misc-joy

Explorations by Kenley Neufeld

International Day of Peace

International Day of Peace

By on September 21, 2008

Established in 2002¬† 1982, today is the United Nations’ International Day of Peace. As a lifelong pacifist and peace activist, I see today as another opportunity to take action. Being peaceful in the time of war and turmoil is a very courageous act and often counter to how we are told to act and to respond. Being a pacifist does not mean being passive – it requires action and courage to stand up to violence. One such group that I support is the Nonviolent Peaceforce, an international organization that trains civilians to go into conflict areas to prevent death and destruction and protect human rights. Other groups, such as Fellowship of Reconciliation and Christian Peacemaker Teams do similar work.

Perhaps the easiest route to peace is to find peace within yourself. My teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay), is well known for his statements and actions on peace. He tries to keep things real simple by encouraging us to come back to ourselves and learn to live in peace each moment of daily life. I have been honored to practice with Thay for the past decade and to learn the practice of true peace. As a spiritual leader in my community, I have been asked to share a few minutes at an InterSpiritual Service that is part of Living Peace in Ojai. Instead of talking about peace, we will practice peace by using the following exercise. As Thay has said, “Even in the midst of suffering, it is possible to bring our awareness to the good qualities within yourself and allow them to manifest in your consciousness. Practice mindful breathing to remind yourself of your Buddha nature, of the great compassion and understanding in you.” (more…)

Work and Play – Keeping up with Technology

By on September 13, 2008

Unbelievable that it has been three weeks since my last post here on misc.joy, but some of you already know that the Fall semester has begun and I am teaching two extra classes this semester. It has been a blast to teach the San Jose State class again, though the work load is high. I’ve also been working on several volunteer projects that have occuppied time. Namely, volunteering for the Ojai Green Tour on October 4, planning a Benefit Concert for the Ojai Library on October 11, organizing Bike Valet for Ojai Day on Ocober 18, presenting at Internet Librarian on October 19, planning Gold Coast Library Network Professional Day on October 24, coordinating an Education Forum at ALA Midwinter, and helping with the Thich Nhat Hanh 2009 Tour. You may have also noticed the Peace One Day icon on the web page and I will be giving a brief (5-minute) talk on peace and Buddhism at a multifaith event here in Ojai. Yes, it is too much and I am learning how to delegate and ask for help – Leslie has been a life saver on several fronts – but as you can see I still don’t say no. One thing I have learned though is to look for the joy in each of my activities and be fully present when engaged. The March 2008 post 12 Essential Rules to Live More Like a Zen Monk is helpful to read again.

Despite all the above, I’ve still had time to try and keep up with my Friendfeed and play with new tools like¬† 12seconds.tv, Twine, Chrome, and Ubiquity. What’s most promising? What am I finding most useful?

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Teaching Technology Online

By on August 24, 2008

Back in 1997, I taught a class for San Jose State University School of Library and Information Science called Information Technology: Tools and Applications on their main campus. This fall I have been invited to teach the class again, but this time it will be taught online. The first official day of this online class is tomorrow. I have sent out notifications to the students and for the next 16 weeks we’ll be learning about web site design, building, and programming. The past 11 years have brought significant changes to the “tools and applications” for information technology, so the class needs to be rewritten a bit. Teaching online it isn’t as simple as walking into a classroom and sharing my knowledge and experience but now the content must be organized and written out in advance for the online environment. Despite the work load, this is an exciting opportunity for me to look more closely at the underlying architecture of the web and help guide future librarians.

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The Courage of Parents

By on August 1, 2008

Can you imagine being together as a family and your 7-year old son complains about a headache and three minutes later is unconscious and being rushed to the hospital due to a stroke? This is exactly what happened to some friends of ours less than two weeks ago. The life of this boy continues in others now, and I want to share this message of courage and compassion by his parents, even with death.

My partner spent Tuesday and Wednesday with our friends and their young son. This family has given a great gift to the world despite their great suffering. On Thursday morning around 6:00am (Pacific), this young boy was taken into surgery to have 8 of his internal organs removed. Each of these organs were placed into another person (all but pancreas and small bowel were successful).

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Summer Flowers in Ojai

By on July 28, 2008

I just bought a new camera and have been taking a few nature shots. I found a used Canon Rebel XT on eBay for a decent price. Look for more pictures from me in the future.

Being Vegan

By on July 21, 2008

Back in 1985-1986, I was deeply troubled by the plight of the rainforest in the Amazon. The information I received at that time came primarily from the Rainforest Action Network who talked about deforestation to support the booming fast food industry and the American hunger for cheap hamburgers. I felt helpless to do anything until I realized that I could start by not eating meat. My connection to the environmental movement was connected to my eating habits and I became a vegetarian. Ten years later I began a journey into Buddhism, eventually becoming a student of Thich Nhat Hanh. It was there that I learned about vegetarianism as it relates to ethics and its connection with compassion to all beings and not killing. Now, another ten years have passed. I am still a vegetarian. I am still a student a Thich Nhat Hanh.

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4 days, 25 Monastics, 80 Children, and More

By on July 7, 2008

With almost 250 people filling Deer Park Monastery, the 6th Annual Family Retreat was a great success. Leslie and I (with kids) arrived a couple days early to help setup and plan for the arrival of many friends. From July 2 through July 6, the monastery was transformed into a time of families practicing together. It was very nourishing to see many old friends from past retreats and to share, learn, and grow together. The Dharma is deep and lovely and it was very present in those attending the retreat. How wonderful to spend time with parents on the path who have similar values and interests as we do in our family. About half the people camped while the others stayed in the simple dorms. The weather was hot, but not unbearable. This Retreat was the most culturally diverse I’ve experienced at Deer Park (having never attended the People of Color Retreat) and I was happy to be sitting and practicing with friends on the path. So, some readers may wonder what happens at a monastery with 80 children.

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