A Buddhist View on Kalief Browder, and McKinney, Texas

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I came home from a wonderful stretch discussing The Road Home in Colorado and Texas to read the story of Kalief Browder's suicide and to watch a hard-to-stomach video of a white police officer going absolutely bonkers (not in a good way) on African American children at a pool party in Mckinney, Texas. Since I was in Texas when it occurred, and because the incident involved the nostalgic memory of kids at a summertime pool party, the latter struck me even more closely, somehow. Both stories demonstrate the deeply institionalized racism of our society and legal systems. We can see some of Kalief Browder's treatment here (held for three years at Riker's Island without any charge of a crime, mostly in solitary confinement, later to commit suicide), and we can also watch how an officer engages in insanely transparent racism against a group of unarmed kids. But we can also develop compassion,

The Revolution Will Not Be Blonde

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The next cover for Time magazine is getting a lot of attention—and a ton of heat—from the mindfulness community. It is actually the second time that they have run a cover about meditation with a beautiful blond Caucasian woman on the cover. The first was Heather Graham in 2003. I must admit that my biggest personal bias against Heather will always be her performance in Twin Peaks, not her Time cover. (more…)

Watching a Master at Work

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Below is perhaps one of my favorite photos I've ever taken, and some really wonderful and thought-provoking calligraphy. It was real pleasure and honor to see the opening of the meditative calligraphy exhibit by Thich Nhat Hanh at ABC Carpet and Home last night. (more…)

Guilt is Totally Useless

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(Follow Ethan on Facebook and Twitter - crossposted on Interdependence Project blog) I am really looking forward to tonight's class at the ID project: Why Guilt is Useless. I am hoping that eventually it will be available as a podcast, either on the IDP podcast or on my own website in the near future. (more…)

Radical Buddhism and the Paradox of Acceptance

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(originally on The Huffington Post 8/20/10) Critical theorist Slavoj Zizek has an interestingly harsh critique of Western Buddhism and the meditation tools it employs. Framing his critique in Marxist terms, he argues that Buddhism is the perfect spiritual tradition to be co-opted by our self-absorbed, destructive, and consumeristic society. For him, Buddhism represents the perfect ideology for passive acquiescence to the world as it is, a panacea of inner peace that fits neatly into an advertising culture where, by now, "be present" could just as well be the slogan of a credit card company as an instruction from a meditation teacher. Zizek writes, "[Western Buddhism allows us to] fully participate in the frantic pace of the capitalist game, while sustaining the perception that you are not really in it, that you are well aware how worthless the spectacle is -- what really matters to you is the peace of the inner self to