Dear Israelis : Please Wake Up

The greatest wisdom traditions throughout human history have all pointed to a similar truth: that we are all one. Granted, a natural part of evolution, both individually and culturally, involves an ego based identity that defines who we are and who we aren't. I am this and you are that. I am a Jew and you are a Muslim. Indeed, it is an important developmental step but at some point, the next step is to get over yourself. The greater truth is that we are all part of something that transcends (but also includes) these seemingly separate identities. Even most separate dogmatic religions point to this truth with a law or commandment such as "do unto others as you would have them do unto you".

Of course and obviously, not everyone embodies or even "sees" this greater truth. From their narrow perspective, these people fight for their identities by trying to bring down competing identities. Most of us have experienced the uncomfortable result of this in high school. At the level of nation-states, however, this is a disaster. With regard to Israel and Palestine, this is a disaster.

Until these nationalistic and extremist Jewish settlers "get over themselves" they will continue to operate from a less developed, less caring, less inclusive place. That's fine if they are keeping to themselves but, in this case, they are destroying lives.

When a less developed worldview is creating suffering it is up to a more developed one to step in and say "no, this is wrong". Ultimately, the more developed worldview recognizes that the extremist settlers are not just destroying the lives of Palestinians, they are actually destroying their own lives. We are, after all, all one.

A Stream of Thought: Utopia 1.0


Sometimes, I wonder about Utopia. If the world could be any way you want it right now, what would that look like? That question is intimately tied to what truth is. Not long ago, truth for some people was that black people were meant to be slaves and people literally fought for a world with slaves in it.

So the question about what is true is a very important one. Followed all the way it, it leads us to the great wisdom traditions that have been pondering the question since the beginning of thought. Yes, many dogmatic religions have warped, twisted, and abused the traditional wisdom but we shouldn't throw out the baby with the bathwater.

The wisdom traditions generally suggest an Ultimate Truth, an Ultimate Beauty, an Ultimate Goodness; a God, a Spirit, a Source, an Omega Point that has always existed, right now, forever. And we, you and me, are THAT. We are not separate from God. Everything is perfect NOW. In certain states of being I have felt this to be true.

The tricky part is that held within this perfection is all things dark and, so called, evil. Cancer, slums, slavery, disease, poverty, injustice; these things exist within perfection; pushing us to question; pushing us to evolve. It is with the aforementioned wisdom, however, that darkness can be met and even embraced. This is especially important when it comes to ourselves but applies to the larger social issues as well.

Things are getting worse and things are getting better at the same time. It's a paradox; no matter how much light we bring into the world, darkness will continue because we need it...we are it. With darkness embraced (not aloofly accepted!) we can have Utopia, right now, in this moment that we are always striving to improve and is perfect just the way it is.

Last Minutes With Oden

Last Minutes with ODEN from phos pictures on Vimeo.

I put my comments below this video so I wouldn't influence your experience of it.....

I've watched it three times now and have teared up every time; it is incredibly sad. But, there is a message and a beauty in the sadness that makes this video something special (it won best video at the 2010 Vimeo Awards).

Of course, the message of unconditional love as taught by the life of Oden is an important aspect of the video. But, for me, the power of this video is in how it forces the viewer to confront emotion, particularly sadness. Our society tends to be hyper-masculinized; promoting the hero as a stoic warrior archetype and, genrally, teaching us to hide our emotion and feelings. Sometimes, though, the difficult emotions need to be brought to the surface. By observing them we can begin to find the truth, goodness, and beauty hidden within them.

In the case of Oden, the truth was that he was in pain and needed to be put down. There was a goodness to Oden's owners doing the right thing despite the grief it caused. And, there was beauty in Oden's life and message being recognized, appreciated, and passed on to anyone watching this video. If the owner, as he put it, "John Wayned" it and put the dog down without feeling the sadness, then the lessons of truth, goodness, and beauty would have been missed.

Robert Thurman's Buddhaverse


Robert Thurman is a professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist studies at Columbia University. He was one of the first American Buddhist monks of the Tibetan tradition and he has studied with and become a close friend of the Dali Lama. Being the father of ultra-hot Umma Thurman also adds to his impressive biography.

I have seen Thurman speak a couple of times and he is an extremely entertaining and informative speaker. The slideshow below is a comic-form adaptation of one of Thurman's lectures on buddhist mythology. It's pretty wild stuff that, while mythological, could quite possibly exist in realms of possibility

(You can also download the pdf of the comic by clicking the attachment link below... it might be a little easier to view it that way.)

Robert Thurman's Buddhaverse Slide Show