Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Unintended Consequences

Cats killing billions of animals in the US

"Cats are one of the top threats to US wildlife, killing billions of animals each year, a study suggests.
The authors estimate they are responsible for the deaths of between 1.4 and 3.7 billion birds and 6.9-20.7 billion mammals annually."

For the rest of this article and the original research, see the links below:

And for another view:

Seeing these unintended consequences of what is in part kind-heartedness towards cats both domestic and feral, what to do? What to NOT do?

What is compassionate, what is skillful and appropriate actions towards all the beings involved in these conditions and circumstances? What is our practice effort?

(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Monday, January 28, 2013

Guns, listening, practice

Not listening, not attending, is a habit which makes for difficulty and suffering in our life.

We often filter what we hear and see through our habits and positions, through likes, agreements, disagreements and dislikes. We all know this, and yet in our personal life, our social and political life, we continue to operate this way - and then complain and even suffer with the consequences.

What would it take to let go of what we know, to be not knowing and listen - especially to those we disagree with, to those with whom we do not empathize (or even those we demonize)? This is most vital if we are to be who we are, to see clearly what is so and to manifest skillful and appropriate functioning.

The inability and unwillingness to hear what other say is evident in the recent political and media discussions about guns. How often can "one side" acknowledge the statements and concerns of the "other" without distorting them and putting them down? Do we notice our self doing this, whether on this topic or in other areas of out life?

Below I have linked to an excellent article which explores various positions and proposals regarding guns. I encourage you to read this - and practice in the midst of reading, being attentive to mind-chatter and reactive habits about the quotes from various people, especially those people who you know, by their identification, that you "disagree with them." Do you notice an unwillingness to listen, to hear and get what they are saying - before you explain it away? Make an effort, when you notice not listening, not hearing, to let that go and be present in reading, in attending. Please work with this slowly and see what you discover.

Reading this article is just one way to work with not-knowing, with the hindrance caused by holding to knowing. How else and where else in your life can this practice be appropriate and skillful?

(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Buddhism in India

"Hardships and Downfall of Buddhism" by Giovanni Verardi, published by Manohar, 2011, is an outstanding study of Buddhism and political, social and economic relationships in India. 

This book explores the period from Ashoka's reign (269 -232 BCE) until the Muslim conquest of the Indian subcontinent in the 9th - 10th Century CE, clarifying the relationship between the Buddhist Sangha/Buddhist teaching and  various economic forces, trade and foreign relations, political power and inter-communal relations. It also uncovers and explores the conflict with and persecution of Buddhism by Brahmanism and also by Jainism (including enlisting extreme violence by political allies). One reason for this is that Buddhism by its nature and practice challenges the power and privileges of local caste and Brahman elites and authorities. This conflict laid the groundwork for the eventual destruction of Buddhism in the Indian subcontinent by the Muslim invasion.

A major theme repeated in a number of cases in this study was the importance of the support by the central government of various states for the survival of Buddhism. Where this support was lacking, or where the state was supportive of Brahmanism, Jainism or later Islam, Buddhism was persecuted, either by the local Brahman authorities or by the central authorities, sometimes to the verge of extinction (which eventually happened under Islamic rule in the Indian subcontinent). There is much more in this excellent, though heavily academic and historical, scholarly work.

Though this book may be hard to find, I was able to borrow this book through an interlibrary loan from a university library.

(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith

Wednesday, January 23, 2013


by Elihu Genmyo Smith

Sitting is a very simple: being present, experiencing. It is simple, and seemingly any of us can do this. And yet for most of us it is far from easy. How come?

Because in sitting we do not do what we usually do.

What do we NOT do when sitting? We do not live as a ghost, do not cling to the world of ghosts we usually inhabit. Therefore, sitting, being this moment, may seem like taking a great risk.

Much of the time, we live as a ghost in a world of ghosts. What is a ghost? A dead thing that seems to be alive - dead stories of life, dead memories and bodily reactive habits of what was, and what could and should be, which we take as alive and real right now. In living as a ghost we only meet ghosts. Not because others are ghosts but because we see them as ghosts, and we see our self as a ghost.
Look closely! What dead ghost are you keeping around? I don’t mean look at some treasure chest of ghost stories, but this moment, in the midst of this ongoing body-mind-world change that we are, what dead ghost are you holding - holding bodily, holding mentally?
(c) 2013 Elihu Genmyo Smith