link otherwise, while clinging to a classic but fallacious defence of the status quo:
   « Apologists for the status quo claim that concern about inequality is driven by ‘politics of envy’. They often cite the reduction in the number of people living in extreme poverty as proof that inequality is not a major problem. But this is to miss the point. As an organization that exists to tackle poverty, Oxfam is unequivocal in welcoming the fantastic progress that has helped to halve the number of people living below the extreme poverty line between 1990 and 2010. Yet had inequality within countries not grown during that period, an extra 200 million people would have escaped poverty. That could have risen to 700 million had poor people benefited more than the rich from economic growth. »
   700 million is no small number…

———
In response to a related question I regularly receive in one form or another:

   No, we don't have to stop capitalism and go toward socialism / communism. And, for 'buddhists', buddhism doesn't intrinsically condemn capitalism, but it should reject a stupid interpretation of capitalism!

   Capitalism isn't the same as condemning people to perpetually wanting more, more, more… Capitalism merely is an economic system to allocate resources efficiently.
   Now, one way to embody such theory is to ask the question « spending the same investment, can I produce more?  That's the classic way to look at it, which seems to 'work'… 'Seems', for as long as you're unaware of the medical, environmental, social, political costs of your investment…
   But another  way to embody capitalism would be to ask the question: « spending less, wasting less, polluting less, can I produce the same? » That's also a way of thinking in terms of efficient use of resources!
   So we don't have to abandon capitalism. We have to stop confusing capitalism with "getting more": capitalism is efficient allocation of resources, via the freedom to switch the investment at any time for a more efficient plan! It neither supposes nor fundamentally aims for "increasing output", but for "increasing efficiency"!

   A 'buddhist' economy —with high value on sharing, on compassion (not letting others suffer for our own little selfish benefit) and overall on ethics— doesn't automatically imply socialism or communism. But it would require to stop ignorance, stupidity and indeed the confusion between capitalism and "more, more, more". The best route towards dana  is via saving resources, rejecting automatic appropriation, rejecting automatic accumulation, refusing automatic hoarding: resources thus 'freed' from our grasp can then be constructively used by others.
   A "capitalist buddhist economy" appropriates less and less, and embodies restraint (not going for more than we need, in particular when others' needs are not yet met) combined with wise use of resources…


#engagedBuddhism  

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I have not been a fan of Obama for most of his presidency. But in the last two years he has said things that needed saying including the need to go beyond mere tolerance to positive respect for all peoples, rejoicing in our diversity.

There are many people in this country demonising Islam and insulting and threatening Muslims. The great ruler, Ashoka, said: "Never think or say that your own religion is best, nor denounce the religion of others.  He who does reverence to his own sect, while disparaging the sects of others … and with intent to enhance the glory of his own sect, in reality by such conduct inflicts the severest injury on his own sect."

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   43'35''… notably on what we share… on religious freedom and the founding fathers of the USA… on the duty for all to speak against bigotry, any bigotry… on dealing with #NotInMyName  expectations… on questioning assumptions… on political agendas… on terrorism… on the multiplicity of voices, trust, mutual respect… on the fallacy of caricaturing one's own multi-faceted identity…

#interfaith  
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