Forgiveness and Letting Go of Blame

Note: The following is a transcript from a talk I gave to the St. Croix Unitarians on October 9, 2016.

A little boy decides he wants to skip school. So he calls the elementary school office, and he tries to deepen his voice: “Donald Falk cannot go to school today because he is sick.” The woman on the other end of the phone asks: “To whom am I speaking?” The little boy says: “This is my father.”

That’s a cute lie, but often lies leave us feeling hurt and betrayed. When people lie to us, or mistreat us or take advantage of us, we’re likely to have a negative reaction. We’re likely to develop negative patterns of association with the individual who caused harm. And we sometimes feel the need to armor ourselves to keep from being manipulated or harmed in the future. When we armor ourselves, we are putting up defensive barriers that can include withdrawal and avoidance, a flight response, or aggressive behavior. Or maybe our language becomes defensive. Continue reading

Posted in Secular Buddhism/Unitarian, transcripts | Tagged , , , , , , | 2 Comments

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

Posted in Secular Buddhism/Unitarian, transcripts | Tagged , , , , , , | 1 Comment

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

Posted in Secular Buddhism/Unitarian, transcripts | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Secular Buddhism/Unitarian, transcripts | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

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

Posted in Reflections, Spiritual Practice | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment