Thursday, June 23, 2016

Another Federal Judge protecting the people from an Federal Executive Administrative abuse of power -An answer to the question of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials?

Below is a report from NPR on an important recent decision. 

NPR, based on past reporting, is in favor of the Federal Executive exercise of power. Nevertheless, the fundamental points regarding the federal ruling are clearly stated in the excerpt below.

"A federal judge in Wyoming has struck down the Obama administration's regulations on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management doesn't have the authority to establish rules over fracking on federal and Indian lands.

In the ruling on Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Scott Skavdahl said Congress had not granted the BLM (Bureau of Land Management) that power, and had instead chosen to specifically exclude fracking from federal oversight.

Skavdahl made it clear what he was — and wasn't — considering in his ruling.

"The issue before this Court is not whether hydraulic fracturing is good or bad for the environment or the citizens of the United States," he wrote. The question, instead, is "whether Congress has delegated to the Department of Interior legal authority to regulate hydraulic fracturing. It has not."

Skavdahl (who was appointed by President Obama) concludes that, because Congress specifically removed federal authority to oversee fracking, the nation's legislators weren't intending for another federal agency to step in and take on a similar role.

"The BLM has attempted an end-run around the 2005 EP Act; however, regulation of an activity must be by Congressional authority, not administrative fiat," he writes. "The Court finds the intent of Congress is clear, so that is the end of the matter." 

For another perspective, see the ruling itself or the WSJ report, both linked below:

Monday, June 20, 2016

Serving 6/19/16 - A Dharma Talk

Carrying Lightly 6/12/16 - A Dharma Talk

"Judge Breyer warned prosecutors last month that “the case is terminated” if they couldn’t produce evidence that FedEx had “knowingly” shipped drugs without valid prescriptions." This Judge answers the question of Quis custodiet ipsos custodes - Who guards the people from the "guardian" governmental officials?

The following is a clear example of the third branch of US government doing the job of serving and protecting the people and preventing overreach by the supposed guardians of the Executive branch, in this case the Justice department.

"Occasionally, once in a great while, fighting the government’s unjust prosecutions pays off. Witness FedEx ’s victory late last week in a two-year-old lawsuit brought by the Justice Department that accused the shipping company of conspiring with illegal online pharmacies by transporting drugs without valid prescriptions...."

“The defendants are factually innocent,” the judge declared on Friday, adding that “the act of dismissal is entirely consistent with government’s overarching obligations to seek justice, even at the cost of some embarrassment.” It’s probably too much to hope that a chastened Justice Department will agree to pay FedEx’s legal fees."

For the full article see:

Thursday, June 2, 2016

Dharma Talks from May Sesshin

Opening Remarks 5/25/16
Impermanence   5/26/16
Non-self 5/27/16
Satisfied 5/28/16
Shosan 5/30/16

Much Ado About Nothing - Your Wonderful Life

Elihu Genmyo Smith
Much ado about nothing – isn’t that a wonderful description of our life? Do you believe that?

Much a do is the wonderful, the fascinating, the manifesting this moment. A do is the difficult, the entangling of self-holding and believing this moment. A do is what seems natural to us this moment, a do is the things we make of no-thing, the no-thing we miss about this thing.

Much ado is myriad forms, and myriad forms include entangling self-forms. Entangling includes pain, includes the difficult to bear and embody, entangling is like-dislikes reactions, entangling is fighting and angering, even grasping and seeking.

Embodying form is who we are, is zazen. And yet sometimes intimacy this moment, embodying particular forms, is what and who we resist and resent, causing difficulties. So we do much, and may discover all sorts of troubles in the doing, in the much.

Simple zazen, simple being-time, is just that - simple - the now, myriad form-no-form, the no-self-self now. Being this is our life joy. Being this is our Bodhisattva life opportunity, our zazen life, our Dharma life.

What does your zazen offer? It offers your life. What does your daily life offer? Though zazen clarifies this, you must clarify this.

This opportunity and this difficulty, this joyous now, this entangling of self - of comfortable, of uncomfortable, of doing with consequences that we want and for-see, of doing with consequences we do not want, with those we do not for-see or cannot for-see, of resist and resent.

Life here now is myriad realms, your life right now is myriad realms. We love to explore some of these - and at times attempt to direct so-called others, so-called self, to what we or they should and should not explore, what we or they should or should-not have to face in arising conditions. The result can be satisfaction, dissatisfactions, suffering, thankfulness or harming, to name just a few.

Much ado about no-thing. Because we believe stories about what this is and is not, we may miss this no-thing thing. We may find it difficult to do no-thing, to be no-thing – despite zazen being doing no-thing, being done by non-doing. Here is our practice opportunity.

What do you discover about your life “things”, about your life “no-thing”?

Our zazen exposes life, exposes habits, tendencies, likes and dislikes. This is the realm of Dharma practice, of Dharma clarifying of the Three Marks of Existence (of life), the trilakṣaṇa - anicca, anatta, dukkha - impermanence, non-self, unsatisfactoriness.
This life is zazen in myriad forms, of myriad no-forms - doing no-thing, the much ado no-thing. This doing offers joy as its very nature, though at times joy is clouded for us in “holding to” when we rage or lust in the face of changing circumstance. Do you notice this clouding, this missing?

Things are no-things, therefore they are this moment – yet sometimes “much ado about” misses this no-thing, this emptiness, interbeing, impermanence not separate not fixed.

Being as is, simple. Being as is, difficult.

Being practice, being zazen, we might find actions of self-privileging-circumstances, even finding we privilege raging or lusting, which makes this interbeing moment, this ongoing change, troubling for us - especially if we seek to satisfy desires and attachments in things which are no-thing, which are impermanent, if we seek desires and attachment in this not separate, not fixed, not permanent self.

The joy, simplicity, complicating and comedic tragedy of our life is this ongoing zazen in myriad forms; ongoing zazen is the difficulty of life and opportunity of life; this is ordinary practice, being this right now.

Zazen is simple, zazen is straight forward, upright still sitting Zen - though because this is straightforward, for many of us zazen is easy to miss, manifesting zazen is easy to miss, even though we can not miss.

When we do not see this daily life clearly we may create and entangle in all sorts of ideas of “ours –not-ours,” with all sorts of difficulties, including suffering harmful functioning. What is ours? What is not ours? Please reflect on this.

This is not a matter of conceptually understanding something but is being; both ours and not-ours are fictions that we sometimes forget are fictions, that we assume are not fictions.

No problems with fictions, we are good at fictions, can make good use of fictions; we enjoy this. If we only believe the fictions without seeing the fictionalizing and the not-fictions, then we have suffering and cause harm.

Zazen is this non-excluding moment, being nonfiction fiction this very moment. Unfortunately, much of the time we prefer “either/or fictions” to this universe myriad forms. This is why sesshin, prolonged periods of practice, are so important and valuable.

Being the Buddha we are enables us to manifest the Bodhisattva functioning we are. So be the Buddha you are.

Zazen is fresh mind, mind beginning right now. This is Zen mind, thusness mind, universe nurturing mind - intimacy of not-knowing. Being just this moment is experiencing, is this moment experiencing.

A helpful analogy for zazen, for practice, for life, may be a simplified quantum science perspective which proposes that “things” seemingly jump from one state of being to another, appearing, disappearing - without any intervening states or continuity; popping, so to speak, in and out of space-time-existence, especially as a result of “observing.” This is a non- intervening continuing. In a way, this makes no sense to us (the us of fixed, solid, continuous beings and self-other thing universe) and yet this is what some scientific evidence shows. Joko suggested that practice can be described as noticing being caught in self-centeredness, emotion-thought, and “popping” into the present moment, experiencing now.

The physicist John Wheeler has been quoted as saying, “Useful as it is under ordinary circumstances to say that the world exists ‘out there’ independent of us, that view can no longer be upheld (in quantum terms).”

“We are participators in bringing into being not only the near and here but the far away and long ago.”

Wheeler taught that it was impossible, even in theory, to know both the movement speed and position of a subatomic particle. Knowing one destroyed the ability to measure/know the other. Subatomic particles and events, until observed, exist in a sort of cloud of possibility that Wheeler sometimes called “a smoky dragon.” This kind of thinking frustrated even Einstein, who asked Wheeler if the moon was still there when nobody looked at it.

On the other hand, Einstein also wrote that “People like us, who believe in physics, know that the distinction between past, present and future is nothing more than a persistent, stubborn illusion.”

Do you get this? Does it make sense to you? How so? How not? Do you believe this, do you live this? How so? How not?
Morning to night, which is our whole life this moment, are opportunities to do this life, to do this joyous aliveness of no-thing myriad form action.

When we do not live this, when we do not appreciate this, when we entangle in all sorts of self-centeredness, we miss this life we are, miss what can not be missed. As a result we go seeking after various attachments and beliefs with resulting fear, anger and greed, suffering and harming.

This life moment is “to do” no-thing, being this - our energy this moment. Nothing lacking, this whole universe right here – you are thus, no need to seek thus, so please be thus.

No need to believe anything I say, no need to accept any physics analogy, no need to accept Ancestors’ teachings - simply see what in your life results in suffering and harm, what truly relieves suffering and harm, what nurtures your compassionate functioning life. Being just this, compassion’s way.

© 2016 Elihu Genmyo Smith