A Supreme Teacher Continues on...

A Native American brother weeps hot tears of rage as he recalls his time in “that mess” that was the American war in Vietnam in the 1960s and 1970s. “The Creator didn’t put us here for this,” he says, choking back tears. In the space of a couple minutes, he then recites the violent history of the USA better than any history book ever could.

It is August 2002, nearly a year after 11 September 2001, and the Native brother is participating in a sangha, or community, of Vietnam war veterans organized by Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh at Stonehill College, a private Catholic school located in Easton, Massachusetts. Like me, Nhat Hanh was in the United States at the time of 9/11 and saw firsthand the dangerous wave of fear, ignorance and hate that quickly rose up throughout the land: A “war on terrorism” was officially declared, the nation of Afghanistan was soon invaded and now the U.S. government was preparing for a second invasion in Iraq.

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Salute to a Soul Sister

Janice Mirikitani and a friend are walking down the sidewalk, as the friend’s recollection goes, in the Tenderloin district of San Francisco, California, USA — one of the city’s poorer and more merciless areas. Coming down the sidewalk toward them is a man of the streets who is making loud barking and growling noises like a dog; he is obviously in need of some help.

The friend instinctively grabs Mirikitani’s arm to pull her away and out of the path of a perceived danger looming ahead. Just as instinctively, Mikiritani pulls the friend back close to her and keeps walking straight ahead, her stride intact. Soon, the man and Janice are standing face to face on the sidewalk and the friend’s heart is racing, fearing what might come next.

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Declothing the Emperor — A Viral Story

Folktales abound in ancient cultures and countries of some vainglorious king who is hoodwinked by a dishonest tailor and made to believe he is wearing a magnificent suit of fine regal robes, when, in fact, he is wearing nothing at all — as he finds out only after he leaves the castle walls and parades himself to a gawking public that sees his royal highness in all his nakedness.

India has just such a folktale dating back to around 1200 AD; Spain too has a story like that from back in the 1300s. For most of us in the modern world, though, the most famous version of this tale is The Emperor’s New Clothes, written by author Hans Christian Anderson of Denmark in 1837.

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Banned in Japan: The Little Statue that Roared

Welcome, dear readers, to Aichi Trienniale 2019, one of the largest Japanese contemporary festivals in the country. Held every three years since 2010, this festival attracts artists from around Japan and the globe, while promoting such lofty goals as “contributing to the global development of culture and art” and “bringing culture and art into people’s daily lives” as its mission.

The exhibitions for year’s Aichi Trienniale are being held at several major art venues in the cities of Nagoya and Toyota (home of the famous Japanese Toyota cars), in central Japan, under the theme of “Taming Y/Our Passion”. The festival is running 75 consecutive days from 1 August to mid-October 2019.

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The Ghosts of Tiananmen, Thirty Years On

Like many around the world, I sat glued before the television set, transfixed by the scenes of thousands of people jamming a public square in the Chinese capital of Beijing for weeks on end as they demanded democracy and a more honest, open form of government from their political leaders. It was the spring of 1989, and I was living in a tiny one-room apartment in downtown Osaka, Japan and working as a journalist.

It took my breath away, watching these scenes unfold in a nearby Asian country. My reporter’s instinct kept on nudging me, and for a time, I thought seriously of getting on a plane and trying to file stories from the heart of China’s growing grassroots democracy movement to the outside world.

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A People’s Cry, a Heroine’s Silence

Rhino Records released in 2004 a compilation CD of various artists from around the world coming together for a good cause: “Dedicated to freeing Aung San Suu Kyi and the courageous people of Burma”, as the front cover of the CD boldly noted. This two-disc set, titled For the Lady, featured tracks by the usual fare of socially conscious liberal/leftish artists, plus a few more apolitical types — like former Beatle Paul McCartney and guitarist Eric Clapton — that you normally wouldn’t see on this kind of overtly political music release.

Nobel Peace Prize laureate Aung San Suu Kyi, “The Lady” to whom this CD was dedicated, had been under house arrest by the brutal military regime in the southeast Asian nation of Burma for more than a decade. Buyers of this CD were encouraged to support and get involved in a nonprofit organization called the U.S. Campaign for Burma as a way to show solidarity for the oppressed people of that country. Aung San Suu Kyi was to Asia then what Nelson Mandela was to Africa — a true hero in the struggle for an oppressed people’s freedom.

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The Boy in the Picture: A Remembrance

A 16-year-old Japanese boy lies face down on a hospital bed, his eyes closed and face partially obscured from view. His back and arms, oozing blood and pus, show the severe radiation burns he suffered during the atomic bombing of his city, Nagasaki, just five months before by the United States. He is still clinging to life and the Japanese doctors keeping him in a bath of penicillin to fight off infection seem amazed that the boy is still alive.

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The Stain of Sexual Slavery

The Japanese government’s censorship of nationally used school textbooks — deleting or downplaying the many bad things Japan did during World War II — has been going on for decades. But it is only recently, with a neo-fascist prime minister back in power, that such official censorship is now moving into dangerous areas beyond Japan’s borders and into textbooks used in overseas countries.

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