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09/03/08
BSP’s 3-month-long campaign takes off -Jagatheesan — In the next 36 hours, the McCain campaign will be pouring millions of dollars — if not tens of millions — into negative attack ads against Barack Obama. -Protecting our Homeland -These Are the Highest Blessing
Filed under: General
Posted by: site admin @ 8:24 pm

image






Jagatheesan —

In
the next 36 hours, the McCain campaign will be pouring millions of
dollars — if not tens of millions — into negative attack ads against Barack Obama.

Before John McCain
accepts the Republican nomination on Thursday, his campaign has to
spend every last dollar of primary funds they’ve raked in from
Washington lobbyists and special interest PACs.

Just yesterday, they aired a new negative ad in 14 swing states.
His campaign manager even admitted that all McCain has to rely on is
attacks, saying that for them, “This election is not about issues.”

He doesn’t want Americans to notice that the Republican platform is the most extreme we’ve ever seen — opposing stem cell research, denying a woman’s right to choose no matter what the circumstance, and continuing to spend $10 billion a month in Iraq.

With so much at stake, we can’t allow another election to be determined by petty and divisive political tactics.

Make a donation of $5 or more to fight back against an unprecedented week of negativity from John McCain.

The McCain campaign is trying to distract voters from the real issues
– so we’re going to focus on what they’re trying to hide.

They’ve come out against the life-saving possibilities of stem cell research.

They don’t even mention protecting equal pay for equal work.

They support huge tax cuts for the wealthiest 2% of Americans.

They’ve almost completely ignored the $10 billion we’re spending every month in Iraq.

And they make zero exceptions for a woman’s right to choose — even in
cases of rape, incest, or to protect the life of the mother.

If that all sounds like more of the same, that’s because it is. John
McCain is offering a third term of the disastrous Bush agenda, so it’s
no wonder his campaign would choose to focus on attacks instead of
issues.

Please make your donation of $5 or more today:

https://donate.barackobama.com/fightback

I know we’ve asked a lot from supporters like you recently, and many of you contributed just last week.

But the stakes are high, and there are less than 9 weeks before Election Day. It’s going to require unprecedented resources to defeat John McCain and bring about the change America so desperately needs.

Thank you for all you do,

David

David Plouffe
Campaign Manager

Obama for America


Homeland Image

Protecting our Homeland

“Incredibly,
security remains voluntary at (chemical) plants, despite strong
warnings from the 9/11 commission that a strike at just one of the
nation’s major plants could release chemicals capable of killing one
million people or more, according to Sen. Barack Obama, D-Ill. He and
Sen. Frank Lautenberg, D-N.J., have introduced legislation that would
require plant owners to beef up security. The question is why President
Bush hasn’t been pushing for tougher measures all along.”

— The (Albany) Times Union, September 6, 2006

The Problem

Nearly
seven years after 9/11, our country is still unprepared for a terrorist
attack. From improving security for our transit systems and chemical
plants, to increasing cargo screening in our airports and seaports, the
recommendations of the 9/11 Commission have been underfunded and
ignored. The 9/11 Commission gave the government five F’s and twelve
D’s on the implementation of its recommendations. Senator Obama is a
member of the Senate Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs
Committee and has supported efforts to base homeland security spending
on risk rather than pork-barrel politics. He has also introduced
legislation to strengthen chemical plant and drinking water security
and to enhance disaster preparedness. As President, Senator Obama will
enhance our national resilience to any risk - natural, accidental or
terrorist - by ensuring the federal government works with States,
localities, and the private sector as an authentic partner in
prevention, mitigation, and response.

Barack Obama’s Plan

Protecting Our Chemical Plants

Chemical
plants are attractive terrorist targets because they are often located
near cities, are relatively easy to attack, and contain multi-ton
quantities of hazardous chemicals. While a number of plants have taken
voluntary steps to improve security, there are still major gaps; and
the federal government has never established meaningful, permanent
security regulations. Senator Obama worked with Senator Frank
Lautenberg (D-NJ) to introduce comprehensive chemical plant security
legislation that would establish a clear set of federal regulations
that all plants must follow. The bill requires chemical facilities to
enhance security, including improving barriers, containment,
mitigation, and safety training, and, where possible, using safer
technology, such as less toxic chemicals.

Keeping Track of Spent Nuclear Fuel

The
nation has 103 operating nuclear power plants which annually produce
over 2,000 metric tons of spent fuel that remains highly radioactive
for many years. A report by the Government Accountability Office found
inadequate tracking and security for spent nuclear fuel rods. Nuclear
plants in Connecticut, Vermont and California have reported missing
spent fuel in the last five years. Senator Obama introduced legislation
to establish guidelines for tracking, controlling, and accounting for
spent fuel at nuclear power plants.

Evacuating Special Needs Population in Emergencies

One
of the most devastating aspects of Hurricane Katrina is that most of
the stranded victims were society’s most vulnerable members -
low-income families, the elderly, the homeless, and disabled Americans.
Too many states and cities do not have adequate plans in place to care
for special-needs populations. Senator Obama introduced and passed
legislation to require mandatory planning for evacuating people with
special needs.

Reuniting Families After Emergencies

After
Hurricane Katrina, thousands of people struggled to contact family and
friends following evacuation. Evacuees were forced to comb through
dozens of databases in an effort to reconnect with loved ones. Senator
Obama introduced and passed legislation to create a centralized,
federal database to allow individuals displaced by an emergency to call
one phone number or go to one website and post their location and
condition. Family members and law enforcement officials would be able
to use this same secure, centralized system to check the status of
missing loved ones.

Keeping Our Drinking Water Safe

There
are almost 170,000 public water systems in the United States. An attack
on a drinking water system could contaminate or disrupt water service,
thereby disrupting society, impacting human health and compromising
critical activities such as fire protection. Senator Obama introduced
legislation to provide $37.5 million over 5 years for drinking water
systems to upgrade their monitoring and security efforts.

Protecting the Public from Radioactive Releases

Following
reports that nuclear power plants in Illinois did not promptly notify
local communities that tritium – a byproduct of nuclear generation –
had leaked into the groundwater, Senator Obama introduced legislation
to require nuclear plants to inform state and local officials if there
is an unintentional leak of a radioactive substance. Chronic exposure
to high levels of tritium can increase the risk of cancer, birth
defects and genetic damage.

Barack Obama’s Record

There
have been tritium leaks at other nuclear plants, though none so
extensive as at Braidwood. The uproar over Braidwood prompted the
Nuclear Energy Institute to outline a voluntary policy for monitoring
tritium leaks and reporting such incidents. Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.)
has vowed to continue to push for federal legislation that requires
reporting. “The nuclear industry already had a voluntary policy, and it
hasn’t worked,” he said. Exelon’s past actions have helped to prove his
point.

— Chicago Tribune, Editorial, May 25, 2006


These Are the Highest Blessing

Buddha is a Title which means Buddhi (wisdom) with an Exalted, Blessed, Noble Awakened Mighty Great Mind with full of awareness. The Title which could be acquired by any one who practice the path shown by such an Exalted one for one’s own happiness and welfare and for all other sentient and non- sentient beings

image
We all want to be happy, but what sort of
life leads to happiness? The Mangala Sutta begins with a heavenly
being, a deva, asking the Buddha what might be the most auspicious
talisman leading to a happy life.


Mangala literally
means “protective amulet,” something you wear around your neck. The
Buddha cleverly twists the meaning of the word away from superstition
and into a discussion of living our lives in such a way that we abide
in accordance with truth, thus bringing protection and blessings into
our own lives and those around us. So what is the highest blessing?
What is the most perfect charm? What is the mantra that will always
protect us against everything? One can see that the question is loaded.

It’s
significant that this question comes from a deva. According to Buddhist
mythology, devas live in the heavenly realms where every sensual desire
is fulfilled.When the deva reports that devas “are concerned for
happiness and ever long for peace,” she is acknowledging that one
cannot free oneself from suffering through satisfying the myriad
sensual desires that may arise.

In our present day, we
may feel too sophisticated to wear a rabbit’s foot around our neck.
However, we may still put a lot of faith in the Dow Jones, real estate
values or sufficient insurance policies to protect ourselves, our
families and everything we own. The whole Department of Homeland
Security depends on putting our faith in security cameras and armed
guards—the hardware and science of protection. Yet deep inside, our
anxiety builds because we know that no piece of paper or camera can
prevent untoward events. How can we be sure we will be safe?

In
my work as a nurse, I notice people sometimes view following a healthy
lifestyle as a lucky charm. I’m going to eat right, do yoga, take
supplements, and nothing bad will ever happen to me. When people are
diagnosed with a life-threatening illness, they may be willing to
follow any regime, no matter how far out it might sound, as a way of
ensuring that they

will
get better. When we hear someone has died, we may try to distance
ourselves from our own inevitable demise by reflecting on aspects of
our lifestyle that keep us “safe.”We may think: “Well, she smoked, so
she got lung cancer. I don’t smoke, so I won’t get lung cancer. I’m
safe from that one!”

We are trying to control things in our
lives, everything.We are upset when life does not bend to our control.
That is the ordinary human experience without the Dhamma. We say to
ourselves: “I will do the research. I will do everything right, and it
should work. If it doesn’t, then I will sue.” This is how we respond to
dukkha in America: I’m suffering and someone must be to blame. It
doesn’t occur to us that there might be no one to blame, not even
ourselves. It might just be the nature of the way things are:
undependable, unworthy of our confidence, impermanent.

In
a way, we can use even meditation and spirituality like another lucky
charm. We may use our practice as a way of controlling a difficult
situation: I will practice metta and this problem person in my life
will stop saying troublesome things to me. We want to have some safety
or protection even though we really have no control over another
person’s behavior.

So what did the Buddha say about
staying safe, peaceful and happy? In brief, he said that sila, samadhi
and pañña are essential for living a blessed life. In other words, the
Mangala Sutta summarizes morality, concentration and wisdom; the entire
map of the Dhamma is revealed in relatively few words.

The Mangala Sutta



Thus have I heard that the Blessed One



Was staying at Savatthi,



Residing at the Jeta’s Grove



In Anathapindika’s park.



Then in the dark of the night, a radiant deva



Illuminated all Jeta’s Grove.



She bowed down low before the Blessed One



Then standing to one side she said:



“Devas are concerned for happiness



And ever long for peace.



The same is true for humankind.



What then are the


highest blessings?”
“Avoiding those of foolish ways,
Associating with the wise,
And honoring those worthy of honor.
These are the highest blessings.
“Living in places of suitable kinds,
With the fruits of past good deeds
And guided by the rightful way.
These are the highest blessings.
“Accomplished in learning and craftsman’s skills,
With discipline, highly trained,
And speech that is true and pleasant to hear.
These are the highest blessings.
“Providing for mother and father’s support
And cherishing family,
And ways of work that harm no being,
These are the highest blessings.
“Giving with Dhamma in the heart,
Offering help to relatives and kin,
And acting in ways that leave no blame.
These are the highest blessings.
“Steadfast in restraint, and shunning evil ways,
Avoiding intoxicants that dull the mind,
And heedfulness in all things that arise.
These are the highest blessings.
“Respectfulness and of humble ways,
Contentment and gratitude,
And hearing the Dhamma frequently taught.
These are the highest blessings.
“Patience and willingness to accept one’s faults,
Seeing venerated seekers of the truth,
And sharing often the words of Dhamma.
These are the highest blessings.
“The Holy Life lived with ardent effort,
Seeing for oneself the Noble Truths
And the realization of Nibbana.
These are the highest blessings.
“Although involved in worldly ways,
Unshaken the mind remains
And beyond all sorrow, spotless, secure.
These are the highest blessings.
“They who live by following this path
Know victory wherever they go,
And every place for them is safe.
These are the highest blessings.


Avoiding those of foolish ways.
Foolishness means not observing basic morality or the five precepts.
Conversely, we want to associate with the wise, or those who do observe
basic morality.

To honor those worthy of honor is to honor teachers, parents and monastics. The best way to give honor to them is to live according to the Dhamma.

Living in places of suitable kinds.
This refers to places made up of the fourfold assembly: monks, nuns,
laymen and laywomen. It also refers to places where the Buddha’s
teaching can be found.

With the fruits


of past good deeds
.
The idea is that we will be born in a suitable place if we have good
kamma. It is assumed that we must have done something good to give us
the kamma to come in contact with the teachings in this lifetime.


Guided by the rightful way
means letting go of the unwholesome and cultivating good. This seems
pretty obvious, a real “no brainer,” but it is not always that obvious.
Ajahn Chah said that people want happiness but they never want to
create the causes of happiness. People don’t want suffering but they
love to create the causes of suffering. Even as you read these words
and think that they make sense, in only a few seconds you may create
the causes of suffering again. If you want to be protected, don’t put
yourself in situations where you will be vulnerable. If you don’t want
to get hit by a car, don’t try to walk across the freeway.

Accomplished in learning is to remember and consolidate the Buddha’s teaching. Craftman’s skills are
household arts and crafts, any work that’s not against the precepts.
“Houseless” skills would be working with the four requisites: i.e.,
gathering alms food, mending robes, cleaning the shelter, and caring
for one’s health.

With discipline highly trained.
The householders’ discipline is abstaining from the tenfold causes of
wrong action. The three bodily actions are killing, stealing and sexual
misconduct. The four verbal actions are lying, slandering, rude speech
and idle gossip. The three mental actions are covetousness, ill will
and false view.

Providing for mother and father’s support.
It is considered impossible to repay the support one is given by one’s
parents. This is because parents give birth to us, feed us and
introduce us to the world.

I was just with my mother, who recently had a hip replaced. Before going to see her, I had read a story of how
Ajahn Sumedho had rubbed his aged father’s feet. This seemed like a
wonderful way to acknowledge the debt to one’s parents, and I thought
my mother


might
also really appreciate a foot massage. Just like Ajahn Sumedho’s
father, she at first refused with a big “No.” Luckily, I had been
prepped by the ajahn’s story to persist even after being turned down.
“Well, okay, if you really want to,” my mother finally said, as if to
please me. In a little while, she seemed very happy to have her feet
massaged. There are things more easily communicated through touch than
through words.

Cherishing family means caring for
family with metta, karuna , mudita and upekkha and not indulging in
attachment or affection. Attachment leads to grief, and affection leads
to fear. In the Mangala Sutta, the Buddha lets us know how to relate
lovingly to one another. But we must remember that pain and sorrow come
from those who are dear to us. If something untoward happens to the one
we love, we suffer. This is why the Buddha encourages us to connect
through metta and karuna, loving kindness and compassion, rather than
the worldly ways of attachment and affection.

Work that harms no being.
This is work that brings no harm to yourself or others, work that
brings no mental confusion and also avoids disturbing others.

Giving with Dhamma in the heart is
cultivating nongreed and selflessness. Giving can mean both material
things and the Dhamma. The gift of the Dhamma far exceeds any other
material gift.

Offering help to relatives. This is not just familial relatives but the whole community.

Blameless actions. Once again, acting in ways consistent with the five precepts and right livelihood.

Steadfast in restraint. Seeing the danger in wrong-doing and restraining oneself.

Avoiding intoxicants that dull the mind. One cannot follow the precepts if one is intoxicated.

Now we are moving into the qualities that aid in the development of samadhi: heedfulness or constancy to stay with mindfulness.

Respectfulness and humble ways.
Don’t think you know the best way. Be open to the opinions of others.
Be content with the four requisites. Gratitude is a joy to the
heart.While one is fingeri


one’s rabbit foot, one feels fear.While contemplating one’s blessings, one feels joy.


Hearing the dhamma frequently taught, we clear up our doubts.

Patience is the supreme virtue. Willing to accept one’s faults.
Being at peace, open and willing to endure the effects of past wrong
actions.When we have done something unskillful, we must endure the
effects of these actions. There is no way to
get away from the effects of past wrong action. Patiently enduring our kamma leads to maturity.

Seeing venerated seekers of the truth. Dassana can
mean “seeing” or “meeting.” The implication is to meet fully with
venerated seekers of the truth and respectfully and gratefully drink
deeply of the truth of the teachings.

Next comes the pañña section. For the holy life to be lived with ardent effort, self-restraint is necessary. Realizing the noble truths, realizing nibbana. There is a whole description of arahantship: unshaken the mind remains, beyond all sorrow, spotless, secure.

Wisdom
means understanding clearly how cause and effect works.An action that
is wholesome and beneficial is just that, and we should make every
effort to do it. Sometimes, a doubt arises.We worry that even though we
are doing something beneficial, perhaps we shouldn’t be doing it
because we are going to get caught up in a sense of self.What is
beneficial should be done. Getting “me” caught up in the mix is
something extra. We should work to avoid identifying with our actions,
but that doesn’t mean we should avoid doing what is wholesome and
beneficial.

In the Mangala Sutta, the Buddha declares
that all the actions, attitudes and realizations he exhorts in the
sutta are the highest blessings—all of them!

He is
telling us that we need it all. One could say that the Buddha begins
with sila and ends with liberation and that this sequencing implies
that the latter is far more important than the former.Yes, there is a
gradation from sila to pañña, and yet trying to realize liberation
without sila would be like saying that your skin is not very important
to your body.


If
you tried to live without your skin, you would see how important it is.
You need your skin, brain, heart, liver. All of its parts are essential
to a happy body. Someone might think that if nibbana is the most
important thing, then let’s just shoot for that. Forget about being
grateful and nice to people—that’s so tedious! But the Buddha tells us
that all of it is important. All of it is the highest blessing and
needs our attention and development.

Kathryn Guta is a long-term supporter of Abhayagiri
Monastary. She has recently completed the CALM program
and is a lay minister.





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