Sunday, September 30, 2007

Overturned bowls

In today's Dharma talk, our priest's topic was "giving," and he began by describing the importance of the symbolism of the Burmese/Myanmar monks marching with their begging bowls overturned. This is an act which violates their core tenets of faith, that they should live by receiving alms. I was more curious when I got home, and I did a little InterWeb research in which I found this letter to the Buddhist Channel by Visakha Kawasaki of Sri Lanka. Here's a relevant quote:
Precisely because the Burmese military rulers have violently mistreated innocent members of the Sangha, monks in Burma have looked to the vinaya for an appropriate remedy.

That is pattam nikkujjana kamma or "overturning the bowl" against the military. This refusal to accept alms should be understood as a stern rebuke to a lay person guilty of one or more of eight offenses. These eight are: striving for that which is not gain, striving for that which is not benefit, acting against a monastery, vilifying and making insidious comparisons about monks, inciting dissension among monks, defaming the Buddha, defaming the Dhamma, and defaming the Sangha. If a lay person acts in any of these ways, he should be ostracized with the Sangha refusing all contact. This is not a joking matter nor is it being frivolously resorted to in Burma today.

In 1990 the monks of Mandalay declared pattam nikkujjana kamma after the army opened fire on a dignified procession of 7,000 monks walking to receive alms in commemoration of the second anniversary of the August 8th democracy uprising. On that occasion two monks and two students were killed outright, seventeen others were wounded, and one novice disappeared.

After the massacre, a boycott was declared in a ritual performed by more than 5000 monks. After that Sangha act, monks didn’t accept offerings from the military, which tried to break the boycott by offering cooked meals at various intersections in Mandalay which were untouched.

If a lay person harms the Sangha, the Sangha should shun him by not accepting religious offerings, not performing religious ceremonies, not going to them and not giving religious sermons to them. According to vinaya, offenders can be boycotted until they make an apology.

The purpose of overturning the bowl is a compassionate one, viz. to help evildoers repent their deeds, to forsake their wrong ways, and to return to the true path. In 1990 the military rulers rejected the correction. Since then conditions in Burma have gotten worse for the people and the Sangha. Burma’s prisons hold many monks as political prisoners.

In the villages and towns, people know that their monks suffer with them.

Now, these monks have been barricaded in their monasteries. Because they traditionally live by begging alms daily, they have no stockpiles or even simple storage of food. How long before they starve?

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Fall done fell. The report.

About a week or so ago I posted something about how it was really getting to be fall. Now we've had our first fall rain (as opposed to all that summer rain) and, after initially warming up when the clouds were rolling in, the temperature plummeted. My tomato vines are clinging to life out in the garden, and I plan on pulling them out this weekend. The spinach I planted last month has suddenly bushed out (well, the ones that the cats and toddler left in the ground). The shelling peas are taking off skyward.

The new Czicken Palazz is almost finished, after the House Bean and I put in a sustained effort last weekend.

The Fall Ango period for the Eugene Zendo began a week and a half ago. This is a 90-day period of intensified practice. I've made Ango commitments to sit Zazen every day for at least 20 minutes (what I do first thing in the morning) and to finally read Zen Mind, Beginner's Mind by Suzuki Roshi. Well, I started out by carrying the book around in my bag for a week, but I wasn't getting time to actually read. Then I got a chance to sit and read at some point last weekend, so I put in a few pages. Realized that I had made the commitment to read, but didn't commit to understand, so that took some of the pressure off. Hell, them Zen masters are always telling us not to cling to understanding, anyway. More progress was made this week, because I discovered that I could download the audiobook of it, so I can listen to it while I am grading papers. And will probably listen to it again, and again.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Conversation in a few years: Me and My Husband

"Sweetie, remember when R-- was four years old, and she so wanted to help out in the garden?"


"Remember how she decided to pull out weeds and she pulled out all my beautiful kale plants that were just starting to get to a decent size?"

"Oh, yeah. You were sad about that. But she watered your garden that day, too."

"What a sweetie. She'll never be that age again."

"Thank heavens."

Saturday, September 22, 2007

At least a peck...

...of pickled peppers. And flanking them on either side, four jars of spiced peaches.

Here's a close-up:

Thursday, September 20, 2007


Wow. It is seriously fall, now. A week or so ago, it was kinda fall. Now, it is really, actually fall. The dew on the grass that I see on my bike ride to work has developed an aura of, "Hey, Bud, in a few weeks I'm gonna be frost, so get used to it!"

This morning was the first one in which I could actually see my breath when I first went outside (at something around 7am).

Saturday, September 15, 2007

Anybody got some cash?

The house next door to us is *still* for sale. We would so love to buy it. It would make a great rental property.

Why do people bother buying toys for kids, part 9

Why buy them toys when, given a rag and some vinegar, they'll clean the house for you?

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

That niggling feeling

I just realized why I'm so unhappy with the 2008 presidential race. Six out of the eight candidates from the Democratic Party are SENATORS or FORMER SENATORS, while only two of the nine candidates from the Republican Party are Senators. Since when has a Senator been elected President? Not since Nixon. And there's only been fifteen Senators elected to President, out of forty-three? I don't like the odds.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

Saturday, September 08, 2007

I hear the secrets that you keep...

This morning, at about o'dark-thirty, my Little Guy sighed, rolled over, and stretched out his legs. "Daddy," he sighed, "Daddy. Balloon. Open. Open. Apple. Daddy." He sighed again, rolled over, and was quiet.

Monday, September 03, 2007

J Friends

I've been watching Classic Sesame Street with the daughter.

I posted the above, which then reminded me of this one:

Notice that they're letting those kids jump WITHOUT HELMETS!!!!!!!!! OMG!!! Probably one of the reasons why the DVD set carries a disclaimer that the vintage episodes are NOT SUITABLE FOR TODAY'S CHILDREN.