Amish Grace

Based on a true story about a community’s forgiveness following a school shooting that took the lives of five of its children.



I just walked outside to go to the convenience store. I happened to look up, to my right, and framed between two buildings was a cloud, frontlit, as it were, by the lights from the city, and backlit, by the almost full moon. Beneath these was a little church, with a neon cross. Together it was a beautiful scene, and if I had had the foresight to have charged my phone, I would have come back to my place, grabbed my phone, and snapped a picture. 

The last couple of weeks have made it clear again–not that it was ever in doubt–how much the Internet is a place where everyone’s emotions are amplified. It’s really refreshing when there are opportunities to use the Internet (1) to acknowledge concessions by people with whom one disagrees, even if the concession is less than desirable; (2) to offer simple but sincere words of sympathy regarding victims of deadly accidents; (3) carefully to preface one’s words with respectful language; (4) to be genuine and sincere, without revealing personal information; and so on. In other words, to walk  a few steps back from hardened positions, circumstances in which everyone has their back up, and extremism.

This video was supposedly taken at the spot where Sujata offered rice milk to Siddartha Gautama, the event immediately following his giving up trying to achieve enlightenment through extreme asceticism. It’s completely gorgeous–both the temple, the surrounding landscape, the vegetation, and the birdsong. Being more than two and a half millenia removed from the event, it may or may not be the actual spot, but that’s okay. The actual spot is beside the point. 

Chilled rice milk sounds like a great treat for a hot summer day. Take a short walk with me, a walk back from extremism:

Thinking Makes It So

From the second scene in the second act of Hamlet, by William Shakespeare, rewritten a little for clarity, in modern language:

Hamlet: Denmark’s a prison.

Rosencrantz: If it is, then the world’s one, too.

Hamlet: And quite a prison, in which there are many wards, dungeons, and places to be confined, one of which is Denmark.

Roscencrantz: That’s not how we think of it, your highness.

Hamlet: Well, then, for you, it isn’t. For nothing is either good or bad but thinking makes it so. But to me, it’s a prison. 


I think I will probably start regular practices again. These are:

1. Morning and evening prayer based on the meditation set up reflections in Bhante Gunaratana’s book, “Mindfulness in Plain English”. It starts, “May I be well, happy, and peaceful. May no harm come to me.” It then expands, paragraph by paragraph, to one’s parents, teachers, relatives, friends, people with whom your relationship is neither friendly nor unfriendly, then to people with whom your relationship is unfriendly, and then, finally, to all living beings. 

2. Reading the Heart Sutra once a day, for a reminder of impermanence and emptiness.

3. Reading the Five Things to Remember, once a day, for a reminder of the true nature of life.

4. Reading the Five Precepts once a day.

5. Reading the Fire Sermon once a day.

6. Review the four kinds of love, once a day–(1) loving-kindness; (2) compassion; (3) joy; and (4) equanimity.

If it gets too annoying, or, if I can’t keep the schedule, I’ll just stop. The point isn’t to afflict myself by setting up a new burdensome schedule to feel guilty about not following. 

If I have time, I will try to post summaries of sutras, for my own education.