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Peace on Earth

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Peace on Earth and Good Will to All!

Art by Mayumi Oda, Upaya Zen Center Christmas Tree

Wishing you and your loved ones a blessed holiday season…

in kindness,


Finalists Named for Blogisattva Awards

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The Blogisattva Awards are kind of like Christmas for us Buddhist bloggers. Originally started by Tom Armstrong, these awards have been given out over the past several years and have really helped to build a sense of  sangha among Buddhist bloggers, as well as brought more awareness of their work to the larger community.

I am honored and humbled to be included in the lists of finalists, a list that includes some of my favorite writers like Genju, James Ford, Marguerite Manteau-Rao, Nathan Thompson, and Marnie Louise Froberg. You can view the complete lists of nominees here. The “winners” will be named tomorrow, December 12, but in my book, they are all winners!

(To me, the one glaring omission was not including Katie Loncke’s excellent blog in the list — I hope that she will be recognized next year and in the meantime I encourage you to take a look at her writing, which is consistently thought-provoking and heartfelt.)

A very big thank you to the team that administered this year’s awards: Nate DeMontigny from Precious Metal, Kyle Lovett from The Reformed Buddhist, and Anoki Casey of Buddha Badges who will always be my favorite graphic designer.

The Great Jizo Book Giveaway

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To continue the one-year blogging birthday celebration, I’m giving away one copy of the book Not Turning Away: The Practice of Engaged Buddhism (Shambhala, 2004). This is an anthology of articles from Turning Wheel magazine, edited by Susan Moon. Writers featured in the book include Robert Aitken Roshi, Jan Chozen Bays, Fleet Maull, Thich Nhat Hanh, Jack Kornfield, Joanna Macy, and Diana Winston. (Oh yeah, and one of my articles is in there too.)

Here’s what you need to do to be eligible:

1) Take a look at the new Amazon book store that I created to go along with The Jizo Chronicles, and enjoy browsing through it. There are three categories: books on socially engaged Buddhism, general Buddhist books, and books on activism and politics.

2) Then, let me know what books you would suggest adding to the store by making a comment at the bottom of this post, by November 30. If the comment doesn’t automatically include a link back to you, make sure to include your email address so I can contact you if you win. (To protect yourself from the obnoxious robots that crawl through the Internet, put your address in this format: maia [at] gmail [dot] com )

3) For extra credit! Send an email to a friend (or many friends!) who you think might enjoy the bookstore. Let me know that you did this in your comment and you’ll get an extra chance to win!

On December 1, I’ll write down the names of everyone who left a comment, put it into a hat, pull a name, and then I’ll contact the winner so I can ship the book to you. I’ll even autograph it for you, if you want.

Does that make sense? So it’s a giveaway with a randomly chosen winner, but you can increase your odds of winning by telling your friends about the book store. Pretty simple. No purchase necessary, as they say. Go to it and have fun!

The Blogisattva Awards

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Speaking of elections and voting…

I’m a little behind on all this, but let me tell you about the esteemed Blogisattva Awards. This event was created several years ago by Tom Armstrong, and is carried on by a group of fellow bloggers, led by Nate DeMontigney and Kyle Lovett with Anoki Casey providing the great logo and design. The purpose of the awards is to help grow awareness and recognition of the world of Buddhist bloggers.

If you’d like to nominate The Jizo Chronicles for recognition, you can do so here. Two categories that might be relevant are “” and “Best Engage-the-World” blog, but of course the choice is up to you! And there are lots of other wonderful Buddhist blogs out there (see my blog list in the right sidebar if you need some ideas)… so please do participate and give them the recognition they deserve.

The deadline for nominations is November 1, so you’ve got about a week to go… get out there and stir things up!

Peace in Our Hearts, Peace in the World

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Lots and lots of words have been posted here… so in this moment, I’m going to pause,  take a breath, and share with you an image.

This photo was taken on a recent autumn evening, right outside the front door of my casita (little house) in Santa Fe, New Mexico. The light turns a wonderful golden shade here at twilight… and the mountain you’re looking at is called Picacho (which means “peak” in Spanish). I feel pretty blessed to live here.

Enjoy, and happy autumn!

Socially Engaged Buddhism Symposium: Round-up of Coverage

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Photo of symposium from

As promised, here is a round-up of the online coverage of the Socially Engaged Buddhist Symposium held recently at the Zen Peacemakers’ House of One People:

  • The Zen Peacemakers website has summaries of the keynote speeches as well as each of the panels. You can also purchase DVDs on this page as well.

Can Green Buddhism Save the Earth?

Burma’s Saffron Revolution Comes to the Symposium

Special Ministries Discussed at Symposium (including prison ministry and mental health)

Jon Kabat-Zinn on Stress Reduction

There are more articles posted there, so be sure to visit the BW blog.

  • And I know that Kenneth Kraft, co-author of The New Social Face of Buddhism, has an article about to be posted on the Bearing Witness blog, so keep an eye out for that as well.

Did I miss anything? If you were at the Symposium, what are your reflections?

Buddhist Chaplains Love the Gulf (guest post)

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Grand Isle Graveyard, photo by Penny Alsop

Here’s the latest update from Penny Alsop, who I’ve mentioned and quoted several times before in The Jizo Chronicles.

Penny has initiated the “Chaplains Love the Gulf “ project and is coordinating a trip in August so that “the people and environmental region of the Gulf can receive the benefit of compassionate presence of a contingent of chaplaincy students.”  Penny took a scouting trip to Grand Isle, LA, this month to begin that work. This is her report.


More Love

by Penny Alsop

This past weekend I set out for Grand Isle, LA to begin our project, to research some details and to see for myself how my beloved Gulf coast and the people of Louisiana are faring since oil has taken over their lives in this most despicable way.  Lives have been turned upside down, every which way and even those who are making good money like the three fellows I met from Texas who work twelve hours per day, in twenty minute intervals, in hazmat suits in the sweltering Louisiana sun to wash the oil off of boom, would much prefer to be at home with their families.

The fellow that I spoke to on Dauphin Island, AL, a supervisor for BP, said seeing the oil in the form of tar balls on that island is breaking his heart. He hoped it would move on somewhere else, pausing as he seemed to realize that if that were the case, someone else’s heart would be breaking, right along with his. Later that evening my waitress said that business was slower than usual and that there were no tourists at all on the island “since the oil”, but because there were so many workers there instead, she was still making fairly good money. When the workers leave, as she’s heard they soon will, it’s going to be different story entirely.

In Grand Isle, there are hundreds of people working to clean up this mess. And the National Guard. And humvees parked at brightly painted beach front houses. And backhoes and front end loaders just feet from the shoreline. Huge pieces of rough plywood, hand painted in tall black letters announce in no uncertain terms that the beach is closed. The local sheriff enforces this by parking himself next to the sign. To cross the plastic orange construction fencing is a felony. Electric blue kiddie pools filled with chemicals meant to decontaminate boots exposed to oil I’m told, sit unsecured in front of the same fence. Dark clouds of ’something’ float in the salt water and huge swaths of black stuff has seeped into the sand. All visible only from a distance or from the one pier open in the state park. Small bands of workers scoop up three shovel fulls of blackened sand into plastic bags and toss them aside to be picked up and stacked in the plastic bag mountains at the staging area where huge white tents shelter hundreds of folding metal chairs.

My innkeeper tells me that she hasn’t been to the beach “since the oil”. She can’t bear to look. She’s more worried about the dispersant that is being sprayed each night. She wants to live a long life. She has grandbabies. Doreen greeted me with a tired, wary smile in a marina motel laundry room. No, she didn’t have any rooms available at the moment, maybe later in the month. Business is okay since lodging is at a premium but other people are losing their jobs. The marina is silent. No boats coming in or going out except to handle boom. The port is closed. Tears fill her eyes when she says that she’s afraid of losing her job. “Thank you, baby” she says, as I hug her neck.

They man who is responsible for drilling the relief well, the one that will be used to plug the blown out well permanently, has a perfect record. He’s never missed a target, this mechanical engineer. He’s working with bore-hole uncertainty as he guides the drill. Bore-hole uncertainty means that one really doesn’t know for certain where the drill or the target is at any given time. Wherever one may think that the drill is, is a momentary knowing. It can be displaced by unmapped and unanticipated obstructions, at any second. Reading the signals right in front of one’s face, in real-time and being able to choose the most appropriate path in response to the conditions at hand, is what’s called for. If one goes into this effort thinking that one knows what all the variables are, sure of one’s self, one is very likely to fail to hit the target.

No one wants this. No one would have chosen to have crude oil wash up on the beaches or engulf sea turtles, pelicans, shrimp and people’s lives. But here we are with no clearly identified enemy or single cause for this catastrophe. Instead there is layer upon layer of complexity; interwoven need and desire. It’s impossible to sort out where one starts and another leaves off. What is blindingly apparent is that this is an opportunity to look deep into each other’s eyes and proclaim as loudly or as quietly as the situation calls for, that I will not give up. I will not leave you to fend for yourself. I will not turn away. I will look to see what is needed and I will give that very thing.

For those of us who love the Gulf, this is our chance to love it and all her near and far inhabitants, all the more.

3 Smart Girlz is coordinating the deployment of a group of students from Upaya’s chaplaincy program to Louisiana the week of August 19 – 26th. They will be with some of the people hardest hit by the Deepwater Horizon disaster, bearing witness, serving in compassionate ways and with their presence. If you would like to participate, please contact penny (at) If you would like to make a contribution to help offset the expenses of this trip, we gratefully welcome your partnership! You may send a check to 3 Smart Girlz, LLC, 400 Capital Circle SE, Suite 18154, Tallahassee, Fl 32301 or use the Paypal button here. Partner contributions are used 100% directly on expenses incurred by the chaplains.

Dispatch from the Train to Auschwitz

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Photo by Peter Cunningham

I received this email (below) on Sunday from Michael Melancon, a friend who is in his second year of the Upaya Buddhist Chaplaincy Program. He is on his way to take part in the Bearing Witness Retreat at Auschwitz with Roshi Bernie Glassman and others from the Zen Peacemaker Community. Thank you, Michael, for your deep intention to practice with suffering.

It is Saturday morning June 5 as I write this. I’m on a train from Warsaw to Krakow, Poland… Starting this Monday we will sit a Retreat of Remembrance at Auschwitz… In total we will be about 150 people from all over the world on retreat together.

I’m not Jewish myself, but I was “adopted” by a dear Jewish family about 20 years ago. My adopted Jewish mom Hedy stood in for my own mother when Glenn and I were married. She offered a Hebrew prayer of blessing over our rings; everyone was dry-eyed until that moment in the ceremony. Hedy’s daughter Eve stood up for me as my Best Person. These people are my family.

Hedy’s family of origin — her mother, father, sister and grandparents — were all killed at Auscwhitz.

In my Rakusu case here at my side are photos of Hedy’s family members the way they were when she last saw them. Her parents hid Hedy away in a convent in Belgium, just before the Gestapo took most of the rest of the family to the death camps. Later this week in a ceremony of remembrance we will honor those family members I’ve met only through Hedy’s cherished memories.

My choice to travel by train in Poland is intentional. It is part of my pilgrimage here. I am mindfully aware that this rail track from Warsaw to Krakow, on which i now ride in comfort and in a bright and sun-filled rail car, is like the very route so many traveled to their deaths a mere generation ago. I hold them all in my heart: the victims as well as those who risked their lives to defy and stop the madness. I also hold the perpetrators, and the innocent and not-so-innocent bystanders. I know I am not so separate from either the willing or the unwilling participants. A single cloud hovers in this clear blue sky, as I consciously untangle their entwined karma, while weaving it more deliberately together with my own . . . and with yours.

Here, you are not far from me.

The many beings are numberless, I vow to free them.

Greed, hatred and ignorance rise endlessly, I vow to abandon them.

Dharma gates are countless, I vow to perceive them.

The awakened way is unsurpassable, I vow to embody it . . . fully.

Love in cubits . . .

Michael ‘Daiun’

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