Urban City in a Small Town

Window display in Ojai Creates.

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Are you in Vietnam? Please Help.

The monks and nuns of BN are evicted from the temple and now are
staying temporarily in chua Phuoc Hue, the big temple of central Bao
Loc, right on the main highway Saigon-Dalat with the big statue and
locates next to the church. This is the temple that our delegation
visited with Thich Nhat Hanh on the trip 2007. Please get as many foreign faces
as possible to be there URGENTLY to WITNESS of what is happening. The
policeman are trying to finish the issue as quickly as they can to
avoid the media and public attention so they deny all legal
sponsorship of the abbot (ven. Thich Thai Thuan). They are making
pressure to him to ask the monastics leave IMMEDIATELY, not allow them
to spend even overnight but we know that is the safest place for our
brothers and sisters rightnow because it is not as far as Dambri and
they cannot control the road. So please tell any friend who is in VN
now come to Bao Loc RIGHT AWAY. Thank you so much.

Thanh Buoi bus leaves SG for Dalat once every hour. Their depot is in Le
Hong Phong St, District 5.

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Buddhism Politics

400 Monastics Being Forcefully Evicted Today

Dear friends: the situation at Bat Nha Monastery in Vietnam (also known as Prajna Temple) has become very critical. There are about 400 young monastics currently being evicted from the monastery by the Vietnamese government and local police. You can learn a bit more from a recent New York Times article called Tensions Rise as Police Question Monk’s Followers – the “monk” in this case is Thich Nhat Hanh.

These young monastics (mostly under age 25) have been living here since 2005 at the invitation of the local Abbott. However, they were asked to leave earlier this year. It is not so simple for monastics to simply disperse and go live alone or at home and that is why finding a suitable new location for 400 people is challenging. All the monastics are Vietnamese citizens and are practicing in the tradition of Thich Nhat Hanh, the exiled Vietnamese Zen Master based in France.

If you want to learn more about the situation, please visit Help Bat Nha.

If you would like to help, please do any of the following:

  1. Pray for a nonviolent and peaceful resolution.
  2. Stay Informed. Follow Thich Nhat Hanh on Facebook or Twitter
  3. Send a postcard to the President of Vietnam in support of the 400 monks and nuns at Bat Nha. The postcard was first introduced at the Deer Park retreat in early September with Thich Nhat Hanh. The pdf files linked above can be double-side copied on card stock (text on one side, address on the other) and then cut in half (two post cards per sheet). A 98 cent stamp will ensure Air Mail delivery to Vietnam. Please consider copying them and taking postcards to your next Sangha meeting. You might offer to collect the cards and mail them yourself, asking perhaps for a donation for the stamp.
  4. Contacting U.S. Senators and Congresspersons, asking that they send a letter of concern about the situation of the monastics to the government of Vietnam. If you choose instead to write a letter, email will be the quickest option. Any letters addressed to Senators and Representatives’ Washington D.C. offices are inspected for security reasons and take an extra three weeks or so to reach their offices.
  5. Contacting Senators and Representatives on the Foreign Relations Committees. This file gives names and contact information for Senators and Representatives on Foreign Relations Committee subcommittees that would have interest in the situation at Bat Nha. If you live in their state or district, please call with your concern and request immediately.

Thank you for reading and for the support.

Update: You may wish to call members of the Vietnamese government. Mr. Le Thanh Phong- 091.386.5000, Mr. Troung Van Thu – 091.386.5294, and Mr. Ho Ba Thang 091.393.4718 are local members of the Vietnam government.

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Library teaching Technology

Building a Social Library

Today I had the privilege to speak with 40 high school and community college librarians about building a social library. The event took place at the Powell Library at UCLA at the invitation of Esther Grassian.

Though I created a Keynote Presentation (below) and demonstrated how one could use with groups, the majority of the presentation just came from the 75-minute conversation. All the relevant links are at the bottom of the post.


Impermanence and Surrender – A Lesson from Brian Eno

Brian Eno
Brian Eno at CSU Long Beach

What a rare experience, to see Brian Eno live in this day and age. From a musical perspective he is relatively reclusive and so when the opportunity arose to see him give a lecture at the Carpenter Performance Center at CSU Long Beach, I jumped at the opportunity. They no music was performed, he spoke eloquently for just under 2-hours to a sold out crowd of just over 1000 people.

In a simple black suit, he was calm and comfortable on the stage. He spoke with a simple projection system in which he shared images, screwdrivers, and interactive drawings. No PowerPoint here. He told some jokes and primarily shared his philosophy of being an artist in this day and age. He mentioned Jon Hassell three times and harangued the Los Angeles Times art critic David Pagel at the same time as recognizing how the criticism helped him to look more deeply at his art.


An Introduction – Touching the Earth

I have been using the book Touching the Earth by Thich Nhat Hanh for several years  as part of my morning meditation practice. It is a wonderful book that provides a framework to have a “conversation” with the Buddha and look deeply at our relationship with the Earth, others, ourselves, and the Ultimate Dimension. The monastic practice with this book is to listen to a chapter read while touching the earth. This can prove difficult if you practice alone, so that is the purpose of this blog series. I am recording the chapters to listening to them at a later time and want others to benefit from this effort.

Over the coming weeks/months, I will record chapters from the book and then post them here to share. You may download from this site or use iTunes to receive the podcast [iTunes Podcast].

If you want to use this material in your meditation practice, my recommendation is to start the recording and then touch the earth with you head, elbows, and knees in prostration. After the primary reading is complete, you will hear the full sound of the bell. Upon hearing a small tap on the bell, then stand up and prostrate again on the next sound of the full bell. This will happen one more time to end the meditation.

As the introduction of the book states,

When we touch the Earth, we take refuge in it. We receive its solid and inclusive energy. The Earth embraces us and helps us transform our ignorance, suffering, and despair. Wherever we are, we can be in touch with the Earth. Wherever we are, we can bow down to receive its energy of stability and fearlessness. As we touch the Earth, we can follow our breathing. We release all our instability, fear, anxiety, disease, and anger. We know the Earth can absorb our negativity without reacting to us or judging us. In this way, we are able to transform what is painful and difficult to accept within us. We are able to strengthen our capacity to look, speak, and act with understanding and compassion towards ourselves, our loved ones, and all members of society. Touching the Earth communicates our gratitude, joy, and acceptance to our Mother Earth. With this practice, we cultivate a relationship with the Earth and, in doing so, we restore our balance, our wholeness, and our peace.

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