Yours in the Dharma:  Essays from a Buddhist perspective by Sandy Garson

This blog, Yours in the Dharma by Sandy Garson, is an effort to navigate life between the fast track and the breakdown lane, on the Buddhist path. It tries to use a heritage of precious, ancient teachings to steer clear of today's pain and confusion to clear the path to what's truly happening.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007


Trying to see through whatever guise you choose to whoever you truly are--in other words, to stop tricking yourself and others with identity crises, seems to be the essence of Buddhist practice. So in keeping with tonight’s practice of knocking on doors to demand strangers to give you something sweet if you can trick them about your identity, here are a few dharma treats for the Halloween feed bag:

Though we all wish to be happy and pursue that state daily, we may feel our efforts are often ineffectual. At the end of the day, instead of feeling content, we may feel we have missed the boat once again; in fact, we can practically see it sailing off without us.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Good actions and selfless sharing are very good investments even in a business sense for they will inevitably bring blessings.
Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche

An abundance of material items provides such a variety of external distractions, people lose the connection to their inner lives.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche

The Tibetan word for a negative emotion—anger, envy, pride, desire—means “large bubble.” It’s there all right when you look but poke it and it disappears because it’s totally empty of any substance.
Khenchen Thrangu Rinpoche

At all times, and in all circumstances
May the wish to conform to conventional expectations
Not arise for even an instant.
If, due to the power of strong habits,
Such deluded intentions occur,
May they not succeed.
--Jigme Lingpa

…there are a whole lot of people, the modern people, who might not buy into the concept of reincarnation. …But we have to think in a more subtle way. For example, between yesterday and today there has been some kind of re-incarnation. There has been a continuity of yourself.
Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche

…when you start practicing, you should not expect too much. We live in a time of computers and automation, so you may feel inner development is also an automatic thing for which you press a button and everything changes. It is not so. Inner development is not easy and will take time.
The Dalai Lama

Journey of mind is infinite. If only I could have accumulated the mileage from this journey in samsaric realms, I would have two free tickets to nirvana by now.
Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

~Sandy Garson
"Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"

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Wednesday, October 03, 2007


Last week I got an unexpected email from a Buddhist monk of Bhutanese family who is an important part of my Rinpoche's sangha in Nepal. This is what he said:

We just got phone call with our sister living in Yangon about a few hours ago.
We saw on BBC world, saying that 200 monks were arrested. The true picture is far worse!!!!!!!!!

For one instance, the monastery at an obscure neighborhood of Yangon, called Ngwe Kyar Yan (on Wei-za-yan-tar Road, Yangon) had been raided early this morning. A troop of lone-tein (riot police comprised of paid thugs) protected by the military trucks, raided the monastery with 200 studying monks. They systematically ordered all the monks to line up and banged and crushed each one's head against the brick wall of the monastery. One by one, the peaceful, non resisting monks, fell to the ground, screaming in pain. Then, they tore off the red robes and threw them all in the military trucks (like rice bags) and took the bodies away.

The head monk of the monastery, was tied up in the middle of the monastery, tortured , bludgeoned, and later died the same day, today. Tens of thousands of people gathered outside the monastery, warded off by troops with bayoneted rifles, unable to help their helpless monks being slaughtered inside the monastery. Their every try to forge ahead was met with the bayonets.

When all is done, only 10 out of 200 remained alive, hiding in the monastery. Blood stained everywhere on the walls and floors of the monastery.

Please tell your audience of the full extent of the fate of the monks please please !!!!!!!!!!!!
'Arrested' is not enough expression. They have been bludgeoned to death !!!!!!

Aye Aye

And now a friend from DC has phoned in can you believe it ecstasy to report His Holiness the Dalai Lama has been invited to speak from the Capitol steps on October 17. Emaho! as Tibetan texts exclaim when they want to say: wondrous news here!

How often does the lone lobbyist for humanity face the K Street money crowd? Given the nasty interferences around attempts to award this Nobel Peace Prize winner a Congressional Medal of Honor because he inspires people to believe in compassion for others, and given the secrecy in which the medal presentation had been swathed, lest it arouse the kind of noisy protests from China launderers his attempted meeting with President Clinton once did, suddenly awarding this fulltime Buddhist freedom of speech--in a political spotlight no less, seems the sort of miracle Catholics like to enshrine. Amen.

Duh! though to figure why Washington suddenly got religion, and rushed to produce this last minute event. Every American who has not been in the outer space of Mars or mall marts in the last ten days knows that Buddhist monks in Burma have systematically been burned, bashed and banished by a handful of military thugs hellbent on monopolizing all profits from the country’s resources. Their belief is compression for others, its ironclad mantra the old childish one: what’s yours is mine, based on the original Sanskrit, oh money pay me some. As they continue to repeat and visualize this without interruption, thousands of human beings including silent monks with begging bowls get deleted in the profit margin.

His Holiness the Dalai Lama is of course a simple Buddhist monk; that's how he invariably describes himself. So it’s a feel good photo op for Washington, which isn’t going to do anything about Burma, to put him on display to create the appearance that America respects Buddhist monks—for the moment anyway. Burmese people, we are with you on this one.

Unfortunately, the Dalai Lama is also the living reminder of hundreds of thousands of Buddhist monks burned, bashed and banished in Tibet over the last fifty years by a land full of thugs hellbent on compression to monopolize profits too. What’s yours is ours, is the Chinese mantra of Tibet. That’s why it’s sadly hilarious to hear the American government ask the Chinese, who are also funding the psychotic Burmese despots, to tell their Burmese resource suppliers to cut it out. Especially when you read on uncensored BBC news how very busy the Chinese are right now forcibly lassoing and corralling 100,000 Tibetan nomads into block housing, abruptly ending their thousand year life style traditions and probably their lives, to secure the territory they were grazing herds on at the headwaters of the Yalu and Yangtse Rivers. This last roundup is Chinese for: get out of the way because what’s yours is mine every which way there is.

Deliberately echoing FDR at our entry into WWII, George W. Bush forced marched America into Iraq by proclaiming we were compassionately saving human beings from a grabby, psychopathic bully. But human beings in Myanmar are being burned alive in crematoria, bloodthirstily bashed against the walls of monasteries and banished in the middle of the night—15 monasteries are totally empty—and all he can manage is a surge of phone calls to the Chinese to ask if they would mind, please, to stop this horrid sequel to Tibet 1959. Not even the brilliant writers for the Comedy Channel’s Daily News dare to make this double hypocrisy funny.

Oops, make that a triple, because diverting attention from the glaring inaction by pushing the revered Dalai Lama to the front is presenting the monk in red robes to the public as a red herring.

Who knows how His Holiness, survivor of genocidal massacre, will use the world’s one pure voice of good conscience on the Capitol lawn here at America’s moral and morale nadir. Certainly the planet’s stars have misaligned enough to give this gentle man literally from the high ground a magnificent moment to lobby to achieve something a bit more balanced for the seesaw totally tipped to put profits in the stratosphere, people in the ground.

The interdependence of everything could be his topic, for it is one His Holiness often teaches, patiently explaining the twelve-steps of samsara known as the nidanas, for which the science, math and logic translation probably is: if A therefore B, guaranteed. One thing, everything, arises in dependence on something that just happened. Nothing goes to waste. Every action generates reaction, no exceptions, binding us all into the tangled web Shakespeare pointed out we weave. The whole point of the Buddha’s originally spinning the wheel of Dharma was to alert us to the absolute impossibility of anyone escaping these clutches of inevitability or what we might call this cosmic spin job, this morphing I think of as the karmic boomerang: what goes round comes back at you.

The fuzzy interdependence of a butterfly flapping its wings in Wisconsin provoking a typhoon to strike Taiwan can look a lot less puzzling when the demise of Buddhist monks in Burma allows the rise of a Buddhist monk on the Capitol lawn. It works like this: somewhere back in time, like a butterfly’s wings, somebody’s heart fluttered at the thought or sight of something they craved and typhoons of violence thunder across the globe right now.

For example, the Thai people who are as devoutly Buddhist as the Burmese next door are said to be scandalized as well as mortified by the wanton violence against silent saffron clad monks. They want it stopped. Yet their government cannot speak up and will not ride to any monastic’s rescue because the lights, computers, car fuel and cash flows that animate Thailand depend on the resources—natural gas, hydropower and oil-- purchased from Myanmar, from its monopolizing thugs. The calculation is: no risk to the government —to me here-- from a blackout of Burmese civilians and monks over there, but a huge risk of riot here from any blackout in Bangkok’s busy office towers. It is a basic bottom of the line business decision. That's why Thais feed the Burmese madmen money. They are addicted to lights, cameras and car action—most modern technology provides feel good highs just like cocaine. Then the Burmese generals use the funds to buy the brutalizing weapons for mass destruction necessary to get rid of the Burmese people who remind them they are stealing.

We can substitute the Chinese for the Thais in these same sentences. Actually, we can substitute America and change Burma to a dozen other dictatorships. The slash and earn policy has endless precedents, the latest being our four-year foray into Iraq to grab its oil.

The United States of America was bred, born and burped by human beings brutally snatching from other human beings in a disingenuous game of mine! It started with the original British merchants who, desperate to become tycoons, blindly grabbed the land and riches of a newly discovered continent as though nobody lived here, and it moved through the Pilgrims and Puritans who dispatched the natives to usurp their bounty, went west with their American descendants who pushed that genocidal policy from the Atlantic to the other ocean, grabbing everything in sight along the way. Greed made us what we are today.

Despite its subsequent glamorization, the Revolution was a ploy to stop British infringement of Boston’s profits once its merchants had become world class. Its coda, the War 1812, was a similar a fight to the finish for ownership of lucrative fishing grounds. The atrocious, devastating secret buried in the wreckage of World War II is how avoidable it might have been, for there is a buried cache of evidence that decent Germans, some of American blue blood, came to enlist the help of Washington in unseating Hitler before he did destroyed Europe as he was destroying Germany. Lamentably, they were rebuffed by Roosevelt’s gatekeepers who had coldly calculated how American business could conquer the globe if Great Britain and Germany got entangled in a war. Et voila! Greed made us what we are today.

Because no government wants to fight the land that feeds it, Americans can be as scandalized and mortified as they want about the mad, merciless Burmese junta-- or calculatingly cynical Chinese commissars. But we have set the pace for greed. And as long as we want cheap energy, cheap food, cheap bling—setting an example to be emulated, the outrage is just going to be cheep cheep blowing in the wind. Hypocrisy has no legs to stand on.

So the real enemy of those Burmese monks is us. Our convenience now replicated by others has made them inconvenient. As long as our begging bowls remain turned up to take what corporations with loyalty to nothing but money are shoving down our throats, no government will to do anything to eradicate the hidden costs, will stet all those lives deleted everywhere in their profit margins.

The Dharma says to change the world just change your mind, the way you understand the world. If we were truly serious about stopping the tsunami of barbarity blotting out unarmed human beings with the same two eyes and ten fingers we have, we would struggle to black out our own craving for what belongs to somebody else, our urge to grab and avoid the honest price of our desires. In some contexts this is called rape. In any it violates the precious Ten Commandments.

The Dharma the Burmese monks are dying for advocates the extinction of that craving, that egotistic need to satisfy our self at any cost. So, while America parades His Holiness the Dalai Lama as a sideshow meant to momentarily take the brrr out of Burma, the heinous horror happening there will probably never be taken out of the news until we all become brave enough to turn our gimme bowls upside down to take all the my out of Myanmar.

~Sandy Garson
"Wordsmithing to attest how the Dharma saved me from myself!"

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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.5 License.

Click here to request Sandy Garson for reprint permission.

Yours In The Dharma 2001-2007, Sandy Garson @copy: 2001-2007 Sandy Garson
All rights Reserved

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