Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Vision without action is a daydream.

Action without vision is a nightmare.

- Japanese Proverb

Wednesday, June 09, 2010

Prudes Don't Grow Peonies

I really identify with this poem, and not just because peonies are my favorite flower. Click on the title to find the magazine and issue in which I found the poem. Click on the author's name to read more from the poetess.

Prudes Don't Grow Peonies

The only thing I ever saw my mother grow
were peonies. Extravagant red and pink
flowers on long legs she watered and weeded.

She never fooled me with her line
about sex not being fun after the first time.
Even in my tomboy days, I knew better.

Because her peonies told me.
Lush, feathery show girls
strutting and opening,

proving appeal,
as in sex appeal,
is half the fun.

In one hand she held dry booklets,
in the other, a bouquet of frothy blooms.
The deck was stacked against her.

I don't remember a word of the pamphlets
but crimson blooms inside my head
burst open when pleasure wins.

-- Gwynne O'Gara

Sunday, May 30, 2010

And this our life...

exempt from public haunt,
Finds tongues in trees,
books in the running brooks,
Sermons in stones,
and good in everything.

-William Shakespeare, playwright and poet (1564-1616)

Saturday, May 29, 2010

Paid Position at Blue Cliff Monastery

Dear Friends,

Blue Cliff Monastery is currently offering a temporary paid position in registration for the 2011 US Tour. The position would begin mid-December 2010 and continue through until mid-November 2011. The Monastery would offer housing, food and salary. There is also the possibility of the position becoming permanent after the Tour. The position requires basic office skills, organizational skills, people skills, much patience, the many arms and ears of Avalokita, the great aspiration of Ksitigarbha and the great sword of wisdom of Manjushri (to cut through the you-know-what). Other than that we are pretty open. If brave enough and interested please email Br. Phap Vu at Under the subject please put Br. Vu – position.

Be well and happy, Br. Phap Vu
Blue Cliff Monastery

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Koan - Buddhist

Two monks were arguing about the temple flag waving in the wind.
One said, "The flag moves."
The other said, "The wind moves."
They argued back and forth but could not agree.
Hui-neng, the sixth patriarch, said: "Gentlemen! It is not the flag that moves. It is not the wind that moves. It is your mind that moves."
The two monks were struck with awe.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

ABA: Psychology of Conflict Resolution Committee to discuss "apology"

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

I am writing to let you know that the next meeting of the Psychology of Conflict Resolution Committee will focus on apology, and the date and time will be June 25, 2010 at 12 noon Pacific by telephone. We are extremely honored and excited to have Lee Taft with us to open the topic and present some of his profound thoughts on the subject. Following that, there will be a discussion so participants can also offer their contribution.

The Committee is a subcommittee of the ADR Committee of the TIPS section of the ABA. However, for these teleconferences, you do not need to be a member of the ABA to participate and there is no charge.

Lee's bio and our mission statement follows. Please email me for further information if you wish to attend.

Thank you all,
Elizabeth Bader

Bio of Lee Taft

Lee Taft is a nationally recognized expert on apology and the related reparative processes of forgiveness and reconciliation and is a pioneer in the movement to transform cultural and legal responses to conflict. Lee was a board certified trial specialist in Texas for twenty years before entering Harvard Divinity School in 1996. After his 1999 graduation, he was named dean of students at Harvard Divinity School. His scholarship focuses on the interrelationship between accountability and healing in mediation and litigation contexts. His essays have been published in the country’s leading scholarly journals such as the YALE LAW JOURNAL, the MICHIGAN LAW REVIEW, and the HARVARD HEALTH POLICY REVIEW. His mediation protocols help parties not only resolve the conflict but also heal the hurt. His website is He can be reached via email at or by phone at 214.384.6624.

Mission Statement of the Psychology of Conflict Resolution Committee:

The Psychology of Conflict Resolution subcommittee will be a place in the ABA where members can discuss and share information about the human aspects of the resolution of civil litigation. The focus will be on an interdisciplinary approach so that the range of the discussion will be broad. Topics of discussion may include the work of the social psychologists, but also the interface with psychoanalysis, mindfulness, neuroscience, spirituality and other disciplines. The parent committee for the subcommittee is the ADR Committee of TIPS. Interested parties should contact the Chair of the subcommittee, Elizabeth Bader, at

Elizabeth E. Bader, Esq.
Bader Conflict Resolution Services
580 California St., Suite 500
San Francisco, CA 94104
Tel: (415) 391-7272
Fax: (415) 391-0979

The "The Psychology of Mediation: Issues of Self and Identity and the IDR Cycle" 10 Pepp. Disp. Resol. L. J. 183 (2010);
"The Psychology of Mediation, Part I: The Mediator's Issues of Self and Identity."

Saturday, May 08, 2010

Nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger, nigger...

I frequently feel the judgment of the PC police in many spiritual circles. Common topics in those circles are “reverence” and “respect.” Not that these are bad things; I can express them when called to do so. But I also have the habit of peppering my discourse with words such as “fuck,” and “shit,” and pop-culture references and liberal doses of double entendre, innuendo and sarcasm. “Fuck,” may or may not be disrespectful in a spiritual context – I am not posting an opinion about that here. What I am opinionated about is not the use of or lack of swear words in a spiritual context, but the judgment that is generally lobbied against me, not by God, but by another human being, as being “disrespectful, or “irreverent,” because I might have let the word “fuck” slip out during a meditation circle. I mean, sacre bleu! It’s as if that one little word has the power to make God disappear from the building. I’ve got news for you – I am not that powerful. And neither are words.

Yes, yes yes. I know that words are important – that integrity requires using words that we mean, and aligning what we say with our actions. Right action, however, is the subject of another post. Please do not assign the following theory of intent to what you do, only to what you say. Because it’s not the words themselves that are important – words are only symbols to which we have assigned, and communally agreed upon, a meaning. The minute I decide that “dog” means something other than your beloved pet Spot, then it means something else to me, agreement be damned. That is the fallibility of words. Listen to the old Lenny Bruce routine which so profoundly demonstrated this concept back in the ‘60s (and from which I borrowed the title of this post). Further more, if words were all that important, then what’s a poor, illiterate person supposed to do? Are we going to tell him that he cannot aspire to greater heights of enlightenment unless he not only knows but can correctly use the word “agape,” or “ascension,” or “sabikalpa samadhi?” Ya, I think you’re getting it now.

In my family history, spouses like to use endearments like “poop-face,” “jerk,” and “you rat bastard.” Yes, En.Dear.Ments. Which may be why I discern that what’s important about words, or at least what God cares about anyway, is intent. I mean, does it make sense that God who, granted, gave us the Grand Canyon, cats and peonies, but who also simultaneously gave us underarm odor, vomit and farts would be offended by the word “fuck?” That doesn’t compute in my brain. You know what else? He can also handle all the tirades I lob at him. He actually understands and has compassion for my anger. Unlike most humans whose eyes either glaze over as they internally search for their “happy place,” or who quickly change the subject to hopefully disperse my anger. So tell me, is it better that I tell you to fuck off? Or would you rather that I told God to fuck off? Frankly, I’ve always felt that he finds my saltiness kind of amusing and as desirable a color in the rainbow of humanity as sweetness and reverence. Polly PC doesn’t taste nearly as sweet without the likes of me against which to compare her.

If a spiritual journey is about the search for freedom, then using political correctness to elevate oneself above another – which is how it is frequently used, at least against me – is just another form of separation – an anti-spiritual practice that would imprison instead of freeing oneself. Only in this context, it disguises itself as “spiritual” and that’s the part that really steams me. Nothing tempts me more into letting loose a string of four-letter epithets than that Knowing/Admonishing glance or the softly spoken but steely wielded reminder to “be respectful” that I sometimes get in group spiritual settings. Because I know it’s the human, not God, who would be offended. To my credit I don’t recall ever succumbing to that particular temptation, but boy oh boy oh boy…

I am here to remind you – God doesn’t care if you swear. Honestly. In fact, the next time I pray, I’m going to address my prayer to “Oh holy mother fucker!!”