January 2015 National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month


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For more than two centuries, the United States has worked to advance the cause of freedom. Stained from a history of slavery and shaped by ancestors brought to this country in chains, today, America shines as a beacon of hope to people everywhere who cherish liberty and opportunity. Still, our society remains imperfect, and our Nation has more work to do to uphold these values. At home and around the globe, we must continue to fight for human dignity and the inalienable rights of every person.

Today, millions of men, women, and children are victims of human trafficking. This modern-day slavery occurs in countries throughout the world and in communities across our Nation. These victims face a cruelty that has no place in a civilized world: children are made to be soldiers, teenage girls are beaten and forced into prostitution, and migrants are exploited and compelled to work for little or no pay. It is a crime that can take many forms, and one that tears at our social fabric, debases our common humanity, and violates what we stand for as a country and a people.

Founded on the principles of justice and fairness, the United States continues to be a leader in the global movement to end modern-day slavery. We are working to combat human trafficking, prosecute the perpetrators, and help victims recover and rebuild their lives. We have launched national initiatives to help healthcare workers, airline flight crews, and other professionals better identify and provide assistance to victims of trafficking. We are strengthening protections and supporting the development of new tools to prevent and respond to this crime, and increasing access to services that help survivors become self-sufficient. We are also working with our international partners and faith-based organizations to bolster counter-trafficking efforts in countries across the globe.

As we fight to eliminate trafficking, we draw strength from the courage and resolve of generations past — and in the triumphs of the great abolitionists that came before us, we see the promise of our Nation: that even in the face of impossible odds, those who love their country can change it. Every citizen can take action by speaking up and insisting that the clothes they wear, the food they eat, and the products they buy are made free of forced labor. Business and non-profit leaders can ensure their supply chains do not exploit individuals in bondage. And the United States Government will continue to address the underlying forces that push so many into the conditions of modern-day slavery in the first place.

During National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, we stand with the survivors, advocates, and organizations dedicated to building a world where our people and our children are not for sale. Together, let us recommit to a society where our sense of justice tells us that we are our brothers’ and sisters’ keepers, where every person can forge a life equal to their talents and worthy of their dreams.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, BARACK OBAMA, President of the United States of America, by virtue of the authority vested in me by the Constitution and the laws of the United States, do hereby proclaim January 2015 as National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month, culminating in the annual celebration of National Freedom Day on February 1. I call upon businesses, national and community organizations, families, and all Americans to recognize the vital role we can play in ending all forms of slavery and to observe this month with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this thirty-first day of December, in the year of our Lord two thousand fourteen, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and thirty-ninth.


(Source: http://m.whitehouse.gov/the-press-office/2014/12/31/presidential-proclamation-national-slavery-and-human-trafficking-prevent )

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Honoring Mother’s Day: Remembering Nigeria’s Girls & Mothers

Golden Buddhas Mother Day image

May all be free and happy!

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Honoring International Women’s Day!

Today we honor the accomplishments of women around the world who have been initiating positive change in the world for all sentient beings!

May their work continue and flourish.

May peace and justice thrive.

May all be free and well.

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Creating a Compassionate World: The Power of One

Creating a Compassionate World: The Power of One

September 12 – 14, 2014 @ Garrision Institute

the power of one headshots“True compassion is more than flinging a coin to a beggar. It comes to see that an edifice which produces beggars needs restructuring…”  Dr. M. L. King, 1967

“Contemplative practice ultimately takes us off the pillow, out of our temples and into the world—people become our “forest.” Join us for a weekend retreat/intensive with six leading contemplative activists offering hope against hunger, hatred, homelessness, war, racism and human trafficking: Bhikkhu BodhiRoshi Bernie GlassmanFather John DearVenerable PannavatiBhikkhu Pannadipa, and Venerable Ani Drubgyudma. Each of these leaders have stood alone to be a voice for change. But, making that decision was the catalyst for many others to follow their own hearts.”

Additional information may be found here

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Peace and Happiness for the Lunar New Year 2014

framed Happy Lunar New Year 2014

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Peace & Happiness in 2014

Peace 2014



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international women’s day – in honor of peace, justice, and equality

The following is an essay that was written by Venerable Ani Drubgyudma in response to a friend who was burdened about the tremendous amount of suffering in the world, and asked “can meditation practice assist in ending suffering?”

Can Meditation Practice Assist in Ending Suffering?

Human suffering – violent human suffering – will end as each individual ‘reformats’ – reforms – the self system. Each self system is a microcosm of the universal system. The suffering in the world comes back to energy as it manifest in the world. Energy manifests through creatures.

Humanity is one of trillions of creatures that make up Gaia. Humanity has evolved into a system that is now able to create consciously new systems. Humanity can turn things around by the reformation of their self system – the individual manifesting as an altruistic being in the world. When more and more individual self systems reformat into altruistic beings – compassionate wisdom beings – then there will be a tipping point – change will manifest.

Thoreau, who Gandhi was greatly influenced by (so much so that he named his movement after Thoreau’s essay ‘Civil Disobedience’), said that society’s reformation can only happen when the individual is reformed.

We mostly remember Thoreau for Walden Pond, not for the essay ‘Civil Disobedience’. Thoreau went to jail for not paying taxes – he disagreed with the government in terms of slavery and the war in Mexico. Thoreau believed in non-violence and equally believed that one must resist any authority that is not just.

Thoreau insisted that social reformation begins with the individual. A society can not reform unless the reformation of the individuals that make-up a society reform first.

Thoreau lived simply, was a Harvard graduate, and wrote over 6000 pages throughout his lifetime. Yet, he was considered by the elite NY Times literary critics of his day a lunatic on the fringe of society. “’James Russell Lowell…writes Thoreau down as hardly more than a member of the lunatic fringe which surrounded Emerson.’ (Walden & Other Writings, Thoreau, edit and intro by Krutch, p 20)

Thoreau was a happy man, and said that he had no regrets. He believed that simplicity was one of the keys to happiness, and he tried to teach others through his lifestyle and writings. He worked with his father in a pencil making business – he put the lead in the wooden pencils that they made. He was not ambitious for worldly “success”. In fact he did not accept the common explanations of success. He “scorned public opinion”, and “refused to be moved by the judgment of others”.

“”The cost of a thing is the amount of what I will call life which is required to be exchanged for it.” and it is one of his most fundamental convictions that the getting of most of the comforts, complexities and luxuries we think necessary costs more of our life than they are worth.” (ibid, 10)

We see that “the comforts, complexities and luxuries” of Thoreau’s day are what the wars and environmental crises of today’s world are built upon – as we continue to desire more and more comforts, complexities and luxuries. We also see that happiness and peace of mind is something not dependent upon “things”.

Many quote Gandhi – ‘Be the solution that you want to see in the world’.  But that sentence is incomplete if it does not factor in the presuppositions of Gandhi. Gandhi said that in order to be the solution in the world, you have to be true to the truth of your highest principles…he used the word swaraj – living the highest truth of the self.

What solution do you want to see in the world? Do we want to see peace in the world? Then be peace. Be true to, live, the principles of peace – manifest as the principle of peace.

There comes a great price with this truth of being true to our principles, our values. Living the truth of our principles involves the willingness to risk looking deeply into our lives – seeing where we don’t live up to what we believe our principles to be.

Then despite the risks, or inconveniences, involved, we live the change we want to see in the world.

“My life is my message.” Gandhi said. Every person’s life is their message. Our truth is manifested through our words, speech and actions.  Our truth manifests through our lifestyles. Our lifestyles reflect our worldviews.

When each person is able to live as a compassionate presence in the world (this is the value of the many techniques that Buddhism offers the world in terms of dispositional transformation through the sundry meditation practices) – then humanity will have stabilized as altruistic.

One of the major problems of living an ethical life without a stabilization of our Buddha nature – spontaneous compassionate wisdom manifesting in the world – is that of fundamentalism. A fundamentalist is someone who usually is very ‘ethical’, but has no direct stabilization as a wisdom being – is not able to manifest as an altruistic person living and working in the world.

A fundamentalist lives life according to the rules and roles and is judgemental – a black and white, us against them mentality. We know this very well, but we don’t often see the subtleties of fundamentalism within our own worldviews and how they play out.

Again, this brings us back to practice – the practice is perfect – perfectly leading forward towards an altruistic humanity manifesting a lifestyle of compassionate wisdom in the world.

The light fields of positive energy manifesting through humanity does radiate out to heal. Meditation is a tool assisting in the healing of humanity, culture and nature.

In closing let’s applaud the following quote,

“We in the West – perhaps I should say in the modern, increasingly secularized world as a whole- live with what is, when taken in the context of world religions, a remarkably devalued idea of human nature. We seem no longer to believe that human nature is perfectible or that genuine saints are possible. Such a view has, obviously, profound impacts on the way people think about and engage in (or do not engage in) the spiritual life. In my view, prevailing interpretations of Buddhism which, as we shall see, reduce the saints to peripheral actors in the tradition represents another, if perhaps more sophisticated, expression of this same modern devaluation. Buddhism may be seen essentially as an ethical system, an elegant philosophy, a practical psychology, a technique for dealing with mental distress, a cultural tradition, or a force of civilization. Rarely, however, is it seen primarily as a tradition that produces and celebrates genuine saints. Yet, at least in my reading, this is finally what Buddhism essentially is, and as long as this fact is not recognized, the specific genius of Buddhism is missed, a genius with the potential to provide a healthy challenge to our increasingly scientific, materialistic, and consumeristic view of human nature.” (Preface, Buddhist Saints in India: A Study in Buddhist Values & Orientation, Reginald Ray)

With Ray let’s endeavor to believe that each individual can manifest as an altruistic presence in the world!

Insightful Reflections:

What aspects of my life are inconsistent with my values?

What is altruism?

How are the values of altruism keys to happiness for self and others?

How are the values of a personal altruism related to the values for a societal altruism?

What are the keys in cultivating an altruistic lifestyle?

What are the obstacles that I face in cultivating an altruistic lifestyle?

(Ani Drubgyudma May 2008)

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