Proposal – Between Ignorance and Enlightenment

Between Ignorance and Enlightenment

http://otherhalfoflife.wordpress.com/

I propose an educational social media project called “between ignorance and enlightenment”. A meaningful life is a journey from ignorance to enlightenment. Ignorance comes from delusion. Martin Luther King Jr. said that “Nothing in the world is more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscious stupidity.” How we come to see our delusion and transfer it to self-awareness is an art. We suffer because we are bewildered by delusion. I find Buddhist wisdom helps me change from “ignorance” to “enlightenment”.

This term of topic comes from Venerable Master Hsing Yun’s book, “Between Ignorance and Enlightenment”. I found many inspirations when I read this book. There is a proverbial saying that lookers-on see most of the game; it means those who are not participating are able to take an overall view. The difference between ignorance and enlightenment are thought and concept. Most of us think that to lose one thing, such as money or sight, is a real lost. Andrea Angel Bocelli is an Italian tenor, singer-songwriter, and multi-instrumentalist. He lost his sight and became blind at the age of 12. His father encouraged him, “This world belongs to everyone. Although you cannot see the world, however you can let the world see you.” He went on to become both the most popular Italian and classical singer in the world. His feedback society is by participating in charity benefit concerts in different countries for different charities, such as in New York City for the victims of the 9/11 attacks. Bocelli lost his sight but won a colorful life. He is an enlightening person who changed his inferiority to superiority, and transformed knowledge to wisdom.

Consequently, I will create different units as follows:

  • Buddhist Books on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Other Books, magazines, articles on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Wisdom Quotes, e.g. Venerable Master Hsing Yun
  • Graphic Quotes
  • Video on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Reflections on Ignorance and Enlightenment
  • Story sharing with Buddhism wisdom, e.g. Bird and Water Dance Ensemble
  • The everlasting light: Dharma thoughts of Master Hsing Yun
  • Music

I hope the “Between Ignorance and Enlightenment” sharing space will create opportunities by gathering resources for those people who try to find resources to help them transform and enlighten from the Buddhist wisdom and quotes.

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A Reflection on my Social Media Project about AIDS and the Five Precepts

AIDs in Thailand

I created my Midterm Project this semester using social media. My project is called “Helping Those Living with AIDS.” I got eleven comments from people who participated. Some people  just agreed with my project and gave me advice on how to improve  the article such as the comment from thesilverbodhisattva who said,

“Another point to consider is that some people can acquire the disease through means unknown to them, in cases of unintentional contamination. Without proper medical precautions or sanitation in a variety of medical fields, an aid has the possibility to spread through transfusions, shared needles, and even instances of dental operations. There is also the possibility for those who are born HIV positive.”

This comment reminds me and other people to be careful when we use syringes because penetration and blood transfusion can put people at risk for contracting the AIDS virus.

However, I want those who have not been infected with the AIDS virus to be aware of this point as well. There are many other ways of being at risk of contracting the AIDS’s virus. The AIDS’s virus is a serious issue for the homeless and those on skid row. When society or families ignore people who have AIDS, they end up on the street, become homeless, and live on skid rows throughout the country. Therefore, the Thai monks of the Phrabatnumpu Temple are helping the people who have the AIDS’s virus in Thailand. The abbot organized the temple by himself and it is supported by donations. He provides food, clothing, shelter, and medicine for people with AIDS. The important thing is he has instructional media for people who do not have AIDS. He is teaching about Buddhism and offering counseling for individuals and groups concerned about AIDS. He teaches the way we use precept training to protect sangha from AIDS. He talks about the Five Precepts as a very good way of reducing one’s risk of contracting AIDS. A comment from SmartDC was,

“AIDS is one kind of serious diseases in the world. One of the solutions is to avoid from sexual misconduct and honestly observe Five Precepts (Sila). Taking the Buddha’s teachings into practice, we will be happy without any trouble.”

Therefore, the Five Precepts, especially, the third precept, are a very important way to reduce the prevalence of AIDS virus infections. Just like this comment from Humble Monk:

“There is reason to blame the people who’ve gotten infection, but there are many reasons to blame the people who knew AIDS and didn’t protect themselves. Sexual desire is one aspect of desires caused suffering. Being honest with one’s couple under sexual conduct isn’t enough to stop AIDS completely. The way how to completely stop AIDS is to stop one’s desires.”

This is a very good comment and I agree with his comment. If all of us practice the five precepts, especially the third one, I think we can live without fear and worry as well.

Finally, I would like to thank you very much for all of the comments from both people whom I know and I do not know. Your comments helped influence my work and my ideas. I hope my social media project will help our society in many ways. For instance, by helping people become aware of AIDS and understand the victims of AIDS too. More than that, I hope we can stay happily together. Without loving-kindness and compassion our society would be like Hell.

May all being be happy and peaceful in body and mind,

Dhammakaruna.

Please visit my Facebook Page and my original post here at Dharma Dialogue.

AIDs patient and Theravadin Monk.

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A REFLECTION ON MY EDUCATIONAL SOCIAL MEDIA PROJECT: Spiritual Leadership

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Spring 2013

Time flies! The semester has almost ended. I think that all students must be very busy with paperwork or final exams just like I am.  During the Spring Semester of 2013, I had a good chance to learn and a good opportunity to create a personal blog posts under the user name “thaitriplegem. These personal blog posts were something that I have never made before. I also contributed a couple posts here at “Dharma Dialogue” such as my “Skid Row Reflection,” in which I give a reflection based on my trip to Skid Row. My personal blog post was on the topic, “What Does the Theravāda Buddhist Religion Have to Say about the Poverty on Skid Row?”  This reflection considers the poverty of Skid Row from the perspective of Theravada Buddhism. In my previous blog post, I said the following:

If our religion means anything in today’s society, it must be able to address in a significant way the conditions of the poor in places like Skid Row.  What follows is divided into two parts.  First there is a consideration of the Theravāda Buddhist teaching of kamma.  Second, the divine abodes (brahma-vihāra) of loving-kindness and compassion are discussed.

These projects are for the Spiritual Leadership Class taught by Professor Danny Fisher.

The Midterm Proposal Project is my Educational Social Media Project, which I have posted on the same website and created a Facebook group for named “Healthcare Needs to Improve in Thailand.”  In this group I presented information about the healthcare system in Thailand, the problems that it has, and what you can do to help change it.  My media project can be found on my Facebook page.  I am very happy to see all your feedback.  And I would really like to see the healthcare system in Thailand be more like the Healthcare system in European countries.

My personal blog, “thaitriplegem,” has a post on the topic, “What Does the Theravāda Buddhist Religion Have to Say about the Poverty on Skid Row.” It has received seventeen comments as of May 15, 2013. I think this is a very important way to use social media or the Internet in the right way. We should employ right thought and right understanding when using social media in the modern world, a world without borders. At the same time, we can propagate Buddhism worldwide, too. All of your comments have been encouraging for me. Now I feel confident to share more on the Buddha’s teaching.  And all the comments were very helpful for me and my blog posts. They have even been of help to the people who read or who will read my blog posts, too. More than that, the comments also helped me to improve my way of thinking and writing for future blog posts. I would like to share what I have learned from the comments on the blog. These comments encouraged me to write and share more about the teachings of kamma, or in English what we call causes and effects, which the Buddha showed us more than 2,600 years ago.

First, on April 1, 2013 at 8:19 PM, I got the first comment from my classmate named 3ratna3kaya, who said, “Thank you for your teachings, Venerable. Your explanation of kamma was very clear and insightful.”

Second, on May 10, 2013 at 10:52 PM, Anonymous said, “What an interesting topic! I believe the readers must have some idea about the Theravada Buddhist religion on the skid row in order to easily clearly understand what it’s all about the article. However, I have to thank you for providing this useful knowledge in a friendly way.”

And third, on May 11, 2013 at 2:09 AM, there was a very interesting comment from

Du Wayne Engelhart, who stated, “Thank you for the discussion about kamma. What you say can be seen in a wider context. There is not only, roughly speaking, white kamma (with good effects for actions done), black kamma (with bad effects for actions done), and black and white kamma (with mixed effects for actions done). As the Buddha teaches us, there is also no kamma at all. No kamma at all is the state of Enlightenment. I think many times we worry too much about getting the effects of good kamma (in this lifetime or in future lifetimes) for the good actions we perform. We should, however, not worry too much about simply good kamma. We should try to reach the state where we are beyond kamma–where we are enlightened. We can reach this happy state by letting go of everything in the world, and that means everything–even letting go of trying to get the results of good kamma.”

Next, my project proposal titled, “Healthcare Needs to Improve in Thailand” has received fifteen comments as of May 15, 2013. I have gotten comments both in Thai and in English.   In the project proposal, many people agreed with my opinion on the subject.  For instance, on May 10, 2013 at 8:22 AM, Saranya Kim said, Yes, I agree with you. I had an experience about this ‘Only wealthy families can afford health insurance. If the average Thai becomes sick, unfortunately they have to pay their medical bills by cash. If they have to go to the hospital, they would have to wait in line for a long time before seeing the doctor. If a wealthy person needed to go to the hospital, on the other hand, they would just pay extra to see the doctor right away.’” This must be painful situation for the oppressed group because of privilege and poverty in Thai society. Also, Wattana Suriyawararak agreed with my project and said, Yes, I am sure that someday Healthcare in Thailand will be better! (Someday, I do not know not how long.) This comment comes with the hope that good healthcare will improve in Thailand someday.

I wish her dream will come true soon.

Also on May 10, 2013 at 11:53 PM, Daniel Terestenyi, my good Dhamma friend who just moved to Europe made a comment. His comment helped me get more understanding about the healthcare system in Europe. He said, “Andrew, you might consider being specific to one country in Europe, rather than the whole of Europe. Mainly, because healthcare does change some radically from country to country, and is not based upon EU law. France has an extremely good healthcare system, which I have used while living there.” Thank you very much, Daniel, for your information.

Lastly, Facebook’s group page still does not get many comments or much feedback. I am not sure if the members have enough time to read it all. Mostly, they just click on the “Like” button, but that made me happy enough. I got a nice comment from Anonymous that I would like to share. People should understand about the healthcare system in Thailand more, because many people like she or he just hear the news from friends who have enough money to go to get good treatment in Thailand. The comment from Anonymous on May 11, 2013 at 1:51 AM says: Thank you very much for the information in your Facebook group. I thought what you said was very informative. It is a good idea to make information available about the health care system in Thailand. I did not really have a good understanding of the situation. I thought the system was much better than what you describe. I didn’t really know: I based my ideas on what I heard from Thai friends waiting to go back to Thailand to have dental work done or to get glasses. I thought the health care was pretty good and the costs low. Now I understand that many Thais are not able to participate in the health care system. Now I understand the need for reform. Thanks for the information.”

Once again, thank you very much for all the comments that I have received on my Skid Row Reflection, my Project Proposal, and also on my Facebook page. All your comments were a very good source of encouragement for me. Thanks again for all the comments made by family members, my classmates, friends, professors, and also from people I do not know.  You can find my blog posts and my Facebook page at these URLs:

https://dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/2013/04/01/what-does-the-theravada-buddhist-religion-have-to-say-about-the-poverty-on-skid-row/#comments

https://dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/author/thaitriplegem/

https://www.facebook.com/groups/273506612786732/

With much Metta,

Palms together,

thaitriplegem

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What Do You Know? Reflection

English: Infographic on how Social Media are b...

Infographic on how Social Media are being used, and how everything is changed by them. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Social Media is a fascinating subject.   Do a quick web search for how to create a great social media project and you are inundated with “how-to’s” and “don’t do’s” all of them saying different things.  The commercial world has lept into social media.  In your search you will find that to many social media now means corporate advertisements using “social” media.  No longer is social media a way for people to connect.  It has quickly become just another, more subtle way, to sell mostly unneeded stuff to increasingly poor customers.   “Social Media” also has a dark, hidden, side.  Go to news or progressive action site that tells a story different than allowed in the mainstream (corporate) media and you will find the comments filled with rebuttals, all taking a very similar pro-corporate, pro-inequality, pro-oligarchy line.  Almost always the first few comments are in support of the economic and social policies that are creating and increasing income, wealth, and power inequality and slowing killing the middle-class society constructed after WWII.  A groundswell of opposition by “Real Americans” to the DFH’s (look it up)?  Or the comments of “astro turf” organizations and companies paid big money to counter small-d democratic thinking and organization?

That said, for those of us trying to address various problems around the world, social media and the internet is a great resource.  Since most of our mainstream media outlets no longer discuss or present any options other than those that support the status quo (and domination of society by a very small group of extraordinarily wealthy men), the internet and social media is one of the best ways we have to communicate with people who know something is seriously wrong with society but don’t know what to do about it.  It is the only game in town.

In my project I didn’t get much in the way of comments, likes or followers.  I’m not sure at this point that I can call it a success.  The most people that have taken one of my quizzes is three (and one of them was me).   I can think of several reasons for this:

  1. Any social media project has to hit a sweet spot.  In other words, a need in people to express themselves or solve a common problem.  The areas that I covered (inequality, the distortion of capitalism to maximize profit for banks, etc.) are covered in great depth by other social media actors.  Perhaps potential readers are overwhelmed with bad news since so much is going wrong.
  2. I think a good social media project allows people to interact and contribute.  It is not enough to just push ideas out into the “blogosphere” and hope people will read it.  How can the person reading your post, quiz, Pin, etc., join in helping solve the problem?  How can they express their own concerns?  How can they self-organize?  My project at this point is too much push and not enough interaction.
  3. I wonder if I am taking on too many subjects?  Do I need to concentrate on a more specific social issue?
  4. Consistency.  A general rule of thumb is that a content provider (me) needs to put out some sort of post (quiz) every week.  With the demands of school and my general sense of fatigue caused by nearly a year of school, I’ve not had the energy to generate quizzes and posts on a consistent basis and to keep new viewers coming back to my site.
  5. Time.  I think this just takes time to grow an audience.
  6. Perhaps quizzes aren’t the best way to present this type of information.

I plan to continue this effort over the summer and see if I can grow an audience.  I’m going to investigate how to use Pinterest as the core to my project rather than a blog.  That way I can post my quizzes, images and other media in a place where people can interact and respond to the issues I present with their own thoughts and media.  I can then respond to the interests of my audience based upon what they post.  I also want to use twitter to present my posts to those that are interested so they can keep track of my project without having to pay close attention.   I will look around to see what other, new, mechanisms are available, and there are a lot of them.   It will be very interesting to see how this project has evolved by the end of summer and the start of a new school year at University of the West.

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Cognitively Incongruent and Social Media

What started in April as a project directed toward collecting and sharing free educational resources, Cognitively Incongruent has now become an example of problems in mobilizing networks in collaborative social media projects. As per my Spiritual Leadership class, I created Cognitively Incongruent, a social media project that hoped to empower people looking for free educational resources through centralizing a database of such resources. Beyond its resource availability, it was my hope that this social media platform would also empower people by improving their social rank in removing the privilege of receiving education.

Rank and social privilege has become one of my major areas of concern, since my involvement in post secondary education. My prior experiences granted me insight as to how education had the power to both allow people to collect rank and allow people to suppress others attempting to achieve it. Motivated to use education as a means to alleviate the rank of others, this social media platform became a vehicle for me to extend my message beyond the in person tutoring network I provided in my community. Yet over the many posts that I set up and the attempts to reach out to families I met in person or students I referred to the site, the only engagement I saw was strictly the membership that developed. People became visitors and participants strictly in presence, which began to raise several questions in my mind.

What value was this social media in promoting the message?

How come my vast network in the community wasn’t participating?

And could there be other factors affecting its growth?

Realizing that my own networks were the primary result of face to face presentations at local schools, word of mouth references  and in person tutoring clients, I was well aware that maybe this social media platform was not congruent with my type of networking and even existing network. All of my networking interactions had been the direct result of in-person connections, not through internet based social media platforms. Moreover, those participants who bridged the gap and joined the Google based group had already had access to the Google based network and were social media savvy individuals. Yet most of my existing network and those who I strive to outreach with, contained individuals who were not as internet savvy, nor even engaged in social media projects to begin with.

Beyond participation from my own networking, in person, I too was resistant to engage in social media. My own lack of comfort and outlook on social media played on my reluctance to become involved in other social media platforms to promote my page. I have, for the part most, been an advocate for direct in person communication and I am openly opposed to the level of communication that social media has new created, stemmed from a lack of intimacy and sincerity I feel in social media networks. Outside of the project, my direct in-person network has steadily continued to grow absent of this projects influence.

In reflecting on these points, I feel that although my resources are all internet based, my networking strategies and skills are all in-person directed. I also feel that if I was someone who was more socially engaged within internet social media projects, Cognitively Incongruent could strive to have a more public presence and participation. Overall, Cognitively Incongruent’s lack of growth stands to exemplify the unique aspect of my spiritual leadership, as a direct person to person interaction based movement not an internet based social media movement.

THE FIFTH PRECEPT PROJECT REDUCING SUBSTANCE ABUSE IN THAILAND: REFLECTION

Buddha statue from the Gandhara-culture (1st c...

What I Learned from My Two Blogs Posts on Dharma Dialogue.

As the internet is fast becoming the main means to communicate, spread ideas, and raise awareness across the globe, dharma messages should follow suit too.  With guidance from my professor and also as requirement for the class, I wrote two blogs posts on Dharma Dialog and also created a Facebook group page.  All three generated some discussion but mostly people just viewed the posts and only a few decided to be brave and comment.

It was very interesting and fascinating to post and read everyone’s comments.  I wrote about the Fifth Precept and about the dangers of drugs and alcohol which is what the Fifth Precept is all about.  I wrote those articles based on what I know and what I have learned from living nearly my entire life as a Buddhist monk.  There were four comments for The Fifth Precept blog and seven comments for the Dangers of Drugs and Alcohol blog.  I was excited to find new comments each time a new one got posted.

For the blog about the fifth Precept, my writing was focused on drug and substance abuse in Thailand.  The last two comments were very useful.  One person commented that although Buddhism is the main religion in Thailand and everyone is well aware of the Fifth Precept (which is to refrain from taking substance and outside influence), it is evident that just that knowledge alone is not enough to keep them from taking and abusing drugs and alcohol.  The problem may be psychological and sociological, and I agree.  Every case of addiction cannot be all the same as everyone is different.  Why they became addicted and abused is something much more complicated than just knowing about religion.  The last person wrote about death.  He commented that if everyone would keep in mind that death eventually happens to all of us, we could probably focus on things that matter more and live better.  That is called awareness and I also agree with this person’s comment.

My second blog about dangers of drug and alcohol addiction had seven comments that followed.  Here, there was one person that disagreed with me that addiction caused people to become homeless.  He or she argued that the addiction probably happened to them after they became homeless and the point of the comment was to mostly point a finger at the U.S. government.  I can understand that logic and I do agree it could be the case.  But my point of view about addiction still sides with what the Buddha taught.  Usage and addiction to substance cause nothing but harm – harm to self, harm to others, harm to properties, and alter your consciousness.

Another person commented about attachment which was a very good point.  Although the people on Skid Row were homeless, as in having no home to go to and having to sleep on the street, we all are in a sense, “homeless” as well.  He wrote “We have no true home on earth, no true refuge in earthly things.  The only refuge we have is ourselves, and the Dhamma as our refuge.  To hold on to the idea that we have a home on earth is to keep on suffering.”  I read that and thought wow!  I was glad my blog got people to think and this person’s comment was good reminder of what life was really all about.  We should learn to let go and not be so attached or be too materialistic.  We came into this world with nothing and we can only leave with nothing.  All the money we make in this lifetime, we cannot take with us after death.  The only thing that follows us is our good and bad karma.  What good deed we have done will help protect us and guide us into the next life.

For my Facebook group page, only 3 people commented on my post about drugs and alcohol.  One person asked if it is considered okay in Buddhism if alcohol is used medicinally.  Another person commented in response that she thinks it should be acceptable if substance is being used for medical reason.  She went on further to say that she thinks drinking socially and moderately is okay.  I responded by saying drugs or alcohol should not be consumed at all, per Buddha’s Fifth Precept.  It is better to stay away and keep our mind clear from any altering substances.

The blog writing and Facebook group page was a fun project and I did get to learn by reading other people’s comments.  The world of technology allows for faster communication and social media is a good way to get your ideas out with fast feedback.  I am thankful for the people who commented on my blog and group page, and grateful for my professor too for giving me the opportunity.

With Love and Compassion (Metta)

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Death, Dying, and Buddhism – A Pinterest Page Update

Two months ago I proposed an educational social media project for the MDIV670 Spiritual Leadership course entitled “Death, Dying, and Buddhism” as a Pinterest page.(https://dharmadialogue.wordpress.com/2013/04/08/death-dying-buddhism-a-pinterest-page/) The intent of the page is to provide easy access to information, quotes, and other resources for those interested in death and dying, primarily from a Buddhist perspective. Some of what I have learned in the process includes:

There seems to be much more emphasis on death and dying in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition than in the other Buddhist traditions. This may be due to the fact that I am much more familiar with the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, but I made an effort to seek out quotes and other resources from the many other traditions, and only had mild success.

I was too quick to come up with categories and needed to change the names of the ‘boards’ on my page on several occasions, or merge some of them together (as an ongoing project, this may continue to be the case). It has been challenging trying to keep the project limited to the Buddhist approach to death and dying. The Buddhist and non-Buddhist worlds have much to learn from each other – of course, the relationship of each with death and the dying process is not exclusive. I have included both Buddhist and non-Buddhist resources, but, with some exceptions, my goal is to focus primarily on the Buddhist approaches. The board titles are currently as follows:

Buddhist Books on Death & Dying

Quotes by Buddhist teachers

Film & Other media on Death & Dying

Reflections on Death & Dying

Resources

Other Books on Death and Dying

Meditations, Mantras, & Music

The Bardos

Buddhist Psychology re: Death

Buddhist Art on Death and Dying

Buddhist Pilgrimage

I am pleased to report that without advertising this page beyond the Dharma Dialogue post, I have attracted 21 followers. Additionally, most of my ‘original pins’ (those that I personally sourced outside of Pinterest) have been repined by one or more of my followers, and many of those that I have discovered through Pinterest and repined have also been repined by my followers. When I Googled the words “Death” “Dying” and “Buddhism” together, the search results in my Dhama Dialogue post being listed as #8, and my Pinterest page as #12. This is clearly indicative of the lack of material out there.

I invite anyone to offer suggestions to improve the site and hope that some of you will join Pinterest and ‘Follow’ me at Death, Dying, and Buddhism. For those not interested in Pinterest, I hope you will comment here to alert me to any websites, books, quotes, or other resources that address death and dying from a Buddhist perspective.

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Calm Reflection or Our Inner Pipeline

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam during his 2007 trip

Thich Nhat Hanh in Vietnam during his 2007 trip (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

PART ONE

I am a seed planter.  This does not, in any way, mean that I don’t have the highest respect for those who reap.  What I always say is that we all need to have the pipeline to our inner voice of wisdom in good working order, (you can also use the words conduit or channel if pipeline sounds too colloquial for you).  And then we follow that wisdom.  For many years now, the message I have received has clarified that I am a member of the Seed Planter Sangha.

I want to reach out to people who may be interested in balancing their hectic, multitasking and media overrun lives with some quiet time to reconnect with their true selves, or as Thich Nhat Hanh would say, find their true home.  I know true self may rub many Buddhists the wrong way, but my pipeline wisdom says it’s a starting point.

I have established my own Blog Page called CalmReflectionblog.com, and a Facebook page entitled Calm Reflection.  I will use these modalities to try to make quieting the mind seem less like a skill, and more like something we all might want to do.   I am using this approach in response to the ten long years I had to struggle to establish a meditation practice I would want to do.  This goes back to the pipeline thing.  My inner voice, and to be fair, some wise outer voices over the years, have helped me understand that my past life experiences can be used to help others overcome things that I have been able to overcome already.  Today, I enjoy meditating.  Experts in the Counseling and Chaplain fields say we need to meet folks where they are.  So that’s what I want to do here, meet others, who, like myself, have perfectionistic, fear based, organic brains running the show, and teach them how to sneak around this self-absorbed grey matter, and find their very own pipeline.

It is my hope that some of the seeds I am able to help plant will grow into full-grown meditators.  I say help plant because, in this case, the ground in which I plant must be a mind which provides some fertility of curiosity, willingness, and desire for more connection within, and less distraction and reliance on the outside world.

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Rome was not Built in a Day… Nor Extropia in a Semester

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Over the past semester, I have created a personal blog (3ratna3kaya), contributed a couple posts here at Dharma Dialogue (Skid Row Reflection & Project Proposal), and started a Pinterest Page (Building Extropia Together). I have enjoyed fumbling around with social media, but I am quite aware that I am not particularly good at it just yet. To drive this point home with numbers, my personal blog, for example, has received 124 views to date. The highest number of views generated in a single day was 18. I tried to generate some internal traffic via word of mouth and Facebook, but that of course had a pretty limited effect.

When your mother tells you she likes your blog, it feels nice of course, but it also sounds hauntingly similar to high school years when she assured you that she could barely see your pimples and that you looked handsome in your rented prom tuxedo. Anyhow… thank you, mom, and happy Mothers’ Day.

In a nutshell, that was pretty much my experience with social media. I received some nice encouragement from friends, family, professors, and classmates. Some of my content was even “liked” by a small handful of fellow netizens I have never met in person. Disappointing, however, was the lack of comments on my posts and content. Here at Dharma Dialogue, two comments were made on my initial two posts. One comment was from the always incredible editor and contributor, “Buddhakaruna.” The other comment left for me was attributed to “anonymous,” but seemed likely to be internal traffic, as well (still very appreciated of course).

Most interesting or encouraging were the “likes” and “follows” from random netizens. I could rattle off some statistics related to these “likes” and “follows,” but none are especially impressive or revealing. Later looking into the blogs of these individuals, I found that most had either an interest in Buddhism, technology, or both.

The title of this post is, of course, facetious. I did not expect to gather up a group of netizens and build an Extropic world. There is a great deal of momentum at play and Extropia strikes me, admittedly an optimist at heart, as a likely outcome whether additional people get involved or not.

In the time-span of less than a month, from my project proposal to this project reflection, technology has continued its brisk sprint into the future. Some major advancements that have made the news in that time include bone tissue substitutes made from stem cells, “buckyball” non-toxic drug deliver via nano-tech, an injectable nano-network aimed at treating diabetes, neural development studied using brain cells created from stem cells, a quantum internet has secretly been in use for over two years, a working 3-D printed gun was made available for download, and then quickly ordered to be removed by the State Department.

There is little doubt in my mind that the future is upon us. I believe it would be a mistake to not consider how our own personal theologies (Buddhist, Dharmic, Taoic, Abrahamic, or otherwise) respond to highly-potential future developments such as radical life extension, mind-uploading, geoengineering, terraforming, etc, etc.

Ummm… I guess this is the part where I beg you all to comment on this post and visit my blog and Pinterest page.

Thank you for reading.

Palms together,

3ratna3kaya

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Touch the “Untouchable” Caste

Indian Caste System

TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLES

On a tour in India, I witnessed an Untouchable man who was forced to bend down and touch his head to shoes of  an upper caste person.  Why?  Because he had accidently touched the body of the upper caste person while walking down a very crowded street  It was his fault that he did not step aside and let the upper caste person pass through first, our tour guide said.

Also, I witnessed a impoverished untouchable teenage girl who was about 4-months pregnant who had joined other villagers in begging group.  She accepted her misery as her way of life.  Her husband beat her because he blamed her for not able to beg enough money for dinner and his drinking.  Everything was her fault because her fate was to be Dalit, also called Untouchable.  She believes it is her karma to be poor. so it was okay to beg for food and money during the day.  That is how she views her life, a life of untouchable caste because nobody educates her about her human rights.  Something the powerful mainstream of the Brahmin  and Kshatriya castes, never wants to see happen.

Since seeing Indian Caste discrimination both my mind and heart are troubled.  I understand that I, myself cannot change the world, but I can change a life of a person who suffers from poverty as result of the caste system or racism even if I can help only one person in my lifetime.

The Buddha deeply disapproved of the injustice of the Caste system in India.  The Buddha himself not only preached about the humanity the “lower classes”, but also ordained the disciples from Untouchable caste such as Upâli – a barber, Sunita – a scavenger,  Punnâ and Punnikâ – slave girls.  Although before his awakening, he was born as a Kshatriya, the Buddha considered the Castes unjust.  He strongly condemned the debasing caste system.  In his Order of Monks all castes unite as do the rivers in the sea. They all become known as members of one community, the Sangha. Thus, I propose the social project “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLES” regarding to the caste difference in India and choose Facebook as media platform in order to have others share related stories or observations to assist me in exercising compassion, right view and right action.

For those who want to make a difference in the lives of those impoverished Untouchables, I believe that any comments or suggestions you can provide gives us the opportunity to lighten or end their suffering even though it might take a long time to accomplish.

For those unaware of what the Caste System is and how the Caste System works in India, I will provide some resources such as books, videos (Youtube), and entries on the Facebook page: “TOUCH THE UNTOUCHABLE” .  I hope after exploring the world of those Untouchable lives, your comments will give some insights about the following:

1. In the ancient time, King Asoka, who was powerful emperor and sincere Buddhist.  However, he did not  dismantle the Castes during his reign?  Why did he not?  How did he treat the “Untouchables?”

2. In modern times, Mohandas Karamchand Gandhi was famous for practice of nonviolence to win Indian Independence from British.  Gandhi lived with the poor, and called the poor “children of God”, but he was criticized that he never worked for the elimination of the Caste System.   Did Gandhi do enough?  What or who influenced him to accept the Caste?

Any comments on the destruction of the Indian Casted Society!  Any suggestion about transformation of the Untouchables’! Please share your thoughts on my Facebook page.   All will be greatly appreciated.

TOUCH “UNTOUCHABLES 

To understand their suffering

To love them as human beings

To raise them up from the mud of poverty

To have their lives blossomed as lotuses

To remove the Caste System

You opinion can made difference to their fates

Thank you

With Metta

 https://www.facebook.com/pages/Touch-the-Untouchable/609528329076721

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