An Inquiry into Avoiding Unnecessary Suffering

Note: The following is a transcript from a talk I gave to the St. Croix Unitarians on September 11, 2016.

When I was asked to speak on 9/11, the inference was that I would be the right person to speak on this particular day. At first I wasn’t so sure. Then I recalled the Buddha’s teaching on the second arrow of suffering. I’ll get to that.

First, I’m going to begin with a light-hearted story that I wrote called Bear Trap. Continue reading

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Bias and the cultivation of open-hearted belief: Transcript from Unitarian Presentation

There’s a story from a couple of centuries ago. There was a situation where the Pope wanted the Jews to leave Rome. There was an uproar. So, they decided to have a debate. If the Pope won, then the oppositional Jews would leave. If the representative of the Jews won, the Jews could stay. There was a rule to the debate that neither side could talk. The debate begins and there’s silence for several minutes. Then the Pope raises his hand and shows three fingers. Moishe, who represents the Jews, raises one finger. The fingersPope raises his fingers and circles them around his head and Moishe points to the ground. The Pope gets out a wafer and a glass of wine and Moishe gets out an apple. The Pope stands up and says, “The man is too good I give up, the Jews can stay.”

An hour later the cardinals are all around the Pope and ask: “What happened?” Continue reading

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Mindful Speech — Transcript from Unitarian Presentation

I’m going to begin with a story about a young man who invited his mother over to his house for supper, his name was John. Now his mother had long been suspicious of the relationship that her son had with his roommate, and she was also curious. The fact that they were roommates boosted her suspicions. During the evening she couldn’t help but notice how they interacted with each other, and wondered if maybe they weren’t being honest with her. John seemed to read his mother’s body language, and told her: “I know what you might be thinking, but I assure you, Karen and I are just roommates.” Continue reading

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A Proposal for Earth Day

I can’t think of a single greater threat to the survival of human civilization, and perhaps the human race (over the next 150 years) than global climate change. Barring unforeseeable events, such as extraterrestrial invasion or impact by a giant meteor, global climate change is potentially the most destabilizing force. For example, if oceans rise and coastal cities are devastated, then a chain reaction of events is put into motion that could end with the collapse of civilization. Whatever else that means, there are over 400 nuclear power plants worldwide that would go unattended and critical. Unlike giant meteors, this is a situation we can begin to address now. Some say that the time for meaningful action may pass us by. Continue reading

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Quietly Doing the Work

It’s important that we have qualified shamanic teachers that act with honor and dedication to further a transpersonal goal. It’s important that we have honorable teachers in all spiritual pursuits. It also follows that teachers who put themselves in public view, write informed books, and offer clear and consistent teachings will become better known. Thanks to those qualified teachers who dedicate their time and effort to furthering quality and heartfelt practice among discriminating students of Spirit, mindfulness, and Mystery.

This essay affirms the collective value of practitioners, at any levelĀ  experience, who quietly do the work. They may occasionally teach (perhaps on a small-scale or rainbow sunsetby the example of their lives), but their primary focus is to maintain an ongoing practice without necessarily drawing notice. They may work both in a group and on their own. Their primary focus is to achieve a depth of understanding over time, and to apply what they learn and integrate into the fabric of their lives. A serious practice will spread good medicine, like lighting up a corner of universe. A great many individual lights can make a beam. It really is true that a large number of dedicated practitioners — quietly doing the work — can spread spiritual health, influence cultural tipping points, broaden cultural perception, and extend the boundaries of human consciousness. Continue reading

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