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Heinz fruit juice: made with meat

My friends at the Hindu Council have just let me know of a letter they received from Heinz, which admits that some of their juices contain animal products:

The clear apple juice used in the Golden Circle ambient (long life) juice and drink range is made clear using a variety of clarifying agents one of which is from a beef source

It really is kind of gross, when you eat things you just don’t have a clue what’s in it. Juice is the last place you’d expect to find animal products, but there you go.

AABCAP Conference: Working Alongside Men with Mindfulness

Update: This important study on men’s well-being has just been published. The major findings: no. 1 cause of harm for men is alcohol; no. 1 cause of happiness is love. Somehow this seems familiar; where have I heard this before…

Dear Colleagues and Friends,

Please join us for AABCAP’s 8th Annual Conference where you will meet with old friends and make new friends.

This year our conference aims to explore men’s changing roles in society and how this effects both men and women.

This year we have done something slightly different, we have brought together 13 speakers, all with a Buddhist background, over a 100 years experience of specialisation working with men, to explore the unique challenges that we all, men and women, face as men navigate modern day Australian life. When half the population suffers the other half also suffers.

Talks will cover topics such as men and violence,working with Indigenous men, men and sex, men in relationships, corporate men, men and midlife and ageing and death.
As well, among the many papers we will also provide the opportunity for discussions, panels, and experiential sessions. Our speakers will bring us personal experiences of growing up male, as well their many years professional experience working in mental health with men.

In over 20 years working in Mental Health as a social worker and psychotherapist I have never been invited to a conference that specifically focuses on gender, in particular male gender, and the ways in which gender needs should be considered when working in a therapeutic alliance. Our ethical frameworks in mental health ask for us to be open and accepting of differences in ethnicity, religions, disabilities, and gender. And yet we receive little to no training in these areas.

This conference aims to explore some of the biases that each of us male and female therapists bring to our relationships; from our personal experiences as well our socio-cultural contexts, both of which can keep us from being helpful.

And in the end the idea is to enable conversations that enrich how women and men live more peacefully together.

If you have already registered or are participating perhaps you might like to send this on to your collegues and friends.

Thank you for your ongoing support.

With Metta,

Genevieve
President AABCAP

Click here to register

Rob Beschizza: Climate change is life and death

A home is seen protected from encroaching floodwaters by a levee near Yazoo City, Mississippi.

Here’s a brilliant photo essay on climate change by Rob Beschizza of Boing Boing.

Temperatures rise. Scientists warn and study. Conspiracy theorists cry foul. Politicians scoff and wheedle and suppress, while their bureaucrats calmly plan ahead. In the meantime, life and death go on—just not in quite the same way we’re used to.

Link

Ajahn Brahm, gender equality, and the international Day of Vesak: a petition

A petition has been set up in response to the banning of Ajahn Brahm’s paper on gender equality at the International Day of Vesak in Hanoi. It’s important that we make our voices heard.

Bhikkhu Bodhi has lent his support via Facebook:

For Buddhism to flourish in the modern world Buddhists must recognize that in regard to their capacities to understand and practice the Dharma, and to contribute to the spread of Buddhism, there are no essential differences between the genders. All human beings, regardless of gender, have the potential to learn, practice, realize, and serve the Dharma.

SIGN THE PETITION

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Comments are temporarily disabled

Dear friends,

I have been assailed in recent months by a seemingly unstoppable cascade of abusive comments on this blog. The commenter is someone who I do not know, but has obviously had some sort of psychotic break, and I am their obsession. They have in addition been repeatedly harassing places across the country, including Bodhinyana, Santi, and I’m sure many other places.

Just today I opened up my blog to find some 230 abusive comments in the past couple of days. It’s too much, and I can’t block them as they regularly change their user name and IP address. So I have temporarily disabled all comments as best I can; although I am not quite sure how it will work, as WordPress does not provide a specific “Disable all comments” function. My apologies to all bloggists, and I will re-enable the comments as soon as the situation is sorted out.

I have been in contact with the NSW police, and we hope to get the matter resolved. Clearly this is someone who needs help, and hopefully we can do something.

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Old comments

Just to let you know, I’ve gone through the old comments that built up during my long absence from this blog earlier this year. Hopefully if you’ve left a comment it should appear now, and my apologies for taking so long to get around to it. If you’ve raised a question that I haven’t answered, please be so kind as to remind me!

For those who asked for copies of the metta meditation study, I will email you soon.

If your (relevant and meaningful) comment doesn’t appear, it’s probably my mistake. This blog gets lots of hateful, idiotic, abusive, and plain old crazy comments. You don’t see them, because I filter them before they appear. Sometimes it’s from people who are ideological warriors in defense of their imaginary tradition; but mostly it’s people with messed up heads just blatting it out there. Being a monk is like being a lightning rod. Mostly the energy is illuminating, but sometimes it’s just awful.

Anyway, so this is just to invite you to resubmit if I’ve overlooked your comment. Most likely I accidentally deleted it along with the rubbish.

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Let peace come to you

When you meditate, just relax.

Don’t try to control your mind.

Don’t try to stop it going here and there.

Just be peaceful.

Don’t watch your breath. Just breathe.

Be at peace when your mind is still. Be at peace when your mind is wandering.

Don’t judge one state as better than the other. It is just how the mind is.

Let mindfulness settle down with the breath.

As you stop judging, stop trying, and stop controlling, peace will come to you.

Welcome it.

I’m back; with some sad news for sutta-lovers

I’ve been away on retreat for the past couple of weeks. I’m just catching up on things and will find some time for blogging in the next little while, I hope.

Meanwhile, I just noticed what is a sad day for the web: John Bullitt has announced he will retire from Access to Insight. He has built this site, mostly on his own so I understand, for 20 years, and it has always been the default home for Sutta translations on the web. Now he’s retiring and the site will not be developed further. It will remain solely as a static record, but no additions will be made.

I still remember the first day I saw the internet. It was at my sister’s office, here.

She showed me this thing called the “internet”. I asked if we could find any Buddhist suttas, and we immediately came across Access to Insight, and found some suttas there. I was blown away to think that the Buddha’s words could be found anywhere, by anyone!

I don’t know how many people have visited the site, or had the same experience. But it must be millions by now. It shows what an amazing thing can be done by the vision and energy of someone who truly loves the Dhamma. Congratulations to John for his remarkable achievement.

SuttaCentral update

We’ve just gone live with the new update for SuttaCentral. Check it out!

For this edition you won’t notice much change on the front end. But that is as planned. When we finished the newly designed site, our IT monks said, “Actually, now we know how to do it properly…” They (being Vens Jhanarato and Nandiya) found working with the previous incarnation, written in PHP, to be cumbersome, and they love Python. So once we finished, they started rewriting the whole thing in Python 3. This was a fantastic contribution, as it means the whole site is streamlined and optimized under the skin to a far greater degree. Running benchmarks on the full Samyutta Nikaya parallels table, we rendered the entire page on the old version in 38 seconds, while the new version stomps in at 1.5 seconds.

But it’s not just about speed. Python is the preferred language for natural language processing (NLP), and is heavily used by Google for that reason. This has already allowed us to create a fantastic, rich search engine: check it out! We already have title search, multiple full text searches, dictionary lookup, and even, for place names, automatic generation of locations on Google Maps. This is only the beginning of some powerful tools for analysis and comprehension of the texts.

More prosaically, we have resolved the former problems with Vietnamese fonts, and in fact have sponsored the design of a special version of Skolar font for Vietnamese. I’ve worked with the font designer, David Březina, to create the special Vietnamese diacritical marks. This is part of our push to use the highest possible standards of web typography in the demanding, multi-language environment of Buddhist texts. These are the words of the Buddha, and they deserve the best.

In addition, there are several new translations online, including additions to the Digha Nikaya and Samyukta Agama. However, our in-house translations are still limited. I hope to complete the corpus of original language texts this year, including Vinaya and Abhidhamma in all versions. Once this is done we can focus on gathering the translations.