A Straight Shot of Politics

A blog from a gentleman of the Liberal political persuasion dedicated to right reason, clear thinking, cogent argument, and the public good.

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Location: Columbus, Ohio, United States

I have returned from darkness and quiet. I used to style myself as "Joe Claus", Santa Claus’ younger brother because that is what I still look like. I wrote my heart out about liberal politics until June of 2006, when all that could be said had been said. I wrote until I could write no more and I wrote what I best liked to read when I was young and hopeful: the short familiar essays in Engish and American periodicals of 50 to 100 years ago. The archetype of them were those of G.K. Chesterton, written in newspapers and gathered into numerous small books. I am ready to write them again. I am ready to write about life as seen by the impoverished, by the mentally ill, by the thirty years and more of American Buddhist converts, and by the sharp eyed people [so few now in number] with the watcher's disease, the people who watch and watch and watch. I am all of these.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Quest for Peace

For the past six years this is what has been happening in Woodstock, NY:

Since the first light of the new millenium [Jan. 1, 2000--ed.], one hundred and eight offering lamps have been lit daily in the shrine hall at Karma Triyana Dharmachakra. As the light from each lamp shines forth, it carries the collective prayers for peace and harmony of all those who have contributed to their lighting. This ceremony at the beginning of every day is a reminder that the quest for peace will not come from occasional mindfulness or sporadic efforts. Rather, each day we must renew our prayers for peace, and we must regenerate our aspiration to approach the world with an attitude of gentleness and compassion. As more and more people view these lamps and become involved in keeping them lit, the light radiating outward will signal the dawn of a new era marked by harmony and understanding in the hearts of all

The quest for peace will not come from occasional mindfulness or sporadic efforts...

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra is in the midst of trying to expand the main monastery and rebuild the guest house so it will work more easily and efficiently for monastery visitors and the staff. The staff themselves receive no money except a stipend large enough for each of them to carry health insurance.

In winter, I'm told, the thermostats are kept so low that water ices over in the toilets. And a winter in the Catskills, up on top of a mountain, is very, very cold.

Despite all this, they spend $108 a day to keep lamps lit for the peace of the world. The lamps are filled with pure butter ghee, which KTD makes by hand on its stoves, melting stick butter slowly, boiling the excess water carefully off, and filling each lamp around the handmade, cotton-wrapped wick in the center. By the end of this year they will have spent $236,520 to keep those lamps lit every day for six years. A butterlamp, by the way, burns with an incredibly bright flame.

The quest for peace will not come from occasional mindfulness or sporadic efforts.

Religious dedication is not confined to any one system of belief. But the phrase above applies, I think, to any and all of them.

The address is:

Karma Triyana Dharmachakra
335 Meads Mountain Road
Woodstock, NY 12498

If you want to be part of it, you don't have to send them a lot. You could mail them a dollar in wrapped in letter paper with the words, "For First Light" on it. If you sent them $108.00 you could keep all the lamps lit for one day. If you sent them $365.00 you could keep one lamp buring for one year. And even if you can't afford any of this, you can pray, too, in whatever form your beliefs teach, particularly on New Year's Day when the formal ceremonies of First Light are held. Whatever you do, I believe from the bottom of my heart that it would be good for them, good for me, good for you, and good for the world.

Eleanor Roosevelt, the wife of President Roosevelt, and, later, U.S. ambasador to the United Nations, once said, "It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."

It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness.