005 Why I Am No Longer a Buddhist

To be rationally consistent means not freezing our beliefs, lest we should be guilty of the crime of change. Rather it consists in holding our minds open to receive the light of truth from everywhere. It means changing our beliefs and practices as often and as fast as we gain further knowledge. It is because of my desire to follow the evidence, that I am dropping the label Buddhist. I no longer call myself a Buddhist, but prefer to be called a Humanist. What is Humanism you ask? It is “a progressive philosophy of life that, without supernaturalism, affirms our ability and responsibility to lead ethical lives of personal fulfillment that aspire to the greater good of humanity.”

Links
The BHA | British Humanist Association
American Humanist Association
Mars and comets: a brief summary of this week’s sweetest space news

Song of the Week
Together On Our Own by Josh Woodward is licensed under CC BY 3.0.

Theme Music
Big Beat Rock Pop Drums Opener Trailer by PremiumMusic is licensed under CC BY NC ND 3.0.

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004 The Tortured Logic of America

The Senate Intelligence Committee release the CIA torture report. The torture tactics used included waterboarding, nudity, dietary manipulation, exposure to cold temperatures, cold showers, mock executions, sleep deprivation, slapping, punching, isolation in total darkness, shackled, hooded, made to wear a diaper, hanging with one or both wrists handcuffed to an overhead bar, threats to harm their children, threats to sexually abuse their mother or cut her throat, rectal rehydration, and rectal feeding.

Links
The Senate’s Torture Report: What You Need to Know
Full Senate Report (pdf)
CIA report’s most shocking passages
This Is How a Prisoner of War Feels About Torture
Obama: America “Exceptional” So We Don’t Prosecute Torturers

Song of the Week
After We Torture Our Prisoners by David Rovics is licensed under CC BY NC SA 3.0. .

Theme Music
Big Beat Rock Pop Drums Opener Trailer by PremiumMusic is licensed under CC BY NC ND 3.0.

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Buddhism and Politics

Many people feel there are two taboo topics, religion and politics. Most people classify Buddhism as a religion, albeit a unique one. Personally I don’t believe Buddhism is a religion really, rather it’s a philosophy of life and a psychology of mind.

What is Politics? The World English Dictionary defines politics as “the complex or aggregate of relationships of people in society, especially those relationships involving authority or power.” Notice that politics is about relationships. Anyway, Melvin McLeod catches this idea about politics being about relationships. He says, “politics is really about how we live together as human beings….” Now clearly we, as Buddhists, should be interested in and concerned about how we live together as human beings.

For some reason people think that politics and religion should never mix. The Dalai Lama has said, “I question the popular assumption that religion and ethics have no place in politics and that religious persons should seclude themselves as hermits.” And you should question it too. Politics is about relationships. To deny religion a voice in politics is to act as if religion should have nothing to say about how we live together. Yet that’s what Buddhism is all about. The Dharma teaches you how to have and develop relationships that are built on wisdom and compassion.

But there is a danger is the opposite direction, claiming that the Buddha was a communist, a capitalist, or even an imperialist. I believe that he was beyond that, that he was pragmatic. He used whatever government was in power and encouraged it to be wise and compassionate. As any enlightened being knows, governments do not solve problems, people do. Changing governments does not automatically translate into less suffering. However, changing people does translate into less suffering. It is people who cause suffering and it is people who can end it.

There is an inherent problem in mixing religion with politics. The basis of religion is morality, purity and faith, while basis for politics is power. As the old adage goes, power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely. And that is why democracy fits best with Buddhist values.

Democracy aims to share the power with the people. That’s why l think that the Dalai Lama is right when he said, “Today, the values of democracy, open society, respect for human rights, and equality are becoming recognized all over the world as universal values. To my mind there is an intimate connection between democratic values and the fundamental values of human goodness. Where there is democracy there is a greater possibility for the citizens of the country to express their basic human qualities, and where these basic human qualities prevail, there is also a greater scope for strengthening democracy. Most importantly, democracy is also the most effective basis for ensuring world peace.”

Clearly in the Dalai Lama’s mind, Buddhism and democratic values go together quite well. And so, I would argue, Buddhism and politics also go together. I believe in Engaged Buddhism. One way for Buddhism to be engaged in social issues is through politics.

In fact, one could argue that just being a Buddhist practitioner is being political. Noah Levine takes this viewpoint saying, “Buddhist practice is a political action. Training one’s heart, and actions in wisdom and compassion is the ultimate form of political rebellion. The spiritual path is an engaged act of going against ignorance and oppression.”

Meditation is usually not seen as a political act, but as Reginald A. Ray explains, “we must understand that meditation, the centerpiece of the Buddhist path, is itself the most radical kind of political action. Why? In meditation, we step out of the value system of the conventional world and start to look at things from a fresh viewpoint. We don’t know what we are going to come up with, but we do know we are not likely to remain an uncritical supporter of the status quo.”

But just talking about being engaged politically is not enough. As David Loy states, “At this critical point in history, the challenge for a socially Engaged Buddhism is not to persuade citizens that religion can play a positive role, but to show them.”

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003 Black Lives Matter

Another police officer goes free after choking a black man to death. I also cover the news that NASA’s Orion spacecraft launch was postponed because of sticky booster valves. And I update you on Sony hackers and global warming. I also predict the next president of the United States.

Links
Obama commends peaceful protests after no indictment in Eric Garner NYPD chokehold death case
Obama Wants More Police Wearing Body Cameras
NASA’s Orion Launch Postponed Due to ‘Sticky’ Booster Valves
Experts: Sony Hackers Were Inside the Company Network for a Long Time
Stephen Hawking warns artificial intelligence could end mankind
Gut bacteria from a worm can degrade plastic
West Antarctic melt rate has tripled in last decade
Research confirms how global warming links to carbon emissions
Source of volcanoes may be much closer than thought
Iran: Death Sentence for Facebook Posts
Warren Buffett Gives Money To Hillary Clinton 2016 Campaign Group, His First-Ever Super PAC Donation

Song of the Week
The Final Rewind by Tryad is licensed under CC BY SA 3.0.

Theme Music
Big Beat Rock Pop Drums Opener Trailer by PremiumMusic is licensed under CC BY NC ND 3.0.

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Great Quotes from the Matrix Movie

There are so many great quotes in the Matrix movie. Let me give you just a few. I hope to help you see beyond the gun action and Kung Fu. The Matrix is a movie filled with symbolism and deep mythology. And it is also filled with philosophy and the deepest questions of our existence.

Morpheus: “There’s something wrong with the world. You don’t know what it is but it’s there, like a splinter in your mind driving you mad.”

Morpheus: “The Matrix is everywhere. It is all around us, even now in this very room. You can see it when you look out your window or when you turn on your television. You can feel it when you go to work, when you go to church, when you pay your taxes. It is the world that has been pulled over your eyes to blind you from the truth.” Neo: “What truth?” Morpheus: “That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage, born into a prison that you cannot smell or taste or touch. A prison for your mind….”

Morpheus: “I’m trying to free your mind, Neo, but I can only show you the door, you’re the one that has to walk through it.”

Morpheus: “You have to let it all go, Neo, fear, doubt, and disbelief. Free your mind.”

Spoon boy: “Do not try and bend the spoon. That’s impossible. Instead only try to realize the truth.” Neo: “What truth?” Spoon boy: “There is no spoon.” Neo: “There is no spoon?” Spoon boy: “Then you’ll see that it is not the spoon that bends, it is only yourself.”

Morpheus: “Neo, sooner or later you’re going to realize, just as I did, there’s a difference between knowing the path and walking the path.”

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Installing Linux Mint on a Netbook

I just installed Linux Mint 17 Mate edition on a friend’s Netbook. The first issue is that it doesn’t have a CD drive. You have to install it from a USB stick.

So I first downloaded the Mate edition of Linux Mint 17, 32 bit version. The next step is to get it on a USB flash drive. I used a program called “Startup Disk Creator.” In it I selected the Source Image Disk (iso file I downloaded). I then chose the USB flash drive as the Disk to Use. Then I clicked Make Startup Disk. It then copied it to the USB stick.

Before you try installing it, you need to first make sure it boots from the USB first. You can change that in the BIOS settings. To get to that you usually have to press f2 or del. Different computers are different.

Once you have the order changed, then power off the machine and insert the USB Startup stick you created. Start it up and install the system.

If you find Linux Mint 17 too much of a drain on your system, try Xubuntu 14.04 or Lubuntu 14.04. As a last resort, try Puppy Linux. It is one of the smallest Linux distrobutions out there. If you can’t run Puppy Linux, you need to get a new computer.

LINKS
http://www.linuxmint.com/download.php
http://www.ubuntu.com/download/desktop/create-a-usb-stick-on-ubuntu
http://help.ubuntu.com/community/Installation/FromUSBStick

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002 The Violence in Ferguson

I talk about the recent violence in Ferguson. I also cover the news that the US and UK are likely behind a newly discovered and highly sophisticated spyware program. And I update you on the health of Thich Nhat Hanh.

Links
President Obama Delivers a Statement on the Ferguson Grand Jury’s Decision
Most Police Shootings Don’t Lead to Prosecution of Police
An Update on Thay’s Health: 22nd November
New Regin malware is an incredibly sophisticated spy tool, 
EFF Co-launches Global Coalition on Net Neutrality
Global Net Neutrality Coalition
Star Trek-like invisible shield protects Earth from ‘killer electrons’
Comet landing: UK team’s data bonanza from Philae
DNA Can Survive Reentry from Space

Song of the Week
Question by Lil Dynomite.

Theme Music
Signs in the Dark by PeerGynt Lobogris

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001 Thich Nhat Hanh’s Health

I talk about Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh’s severe brain hemorrhage. I also cover the news that the United States is using planes equipped with ‘Dirtbox’ to spy on our phone calls. And I introduce myself and the podcast.

Links
An update on Thay’s health: 16th November
US Using Planes Equipped with ‘Dirtbox’ to Spy on Your Phone Calls
Russia hacking site spying webcams worldwide
Sunlight may revive stranded comet lander ‘Philae’

Song of the Week
Road Less Traveled by Trench Town Oddities.

Theme Music
Signs in the Dark by PeerGynt Lobogris

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Watch and Listen to iTunes Podcasts on the Roku

The iTunes Podcasts channel allows you to browse, search, listen, and watch podcasts from the entire iTunes Podcast library on your Roku Digital Video Player.

Features include:

  • Browse by top podcasts, genres and providers
  • Choose to filter by video, audio, or all
  • Search the entire iTunes Podcast library
  • Mark a podcast as a favorite for quick access later
  • Resume previously unfinished video and audio podcasts (only video podcasts on Roku 1 devices)
  • Quickly determine viewed podcasts from episode browser
  • Revisit the last 15 viewed podcasts via the favorites screen

It is a private channel, but you can add the channel via this link: https://owner.roku.com/Account/ChannelCode/?code=ITPC

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Android Lollipop Announced

Google has announced that the next release of the Android operating system for smart phones will be called Lollipop. They name their releases after deserts and go in alphabetical order.

For full information about the new Android system check out the following links:
http://www.businessweek.com/articles/2014-10-15/google-unveils-android-lollipop
http://gadgets.ndtv.com/mobiles/features/android-50-lollipop-whats-new-and-updated-607646
http://www.technobuffalo.com/videos/top-5-android-lollipop-features-googles-most-exciting-os-ever/

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