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Monday, July 21, 2014

Organizations as Communities

"A couple of years ago I suffered a severe attack of nostalgia while listening to the voice of Father Paolo Dall'Oglio on Italian radio, a frontline Catholic priest and peace activist in Syria. Being an expatriate Italian myself, and a lapsed Catholic with a deep connection to the Middle East, I loved the story of Deir Mar Musa, the mixed community he founded in 1984 on the ruins of a 6th century monastery.

Nostalgia aside, what caught my attention - as a specialist in burnout prevention among organizations and individuals that work with conflict - was the priest’s insistence that people with different views can live and work together successfully, instead of getting stuck in a quagmire of dysfunctional relationships and institutions.

So as I think about the challenges I’m facing in my work, it’s telling that the best example that sticks in my mind is not an organization, but a community. Maybe the 21st century is the time to think about all organizations as communities, and to see where this radical change in direction might take us."

Saturday, July 19, 2014


Today, I'm tired. Slept late last night. Woke up early this morning.

Missed the first pre-session of the international AIDS conference. Am feeling too melancholy. Tired. Wanting not to burn out so quickly, right as it is all just beginning.

Friday, July 18, 2014

21 Days

21 days alcohol-free and counting...

Also have been without other mental health medication, except for vitamins, minerals and some herbs.

Feeling very good. Proud of myself.
Keeping it real. Taking it slow.
One day at a time.

My intention is to have a wellness that is sustainable, primarily through a life of contemplative/meditation practice, physical work (exercise), and relational integrity.

One day at a time. I want to be and remain well.

Thursday, July 17, 2014


Revisiting writing on here again. Trying again, for daily.

It has been about 20 days since my last alcoholic drink.

I am considering giving up drinking alcohol, entirely.
Not quite there yet... I still sense that I will miss things about it.

But I am also aware, as I get older, that I have less and less need for it. And when I do have it, the great times that I have while drunk seem to pass me by that much more quickly, and the hangovers that much more severe. The net sense of it is loss. What am I chasing?

By choosing to give up alcohol, I am not necessarily trying to say that I prefer to "be in control", although that is certainly a part of my motive. It is more that I am interesting in cultivating a consciousness that is more sensitive about control, more discerning about when to keep my guard up or relax it. I am interested in seeing what it means to live less anxiously, without reliance on substances.

I remember a night, a few years ago, when I was living in Sydney... I went out with some friends to a queer party. I had had a somewhat diligent, regular daily meditation at the time, and I had become a little bit enamoured with my increasing capacity to hold steady concentration (on breath) for extended periods of time. Excited to experiment, I wanted to bring this sensitivity to a dance party, and opt to avoid alcohol to see if I could experience the night with nuance.

My drug of choice that evening was an energy drink of some kind. So just caffeine.

I remember feeling anxious and nervous... My usual flood of fearful thoughts, of being Asian at a predominantly white queer party, of being undesireable, of my own reactionary stand-off-ish-ness, etc.

These thoughts came and went... I found my body electrified by the music.
I danced, and danced, the entire party, I danced, until it ended at around 4am.

I was sweating, tons.

Completely sober.

It was one of the best party nights of my life. The fear left me sometime after I started bobbing my head and swinging my arms...
It was a lesson in humility and release.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Check Our Privilege

One "problem" of "checking your privilege"
is that
I think we do not go far enough with this metaphor.

It is not only the relative forms of privilege that I must check; my maleness, my educational privileges, my class privilege, my linguistic privilege, my able-bodiedness, my neurotypicality, and so on...

I take this one step further:

For me, a human birth is a privileged birth.

I check that, remind myself of that, the responsibilities that come with my humanity. The ability to experience both pleasure and pain, to notice how I chase the former and have avoidance toward the latter; that both the chase and the avoidance are signals of the profound unsatisfactoriness of the mundane everyday, in which there is little support for pause, reflection, contemplation, and sincere practice. To be human, to have cognitive and collective capacity to recognise that our political and economic systems reflect a reliance on gross injustice in order to perpetuate cycles of greed, hatred and addictive delusions.


To all my friends, regardless of political persuasion, let's check our privilege of being human on a planet over which we have amassed and exerted too much abusive power and influence.

There are responsibilities and humilities that we must practice as a result of a full awareness of our privileged humanity, playing a necessary step in the fate of our beautiful planet.

Questioning, Questioning

Questioning what I believe to be true, what I believe that underlies most of my actions, that liberates and conditions the arising ebb and flow of further thoughts and emotions on any given day, any given moment.

Beliefs themselves, powerful, that enable certain things to be seen, and others to remain invisible

Beliefs like:
Racism is Bad, which means I see microaggressions, I perceive with humble, but deepening sensitivity, the mourning which pervades this land through every rock and road, every creek and every tree, the air is full of unfinished business

Beliefs like:
Buddhism is Good/helpful, which means I see even pleasure as a form of suffering, alongside pain, neither to be avoided, nor to be attached to: Recognised as inherently empty, impermanent, fleeting, as if sensations in a dream

Beliefs like:
Too much wealth can be corrupting, particularly without generosity, without a recognition of wealth as relative wealth, without a recognition of amassed wealth as having been contingent on the built karmic debt of too many displaced lives, human and non-human

All these beliefs which orient me toward some version of "the good" and "the true" and "the beautiful"...

All these beliefs which exert power over my day to day lived experience...
Beliefs which have been systematised into my day-to-day actions, and I fear that they may, at times, become ossified...

and, ossified, become no longer freely chosen
and, unfreely chosen
or unchosen,
they become sources of myopic limitation, yes:
even nobility, or an orientation to it
may cloud my judgement,
orient me toward my own ethnocentrism,
left wing, spiritualist tirades
vanguard discourses which are elite and elitist
which exclude and deny even as they pretend liberation

and that this exclusion, I may sometimes think of as expediently necessary
(indeed, flying paradoxically in the face of my other belief, of the importance of radical inclusion of all difference, including offensive difference, oppressive difference, hateful difference, as the volcanic scars of our human potential and the abuse of our potential, all inseparable from the Real)

and in this exclusion (of those who may not be radically inclusive),
in this paradox, I must I must I must
see that Belief itself was, to a significant extent, a Choice

I chose/have chosen/still choose/am choosing
to believe
that Racism is Bad
that Buddhism is Good/helpful
that Wealth can be corrupting

and that underlying these is another belief:
that I am free at any point,
to disbelieve any of the above
for any purpose, noble or ignoble
and that this is most dangerous, yet most freeing, perhaps
most freeing because most dangerous...

I teeter on the edge of a precipice
and that all my life and work before me shimmers and melts away as illusory commitments
paving way for
this radical calm, sweet nectar of power

from here, I see I choose what I choose because I have radical freedom
free to Not Have a Choice in the matter, but to choose, anyway,
I choose to Choose that which orients Us toward freedom, full liberation
even as I derive perverse pleasure in that tension that precedes all release

to Choose, then, is also to be Bound.
I play with liberation, then, that is not contingent on any memory of chains
liberation that sees that there are no chains
no need, at all
for liberation.

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Bureau of Public Secrets

Interesting old blog! Explores lots of things about "Engaged Buddhism":

Monday, June 23, 2014

the things I used to find radical...

... I may not find radical any longer.

Not that they have been shown to be false (although that may be the case)
but often they have been superceded
by other possibilities
or extensions of themselves
or they may have, within a collective field
collapsed under the weight of their own inconsistencies

or perhaps, just as likely,
that they contained creative paradoxes
which were as scaffolding
to hold new things

what were once radical
are stabilised

new possibilities are built upon the groundwork