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  1. Subscriber duecer
    anybody seen my
    12 Aug '08 00:23
    This round will be themes of social justice, i.e. poverty, equal rights, racism, etc... you may choose a broad variety or a specific topic
  2. 12 Aug '08 03:07 / 10 edits
    I am going to speak to this issue—the broad question of social justice—from two interconnected points of view: one contemplative/meditative (or mystical, if you wish); the other, Buddhist compassion in a world plagued by suffering, and the Bodhisattva way.

    Spirituality is about what is before all thought, all thinking-about, all concepts, words, names. All language about—that—is either deliberately iconographic, pointing beyond itself to what is prior to all language, or it runs the risk of becoming idolatrous. All religions are susceptible to concept-idolatry, idea-idolatry, doctrine-idolatry.

    For no other reason than to have a word, since we are using words here, I will call thattathata. Tathata means the just-so-suchness of things as they are, right here and now, including you and I. Before we think about it, before we parse it into concepts, before we entertain even the thoughts “I” or “it”. Tathata is the reality that is prior to any and all thinking-about. But, if we do think-about it; it includes that thinking-about as well, since it includes us and our minds and how they work.

    Sitting quietly, become aware of just what’s going on right now. If there are birds singing, you are aware of birds singing; if there is a breeze, you are aware of the breeze; if a clock strikes, you are simply aware of the clock striking; if you need to move in any way, you are simply aware of moving; you are aware of your own breathing. That’s all. There is no effort, no concentration involved.

    If you think, “Ah, that is a mockingbird singing”—just be aware of that thought, and let it go. You do not need to follow it into a whole convoluted train of further thinking. If a thought arises, just notice it and let it pass: just as you notice that hawk circling high toward the sun, and then suddenly swooping out of sight over that ridge; or that cloud, changing shape and riding on the wind until it disappears from view.

    If you watch your thoughts this way, you will begin to see how they arise from the clear mind-ground, sometimes arouse and connect with other thoughts, flock together in whole complex formations—and eventually pass on, perhaps to be remembered later, perhaps not. If you spend some time watching your thoughts this way, just as you watch whatever else is going on, you will begin to understand how your thinking-mind works.

    And you will begin to understand how, first things are, and then you think about them. True spirituality—by whatever name—is being immersed in that just-so-suchness, tathata, before all thoughts, words, conceptualizations or names. What we normally call “religion” is just our thoughts, words, conceptualizations or names for that—or the thoughts, words, conceptualizations and names given by those who have gone before, such as are recorded in the sacred texts of various religions.

    If one pursues this long enough, one can come to a number of conclusions, based on observation ( and meditation is just a particular way of observing). One is that nothing in this whole tathata is really, existentially, separable from all the rest. If you think “I”—as in, “I am here”—and “it”—as in “it is over there”—you have created a separation from your own perspective (which is basically what “I” is: just your personal, existentially given, perspective—and whatever you think or have been taught to think about that). But that over there can really be no more separated (existentially!) than a current in the ocean can be separated from the ocean in which it flows.

    The figure cannot be truly separated from the ground, else you would not be able to recognize the figure. When you think, “I”—and any of a whole complex of “I-thoughts”—that becomes the figure in your own awareness. Whenever you think, “cloud”, that becomes the figure in your own, shifted, awareness. When you stop thinking, there is only—Is. And you will come to realize that none of us are separate or separable from this whole ground of being, in which and of which we are. Tathata includes us. We recognize each other—now, perhaps, as unique figure; now, perhaps, as just a vague part of the background of our own immediate existence—as being inextricably and inescapably entangled in the same fabric of existence: we are each and all manifestations from and in and of the same Whole.

    Spend some time, when you are done reading these clumsy words of mine, in the meditation (any particular form of meditation that you prefer) that leads to this simple realization. You are a passing, and continually shifting, current in the same one ocean—as am I. In Buddhist parlance, the first realization is that of inseparability. The second realization I am talking about here is called—transience.

    Every religion has something to say about this existential fact of transience, whether there is some talk of an after-life, immortality of the soul, resurrection of the body, reincarnation—whatever. I have nothing to offer along those lines—from a Buddhist perspective, or a Christian perspective, or a Jewish perspective, or a Hindu perspective, or . . . In each and every case, there is still the underlying existential fact of transience vis-à-vis this existence as we know it now.

    Each and every one of us faces this existential fact of transience, whatever we choose to otherwise think about it. As beings with a self-reflective consciousness that is aware of our own impending death—and the impending death of all those we know and love—that is our unique existential dilemma.

    And it is simple recognition of our existential inseparability, and the fact of the transience of our own lives—and however we each think about and deal with that issue—that is the basis for Buddhist compassion. It is just that I recognize you as another transient life in this web of existence that we share, another living current in the cosmic ocean, a living current whose impending death causes anguish, fear and suffering; and whose life is ruptured by grief, demeaned by hatred or indifference, threatened by abuse—it is this simple recognition that gives rise to my compassion. I too have been afraid; I too have suffered anguish; I too have suffered grief for the loss of loved ones; I too have been cheated, demeaned, exploited, abused. We all share the same existential dilemmas.

    I no longer fear death. I no longer fear death because I recognize that I am a current in the one cosmic ocean, from which I arose, in which I flow, of which I am, to which I will return. But our compassion for one another is not based on our particular opinions about what happens when we die. It is based simply on the recognition that we are all faced with the same existential dilemmas and sufferings.

    The Bodhisattva vows, taken here from several Zen formulations that I like, are:

    I. Sentient beings are numberless; I vow to awaken with them all.

    II. Delusions/sufferings are endless; I vow to heal them all.

    III. Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to go through them all.

    IV. The Buddha Way is inexhaustible; I vow to embody it all.

    “Vow,” in the sense used here, represents a dedication toward something. For example, a basketball player who dedicates herself to making every shot she takes, whether she is actually able to do that or not. If she misses a shot, she (hopefully) doesn’t simply walk off the boards in dejection; she re-dedicates herself and goes again.

    Buddha just means “awakened one”. A Bodhisattva is one who will not rest content in their own awakening (their own “salvation” ) until all sentient beings are also awake. “Suffering” in Buddhist parlance generally means mental suffering—anguish is a better translation of the Sanskrit word dukkha. The “Dharma gates” are all the paths to awakening through this existence, all the spiritual paths regardless of their differing paradigmatic views, regardless of any errors in some of their expressions. The “Buddha Way” encompasses all of them; it encompasses the myriad and inexhaustible expressions of the tathata—it encompasses your uniqueness as a human being, and mine.

    The Bodhisattva’s vows—shared awakening; healing; traveling through any gate and along any path; embodying, for self and others, the whole of the Buddha Way—are the expressions of Buddhist compassion. The Bodhisattva, of course, may be a Christian or a Jew or a Hindu or a Muslim—and use the language of any of those, and other, expressions. One neither has to be a Buddhist, per se, nor ascribe to any particular religious metaphysics or doctrines. One does not need to call herself, or to be called by others, a Bodhisattva. All the Bodhisattva needs is compassion, based on the simple recognition of our shared existential dilemmas, and our propensity for suffering in the face of them.

    I have often failed. I will surely fail again. But I will not wallow in my own suffering as a result of those failures. If I do that, then all I have to share with anyone else is my own suffering. A sour-faced, steeped-in-suffering Bodhisattva is little help to anyone.

    Vow to be a joyful Bodhisattva. I will as well. Refresh your power in the meditative experience of the all-embracing tathata, before all thoughts, words and creeds. I will as well. Don’t fret about any of it. Just—as Zen master Shunryu Suzuki roshi once said—“Shine one corner of the world.” I will as well. Then perhaps we can be Bodhisattvas for one another, as the need arises.

    Blessings, and be well.
  3. 12 Aug '08 04:33
    If you want to read something more beautiful and profound by far than what I just wrote—an example of a “wounded healer” Bodhisattva sharing compassion as best that one can on a forum like this, how one can extend oneself in an attempt to alleviate the suffering of another, or to at least perhaps move them toward healing, even in a venue where all we have to share are written words—read Scriabin’s post on page 2 of the “babies born early” thread.

    I have spoken here in generalities; Scriabin there has provided an example, an example that shines this particular corner of the world.
  4. 12 Aug '08 05:04 / 24 edits
    When I think of social justice I think of human need. When we fail to meet a need we feel like justice has been ripped from our grasp.

    It reminds me of Mark 5:25-43. We begin by being introduced to a woman who was lower than the lowest in society. She was poor due to the fact that she spent all the money she had on physicians but only grew worse. To add insult to injury, she had a issue of blood which more than likely added a social stigma to her plight due to Jewish laws teaching that a woman is "unclean" immediatly after a menses. Unfortunatly for her, however, it never stopped. Her "uncleaness" was perpetual in nature. She then heard of Jesus and sought him for healing but with great trepidation. In fact, she did not even feel worthy to confront him about her condition because of her lowly position in society and the stigma surrounding her condition. Instead, she said to herself that all I need to do is touch this healer and I will be made whole and he need not even be bothered with me. She then came up behind him and merely touched the hem of his garmet and immediatly was made whole. Christ then turned to his disciples and asked who touched him despite being thronged and pressed in by a large group of people. He then turned to confront the woman of faith. He did so knowing that she would be fearful and afraid of his rebuke. After all, how could a holy man be tarnished by an "unclean" woman, especially a woman of low social stature? However, his motivation was not to reinforce her distorted image of herself by chastising her or by intimidating her, rather, it was to tear down that image, not only in her own mind, but for those that were present to behold this interaction. He wanted her to know that it was OK for her to approach him. He wanted the crowd to know it was OK for someone like her to approach him. Christ wanted her to know that her insignificance to himself was merely an illusion in her own mind. This illusion was nothing more than a lie she and others had bought into.

    Conversely, the next story following the poor woman with the issue of blood we see a man named Jairus who demanded an audience with Christ because his daughter had died. Socially, he was at the opposite end of the spectrum, in fact, we even know his name. He was a man of means and of social importance because he was a ruler of the synagogue. In fact, the disciples of Jesus rebuked him for barging in on their Master by asking why he troubled Jesus about someone who was already dead? However, Christ looked upon him with compassion and told him not to be afraid, but only believe. Jesus then went to his house and raised the child from her sleep as he said to her, "Taiithacumi", interpreted, Damsel, I say to you arise and she subsequently was raised from the dead. You see, Jesus wanted him to know, as well as us, that it was OK for someone like himself to approach him also. Having riches and great social stature did not intemidate him nor did they repulse him. Christ did not favor the need of the poor woman over that of Jarius on the basis that the poor woman deserved justice more than he, rather, they were treated as equals. Christ broke down this distorted image we often have of wealthy and affluent people just as he did with the poor bleeding woman.

    To sum up, whether we be a person of great wealth or of abject poverty and even if we be of great or lowly social stature, we all have the need for justice. No matter the illusion in and around us, we all are in desperate need of a touch from the Master at some point no matter what our economic or social position. In addition, we are all invited. You see, everything is an illusion other than our ability to see that we have a need and the fact that Christ is able to meet that need. All we need do is reach out to him in faith and then sit back and wait to hear the words "Taiithacumi"!! "Taiithacumi"!! Arise from your injustice!!!
  5. Standard member shavixmir
    Guppy poo
    12 Aug '08 11:39 / 3 edits
    A sermon from the church of Happiness, based on the Holy books of Happiness

    Hello there people!
    Nice to see you squatting down, chilling out, being here. Here and now.

    I was asked to speak to you today about the problem of racism. You know, it’s one of those things that are continuous; always was and always loitering; sometimes up front and in your face, but more often than not, lurking in the background like a wall in an arid land and as subtle as a joke during Christmas dinner.

    However, I’m here to talk to you about problems and how recognise them. And racism just is not a problem!
    Oh, I know lots of people tell us we shouldn’t be racist and that MTV tells us we’re all equal and enquiries refer to the problem of racism in the police force, but I’m telling you racism is not a problem. And so, I’m not going to talk about it as a problem, merely as an example.

    You see, racism is a manifestition of the problem. It is a consequence and not a cause. It’s nothing but a side-effect of the problem. And there are many other subjects I could have spoken to you about too: the lack of equal rights, poverty, war, medical insurance, etcetera. Ad infinitum. Ad nauseum.
    But these are consequences and not causes. They are not the problem. Never were and never will be.

    Many religious books talk to you about the cause. And many of these manuscripts give you seriously good guidance, albeit, quite often, with the advice to not worry, because God is strolling beside you, Mohammad promises you eternal life and the Buddha shows you inner peace. Looking around, you can obviously deduct that these advices just aren’t sufficient.

    What we’re talking about here is fear!
    One of the four basic emotions: happiness, sadness, anger and fear.
    And as we all know, emotions are triggered, not by an event, but by thought.

    From the book of basic concepts 3.5.2
    “And feelings are not just there. And feelings do not create themselves. And feelings are not brought about by happenings. Situations cause thoughts, thoughts cause emotions and emotions lead to behaviour. Do not under estimate the role of one’s thinking.”

    It is “oh so easy” to suggest that a situation has made one fearful.
    A common example is the fear of heights. You climb up a mountain and suddenly, when you look down, you are frozen to the spot. A situation seemingly leading to an emotion.
    However, this is not the case. In a fleeting second a thought has occurred to you. Quite probably: “Holy crap, this is high, I could fall and be splattered like Wile E. Coyote!”

    It is very important to understand the mechanics of what leads to emotions to be able to come to terms with fear. Let me read:

    From the book of basic concepts 3.5.8
    ”Put a pan of water on the boil. Now stick your finger in it. You do not want to, because you are afraid you will burn your finger. It is not the pan of boiling water which leads to your fear, it is the thought that you will burn yourself which frightens you. You do not put your finger in the boiling water.”

    Understand the mechanics of emotions. I can’t repeat this enough. It’s the basis of your behaviour on every level! Read the Holy book of Happiness. Teach yourself and understand.
    For the time being, let us accept the hypothesis as I’ve stated it and move on to understand the causes of racism, poverty and war.

    From the book of basic quotes 10.03.2 (10.03 being quotes by fictional prophets)
    ”Fear leads to anger, anger leads to hatred and hatred leads to suffering.”
    - Yoda –

    Children explore the world in ever increasing circles. First they explore the carpet. Then they learn to crawl they move into the kitchen. When they learn to walk they explore the garden and the street they live in. Suddenly they’re on a bicyle and are off exploring the whole town.
    Whilst they explore ever grander domains, they have the safety of returning to the starting point. A place of shelter. A haven of safety. This is their sanctuary.

    The same children develop behaviour to deal with the situations they encounter. A fine example is when “Father” is angry and is shouting at “Mum”, the child will hide behind the sofa or cry or run upstairs.

    This behaviour leads to patterns in behaviour.
    It’s easy to understand that the behaviour in the example, although it is succesful for a child, is not behaviour an adult wants to to have triggered. So, as a child grows and explores, the behaviour adapts to suit what’s best for the child, teenager, adult; at that age, at that place.

    From the book of basic concepts 1.4.1
    ”Humans, like cultures, are forever changing and adapting. For you need a road culture when you have heavy traffic, but you don’t need course feet when you can wear leather boots.”

    From the book of basic quotes 10.03.16
    ”To deny change is to deny existence."
    - Lord Oliosis of Gatas –

    As many children grow into adults, their mechanisms to deal with triggers become wrongly influenced by surroundings which, in turn, were wrongly influenced as well.
    The obvious question is: “What is right and what is wrong?”
    As a child returns to its sanctuary for safety and shelter, an adult, instead, will move away from an area of disaster, disease, hunger, war or unemployment. The mechanism is different, because the age and the place are different. When behaviour contradicts that which benefits someone most in the age and the place he or she is in, the Holy book of Happiness defines this as wrong.

    From the book of advanced examples 20.02.11
    ”A human is right to leave a fire if it is burning him and wrong to leave it if that means freezing his nuts off in a wintery storm.”

    What we see around us is change. The landscape changes, cultures change, interaction changes. Everything is in motion and everything changes.
    This means that new foods replace old foods. New music replaces old music. And new religions replace old religions. It’s the way it is.

    The wrongly influenced mechanisms of many adults bring about behaviour which is contradictory to the nature of all things and contradictory to what’s good for them in their age and their place. They behave in a fashion which would have benefitted them if they were children.

    They see new faces. They see new ways of looking at work ethics. They see changes in the way they live.
    And they think: “Where can I go that is safe? Where is my sanctuary?”
    And they feel fear. They become afraid. For that sanctuary is no longer there.
    The world of a child is small and ever expanding. In such a domain a sanctuary exists and has a purpose. But when an adult has seen the world and realised that all must change, the sanctuary no longer serves a purpose.

    From the book of basic concepts 01.01.02
    ”A continent is only a continent until you discover it is actually surrounded by water.”

    This fear leads to the racism I opened with and have called a manifestation.
    The problem is therefor not racism or war or poverty.

    The problem is how to deal with thoughts which lead to fear.
    The problem is how to stop mechanisms reacting wrongly to triggers.
    The problem is how to make people aware.

    My friends, it is good to see you here. Squatting and listening. In tune with your time and your place. If there was unlimited time, we could discuss the problems as we now clearly see them, but alas, it must be sufficient to have made clear what the problem actually is.

    Watch your thoughts. And be happy. I’ll leave you with 10.02.25 from the book of basic quotes:

    ”Change your thoughts and you change your world.”
    - Norman Vincent Peale -
  6. Standard member Hand of Hecate
    Merciless Vagabond
    13 Aug '08 14:12
    Originally posted by duecer
    This round will be themes of social justice, i.e. poverty, equal rights, racism, etc... you may choose a broad variety or a specific topic
    I'm torn between a commentary on the plight of Jews, blacks, those that think they're black, homosexuals with the BAD AIDS, involuntarily circumcised white males and any non-immigrants/non-teenagers that still work in a fast food restaurant.

    I'm seriously considering evaluating Scribbles and Kirksey's persecuation by the haters. If either of them was Jewish they'd be a lock for my sermon.

    Where's my Jesus shaped magic eight-ball?
  7. Donation kirksey957
    13 Aug '08 14:42
    Originally posted by Hand of Hecate
    I'm torn between a commentary on the plight of Jews, blacks, those that think they're black, homosexuals with the BAD AIDS, involuntarily circumcised white males and any non-immigrants/non-teenagers that still work in a fast food restaurant.

    I'm seriously considering evaluating Scribbles and Kirksey's persecuation by the haters. If either of them was Jewish they'd be a lock for my sermon.

    Where's my Jesus shaped magic eight-ball?
    Being the fair and impartial judge that I am I might have to recuse myself from your evaluation.
  8. Standard member Hand of Hecate
    Merciless Vagabond
    13 Aug '08 15:57 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by kirksey957
    Being the fair and impartial judge that I am I might have to recuse myself from your evaluation.

    I'm leaning towards sermonizing the origins of The Jewish Persecuation, though the BAD AIDS may still win out.

    Edit: By the way, your evaluations of Doc Scribbles sermons point clearly to some latent homosexual yearnings that he brings out in you. I pray to Jesus that these lustful fantasies remain unfulfilled.
  9. Subscriber duecer
    anybody seen my
    15 Aug '08 18:57
    bumpety bump
  10. Standard member DoctorScribbles
    BWA Soldier
    15 Aug '08 20:15 / 12 edits
    "Just Right"

    A children's sermon by Dr. S, submitted for consideration in the third round of the second annual BWA-Ivory Tower Sermon Competition, based somewhat on the story of Goldilocks and the Three Bears, in satire of the response to the Argument from Evil that bad things happen because they are necessary for the fulfillment of God's ultimate benevolent plan.

    Good morning, children. Today we are going to talk about a big word: "Justice." Does anybody know what that means?

    "Being fair?" says one small child.

    That's close.

    "You get punished when you do something wrong," says another.

    That's pretty good, too, although the Bible has some better answers. The Bible tells us that God is perfectly just. That means that whatever God does or commands is justice. For example, if he turns a woman into a pillar of salt for being disobedient, in Genesis 19:17, that is justice. Also, when God commands in Leviticus that a child ought to be put to death for cursing his father, that is also justice.

    Now let's see how well you understand justice. Who knows what the Holocaust was?

    The Holocaust was when the Germans killed six million Jews by herding them into deadly gas chambers. Does anybody think it was just for God to allow this to happen?

    No children raise their hands.

    Actually, the Bible tells us that it must have been. You see, God has a very special plan for us, and only he in his infinite wisdom fully understands it and all that is required to carry it out. We know that it is a good plan, so anything that happens in its fulfillment must be just, since anything that keeps God's plan from being fulfilled must be wrong. After all, he's all-powerful and perfectly just, and so he would have done something to stop the killing if justice called for that, like hardening Adolf Hitler's heart to the Nazi cause as he hardened Pharoah's heart, or providing the Allied Powers with additional resources to end the German rule earlier as he fed the thousands with a small basket of food, or by causing the gas chambers to crumble to the ground as he did the walls of Jericho.

    But God didn't do anything of those things. Even though we may not understand it or know what it is, God allowed those six million Jews to be murdered for a good reason. Each of their deaths were necessary for his plan to work out in the end. We can be thankful that no more were murdered but we should be even more thankful that no fewer were murdered, since each and every death that God allowed must have been necessary to avoid his ultimate plan for us being foiled.

    If you ever study this Holocaust more in school, you may be asked how many Jews were murdered. You can answer "six million" and be correct, but the real answer is "just the right number."

    How many slaves were brought to America from Africa? Too many? Too few? No, just the right number.

    The number of women tried as witches in Salem? Too many? Too few? Just right.

    The number of villages in poverty raided by corrupt African governments? Just right.

    The number of Chinese women forcefully sterilized? Just right.

    The number of Soviets sent to the Gulags? Just right.

    The number of Sodomites slain at the hand of God's people? Just right.

    When you grow up and get a little bit older, you'll probably start reading the newspaper or watching the news. You'll hear people talking about the need for "equal rights," "civil rights," "women's rights," "social justice," and so on, as if there were some problem that needed to be resolved. But you'll know that God has it all under control. Everything is just right.
  11. Donation bbarr
    Chief Justice
    15 Aug '08 20:20
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    but the real answer is "just the right number."
  12. Subscriber duecer
    anybody seen my
    17 Aug '08 21:49 / 1 edit
    Visted; again a masterful piece of writing. As a person who once actively practiced buddism, I found your take interesting. My only criticisms' would be 1: It was a little long in the introduction, the ideas presented could have been condensed. 2: vocabulary should be presented on an 8th grade level or you will be talking over most peoples heads. otherwise a very good job 93/99

    Wholey: it was nice to see a new entry. Your sermon reads as commentary, which is not neccessarily bad. It is well informed, and contextually correct, and I enjoyed your summation 90/99

    Shav: you were all over the map on this one. I thpought the idea of lookng at racism through the lense of fear was a cool idea. The word you were looking for is xenophobia. The sermon was full of platitudes and ideas, but never really coalesced in to one central theme. It would have preached well though because of the writing style 85/99

    Doc; was this an attempt at sarcasm? because if it is, to be efective you need to breal character at some point. Not a strong submission this week, and a real drop off from last week 70/99
  13. Standard member DoctorScribbles
    BWA Soldier
    18 Aug '08 00:09 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by duecer

    Doc; was this an attempt at sarcasm? because if it is, to be efective you need to breal character at some point. Not a strong submission this week, and a real drop off from last week 70/99
    Wrong. My sermon was the best. It must have just been way over your head.
  14. Subscriber duecer
    anybody seen my
    18 Aug '08 12:11
    Originally posted by DoctorScribbles
    Wrong. My sermon was the best. It must have just been way over your head.
    must have been
  15. Standard member Hand of Hecate
    Merciless Vagabond
    18 Aug '08 19:14
    Originally posted by duecer
    must have been
    You're not a midget are you?

    Tragically, my sermon was delayed by a serious bout of alcohol induced heat stroke. I felt like I was being fed into an oven.