Don’t go Away – Dog Park Diary 120911

In a far off time we learned to understand “I-Thou” relationships. This sounds to me very much like Buddhist enlightenment. An experience that is available to humans and very likely represents a relationship with whatever we see as our God. Cheri Maples explains the implications of that kind of relationship with life in Buddhist terms: “It’s not about me, but I can make a difference.” In fact, everything that we do all day every day does make a difference, whether or not we are aware of it. So i think the most important point of human life is to understand what we are doing and what difference it is likely to make. We cannot do this by following only our emotions or only our opinions. It requires study. Study of how we affect people, and also study of how we affect the whole giant biosystem/ecosystem, because — we do. The Dalai Lama calls that “wise compassion,” and everyone can do it. It is so very much more important than a life spent only playing in the dog park — I mean human park. I think Bitsy probably doesn’t understand this, but a human life spent in wise compassion is almost like a human gift to God.

Peach Clubhouse Newsletter – May

Has now been posted in the PDF section to the right for free download. Check out something you have probably never read about genetically modified foods. Sent from the clear mountain air of Santa Fe.

The Dalai Lama Recent Teaching

As it spoke to me.

His Holiness has boiled down his message to a very compelling core. As you know, I found his message compelling to begin with, because it parallels what can be seen and questioned in the world of measurable facts. Measurable facts are not everything, but if one’s message ignores the core realities of science it is not a compelling message at a time when we are killing the earth — because real things are real, including our responsibility to not kill the earth. Therefore, real things must be incorporated into any valid world view. I like to listen to His Holiness, especially if I’m feeling a bit stressed, so yesterday I listened once again, to a new version of the Four Noble Truths, spoken recently in New Delhi. I will summarize and paraphrase for clarity and hope that I do not mis-represent. He talked for about six hours:
2012_03_23_Delhi_truths_english_video_day1_hq.mp4 about 1:10 into the talk.

“Most suffering is due to ignorance. Therefore it is very important to not permit ourselves to be ignorant (or we will not only suffer but cause a lot of suffering LL). The counterforce of ignorance is knowledge. Ignorance will not go away through prayer. Or meditation. The counterforce of ignorance is only education. You cannot learn the alphabet through prayer, but as soon as you know the alphabet, you understand it. So ignorance is diminished only through study and the development of understanding.

“If the ultimate source of suffering is ignorance, then there must be a counterforce to ignorance, and that is the understanding of reality.”

(Now, in fairness, of course he was not talking only about physical science. He was talking about the expressions of suffering, which include “fear, suspicion, jealousy, anger attachment, that all center on I. Self as the center.”) And then he spent a lot of time explaining that point. Bonnie has his excellent early tapes of the Four Noble Truths that he presented in England, with our favorite translator, that lays it all out beautifully. I watch those also whenever possible. So do listen to that, and then here is his current summation. Beautiful. Do remember the word Dharma has been, can be, translated as “truth,” and refers to reality as it is – and when we study the Dharma we are trying to figure out what reality is, so that we don’t increase suffering.)

“We must be 21st Century Buddhists, with full knowledge of Buddha dharma.
First we should all study the reality that is revealed by science because it is universal;
Second, we can all study reality as philosophy, (I think he means here we can study under different philosophical and/or religious umbrellas, all of which emphasize compassion.)
Third, specifically as Buddhists, we use our Buddhist practices to implement our reality.
As Buddhists, we are bound to study and understand the law of causality (cause and effect, or the predictable results of our behaviors) and then —

    Do not do any action that predictably could cause harm to others


Behind all Religion is Human Ethics

Often it is very well disguised. That doesn’t mean anything about the ethics. Just about some humans in all cultures. We probabaly will not be happy with our lives if we are one of those who do not look Beyond Religion for a better future. I downloaded it for free from I thought it was a gimmick. Of course the gimmick was FINDING what I wanted among all the digital diversions, but the book itself came up for a free download straight onto my computer. Or you can get the real book. The music of this Youtube clip would set you teeth on edge, but in the download it goes away quickly.

Bare Bones Biology 079-The Vision

Photo © Photos by Lynn From the upcoming book Ouside the Circle.

Many people agree that our human cultures have gone off track in a number of ways, and that we need a new vision of the future if we are to grow a better future for our grandchildren. And beyond. Many people disagree about the new vision. No need to argue, I’ve been studying this for about a decade and I’ll tell you. Then, if your ideas are better, please get in touch and we can try together to make a vision. For now, as we step out in our new direction, this is my belief.

The minimum requirement for a viable human social structure is that its citizens must be educated in the skills of practical compassion applied to problem solving, the nature and needs of a healthy ecosystem, and a rule of law that recognizes the conflicting human rights at the individual level and the level of the whole. That’s a big order, and the next question is how? How can we do this? But first let’s talk about why we should make the effort. Listen to a statement made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama in he film Dalai Lama Rennaisance:

“As a result, nobody is taking care of the long term, I think for strategy or interest, and in the meantime many problems we are facing today are not just from superficial causes, but there are deeper causes. I think the crisis in the late 20th century, that we are facing, is due to negligence of the previous century. Of our previous generations.”

So our crisis is not due to superficial causes that we are addressing as symptoms, but is primarily due to negligence of the previous generations. I agree completely, and we were both here to see it happening. Well, we were both here for part of that, on opposite sides of the globe, and we both agree that doing more of what caused our problems in the first place will not cure our problems. So let’s forget about going backward, trying to grow a better culture, because what we did, it didn’t work. In fact, it caused our current challenges, and it’s easy to predict that if we continue as we are in this moment, the results will be even worse for our grandchildren than they have been for us. And for the fifth generation. Or the seventh generation.

“We are now. We are now. Now is us. We’re the seventh generation. I’m sitting here as the seventh generation because seven generations ago those people were looking out for me. Seven generations from now someone will be here, I know, and so each generation makes sure that seventh generation is coming all the time. And that’s accountability. We’re accountable, and they’re going to call us. They’re going to say Why did you do this? Or Why did you not do this?”

That was Oren Lyons, Chief of the Native American Onondaga and Seneca Nations of the Iroquois Confederacy, talking with Bill Moyers But you don’t need to be on the other side of the world. And you don’t need to sit in the council of a tribal chief. Just look at your own children, and their children, and you know we have an obligation to the future.

So then, the next question is How? How do we accomplish this enormous task. The answer must be for each of us to carry our own load of responsibility, regardless of whatever other people are doing. We can’t wait till we win something or convince someone. We have one moment in time to grow a better future, and that moment is now. We can’t change anything that happened yesterday, and we can’t do anything tomorrow because by the time we get to tomorrow it will be now, and we will have lost a whole day when we could have been living our ideals. And that’s our responsibility, to live what we believe, beginning with the Golden Rule, and I’ll talk more about that next time.

Bare Bones Biology 079 – The Vision
KEOS Radio 89.1 FM
Audio download available later this week at

His Holiness and Ecology

I am forwarding this to our whole group of nearly 200 people and posting it on my blog, at the last minute, because I sincerely believe we will require the blending of the practical compassion and practical ecology if we humans are to make it through this biological bottleneck. As the Mind & Life announcement states (see the announcement below, a sincere effort at synergy is needed. Not only lip service and not a vague, fuzzy-bunny understanding of what is a hard-edged biological reality. Neither free-floating, unfocused compassion, nor prayer can save us from ourselves if we fail to also fulfill our obligations — both as individuals and as organizations — to our human future and to the earth.

Mind and Life Institute works with His Holiness The Dalai Lama to coordinate scientific research with issues of importance to the compassionate community. In the past, in my opinion, the Mind and Life science initiatives have expended far too much of their unique potential in the study of human physiology that won’t even exist if we don’t get our act together. I hope the work they describe here is fruitful. I know it is of the highest possible priority, and many of you will be interested in the outcome. The webcast begins in our time zone at 9:30PM today (Sunday) streaming live on line. I will download the podcasts and share them.

I hope they include at least one qualified ecological scientist in this workshop. So many people believe that they understand ecology simply because they do understand interconnectedness. Because we are interconnected doesn’t mean we can do anything we want to do with the ecosystem. If we want it to stay alive and healthy, we need to know specifically HOW the ecosystem is interconnected – how it functions — so we can avoid breaking the critical connections. If we haven’t already.

Let’s see how well the meeting is able to accomplish this effort and let’s support them fully if they are effectively addressing our real survival problem. We do need to unite behind an effort that has a chance to succeed. I don’t think the Peach Clubhouse can do it alone.

The regular Peach Clubhouse newsletter will follow later this month

The minimum requirement to grow a viable human social structure is that the citizens must be educated in the skills of: practical compassion applied to problem solving; the nature and needs of a healthy ecosystem; a rule of law that recognizes the conflicting human values at the individual level and the level of the whole.
___________________________________Here below is he announcement
Mind and Life XXIII
Ecology, Ethics and Interdependence
with His Holiness The Dalai Lama
Dharamsala, India • October 17 – 21, 2011

Live webcast
Live broadcasting by Ustream
Unfortunately, as this will be a small, private meeting, it will be impossible to invite additional participants to attend Mind and Life XXIII. However, the proceedings of the conference will be webcast live, beginning October 17th. Please note that the sessions begin at 9:00 am and 1:00 pm Indian time. If you experience problems viewing this video, you can also see it at The sessions will be available for streaming and download after the event at

Conference Overview
The slow meltdown of Earth’s capacity to sustain much of life, as we know it, poses an urgent challenge for both spiritual traditions and science. These two ways of knowing have developed distinctive responses, which are potentially synergistic. The goal of the meeting is to provide an opportunity to articulate an engaged environmental ethics. This would include the understanding of interdependence through an examination of the most recent data on the scientific case for effective ecological action. Furthermore, it will be a unique opportunity to meet with other faith traditions that have arrived at a religious basis for motivating environmental activism. A dialogue between contemplative scholars, activists and ecological scientists could enrich the response to our planetary crisis. Insights from the new thrust in ecological science evoke the deep interconnections between individual choice and planetary consequence as well as through cross-fertilization of ideas and meaningful action among activists working within their own spiritual framework. We will explore many dimensions, from the human-caused deterioration in the global systems that sustain life, and the role each of us plays as seen through the lens of industrial ecology, to a view from Buddhist philosophy and other faith traditions, to the on-the-ground realities faced by ecological activists. Our hope is that this conference will be a significant catalyst for the formulation of new research ideas in these fields and solutions to our planetary crisis.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama

Probably His Holiness will not mind if I quote extensively from his most recent book and then hope that you will read the book. It is partly a memoir of his experiences with friends rooted in the various faiths, and more importantly an analysis of the human roots of those faiths. Can we agree that all faiths have human roots regardless of their aspirations? Maybe not, those are my words. Here are some of his. Page 109, Toward a True Kinship of Faiths, Doubleday Religion:

“It is my conviction that compassion, the natural capacity of the human heart to feel concern for and connection with another being – constitutes a basic aspect of our nature shared by all human beings, as well as being the foundation of our happiness*. In this respect, there is not an iota of difference between a believer and a nonbeliever and between people of one race or another.”

May I insert another personal opinion before continuing. The above statement resonates strongly with me because of the basic logic of my background in studies of genetics and evolution. Not to quote some considerable evidence for the genetic importance of communal welfare. And contrary to the perversions of some subsets of the overall biological reality, for example “survival of the fittest” to suit preferences of some individuals and groups that are ignorant of the overall realities of life. It seems logical to me that Homo sapiens’ (we are all of the same species) selective advantage, that gave rise to our spectacular success on this earth, had to do primarily with a natural capacity to feel concern for and connection with other beings. I mean the difference between us and those that are no longer present on this earth. Probably it would be best for us if we don’t forget that reality, because we cannot survive on this earth without the well-being* of this living earth. Oh, oops, I was quoting religion, not science-based digressions:

“One can identify three broadly distinct approaches within this process. One is the theistic approach where the concept of God underpins the ethical teachings that foster man’s emulation of God’s own compassion. A second is the nontheistic religious approach, such as that of Buddhism, that invokes the laws of causality (cause and effect) and the fundamental equality of all beings in their basic aspirations for happiness* as the grounding of ethics. The third belongs to the secular or nonreligious approach, whereby no religious concepts are evoked but, rather, recognition of the primacy of compassion may be underpinned by common sense, shared common experience and scientific findings that demonstrate our deep dependence on others’ kindness.”

“. . . at the heart of all the world’s religions is a vision of human life that transcends the boundaries of an individual’s physical existence as an embodied, finite, and temporal being. A meaningful life, in all the faith traditions, is one that is lived with an awareness of a . . . “ dimension above the mundane.**

On page 114: “What we find in the teachings of the world religions is a vision of ethics that moves beyond the limited reciprocity of the Golden Rule to an exhortation to universal compassion.”

*For American readers, I am sorry that the word happiness has been used as a traditional translation of the concept of welfare and well-being that I assume must be the original meaning of the Buddha’s statement in the Pali language. The American idea of happiness does not fit a concept of universal well being. For one thing, happiness is a human emotion, or at most an emotion of higher vertebrates, and we are talking about the welfare of all sentient beings, most of which are not higher vertebrates. For another, happiness has some especially negative connotations (shoot it up, buy it up, eat it up and you will be happy) in American English that are not part of its use in this context. One other interpretation of the concept that I heard from Sharon Salzberg is “well-being,” which is not as pretty a term but clearly must be more accurate, because every living thing has a need for well-being, and the intent is for the welfare of all living things.

** Mundane means ordinary or perhaps boring, but it also has another meaning: “matters of this world,” that is probably more to the point of this quote (per your friendly Microsoft computer dictionary).