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    Rustbelt Dharma Paid Member

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    Getting Along Paid Member

    OVER THE YEARS I’ve come to a conclusion: Human beings are basically incompatible. Think about it. We live in different bodies, we’ve had different childhoods, and at any given moment our thoughts and feelings are likely to differ from anybody else’s, even those of our nearest and dearest. Given the disparities in our genetic makeup, conditioning, and life circumstances, it’s a miracle we get along at all. More »
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    Freedom Behind Bars Paid Member

    They filed through the gymnasium doors in regulation blue and gray sweatshirts, rubbing their eyes, some curious but all of them tired. A cellmate had kept most of them up all night by yelling and banging on the walls. At the doors, the young men slapped on name tags and grabbed their complementary granola bars. “It’s a great day to be in prison,” one of them said as he filed past the makeshift check-in desks to find his seat. Although Prison Dharma Network (PDN) holds a shorter, smaller weekly class on Thursday evenings at the Lookout Mountain Youth Services Center in Golden, Colorado, today’s program would be a bit different. The fifty males—all fifteen to twenty years old—who were about to go through the half-day PDN program on this Monday in late March, had been hand-selected by Lookout staff as those most likely to benefit from today’s workshop. More »
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    Allegiance to Life Paid Member

    It’s no secret that our world is in a tough spot. The critical problems that we face today—political, economic, and ecological—can be overwhelming even to think about. Joanna Macy, Ph.D., however, believes we are in a moment she calls “The Great Turning”: a transition from a society shaped primarily by industrial growth to a society structured to be life-sustaining. In her workshops, Macy—a scholar of Buddhism, general systems theory, and deep ecology—encourages people to take part in this collective transition not by hiding from their pain for the world but by embracing it. In honoring our despair, Macy says, we discover our love for the world. More »
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    Through a Glass, Darkly Paid Member

    LOOKING BACK I wince at the memory of reading The Tibetan Book of the Dead to my dying grandfather. The arrogance of imposing those terrifying descriptions of the final deterioration on the faltering impulses of an old Jewish man born in Odessa and dying in Brooklyn! My brother, having arrived from California expectedly, found me transmitting the eerie incantations through a plastic straw that went directly into his ear. Michael had grabbed the book, looked at the title, and thrown it across the room, screaming, "Are you crazy?" What I knew even then was that it violated the universe itself—call it God or grace or not—to disturb the dying with discord. Now, twenty years later I am nursing my mother and I want to get it right this time, this wondrous responsibility of bidding the dying farewell. Yet my brother has arrived again, and is so filled with enthusiasm for euthanasia that he argues in her hospital room as if the bed is empty.More »
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    Allow for Space Paid Member

    The difficulty most of us face is that we’re afraid of our humanity. We don’t know how to give our humanity space. We don’t know how to give it love. We don’t know how to offer our appreciation. We seize upon whatever difficult emotions or painful thoughts arise—in large part because we’ve been taught from a very young age that life is a serious business. We’re taught that we have to accomplish so many things and excel at so many things because we have to compete for a limited amount of resources. We develop such high expectations for ourselves and others, and we develop high expectations of life. Such a competitive, goal-oriented approach to life makes us very speedy inside. We become so tight physically, mentally, and emotionally as we rush through each day, each moment, that many of us forget—often quite literally—to breathe. More »