Thursday, 27 June 2013

Buddhist Leaders against Gay Marriage

Interfaith homophobia promotes religious harmony

In order to decrease inter-religious tensions, could all faiths find a common ground, and unite in a shared purpose, by joining together to bash queers?

From Gay Star News

'Christian, Jewish and Buddhist leaders band together against UK gay marriage.

UK religious leaders have formed an 'unprecedented' alliance to urge Prime Minister David Cameron to halt the marriage equality bill.'

'53 religious leaders from different faiths including Christianity, Judaism and Buddhism have written to PM David Cameron opposing gay marriage.

British newspaper The Telegraph reports that Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders have joined in submitting an open letter to the British Prime Minister denouncing his plans for same-sex marriage to be debated in the House of Lords next week.

GSN reported yesterday (Friday) that the future of gay marriage in England and Wales is on a knife-edge with campaigners warning it could all come down to the vote of as few as 10 Lords.

In this new letter to Cameron, religious leaders wrote: ‘We are disappointed that the Government has failed to engage in meaningful debate with the many different faith communities in Britain. It has wrongly assumed that opposition to the redefinition of marriage is confined to a small number of Christians.

‘Marriage between a man and a woman is the fundamental building block of human society. These proposals would radically undermine the nature and place of the family in our society.

‘We cannot believe that this is what you intend and therefore ask you to pause before taking such a damaging step.’

This new letter echoes the sentiments of a separate plea previously submitted by leaders of the UK Muslim community. Last week, over 500 Muslim leaders throughout Britain signed a petition to Cameron saying gay marriage will ‘rob’ parents of the right to raise their children as they see appropriate.

While the same-sex marriage bill for England and Wales may have got some religious organizations furious, others have issued statements praising the UK government.'

No surprises here about 500 leaders from the RoP wishing to control the sexual inclinations of their offspring (to preserve family honor?), but who are these homophobic Buddhist Leaders?    Interfaith dialog is certainly a good thing, but can it best be brought about by targetting 'The Other', who all religions can agree to gang up on to persecute?  

Buddhists may try to impress leaders of the old failing Abrahamic faiths by joining them in their 'God hates fags' campaigns, but such tactics will not impress the growing numbers of 'nones' and 'spiritual but not religious' young people, who are a far more likely source of recruitment for the future growth of Buddhism in the West.   It is precisely this kind of bigotted homophobia that has contributed to the mass exodus of young people from traditional religions.

Then I checked out the original article in the Telegraph...

'Christian, Jewish, Muslim, Hindu and Buddhist leaders have signed a letter to the Prime Minister, pleading with him to abandon the legislation, which will be debated in the House of Lords next week.

Allowing couples of the same sex to marry will cause “injustice and unfairness”, the signatories said, accusing Mr Cameron of rushing the legislation through Parliament to prevent proper scrutiny.

The letter was signed by leaders of several Christian denominations, including Bishop Michael Hill, the Anglican Bishop of Bristol and Archbishop Bernard Longley, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham.

Other Christian signatories include Bishop Angaelos of Britain’s Coptic Orthodox Church

Among the leading Muslims signing the letter is Sir Iqbal Sacranie, a former head of the Muslim Council of Britain.

Other signatories include: Rabbi Natan Levy, an adviser to the Board of Deputies of British Jews; Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, a Sikh community leader; and John Beard, a prominent Buddhist.


1. Bishop Doye Agama, (Presiding Bishop, Apostolic Pastoral Congress)

2. Bishop Angaelos (General Bishop, Coptic Orthodox Church, UK)

3. Dr Hamid Aldubayan (Chair of Regents Park Mosque)

4. Shaykh Dr. Haitham al-Haddad, Founder and Executive Director, MRDF

5. Mr John Beard (Buddhist)

6. Mr James Bogle (Barrister, Vice-Chairman of the Catholic Union)

7. Khurshid Drabu CBE, Dr Ahmed Al Dubyan, Islamic Culture Centre

9. Rev Canon Ben Enwuchola (Anglican Chaplain to the Nigerian Community)

10. Mrs Sarah Finch (Member of General Synod)

11. Sheikh Suliman Gani (Imam, Tooting Islamic Centre)

12. Dr Lee Gatiss (Director, Church Society)

13. Rev John Glass, (General Superintendant, Elim Pentecostal Churches)

14. Bishop Creswell Green, (Chair Joint Council of Anglo-Caribbean Churches, General Overseer of the Latter-Rain Outpouring Revival Ministries)

15. Rev George Hargreaves (Founder of the Christian Party)

16. Bishop Paul Hendricks (Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark & Co-Chairman of the Christian Muslim Forum)

17. Bishop Michael Hill (Anglican Bishop of Bristol)

18. Rev James Hunt (Rector, Bishops Waltham)

19. Mrs Rebecca Hunt (Barrister)

20. Shaykh Dr Musharraf Hussain, Karimia Institute

21. Dr Hussein Jina (President. Council of European Jamaats)

22. Pastor Jean Bosco Kanyemesha, (Congolese Pastorship UK)

23. Dr A.Majid Katme (Spokesman, Islamic Medical Association)

24. The Venerable Michael Lawson (Former Archdeacon of Hampstead)

25. Mrs Susie Leafe (Member of General Synod)

26. Rabbi Natan Levy

27. Archbishop Bernard Longley (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Birmingham)

28. Bishop Patrick Lynch (Roman Catholic Auxiliary Bishop of Southwark)

29. Apostle Caleb Mackintosh, (General Overseer, Bibleway Churches (UK))

30. Maulana Sarfraz Madni, Mosques and Imams National Advisory Board (MINAB)

31. Shaykh Ibrahim Mogra, Imam, Leicester

32. Shaykh Shams Adduha Muhammad, Ebrahim College

33. Farooq Murad, Muslim Council of Britain

34. Dr Mohammed Naseem (Chairman, Birmingham Central Mosque)

35. Bishop Michael Nazir Ali (Former Bishop of Rochester)

36. Mr Ade Omooba (Christian Concern)

37. Archbishop F.N.Onyuku-Opokiri, (Born Again Christ Healing Church International)

38. Pastor Pete Pennant, (Lighthouse Church, Birmingham)

39. Rev Paul Perkin (Chairman, Fellowship of Confessing Anglicans,UK and Ireland)

40. Shaykh Abdul Qayum, Senior, East London Mosque

41. Mr Munawar Rattansey (President of World Federation of Shia Ithnari)

40. Maulana Shahid Raza, Muslim College

43. Mr Giles Rowe (Catholic Forum)

44. Sir Iqbal Sacranie, Al-Risalah Trust

45. Bishop Keith Sinclair (Anglican Bishop of Birkenhead)

46. Bhai Sahib Bhai Mohinder Singh, (Chairman, Guru Nanak Nishkam Sewak Jatha’)

47. Archbishop Peter Smith (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Southwark)

48. Archbishop George Stack (Roman Catholic Archbishop of Cardiff)

49. Rev John Stevens (Director of the Fellowship of Independent Evangelical Churches)

50. Canon Dr Chris Sugden (Executive Secretary, Anglican Mainstream)

51. Prebendary Rod Thomas (Chairman of Reform)

52. Rev Dr Simon Vibert (Wycliffe Hall, Oxford)

53. Bishop Alfred Williams General Overseer Christ faith Tabernacle International Churches

So among the usual suspects is only one Buddhist - John Beard

Now Mr Beard is entitled to his opinions, as free speech hasn't yet been outlawed in Britain (though they're working on it), but is he really a 'Buddhist Leader'?

I must confess I had never heard of him before reading the Telegraph article.

Googling, I found that he is a trustee of the Birmingham Buddhist Vihara, which is a local establishment that doesn't appear to be part of a larger organisation.

Mr Beard may be putting forward his own views, or maybe those of his congregation (though the fact that he doesn't state his affiliation in the list would suggest otherwise), but he is certainly not a widely recognised  'Buddhist Leader' representing the views of any organised body of Buddhists in Britain.  

The more general Buddhist opinion on gay marriage appears to be rather more liberal.

Related Posts

Alan Turing - A Gay Buddhist Chemically Castrated and Mentally Destroyed

Cambodian LGBT Pride Festival gets Buddhist Blessing

Queer Dharma and Gay Buddhists: Dharma for the LGBT Community

London Mosque identified as Epicenter of Homophobic 'Street Jihad'

Buddhism won't be harmed by ex-drag queen ordaining as a monk

Monday, 24 June 2013

Can Meditation Make You a Better Leader?

If only he'd mellowed out with meditation...


By Michael Carroll

"Not too long ago, meditation was considered an oddity, often viewed with suspicion – at times even ridicule. But today, such skepticism has all but evaporated and in its place has emerged a growing appreciation for the health, well-being and intelligence meditation can cultivate especially among leaders and within organizations..."

"...There are thousands of styles of “meditation" developed over centuries of disciplined practice by millions of meditators. But in order to gain a simple grasp of the topic, we can say there are fundamentally two types of meditation: form and formless.

Form based meditations apply techniques like visualizing, repeating words, performing rituals, and manipulating the body to achieve specific outcomes like overcoming emotional obstacles, reducing stress, cultivating loving kindness and more.

Unlike form based meditation, formless meditation relies on little or no technique nor does it seek to achieve any outcome. Referred to as shikantaza or “just sitting” in the Zen tradition, Jing zuo or “quiet sitting” in Confucianism, Zuowang or “sitting in forgetfulness” in the Taoist tradition and Lhatong or “clear seeing” in the Mahamudra and Dzogchen Tibetan traditions, formless meditation is about recognizing rather than achieving; expressing rather than developing; being authentically who we are rather than trying to become a better version of ourselves.*

Mindfulness-awareness meditation, then, can be considered a “formless meditation” (though technically it often requires the use of minimum technique at first)  where we are working with our mind, body and immediate experience in order to recognize exactly what is going on and express precisely who we are.

Essentially, when we practice mindfulness-awareness meditation we take a posture sitting upright, relaxed and alert, our eyes are open; we breathe normally and sit still.  (See image above.)

When we sit still like this, we notice the simple, sensual vividness of our circumstances: sounds, sights, smells and sensations. And we also notice thinking.

Attending to these two experiences - being alert in the immediate moment and thinking––is central to mindfulness-awareness and requires a simple yet exquisitely demanding gesture:  while sitting still in the meditation posture when we notice our mind wandering off into thinking, we deliberately recognize that we are thinking and then bring our attention back to our immediate experience. Essentially, we sit still and, as often as possible, notice exactly what is going on.   

The Ironic Distress of a Wandering Mind

At first glance, sitting still like this for extended periods may appear to some as useless or a waste of time. Yet, despite this seeming peculiarity, this act of just sitting still teaches a vital, visceral lesson from the very start: when we pause and look directly at our minds, we discover that our attention is restlessly wandering. Normally, we allow such wandering, permitting our minds to freely drift from our immediate experience – to speculate, question, rehearse or even worry. And, in many respects, we accept such wandering as our “normal” state of being.  

Mindfulness-awareness meditation teaches many things but one of the very first lessons is how this “normal” restless wandering pervades our everyday life. Whether it’s listening to a colleague explain a business plan, offering advice to a friend, or just waiting in line for a cup of coffee, when we pause and mindfully notice, we discover that we routinely wander from such moments and our wandering is often impatient and discursive. 

Science has studied this wandering phenomenon and found that about 50 percent of the time, we mentally drift from our daily circumstances and in turn substitute thinking for actual experience, which apparently makes us very anxious. According to the researchwhen our mind wanders from our experience we are highly likely to dwell on thoughts that are more distressing than our actual experience, creating unease, where none is warranted.

And here we are confronted with a profound leadership irony indeed: by permitting our attention to freely wander, out of touch with our actual experience, we are likely to mislead ourselves and others into authoring the very distress we hope to avoid. For mindful leaders, then, leadership begins with a basic tenet: In order to lead others well, we first must stop misleading ourselves and overcoming such self-deception requires that we train our minds to attend openly to our immediate experience and be available to the world we aspire to lead..."   FULL ARTICLE

Related Articles

Counter-terrorism meditation

Mindfulness meditations for students

Mindfulness meditations for students, to help them be calm, focused and creative


How to teach ... mindfulness
The Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help introduce the concept of mindfulness to pupils, to help them be calm, focused and creative

Meditating at school, where mindfulness has become something of a buzz word

By Emily Drabble

"Meditating at school, where mindfulness has become something of a buzzword. 

All teachers want their students to be calm, focused, alert, aware and creative, which is essentially what mindfulness is all about, so it's no wonder the term has become a bit of a buzzword, even in mainstream education.
The Guardian Teacher Network has resources to help introduce mindfulness to young people at school (and at home) and to help them develop some essential life skills.

The most delicious way to start has to be Mindfulness and the art of chocolate eating. Taking just three minutes, this is a practical and instantly likeable introduction to bringing mindfulness to the classroom. If you must, swap chocolate for strawberries or ripe slices of mango.

This is just one of a fantastic set of resources from Mind Space on Guardian Teacher Network – and all are without an aura, guru or chakra in sight. The non-denominational and non-religious presentation of meditation and mindfulness has been specifically developed to be useable by all types of schools, beyond the RE classroom.

Try this mindfulness relaxation exercise script, which has been designed to guide students to a heightened level of mindfulness while relaxing the body and mind in just 15 minutes. Find also the audio recording of this meditation.
If you've got less time to spare, find five minutes to a calmer classroom, which has some fantastic tips and is one of the most popular resources on the Guardian Teacher Network.

The exam season is pretty much over, but this one is a keeper: Tips for dealing with exam stress has been designed to help students reduce stress through practising mindfulness and meditation around exam time.
Teachers can find out more about Mind Space's meditation in schools project and seminars, and if you would like a speaker to come to your school to introduce mindfulness and the practice and technique of meditation to staff and students, get in touch.

RE teacher Andrew Jones, who recently blogged for the Guardian Teacher Network about his experiences with meditation at Goffs school, has created this useful slideshow on meditation for beginners – the slides list what to do and give basic directions. The lesson was created for a scheme of work on Buddhism, but it can act as a standalone lesson, too. Andrew has highly recommended the audio and CD resources created by Clear Vision, a UK Buddhist charity specialising in Buddhism and meditation in schools. Thanks to Clear Vision for sharing some of its stilling exercises for young people on the Guardian Teacher Network, meditation one and meditation two.

Meditation teacher Jon Shore has been teaching mindfulness since 1978 and has shared a soothing 15-minute audio file of soft meditation music and ocean waves – ideal for using as background music during a mindfulness meditation in class and Personal transformation using mindfulness and meditation, which includes meditations that can be used in a classroom setting.

Thanks to 100 hours for sharing this fascinating exploration of the wider context of mindfulness. Mindfulness and the vision for a 21st-century transformational curriculum introduces 100 hours' vision of how young people around the world can be supported to become wise and compassionate leaders and, ultimately, to transform society. The resource describes what mindfulness is and its benefits, and includes a two-minute guided exercise, top principles and tips. Teachers are invited to get in touch and find out more about how they can get involved.

We have some really creative resources shared by Ross Young at The Dharma primary school, the UK's only primary school to offer an education based on Buddhist values, which puts mindfulness at the centre of its practice so has lots of expertise to share. Find The Duct-Tape maze – a mindfulness activity that helps children learn how to manage distractions, to notice and persevere as well as to plan and reason. StickArt is another great calming idea. Students sit in a circle and take it in turns to place pipe-cleaners onto the floor in a particular shape without talking. A pattern or a picture is created and the focus is on developing mindful mind skills.

This pebble guided meditation is perfect for young children and in planting wishes children place wishes they would like to see grow in the world and work hard to help make their wishes grow.

The children at The Dharma school have created this poster of mindfulness skills because, in the words of a group of students: "Some of them are annoyingly long, tricky words!" The Kung Fu Panda Peach tree clip has been recommended to help children understand the concept of being present. Also find mind in a jar, a mindfulness activity in which children make and use a snow globe to show how their minds are working – and then give it a good shake!

And finally, for those who would like to podcast about their mindfulness experiences, but aren't quite sure where to start, How to podcast with your class is a really easy guide including software suggestions.

Join the Guardian Teacher Network community for free access to teaching resources and an opportunity to share your own as well as read and comment on blogs."

Related Posts

The webcrawler in your mind.

Buddhist Mindfulness Meditation Alleviates Depression

Teens meditate to reduce stress

Counter-terrorism meditation

Cash-strapped healthcare system looks to Buddhism

Clean your mind while cleaning your room 

Bodhisattva vows - an antidote to depression and mental illness

Doctor Buddha

Vajrasattva Purification of Guilt and Negative Thinking  

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

War of the Memes


"From the rationalist's point of view, all religions (unless they can prove themselves otherwise) are harmful mental parasites, whose only function is to infect as many people as possible, regardless of the chaos they cause in the process." 

So how can we deal with contagious religious fanaticism?  And what did the Buddha have to say about it?