By Grace Dickinson, November 5, 2010
Starting in 1989 with President George H.W. Bush, each Thanksgiving the president of the United States officially pardons two turkeys during a ceremony at the White House. What this means is that the birds are spared from being slaughtered and turned into dinner.
Originally, the turkeys were taken to Kidewell Farm, a petting zoo as part of Frying Pan park (funny name for a petting zoo…) located in Virginia. However, starting in 2005, the turkeys have been sent to either Disneyland in California or Disney World in Florida, following their role in Disney’s Thanksgiving Day Parade. As happy as this may sound for the turkeys, unfortunately many of them end up dying within the first year, defeating the purpose of the presidential pardoning.
According to Farm Sanctuary, commercially-raised turkeys are selectively bred to grow abnormaly large and fast, making them prone to serious health issues and necessitating specialized care. Disney-themed parks are illequipped to provide the level of care needed to keep these birds happy and alive for the full life that they deserve.
To deal with this problem and give the turkeys the appropriate treatment they need, Farm Sanctuary is petitioning the White House to send the turkeys to their shelter in Watkins Glen, New York, instead of to Disney.
“We are offering the Obama administration an opportunity to distinguish themselves from past administrations by starting a new, compassionate Thanksgiving tradition that is more in-step with Americans’ growing concern about the welfare of animals raised for food,” says Gene Baur, president and co-founder of Farm Sanctuary. “By sending the pardoned birds to Farm Sanctuary’s renowned shelter in Watkins Glen, N.Y., the Obama Administration can show that it cares about the humane treatment of animals, and ensure that the turkeys get the expert care they need to thrive.”
The shelter has been rescuing turkeys for over twenty years, providing essential veterinary care and an environment tailored specifically for the health of the birds. Turkeys at Farm Sanctuary live an average of four to five years, meaning a 4-5 time greater life than the typical bird sent to Disney. The farm is also responsible for providing lifelong care to hundreds of other rescued animals.
Get involved and help Farm Sanctuary in urging the White house to send the turkeys to a happier, more sensible home. The petition, information about Thanksgiving’s toll on turkeys, and resources for a compassionate holiday can be found at adoptaturkey.org.
What Buddhism Teaches About Anger By Barbara O’Brien, About.com Guide
Anger. Rage. Fury. Wrath. Whatever you call it, it happens to all of us, including Buddhists. However much we value loving kindness, we Buddhists are still human beings, and sometimes we get angry. What does Buddhism teach about anger?
Anger is one of the three poisons – the other two are greed and ignorance – that are the primary causes of the cycle of samsara and rebirth. Purifying ourselves of anger is essential to Buddhist practice. Further, in Buddhism there is no such thing as “righteous” or “justifiable” anger. All anger is a fetter to realization.
Yet even highly realized masters admit they sometimes get angry. This means that for most of us, not getting angry is not a realistic option. We will get angry. What then do we do with our anger?
First, Admit You Are Angry
This may sound silly, but how many times have you met someone who clearly was angry, but who insisted he was not? For some reason, some people resist admitting to themselves that they are angry. This is not skillful. You can’t very well deal with something that you won’t admit is there.
Buddhism teaches mindfulness. Being mindful of ourselves is part of that. When an unpleasant emotion or thought arises, do not suppress it, run away from it, or deny it. Instead, observe it and fully acknowledge it. Being deeply honest with yourself about yourself is essential to Buddhism.
What Makes You Angry?
It’s important to understand that anger is something created by yourself. It didn’t come swooping out of the ether to infect you. We tend to think that anger is caused by something outside ourselves, such as other people or frustrating events. But my first Zen teacher used to say, “No one makes you angry. You make yourself angry.”
Buddhism teaches us that anger is created by mind. However, when you are dealing with your own anger, you should be more specific. Anger challenges us to look deeply into ourselves. Most of the time, anger is self-defensive. It arises from unresolved fears or when our ego-buttons are pushed.
As Buddhists we recognize that ego, fear and anger are insubstantial and ephemeral, not “real.” They’re ghosts, in a sense. Allowing anger to control our actions amounts to being bossed around by ghosts.
Anger Is Self-Indulgent
Anger is unpleasant but seductive. In this interview with Bill Moyer, Pema Chodron says that anger has a hook. “There’s something delicious about finding fault with something,” she said. Especially when our egos are involved (which is nearly always the case), we may protect our anger. We justify it and even feed it.
Buddhism teaches that anger is never justified, however. Our practice is to cultivate metta, a loving kindness toward all beings that is free of selfish attachment. “All beings” includes the guy who just cut you off at the exit ramp, the co-worker who takes credit for your ideas, and even someone close and trusted who betrays you.
For this reason, when we become angry we must take great care not to act on our anger to hurt others. We must also take care not to hang on to our anger and give it a place to live and grow.
How to Let It Go
You have acknowledged your anger, and you have examined yourself to understand what caused the anger to arise. Yet you are still angry. What’s next?
Pema Chodron counsels patience. Patience means waiting to act or speak until you can do so without causing harm. “Patience has a quality of enormous honesty in it,” she said. “It also has a quality of not escalating things, allowing a lot of space for the other person to speak, for the other person to express themselves, while you don’t react, even though inside you are reacting.”
If you have a meditation practice, this is the time to put it to work. Sit still with the heat and tension of anger. Quiet the internal chatter of other-blame and self-blame. Acknowledge the anger and enter into it entirely. Embrace your anger with patience and compassion for all beings, including yourself.
Don’t Feed Anger
It’s hard not to act, to remain still and silent while our emotions are screaming at us. Anger fills us with edgy energy and makes us want to do something. Pop psychology tells us to pound our fists into pillows or to scream at the walls to “work out” our anger. Thich Nhat Hanh disagrees.
“When you express your anger you think that you are getting anger out of your system, but that’s not true,” he said. “When you express your anger, either verbally or with physical violence, you are feeding the seed of anger, and it becomes stronger in you.” Only understanding and compassion can neutralize anger.
Compassion Takes Courage
Sometimes we confuse aggression with strength and non-action with weakness. Buddhism teaches that just the opposite is true.
Giving in to the impulses of anger, allowing anger to hook us and jerk us around, is weakness. On the other hand, it takes strength to acknowledge the fear and selfishness in which our anger usually is rooted. It also takes discipline to meditate in the flames of anger.
The Buddha said, “Conquer anger by non-anger. Conquer evil by good. Conquer miserliness by liberality. Conquer a liar by truthfulness.” (Dhammapada, v. 233) Working with ourselves and others and our lives in this way is Buddhism. Buddhism is not a belief system, or a ritual, or some label to put on your T-shirt. It’s this.
Good Question, Good Answer with Ven. S Dhammika
I often hear Buddhists talk about wisdom and compassion. What do these two terms mean?
Some religions believe that compassion or love (the two are very similar) is the most important spiritual quality but they fail to develop any wisdom. The result is that you end up being a good-hearted fool, a very kind person but with little or no understanding. Other systems of thought, like science, believe that wisdom can best be developed when all emotions, including compassion, are kept out of the way. The outcome of this is that science has tended to become preoccupied with results and has forgotten that science is to serve man not to control and dominate him. How, otherwise could scientists have lent their skills to develop the nuclear bomb, germ warfare, and the like. Religion has always seen reason and wisdom as the enemy of emotions like love and faith. Science has always seen emotions like love and faith as being enemies of reason and objectivity. And of course, as science progresses, religion declines. Buddhism, on the other hand, teaches that to be a truly balanced and complete individual, you must develop both wisdom and compassion. And because it is not dogmatic but based on experience, Buddhism has nothing to fear from science.
So what, according to Buddhism, is wisdom?
The highest wisdom is seeing that in reality all phenomena are incomplete, impermanent, and not self. This understanding is totally freeing and leads to the great security and happiness which is called Nirvana. However, the Buddha doesn’t speak too much about this level of wisdom. It is not wisdom if we simply believe what we are told. True wisdom is to directly see and understand for ourselves. At this level then, wisdom is to keep an open mind rather than being closed-minded, listening to other points of view rather than being bigoted; to carefully examine facts that contradict our beliefs, rather than burying our heads in the sand; to be objective rather than prejudiced and partisan; to take time about forming our opinions and beliefs rather than just accepting the first or most emotional thing that is offered to us; and to always be ready to change our beliefs when facts that contradict them are presented to us. A person who does this is certainly wise and is certain to eventually arrive at true understanding. The path of just believing what you are told is easy. The Buddhist path requires courage, patience, flexibility and intelligence.
I think few people could do this. So what is the point of Buddhism if only a few can practice it?
It is true that not everyone is ready for Buddhism yet. But to say that therefore we should teach a religion that is false but easily understandable just so that everyone can practice it is ridiculous. Buddhism aims at the truth and if not everyone has the capacity to understand it yet, they perhaps will be ready for it in their next life. However, there are many who, with just the right words or encouragement, are able to increase their understanding. And it is for this reason that Buddhists gently and quietly strive to share the insights of Buddhism with others. The Buddha taught us out of compassion and we teach others out of compassion.
So we arrive at compassion. What, according to Buddhism, is compassion?
Just as wisdom covers the intellectual or comprehending side of our nature, compassion covers the emotional or feeling side of our nature. Like wisdom, compassion is a uniquely human quality. Compassion is made up of two words, ‘co’ meaning together and ‘passion’ meaning a strong feeling. And this is what compassion is. When we see someone in distress and we feel their pain as if it were our own, and strive to eliminate or lessen their pain, then this is compassion. So all the best in human beings, all the Buddha-like qualities like sharing, readiness to give comfort, sympathy, concern and caring – all are manifestations of compassion. You will notice also that in the compassionate person, care and love towards others has its origins in care and love for oneself. We can really understand others when we really understand ourselves. We will know what’s best for others when we know what’s best for ourselves. We can feel for others when we feel for ourselves. So in Buddhism, one’s own spiritual development blossoms quite naturally into concern for the welfare of others. The Buddha’s life illustrates this very well. He spent six years struggling for his own welfare, after which, he was able to be of benefit to the whole of mankind.
So you are saying that we are best able to help others after we have helped ourselves. Isn’t that a bit selfish?
We usually see altruism, concern for others before oneself, as being the opposite of selfishness, concern for oneself before others. Buddhism does not see it as either one or the other but rather as a blending of the two. Genuine self-concern will gradually mature into concern for others as one sees that others are really the same as oneself. This is genuine compassion and it is the most beautiful jewel in the crown of the Buddha’s teaching.
Posted on: November 1, 2011 9:07 am
BUDDHIST MEDITATION CENTER
Videos and Photos of Vipassana classes at our Peace Meditation Center - Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA
A Dhamma Talk on Vipassana and mindfulness meditation by Vipassana Gossalaya Jotannano Hong Keo, Vipassana Buddhist Master during a 10-Day Meditation & Vipassana Retreats at the Buddhist Meditation Center, Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam on the 11th Waxing Moon – 7th Waning Moon of Jeṭṭha B.E.2560 equivalent to June 15 – 26, A.D.2016 in Leverett, Massachusetts, U.S.A. in 2016.
ក្រុងសាវត្ថី Sāvatthī or Śrāvastī
Vipassana chanting by Meditation Master Ketodhammo Som Bunthoeun. Footages from 2016 Vipassana classes at the Buddhist Meditation Center – Wat Kiryvongsa Bopharam in Leverett, Massachusetts, USA.
SAMDECH CHUON NATH
Khmer literature and Dhamma talk by His Holiness Jotannano Chuon Nath, the Supreme Patriarch of Cambodia Buddhism. His Holiness was born on March 11, 1883; passed away on September 25, 1969
MAHA GHOSANANDA SERVICES
Extraordinary Funeral and Memorial Services for His Holiness Samdech Dr. Maha Ghosananda