Christian Group Blames “Satanists And Atheists” After Twitter Poll Goes Awry:


Buddhism is about progress, not perfection. One might not attain buddhahood here and now. But will you go into the next life as a more wise and compassionate being than you were before?


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An Early Draft of Carl Sagan’s Famous ‘Pale Blue Dot’ Quote:


There is something about Carl Sagan’s famous “Pale Blue Dot” passage that is, to me at least, perfect.

From this distant vantage point, the Earth might not seem of any particular interest. But for us, it’s different. Consider again that dot. That’s here, that’s home, that’s us. On it everyone you love, everyone you know, everyone you ever heard of, every human being who ever was, lived out their lives. The aggregate of our joy and suffering, thousands of confident religions, ideologies, and economic doctrines, every hunter and forager, every hero and coward, every creator and destroyer of civilization, every king and peasant, every young couple in love, every mother and father, hopeful child, inventor and explorer, every teacher of morals, every corrupt politician, every “superstar,” every “supreme leader,” every saint and sinner in the history of our species lived there—on the mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

Each word, each category, the overall rhythm—all of it is just right. I’ve read that passage (or listened to Sagan read it) countless times; it’s hard to imagine it any other way.

Which is why I was so intrigued to come across an earlier draft of the passage among the recently digitized items in the Library of Congress’s new Carl Sagan archive. The draft bears the date February 20, 1993. The first edition of the book would be published a bit less than two years later, in November of 1994 […]

Here, I’ve marked up every line that’s changed:

The rhythm has improved, helped along by added repetition of “every”; aliens have been excised (too distracting, perhaps?); acts of heroism and betrayal have become heroes and cowards, fitting in more neatly with the rest of the passage. Overall, the effect of the edits is a better flow, which, at least in Sagan’s sonorous voice, is what gives the section its punch. Or perhaps I’m just more familiar with it, and that’s why it sings to me.

Interestingly, the one substantively significant change between the 1993 draft and Sagan’s recording is one that proves enigmatic upon further digging. Are wea mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam? Or, are we the mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam? The draft says “a,” but the voice says “the.” It seems that Sagan’s verdict, in the end, was for “the.” A definite article! We are not just any mote of dust but the mote of dust.

But one detail adds a bit of ambiguity: The book agrees with the draft, not the recording, plainly calling Earth a mote of dust suspended in a sunbeam.

So, in a way, Sagan has left us with the answer that we are both. We are just amote of dust suspended in a sunbeam. But at the same time, “for us it’s different,” Sagan says. For us, we’re the mote of dust: That’s here. That’s home. That’s us.

See full article here

Buddhists don’t fear an angry God who rewards and punishes. Instead, we are taught to take personal responsibility for our karma, the results of our good and bad deeds, both for this life and the life to come.

Speak the truth; yield not to anger;
Give when asked, even if you have little.
By these three means,
one can be reborn among the devas.



In the past, I have avoided discussing politics on this blog because I don’t want Buddhism associated with any one particular political view.

However, I believe people on Tumblr ought to know that the liberal political views often espoused by American converts to Buddhism do not define Buddhism itself. 

As reported by Tricycle, people from traditionally Buddhist countries might have opinions on a whole host of issues that American converts would disagree with vehemently:

Historically speaking, Buddhism has tended to support conservative status quo regimes in Asia, going all the way back to India. In the contemporary world, virtually all of the democratic countries with a significant Buddhist population are currently ruled by right-wing political groups.

Here in North America, there are large numbers of registered Republican Buddhists. Many of them are Asian-Americans, immigrants or the descendants of immigrants who fled left-wing violence in their native countries. One can only believe that Buddhists are naturally aligned with liberalism if no time has been spent among Vietnamese, Cambodian, Thai, Chinese, or other Asian-Americans.  Anti-Communism drives many such Buddhists into the Republican Party, as does similar views on traditional values, economic policy, patriotism, and other issues.

One of the greatest disconnects with the Democrats is over abortion, which the Democratic Party supports and the Republican Party opposes. The belief that life begins at conception is nearly universal across Buddhist Asia, and the overwhelming majority of Buddhist monks, nuns, and priests believe abortion to be a violation of the first precept. This has led many Buddhist leaders in Asian-American communities to endorse Republican candidates.  At the same time, we have to be careful about stereotyping Asian-American Buddhism, a diverse phenomenon that also includes many Democrats and other liberals.

When we look at the wider picture, the chorus of convert Buddhist support for liberals looks less like a religious position, and more like a class and ethnicity one. Most convert Buddhists already supported a liberal political orientation before they became involved with Buddhism, and convert Buddhism draws heavily from a section of the educated, white, middle-to-upper class demographic that supports liberal candidates regardless of whether the individual believers are Buddhist, Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, or agnostic.  Naturally such people are attracted to elements of Buddhism that seem to resonate with liberal values, but it is worth asking how much of this is an inherent liberal bias within Buddhism, and how much is the process of picking and choosing which selects only compatible parts of Buddhism and leaves aside other, central practices and views that are less supportive of liberal positions.

Even within this demographic of convert Buddhism, there is reason to think that there are significant numbers of right-wing Buddhists who largely remain quiet about their views, perhaps from a feeling that they are actively silenced by the strident voices of their left-wing fellow practitioners. We can see evidence of this in the Pew Forum’s recent U.S. Religious Landscape survey. The survey is flawed, but one area it does manage to capture fairly well are precisely these convert Buddhists, who if anything are over-represented in the survey sample.  Even in this survey that skews in some ways toward the more liberal end of American Buddhism, we find that 18% of Buddhists are Republican in orientation and 44% consider themselves moderates or conservatives, not liberals…


The belief that life begins at conception is nearly universal across Buddhist Asia, and the overwhelming majority of Buddhist monks, nuns, and priests believe abortion to be a violation of the first precept (non-violence). This has led many Buddhist leaders in Asian-American communities to endorse Republican candidates.


How can liberals be more tolerant, when they are so often intolerant toward the free speech of anyone who expresses a conservative opinion on any particular issue? Would the Buddha encourage such extreme partisanship?