Hui-neng: Words and Letters

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 When asked how he could understand the Sutras even though he was illiterate, didn’t have a proper teacher and could not even know the meanings of the [Mahayana Sanskrit] words, young Huineng replied, “The profound meaning of all the Buddhas has no connection with words and letters.”

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Life Is Melody’s September 2012 update

Howdy. So here we are beginning our third month of activity/’beta ops’ at Life Is This month sees the launch of The Billionaire’s Cap series: a contest, hat and economic policy idea all rolled into one. The Outlooks section will continue adding material from Chuang Tzu to the Reading Room, and some of the upcoming Zen offerings will be from Hui-Neng. In the natural health/home related topics, aka the Lifestyle section, there will be an intro to wheatgrass article for October to continue in the green superfoods vein from last month. Also coming up in late September or early October, I’ll put up some live Swervedriver I recorded from their second ‘reunion’ 10-date U.S. tour this year and introduce a really cool slide guitar tuning to try in the Arts/Expression section.

There’s some design changes coming down the pike too, most likely around the six month mark.

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Green Superfood Powders, Blends and More

One of the best (and easiest!) ways to improve your nutrient intake, vitality and general health without having to overhaul your diet or learn how to cook a new food or add a bunch of new pills to your supplements regime is with green superfoods powdered blends.

These items come in a canister or a pre-measured envelope, and all you have to do is add them to a beverage and stir. They range from simple single ingredient products like wheatgrass juice powder to more complex and complete formulations that can include mixed green phyto-nutrients, antioxidants, fiber content, probiotics, digestive enzymes and more.

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Laurie Anderson 2012: ‘An Artist-in-Residence in Congress, the White House, the Supreme Court…’

Experimental artist Laurie Anderson has broken and blurred all sorts of boundaries, ‘rules’ and perceptions of what music, art, technology, narrative, performer and audience are. Almost forty years after her groundbreaking entry into, for lack of a better term, multimedia performance art and storytelling, she continues to explore and evoke and create. And communicate.

In late May 2012, she gave the commencement address to the (lucky) graduating students of The School of Visual Arts at Radio City Music Hall. Here are a few of her thoughts from that commencement ceremony address.

“I think there should be an artist-in-residence in Congress, an artist-in-residence in the White House, an artist-in-residence in the Supreme Court. Artists have a unique point of view, and why isn’t that a part of the bigger picture in our country?”

She added, “Meanwhile, here’s something to keep in mind. No one will ever ask you to do the thing you really want to do. You’ve got to take my word on this; do not, do not wait for this to happen. It will never happen.”

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LIBOR in Baltimore and the News; plus Matt Taibbi on LIBOR (video)

The LIBOR scandal isn’t going anywhere. In the literal sense, it isn’t going anywhere because it’s so wide-reaching and involves hundreds of trillions of dollars all over the world. LIBOR, the London Interbank Offered Rate, was purposely manipulated both upward and downward, resulting in obscene ill-gotten profits for many of the banks involved, while many cities and municipalities across the globe were adversely affected. The question of course is whether we will pay attention to it.

The city of Baltimore became one of the first to actually file a lawsuit against the banks earlier this summer, and now a growing number of towns and organizations are also getting in on the act as the implications of what has been happening begin to sink in:

Baltimore is lead plaintiff in a class action lawsuit that alleges that banks including Barclays, Bank of America, HSBC, JP Morgan and UBS conspired to fix a set of key interest rates – the London Interbank Offered Rate, or Libor – costing the city millions in the process. So far, the Libor scandal has played out mostly under the radar in the US. But now it is gaining traction in Washington, and Baltimore’s suit is putting a human face on a scandal legal experts predict could end up being the most costly of the credit crisis.

“It’s an enormous scandal; it eclipses anything we’ve seen since 2008,” said Matt Taibbi, appearing on Democracy Now in July. He calls it “the mother of all regulatory dilemmas….pretty much all of the banks have to be in on it to move the needle [the bank exchange rate] in any one direction.”

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Going Gluten-Free: The First Steps

Becoming a label reader

Before you needlessly throw everything in your kitchen pantry away, and as you begin to go shopping for gluten-free products, the biggest change in your shopping routine is that you’re going to become an expert at reading labels and enquiring about ingredients at counters. Don’t go shopping without your reading glasses. Familiarize yourself with the ingredients you want to avoid. Go to gluten-free association websites such as and .org, or ones that your health professional has recommended and bookmark them for future reference. Print out the lists of ingredients you can and can’t have. Tape that list up somewhere in your kitchen and download a pdf version to your mobile device to assist you when you’re out shopping or at a restaurant.

One of the first, and most important, distinctions to keep in mind when shopping is that “wheat free” on a label does not mean gluten-free; it just means that there is no gluten from wheat sources in there. So all gluten-free food is wheat-free, but not vice versa. And contrary to what its name seems to imply, buckwheat actually is gluten-free, as is wheatgrass (a great superfood found in many green-powdered blends). -I know; it’s confusing at first, but these are the kinds of distinctions you’re going to be able to make with ease soon enough.

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How can you become a Buddha by doing zazen?

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When Baso was living in Demboin, he did zazen (sitting meditation) every day. Nangaku, realizing Baso was a ‘vessel of the Law’ (one who would become an exemplary Enlightened being and teacher), went and asked him, “Sir, what is your idea in doing zazen?”

“I intend to become (a) Buddha”, Baso replied.

Nangaku picked up a tile and began polishing it in front of the hermitage. Baso asked, “What are you doing?” Nangaku answered, “Polishing it to make it into a mirror.” “How can you make a mirror by polishing a tile?” demanded Baso.

“How can you become a Buddha by doing zazen?” retorted Nangaku.

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Nangaku’s point here is that everyone already has Buddha nature inherently; and that no amount of any particular practice, study, method or wordplay will make one become what one already is. Only realization solves the conundrum.  -What conundrum?!