Saturday, July 23, 2016


A quote from a movie written by one of the creators of BoJack Horseman:

Here’s the problem with everything. As soon as you get something you want — it’s no longer a thing you want, it’s just a thing you have, and then you want the next thing. So I’m starting to realize maybe I’ll never be satisfied. ... I’ll find the girl of my dreams, I’ll get married and I’ll have kids. Then, like a week later, I’ll be like, ‘Oh, this is [expletive].’ ”

Saturday, July 16, 2016

Nina Simone

The name of this tune is Mississippi Goddam
And I mean every word of it

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

Can't you see it
Can't you feel it
It's all in the air
I can't stand the pressure much longer
Somebody say a prayer

Alabama's gotten me so upset
Tennessee made me lose my rest
And everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

This is a show tune
But the show hasn't been written for it, yet

Hound dogs on my trail
School children sitting in jail
Black cat cross my path
I think every day's gonna be my last

Lord have mercy on this land of mine
We all gonna get it in due time
I don't belong here
I don't belong there
I've even stopped believing in prayer

Don't tell me
I tell you
Me and my people just about due
I've been there so I know
They keep on saying "Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
Washing the windows
"do it slow"
Picking the cotton
"do it slow"
You're just plain rotten
"do it slow"
You're too damn lazy
"do it slow"
The thinking's crazy
"do it slow"
Where am I going
What am I doing
I don't know
I don't know

Just try to do your very best
Stand up be counted with all the rest
For everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

I made you thought I was kiddin'

Picket lines
School boy cots
They try to say it's a communist plot
All I want is equality
for my sister my brother my people and me

Yes you lied to me all these years
You told me to wash and clean my ears
And talk real fine just like a lady
And you'd stop calling me Sister Sadie

Oh but this whole country is full of lies
You're all gonna die and die like flies
I don't trust you any more
You keep on saying "Go slow!"
"Go slow!"

But that's just the trouble
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Mass participation
"do it slow"
"do it slow"
Do things gradually
"do it slow"
But bring more tragedy
"do it slow"
Why don't you see it
Why don't you feel it
I don't know
I don't know

You don't have to live next to me
Just give me my equality
Everybody knows about Mississippi
Everybody knows about Alabama
Everybody knows about Mississippi Goddam

That's it!


I watched the documentary on Nina Simone and once again I'm struck by the thought that we'll never solve our problems until everyone has a certain basic worth. She wrote the song after a fire was set in Birmingham and little girls died. You can read the Wikipedia article.

An interesting press release from Tibetan Nun Project

All 20 Nuns Pass Final Round of Geshema Examinations

Seattle, WA: Twenty Tibetan Buddhist nuns have just made history, becoming the first Tibetan women to successfully pass all the exams for the Geshema degree, equivalent to a Doctorate in Buddhist philosophy. Exam results were announced by the Department of Religion and Culture of the Central Tibetan Administration. All 20 candidates for the degree passed.

Their success fulfills a longstanding wish of His Holiness the Dalai Lama and marks a new chapter in the development of education for ordained Buddhist women and is a major accomplishment for Tibetan women. 

The Geshema degree (a Geshe degree when awarded to men) is the highest level of training in the Gelugpa school of Tibetan Buddhism. These women pioneers have accomplished a level of scholarship and Buddhist training that, until recently, was only open to men. 

The Geshema examination process is an extremely rigorous one that takes four years in total, with one round per year each May. During the 12-day exam period, the nuns must take both oral (debate) and written exams. They are examined on the entirety of their 17-year course of study of the Five Great Canonical Texts. In 2011, a German nun, Kelsang Wangmo, who spent 21 years training in India, became the first female to receive the Geshema title.

The new Geshema nuns will formally receive their degrees from His Holiness the Dalai Lama at a special ceremony at Drepung Monastery in Mundgod in southern India.

This occasion is also a milestone for the Tibetan Nuns Project, which was founded in 1987 to provide education and humanitarian aid to Tibetan Buddhist nuns living in India. A number of the Geshema candidates were illiterate when they escaped from Tibet. To reach this historic milestone, the Tibetan Nuns Project had to build an educational system from the ground up.

“Educating women is powerful,” says Rinchen Khando Choegyal, Founder and Director of the Tibetan Nuns Project. “It’s not just about books. It is also about helping nuns acquire the skills they need to run their own institutions and create models for future success and expansion. It’s about enabling the nuns to be teachers in their own right and to take on leadership roles at a critical time in our nation’s history.”

Earning the Geshema degrees marks a turning point for the nuns. This degree will make them eligible to assume various leadership roles in the monastic and lay communities, previously reserved for men.

The Tibetan Nuns Project supports 7 nunneries in India as well as many nuns living on their own for a total of nearly 800 nuns. Many are refugees from Tibet, but the organization also reaches out to the Himalayan border areas of India where women and girls have had little access to education and religious training.

Monday, July 11, 2016

Cycles of practice

On the resources page of Dharma Punx NYC, I found out about Small Boat, Big Mountain which you can get at the Amaravati site. This book is written by Ajahn Amaro, when he was co-teaching a retreat with a Dzogchen teacher.

I've decided to meditate in weekly cycles. One week of the Brahma Viharas. My complimentary reading could be Living With Kindness. Through all this I could read The Purpose and Practice of Meditation. Both by Sangharakshita.

Then I'm going to do the mindfulness of breathing for a week, sometimes 4 stage, sometimes the 16 stages in Breath by Breath by Larry Rosenberg.

Then I'm going to do just sitting for a week. I can read all kinds of Zen, Chan or Dzogchen books, but also Small Boat Big Mountain.

Then I'm going to do the 6 element meditation for a week. I could read Living as a River by Bodhipoksha or I could skip to the next stage and begin to read Teachers of Enlightenment if I begin to feel too unglued.

Then a week of prostration practice and reading any of the books referenced in Teachers of Enlightenment.

I'll let you know how it goes.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Sattipathana Commentary by Analayo

There are many great figures in this dense book that lost me a few times. This is the last figure in the book. I read a review that said it's the kind of book you read a few times. To my chagrin I paid for it, not knowing you can get it for free. It's an interesting book from the Theravada perspective. Feels like a profound book that I will read again.

I also read recently and enjoyed First Buddhist Women which is a commentary on the Therigatha. Fascinating stuff. Getting to the root of Buddhism. Putting things in context. So two books that I recommend to support your Dharma study.