Stream of Consciousness: Planting

Feminist Thought, Spirituality
A bitter heart is fertile ground for the dream of revenge. It can extend beyond heart and mind, into body, into world. Enact the vengeance, and the recipient may agree, yes, this is justice. Or she may not. Her family may agree, or they may not. Her friends may agree, or not. What if? The wronged heart, too, grows bitter then. Poison cultivates a new dream of revenge. Imagination and courage dance, a perverse action. Then. Pain inflicted on another. What if... Newly wounded burn with anger, rot with pain, and poison the ground for a dream. And so it is, the potential in actions born of bitterness. With life comes pain. But in pain, do you seek restoration or destruction? But what of a family, community, or nation? What is in the heart…
Read More

Artists for Peace

Zaimu Challenge
I think a lot about art for peace and scholarship for peace, and what it might mean to design a sustainable future. Lately it's been a mostly private investigation, but I may explore these ideas more publicly in the coming weeks. Today I want to share a quote from an open letter by world renown artists, fellow Buddhists, Wayne Shorter and Herbie Hancock. The letter is meant to inspire and provoke artists, but the encouragement is food for thought for us all. They share 10 points, ending with the hope that we live in a state of constant wonder. They begin with this: FIRST, AWAKEN TO YOUR HUMANITY We are not alone. We do not exist alone and we cannot create alone. What this world needs is a humanistic awakening of the…
Read More

Getting Free

Personal Narrative
It's such an amazing feeling - freedom. Freedom from my own thoughts of limitation. Freedom from an old path. Freedom from what no longer serves me. I've felt this freedom in recent days, swelling in a joyful crescendo this evening. To celebrate and reaffirm my recent decisions, I started tossing and recycling items long outdated. Tomorrow I get to cart them away. There's new space in my garage where anchors used to be. There's new energy and mental clarity where there was once clutter and dread. It's wonderful. [caption id="attachment_3336" align="aligncenter" width="604"] Embracing my true self.[/caption] Even an individual at cross purposes with himself is certain to end in failure. Yet a hundred or even a thousand people can definitely attain their goal, if they are of one mind. ~Nichiren Although many quote this passage from Many…
Read More

The Ethics of Jazz

Personal Narrative
When I talk about leading through art, one exemplar comes immediately to mind: Herbie Hancock. Many of a certain age are at least familiar with the jazz great, but may not realize the complex ways in which he weaves faith, daily life and art. To that end, I'd like to share the first in a set of his Norton lectures. Harvard University declares an annual Charles Eliot Norton Professorship of Poetry. Poetry, in this case, is broadly imagined, and professors represent various of the fine arts. In 2014, Herbie Hancock became the first Black American to receive the honor, and he titled his lecture series the Ethics of Jazz. (It's worth noting here, Toni Morrison is the 2016 Norton Professor and her lecture series opens March 2, 2016.) Hancock's opening lecture is…
Read More

Three Poisons

Text Talk
The past couple of days and today especially, my thoughts have turned to the three poisons. They are a subject of daily inquiry as I reflect upon what is good and how to create more of it in society. In Nichiren Buddhism, the three poisons are greed, anger and foolishness. In brief, greed is the desire for excess - more than one's share, to the detriment of others. Anger is grounded in ego. It's the distorted belief (and behavior) that one is better than others, and is often brought on by lack of self-confidence.  Foolishness is ignorance of the true nature of oneself.  It's unawareness or disbelief in the potential for enlightenment. I believe all of what ails society can be traced to one or more of these poisons. Today's session…
Read More

First Full Day

Text Talk
And so concludes the first full day of the Aspen Seminar. I've done a few group events over the years, but this one is the first one where such significant bonding occurs so quickly. We've had a few meals together and several hours of pointed conversation, and that's been enough for individuals to connect while the whole group creates its own personality. It's fascinating really. [caption id="attachment_3251" align="aligncenter" width="394"] The view from breakfast.[/caption] Today's session was on human nature. Our readings included Aristotle, Hobbs and Darwin. We discussed each text to understand what the authors said, whether or not we agree with their argument, and how we can apply the text to our leadership contexts. At one point I talked about the importance of cultivating the potential inherent in each individual. My point echoed a key idea…
Read More

Spring!?

30 Day Blog Challenge
Is it possible? Has spring finally sprung in Georgia? After many false starts, has winter finally melted away? Flowers and trees have long thought so. Dogwoods are in bloom and a healthy layer of yellow dust has blanketed cars and outdoor furniture. Folks with allergies walk around with puffy pink eyes and hints of congestion interferes with small talk about the weather. Despite these outward signs, the morning 40s have persisted. We'll warm up a bit by late afternoon, only to plummet once the sun goes down. That's someone's definition of spring time, but that's not how we do it in the Deep South. Yet today? There were no April showers! There were no morning 40s! The sun shone beautifully all day as did I in my dress! I'm excited.…
Read More

The Drum at the Gate of Thunder and other gosho to women

30 Day Blog Challenge, 30 in 30 April
One of my projects-in-progress is a review of Nichiren Daishonin's gosho to women. Nichiren was a Buddhist monk who came of age in 13th century Japan, and a gosho is an honorable writing (go is an honorific prefix and sho means writings). Nichiren wrote many letters and treatises in his lifetime, and the extant among them were translated and published with background about the recipient when it was known. English versions of his writings are in two volumes published by the Soka Gakkai International: Writings of Nichiren Daishonin Vol 1 and Vol 2. Over the course of several years, I read all of the writings in volume 1 in chronological order. I thought it would be an interesting project to reread them in a new way, through a different lens.…
Read More

On living, aging and growing old.

Personal Narrative, Spirituality
It is important to remember that aging and growing old are not necessarily the same. ~Daisaku Ikeda  I cringe whenever my peers claim they're getting old. Of course years pass and we physically age, but a lot of what they are claiming is more about mindset than time. A friend argued that maybe those people are beaten down by life - they're getting weary, not getting old. Perhaps. My favorite models in life are my aunts and uncles. Three of them are active on social media and in real life. Here's a picture: [caption id="attachment_2741" align="aligncenter" width="614"] Uncle Grisby, Auntie Jessie, Cousin Big Sis, Me, Uncle Arnsel. 2011.[/caption] Auntie Jessie, who will be 85 this year, called to wish me a happy birthday Wednesday. When we spoke around 9:30 p.m.,…
Read More

When in doubt…

30 Day Blog Challenge
In 2010, I wrote a long letter of encouragement to a friend in faith who was mired in self-doubt at the time. I subsequently shared it with a mutual friend Tia, who graciously reminded me of it today. Perhaps I'll do some revising and share it more fully. For now, here are a few excerpts: With regards to cause and effect, you must remember that every single thought, word and action is a cause. All the minutes and seconds you spend in worry and doubt are causes for failure. Every single moment. Whatever is in your heart becomes your prayer and that is what becomes manifest. You must guard your heart and really challenge yourself to stop that negative thinking when it appears. It's going to appear (you're human), but…
Read More