Because of Emptiness, Midterms are Possible

Today as I was walking to the paint store through my Los Angeles neighborhood, I saw a car with a sticker on the window that read: "With God, all things are possible." I am not a Christian and I am not a theist, but those words made sense to me.

"With God, all things are possible" is the exact same meaning as "because of emptiness, all things are possible."

The Digital Dictionary of Buddhism defines emptiness, or śūnyatā (空) as "Vacuity, insubstantiality. In its most common usage, it is the distinctive Mahāyāna Buddhist view of the character of all existence, wherein all phenomena are understood to arise in dependence upon each other, and thus there is no phenomenon that has independent, determinable, or permanent existence; nor do any phenomena possess any sort of unchanging inner nature."

Different schools of Buddhism have articulated emptiness differently. As the DDB explains, "In mind-only doctrinal systems such as Yogacara and Tathaga…


There is a lot of talk these days about "inclusion."

How can Buddhism include people of color? How can Buddhism include queer and working class people?

I agree with the spirit of this but question the phrasing.

A while ago I read an article on the blog called Black Girl Dangerous. It was one of the best articles I ever read about feminism. Black Girl Dangerous was written by a radical queer black feminist. She wrote an article about how often white women ask her how to include women of color in feminism. She responded that this is the wrong question, because "women of color have been doing feminism since forever." A better question is, "What can white women do to be deserving of feminism?"

I think the same is true of Buddhism.

Instead of asking how we can include others in Buddhism, maybe a better question is "How can white people be deserving of Buddhism?"

I think about this a lot. When can I be deserving of Buddhism? It is a beautiful gift. It…

Book Reviews

There are two excellent reviews of my new book online. James Ford reviews it on his blog, here:

And Lion's Roar has reviewed it as well. I'm pretty sure it's only available in a real, paper version.

You can pre-order now, either on Amazon or from Wisdom Publications itself.

In the Lokavipatta Sutta, the Buddha warned against praise and fame:

Monks, these eight worldly conditions spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions. Which eight? Gain, loss, status, disgrace, censure, praise, pleasure, & pain. These are the eight worldly conditions that spin after the world, and the world spins after these eight worldly conditions.
But also.... wooooooooooo reviews! I'm famous!

Evil (?) Women

It's always easier to blame a woman. File this under: Eve, Pandora, Helen of Troy, and, of course, Hillary Clinton. While Hillary was running for president a number of articles and studies like this one circulated about how powerful women are viewed as less likable than their male counterparts. As this article indicates, it is not that women are disliked more than men when they are successful, but that "they are often penalized when they behave in ways that violate gender stereotypes." So, powerful women are labeled "aggressive," and "bitchy" because assertiveness is not a stereotypical feminine trait. Black women are labeled "difficult."

It is so obvious (to me) how criticisms of powerful women are gendered and racialized, and it is important to understand this
when we discuss powerful women.

And also, some women are fucking scary.

Straight up terrifying.

Like most other Americans, I have spent the last week binging Wild Wild Country, the …

On Women's Anger

This week I have been very angry. In my last post I called several men "shit," and I said that the lineage was "shit." I said this because I have watched so many Buddhist men abuse women, and in particular, last week Noah Levine denied accusations of sexual misconduct. I know that the accusations are true, and so I was filled with rage and grief. Part of me regrets publishing this. Now and forever, the internet will know I called someone "shit." But part of me wants to leave the post, because my anger was valid, and it is so rare that women are allowed to express anger. In fact, after I posted that, several people thanked me for my anger.

They say anger is a poison. When I was in India, I watched exiled monks in a monastery perform a "lama dance" in which dancers ceremoniously "kill" the three poisons-- greed, anger, and delusion.

In the Zen tradition, we take a precept to refrain from anger, or not give rise to anger. People interpre…

Burn It All Down

I have a mysterious illness that strikes every few months. One day I will be fine and the next I will be too tired to get out of bed. I will lie in bed in the dark crying from how exhausted I feel until I finally, hours later, I have the energy to get up. I will go into the living room and within ten minutes I am too tired to even sit with my head up. This lasts for a few days before I can return to "normal."

I have been to the hospital. They have done blood tests, checked for anemia, thyroid disease. Depression is an obvious and simple diagnosis.

But sometimes I wonder if I am just exhausted from all the secrets I carry. This illness is new. I did not have it when I was a teenager, although I have had psychological problems for as long as I have been fully aware of what the world is like. But the exhaustion is new. The older I get the more severe the exhaustion, because the older the get the more secrets I have to keep, the more grief and rage.

This afternoon my mother for…