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Robert Thurman: Love Your Enemy
Instead of returning anger with anger, Robert Thurman advocates the practice of lovingkindness, a translation of the Pali word mettā that is found in the original Buddhist texts.
Robert Thurman is Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies in the Department of Religion at Columbia University, President of Tibet House US, a non-profit organization dedicated to the preservation and promotion of Tibetan civilization, and President of the American Institute of Buddhist Studies. The New York Times recently hailed him as "the leading American expert on Tibetan Buddhism."
The first American to have been ordained a Tibetan Buddhist monk and a personal friend of the Dalai Lama for over 40 years, Professor Thurman is a passionate advocate and spokesperson for the truth regarding the current Tibet-China situation and the human rights violations suffered by the Tibetan people under Chinese rule. His commitment to finding a peaceful, win-win solution for Tibet and China inspired him to write his latest book, Why the Dalai Lama Matters: His Act of Truth as the Solution for China, Tibet and the World, published in June of 2008.
Professor Thurman also translates important Tibetan and Sanskrit philosophical writings and lectures and writes on Buddhism, particularly Tibetan Buddhism; on Asian history, particularly the history of the monastic institution in the Asian civilization; and on critical philosophy, with a focus on the dialogue between the material and inner sciences of the world's religious traditions.
The Buddhist psychology tradition, in particular, and the Asian psychologies in general and actually the ancient Christian monastic psychologies do have a strong theory and a strong practice really of overcoming bitterness, hatred, resentment, vengefulness and so forth. Carrying a little further from Moses's already restraining idea of an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. In other words, you don't take a leg or a life for an eye, you know. Or a life for a tooth, you know, just another tooth. Which was already a step forward from the old vengeance idea of tribal attitude. And Jesus's and Buddha's greater idea of really love your enemies and how to unpack that in a modern setting. And people get nervous about it because they think if you love your enemies it means you're gonna cave to them, you're gonna be a martyr, you're gonna invite them to come and destroy you and just be a masochist and so forth. And that is not at all what it means. Love means in the Asian psychological term and I think really in any term it means the wish for the beloved happiness. To want to make the one you love happy. That's what love really is. It isn't really greed and wish to possess although some kinds of love tend to mix with that of the egotistical person. The reason someone is your enemy is they think you're preventing their happiness. Somehow you have something they want, you're in their way, whatever it is, the world isn't big enough for the both of you type of attitude. And so they're gonna be your enemy because they're unhappy and they think by getting rid of you they'll be happy. So if they were happy already without messing with you they might be wanting to leave you alone because it's no fun to go attack people. It's like, it's an exercise, you know. It's not like you are giving a caress or receiving one. So loving your enemies is actually practical advice.
And Martin Luther King, for example, when he went back the second time to that bridge in Birmingham, John Lewis says that he was advised by his friends, "Come on. Don't get into how we're gonna love those guys, those cops who are sicking dogs and hoses and beating us and jailing us and torturing us." Then Martin Luther King said, "No, it's too bitter a burden to bear hatred and resentment. We do love them. Of course we oppose them and we are against them and we don't want them to behave like that but we don't hate them. That's just a ridiculous waste of our energy." And in a way you can see that being an enemy who has hurt you has already hurt you. If you go around nursing hatred and vindictiveness and how to get back at them you're hurting yourself. When you oppose your enemy -- and by saying your enemy, someone they think they're your enemy. Hopefully if you love your enemy you have no enemy. But when you oppose that person which you can do, you can have tough love. You can have fierce compassion. When they sense that you're doing it because you want their betterment actually because it's not good for them to be mean to you and so on. Then actually it has a little different edge to it and, for example, if you're trying to get them to see reason there's a better chance they'll be able to listen to you when they don't feel the weight of hatred and a destructive vibration toward them coming through the speech, you know, what's in the style of the energy of the speech. Your motivation will make it more successful.
Lovingkindness, Thurman says, is not an abstract idea but rater a practice that allows us to appreciate that everyone, including our enemies, want to be happy. And so instead of reflexively categorizing people as bad and wasting our energy by fighting them, we can elevate kindness and compassion "as the strengths they really are."
Thurman explains how the concept of "love your enemies" is sometimes difficult to understand in a modern setting. "People get nervous about it because they think if you love your enemies it means you're going to cave to them, you're going to be a martyr, you're going to invite them to come and destroy you and just be a masochist and so forth," he says.
However, that is not what love means.
"You can have fierce compassion," Thurman says, pointing to the example of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., who told his followers during a Civil Rights march in Birmingham that hatred was "a ridiculous waste of our energy."
"If you go around nursing hatred and vindictiveness" and how to get back at your enemy, Thurman says, "you're hurting yourself."
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A new study looks at what would happen to human language on a long journey to other star systems.
- A new study proposes that language could change dramatically on long space voyages.
- Spacefaring people might lose the ability to understand the people of Earth.
- This scenario is of particular concern for potential "generation ships".
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Many of the most popular apps are about self-improvement.
Emotions are the newest hot commodity, and we can't get enough.
Construction of the $500 billion dollar tech city-state of the future is moving ahead.
- The futuristic megacity Neom is being built in Saudi Arabia.
- The city will be fully automated, leading in health, education and quality of life.
- It will feature an artificial moon, cloud seeding, robotic gladiators and flying taxis.
The Red Sea area where Neom will be built:
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Frequent shopping for single items adds to our carbon footprint.
- A new study shows e-commerce sites like Amazon leave larger greenhouse gas footprints than retail stores.
- Ordering online from retail stores has an even smaller footprint than going to the store yourself.
- Greening efforts by major e-commerce sites won't curb wasteful consumer habits. Consolidating online orders can make a difference.
A pile of recycled cardboard sits on the ground at Recology's Recycle Central on January 4, 2018 in San Francisco, California.
Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images<p>A large part of the reason is speed. In a competitive market, pure players use the equation, <em>speed + convenience</em>, to drive adoption. This is especially relevant to the "last mile" GHG footprint: the distance between the distribution center and the consumer.</p><p>Interestingly, the smallest GHG footprint occurs when you order directly from a physical store—even smaller than going there yourself. Pure players, such as Amazon, are the greatest offenders. Variables like geographic location matter; the team looked at shopping in the UK, the US, China, and the Netherlands. </p><p>Sadegh Shahmohammadi, a PhD student at the Netherlands' Radboud University and corresponding author of the paper, <a href="https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/greenhouse-gas-emissions-retail/index.html" target="_blank">says</a> the above "pattern holds true in countries where people mostly drive. It really depends on the country and consumer behavior there."</p><p>The researchers write that this year-and-a-half long study pushes back on previous research that claims online shopping to be better in terms of GHG footprints.</p><p style="margin-left: 20px;">"They have, however, compared the GHG emissions per shopping event and did not consider the link between the retail channels and the basket size, which leads to a different conclusion than that of the current study."</p><p>Online retail is where convenience trumps environment: people tend to order one item at a time when shopping on pure player sites, whereas they stock up on multiple items when visiting a store. Consumers will sometimes order a number of separate items over the course of a week rather than making one trip to purchase everything they need. </p><p>While greening efforts by online retailers are important, until a shift in consumer attitude changes, the current carbon footprint will be a hard obstacle to overcome. Amazon is trying to have it both ways—carbon-free and convenience addicted—and the math isn't adding up. If you need to order things, do it online, but try to consolidate your purchases as much as possible.</p><p>--</p><p><em>Stay in touch with Derek on <a href="http://www.twitter.com/derekberes" target="_blank">Twitter</a>, <a href="https://www.facebook.com/DerekBeresdotcom" target="_blank">Facebook</a> and <a href="https://derekberes.substack.com/" target="_blank">Substack</a>. His next book is</em> "<em>Hero's Dose: The Case For Psychedelics in Ritual and Therapy."</em></p>