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"Murphy was an optimist!"

The Conception September 29, 2012 3:50 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Humor, Religion / Spirituality, Sex, Touchy Subjects
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Study: Christians feel guilty after sex May 23, 2011 10:29 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Sex, Touchy Subjects
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BoingBoing summarized the UK’s MailOnline article Atheists have ‘better sex lives than followers of religion who are plagued with guilt’ in a BoingBoing article titled Study: Christians feel guilty after sex. BoingBoing writer Rob Beschizza gave my inner middle-schooler a chuckle when he wrote:

Mormons came the hardest

[Source, BoingBoing, Study: Christians feel guilty after sex by Rob Beschizza]

Subtle and I’d say deliberately written. I want to know how they measured this!

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We hire fags! April 26, 2011 11:04 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Politics, Regional Politics (SE), Religion / Spirituality, Sex, Touchy Subjects
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I’m thinking of starting a business in Tennessee with the sole purpose of hiring homosexual staff. Here’s the business plan:

Mission statement: To snub our noses at the Tennessee GOP


We can worry about a product or service later. Investors? Angels?

If this post confuses you, see quipsofyellow Gay gay gay gay gay: arrest me, already. and TN House Votes to Reverse Nashville LGBT Workplace Protection Ordinance and Tennessee Legislature moves quickly to nullify Nashville’s newly adopted nondiscrimination ordinance.

Without debate, the House Commerce Subcommittee voted for legislation Wednesday to bar all Tennessee cities from enacting their own policies against gay, lesbian and/or transgender discrimination. The action was taken by voice vote, with no lawmaker offering audible opposition. [Source, Democratic Underground, Tennessee Legislature moves quickly to nullify Nashville’s newly adopted nondiscrimination ordinance]

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When religions die, do they go to Heaven? March 24, 2011 11:06 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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Using census data going back a century, a team of mathematicians have created a model showing that, according to them, "religion will all but vanish eventually from nine Western-style democracies" – Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the Netherlands, Austria, the Czech Republic, Finland, Switzerland and . . . drum roll . . . Ireland.

[Source, CNN, Organized religion ‘will be driven toward extinction’ in 9 countries, experts predict]

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And I thought I’d seen the whole Internet March 23, 2011 11:23 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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Pole dancing for Jesus (it’s a news report so it’s safe for work):

Pole Dancing For Jesus – Watch more Funny Videos

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From the mouths of babes March 6, 2011 4:20 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Daily Life, Evan, From the mouths of babes, Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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Evan, 5 years old, has religious debate: "It’s kinda weird."
Amy, 8 years old: "What do you mean?"
Evan: "Well, Jesus. How did he create himself?"

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Gotta hand it to the Buddhists September 8, 2010 11:51 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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So I was doing this chanting thing that Jason Jarrett turned me onto. For the first time in 30 years, I was truly starting to feel contentment, happiness even, perhaps I’d go so far as to say joy, in all things. But the chanting felt a bit odd. I think my wife found it hokey and I believe it is important in marriage that the couple be eye to eye on religious and spiritual stuff. Plus as I looked into the practice of Buddhism more and read more about stuff revolving around the alter it began to feel a little like some of those things that I find distasteful about particular organized religions. I guess the biggest killer for me was not finding support for the Buddhism of Nichiren Daishonin in Knoxville. There’s a Buddhist temple on Dutchtown Road but they don’t speak English. The language barrier didn’t stop me from going as much as it being a different practice than what Jason Jarrett introduced me to. I dropped in on another place in Knoxville near Homberg Place which was a different practice than either Nichiren or the one on Dutchtown and they just looked at me like, "who’s the old guy?" Despite the sign that read "All welcome" I did not feel welcome. Apparently there is a Nichiren youth organization in Knoxville but I don’t really want the old guy experience again.

So I quit chanting. Then everything went to shit. Coincidence? Probably. There’s some karma crap to be considered too. I was working very hard at removing negativity in my life so the response karmicly speaking was an abundance of negativity was drawn to me. The happier I felt, the greater the onslaught of crap that seemed to be directed at me. There was some Murph stuff too. If you don’t know Murph, you’ll have to buy me a beer and I’ll tell you about him sometime. The flat tire yesterday was a Murph moment. I produced a deluge of negativity and in response I was punished with a flat tire. A wake up call of sorts.

So, I’ll continue listening to A Buddhist Podcast because it is truly one of the best produced podcasts I regularly enjoy. I may even keep chanting if for any reason, for my children. It is so nice when Evan or Amy spontaneously erupt in chant. I believe it is very good for them. But I think my experiment in Buddhism is a bust.

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Spirirtually Cleansing and Renewing August 9, 2009 10:18 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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I participated in a fantastic sweat lodge last night. It’s a great experience I’d recommend to anyone.

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Can you donate some antlers? June 22, 2009 12:40 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Announcements, Of Interest, Philanthropy, Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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The Center for Peace is in need of some new antlers for their sweat lodges. The Center for Peace is located in Seymour, TN and people travel from all over to visit.

We offer many opportunities, such as: Visionary Dances; Sweat Lodges; Fire Ceremonies; chanting/drumming gatherings; young people’s ceremonies and activities; Core Shamanism; Huna Shamanism; Vision Quests; teachings on drumming and working with fire; workshops on various topics such as numerology, fire walking, Druidic traditions, sound healing and chanting, shamanic studies, and many more; initiation ceremonies; supporting ceremonies in the local, regional, and international communities; and a safe, family-like environment to grow in. [Source, CenterforPeace.us]

If you have a set of antlers that could be used to say pick up a football and move it and are willing to donate them, they would be very useful to the Center for Peace.

I personally have attended several sweat lodges at the Center for Peace. Mostly recognized as a Native American tradition, non-Indian sweat lodges can be found in the fifth century BC. My personal experience has been that a sweat lodge is a ritual of spiritual cleansing not limited to a particular belief system or religion. The attendees has always been a diverse crowd religiously as well as professionally. I have met artisans, lawyers, philosophers, educators, land developers, environmental activists and others at the sweats. I believe the Center for Peace is yet another East TN treasure that few may know about. If you are so inclined, I highly encourage you to experience an activity at the Center for Peace.

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Questions of a Wanna Be Buddhist May 26, 2009 12:47 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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As I explore a topic, I generate questions. I often record these questions in a notebook. As I explore Buddhism, I am recording my questions here.

At SGI-USA I have read about the Gohonzon which lends a bit of an answer to question 3 "when can I chant?" and specifically "can I chant while cooking bacon?" The Gohonzon is a replica of the scroll on which Nichiren Daishonin inscribed Nam-myoho-renge-kyo and his signature. The Gohonzon is used as a focal point for daily practice or gongyo. Further answering question 3:

The Japanese word gongyo literally means "assiduous practice." The practice of Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is to chant Nam-myoho-renge-kyo, and recite portions of both the second (Expedient Means) and the sixteenth (Life Span) chapters of the Lotus Sutra in front of the Gohonzon. This is the fundamental practice of Nichiren Buddhism, performed morning and evening. [Source, Soka Gakkai Interational-USA, Gongyo]

Question 8: Does chanting have to be aloud or in a crowded space is it sufficient to chant silently within your head? Based on my own experience, I would say either is acceptable but chanting out loud is more effective.

Who is cousin Roofoo? (okay..that one was a joke) Kosen-rufu means to spread widely. "[Shakyamuni Buddha] meant that the spread of the Mystic Law would bring about peace in society and nature." [Source, SGI Library Online, kosen-rufu]

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Questions of a Wanna Be Buddhist May 23, 2009 9:28 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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I’ve had an eclectic spiritual upbringing. My father was Catholic and my mother was Southern Baptist. My family moved every 3-4½ years and I thought this nomadic pattern would continue after I graduated from UT but Knoxville grabbed me and wouldn’t let go. So our church pattern, if I recall correctly, after moving to a new city we would not go to church for about a year, then my folks would start shopping churches which felt like a year long process of visiting various churches (although we never tried a synagogue, Greek Orthodox, or Mormon church), then we would spend about a year in a particular church, usually Presbyterian or Methodist, before moving onto another city and repeating the pattern. In college, I had a roommate who was a practicing Wiccan and religious studies major and one of my best friends was Mormon. We had some very interesting conversations. One particularly memorable one involved a chalkboard, a figurine from Disney World that we named Jaboody – Decider of Fates, and Purgatory. In short, I’ve been exposed to a lot of different views regarding religion and spirituality.

Awhile back I thought I’d learn a little about Buddhism and read a book (which has gone awol so I cannot reference it right now) that described Buddism from a historic perspective, discussed the different branches, and defined terms. Shortly after reading that book, I became involved with Seesmic as one of its first 1200 users for alpha testing. Also in that group of early adopters was someone named Jason Jarrett. After some fun conversations, I noticed his profile referenced a website called A Buddhist Podcast which sounded interesting and I clicked over. Jason and Karen Jarrett produce a wonderful podcast. They are well spoken, fun to listen to, have great content and a well formatted show. However, I’m not sure if at that time in my life the show would have grabbed me and held onto me had it not been for clicking into a reading of The Buddha, Geoff and Me. They read the entire book Chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, and 16 which left me loving audio books, filling my iPod with more podcasts than music, and further piqued my curiosity about Buddhism.

Question 1: So what is Buddhism about? I like Jason Jarrett’s words:

Buddhism is about revitalizing humanity, and transforming the world we live in from one dominated by greed, anger, and stupidity into one of peace and happiness. [Source, Jason Jarrett of A Buddhist Podcast, A Buddhist Podcast – Bodhisattvas of the Earth, 2:46-2:58]

The Soka Gakkai International-USA explains that the daily practice of Nichiren Buddhism involves faith, practice and study. So far, I’ve learned how to chant..sort of. I have a long way to go to get to the study part. My understanding of Buddhism has come almost solely from A Buddhist Podcast. For me, Jason Jarrett has made an incredibly positive impression of Buddhism. He flabbergasted me and even offered to make an international call to me one day. I was blown away because it felt like Harrison Ford offering to call me out of the blue and discuss how to be an actor in Hollywood. I just didn’t see how I could be worthy of his time and felt guilty at the possibility of causing him the expense of a call for something that I potentially was just trying on for size. I’ve since learned, that’s kind of how it works. I’m not describing a conversion to a religion but more of sharing of knowledge in a way similar to how Stephen R Covey would encourage you to teach time management to others. On the other hand, I’ve been terribly disappointed in the SGI. They are the Buddhist Association for Peace, Culture, and Education and are divided into cultural centers. The nearest cultural center to Knoxville is Atlanta. I can’t remember if I got through to someone and was referred to Memphis or if I got no answer and ended up in Memphis but my search in Atlanta for more information about Buddhism was a dead end. Memphis was no better. I eventually found a website for the SGI in Knoxville Emails to SGI Knoxville went unanswered and a direct call phone didn’t work either. Knoxville has a Buddhist temple – the Phap Bao Temple. This is apparently a Vietnamese practice. I do not know how it would differ from Nichiren but visited them anyway. I tried several times but never managed to be there at the same time people were available. Phap Bao has no website that I can find. Buddhism in Knoxville starts to feel very elusive.
Update: The kind people at SGI Knoxville have contacted me. There is an active chapter in Knoxville.

Question 2: Is Buddhism a religion or a philosophy? If I recall correctly, the book which I cannot seem to lay hands on right now referred to Buddhism as a philosophy. However, Jason Jarrett and Karen Jarrett and their guests have referred to Buddhism as a religion. So that leads me to part a of question 2: Does it matter? and part b of question 2: Can a Baptist, Native American, Jew, Muslim, Catholic, Atheist, Wiccan, or anyone of any other religion also be a Buddhist? (and again, does it mater?)

Question 3: When can I chant? I started trying to learn to meditate at an early age. In my early teens I read book after book on hypnosis and self-hypnosis hoping for some means of reaching a deeper calm. I never could seem to figure out how to meditate through any process. That’s not entirely true. I’ve always been able to escape with juggling. I have often spoken of juggling as a transcendental and spiritual activity for me. Through juggling I can lose myself into a very meditative state but that’s often a sweaty process and I wanted some om’s and ah’s in my life! Nichiren Buddhism introduced me to chanting Daimoku and it came very naturally for me. As a matter of fact, this method of chanting is so straight forward that my 6 year old girl picked it up and often asks me to chant with her as she drifts off to sleep. My 3 year old boy has participated too. Chanting Daimoku works for me. It calms my mind, focuses my thoughts, center or grounds me, and I do feel happier when chanting. Daimoku is a Buddhist prayer made up of 6 syllables in these words "nam-myoho-renge-kyo." The wikipedia article gives a technical interpretation by I like Jason Jarrett’s plain English version better:

Nam-myoho-renge-kyo is the Buddhist prayer that means I dedicate my life to bringing out the very best in myself and in all people. [Source, Jason Jarrett of A Buddhist Podcast, A Buddhist Podcast – Bodhisattvas of the Earth, 24:17-26:12]

I keep that written in a notebook that I carry with me at all times. When I slip, I look at that note as a reminder. Amy, on her own accord, has done the same (although technically her notebook remains by her bedside). So, now that we know what chanting is, when can I do it? Can I chant while cooking bacon? Is Buddhism a PETA thing? The stereotypes in my mind say Buddha Vegan while The Buddha, Geoff and Me tear down those impressions. Can I chant while driving the car? My cluttered mind loves a drive. Yes, I should be paying attention to the road and not running through the mazes in my brain. Chanting while driving down the road could help me focus on the road more by driving off those random thoughts. Or, does chanting require a specific time, in front of an alter in a distraction free quiet space?

Question 4: If I use Buddhism to seek happiness, do I have to fire my therapist? I would say I have easily spent ¾ of my life soul searching. I would say that despite having a life full of joyful moments, I have been fundamentally unhappy, and downright angry, that same ¾ of my life. If you had a Buddhist teacher (see question 5), at what point does it become abusive to that person’s time to have them try to help you onto a path of happiness and shouldn’t they just throw up their arms and shout out, "Get on prozac. Get a psychologist. And call me in the morning!" Honestly, I struggle to keep myself in check and not over bemoan my existence to my friends. I often re-read Reality Me and think that I should have handed the keys to the blog to someone else for that week. Where’s the line between seeking spiritual enlightenment and grasping at straws in hopes someone else will magically solve your problems?

Question 5: Where’s Mr Miyagi or Caine? As a child I was a Bruce Lee fan and a David Carradine (Kung Fu) fan. My Of Grasshoppers posts are a bit of an homage to Kung Fu. I loved the martial arts movies. One of the consistent elements of these movies that I liked (besides the fighting and awesome stunts) was the master, the teacher, the wizened sage like Mr. Miyagi in The Karate Kid. I always hoped such a mystic would sneak into my life. In hindsight, I knew several Caines and Mr. Miyagis. Even today, they surround me but I won’t realize this until tomorrow. Does learning Buddhism require a teacher?

Question 6: What about me has to change to practice Buddhism? Must I give up possessions? What about the things I find pleasurable in life? Do my views on life and death have to change?

our view of death has a profound affect on how we view life. If we think we only have one life then we are often hedonistic or pessimistic. [Source, Twitter, @jasonjarrett]

Question 7: When can you declare yourself a Buddhist? I’ve never been clear on question regardless of what the last word is. When can you declare yourself a Catholic? When can you declare yourself a Wiccan? When can you declare yourself _____? Is there a test? Do you even have to say you are a Buddhist? Can’t you simply be practicing Buddhism? How do you become a member of the Soka Gakkai International? I don’t see a join us form on the website or a purchase membership option.

I’ll stop there. This has been far too many words for most people to read but then again this post is mostly directed to me. My next post on Buddhism has already begun being written in my mind. It will be titled I don’t have the strength or discipline to be a Buddhist.

Update: Question 8 has its own post.


Seen on a bumper sticker April 24, 2009 1:48 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Philosophy, Quote, Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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Based upon this, I’d say I’m very spiritual.

A religious person is a someone who is afraid of Hell; a spiritual person has been there and back.

In fact, I’m so spiritual I keep going back for more!

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2nd Place: “Women Were Designed For Homemaking” April 13, 2009 9:03 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Religion / Spirituality, Science, Touchy Subjects
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Maybe the Creationists are onto something!

Jonathan Goode (grade 7) applied findings from many fields of science to support his conclusion that God designed women for homemaking: physics shows that women have a lower center of gravity than men, making them more suited to carrying groceries and laundry baskets; biology shows that women were designed to carry un-born babies in their wombs and to feed born babies milk, making them the natural choice for child rearing; social sciences show that the wages for women workers are lower than for normal workers, meaning that they are unable to work as well and thus earn equal pay; and exegetics shows that God created Eve as a companion for Adam, not as a co-worker. [Source, OBJECTIVE: Ministries, Fellowship Baptist Creation Science Fair 2001 Article by Dr. Richard Paley & FBCSF Staff]

Other winners:

Elementary School Level
1st Place: "My Uncle Is A Man Named Steve (Not A Monkey)"
2nd Place: "Pine Cones Are Complicated"
Middle School Level
1st Place: "Life Doesn’t Come From Non-Life"
2nd Place: "Women Were Designed For Homemaking"
High School Level
1st Place: "Using Prayer To Microevolve Latent Antibiotic Resistance In Bacteria"
2nd Place: "Maximal Packing Of Rodentia Kinds: A Feasibility Study"

The Creation Science Fair honorable mentions are equally as great with my favorite being a tie between "Pokemon Prove Evolutionism Is False" and "Thermodynamics Of Hell Fire."


Questions from a wanna be Buddhist April 6, 2009 10:55 am

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Philosophy, Religion / Spirituality, Touchy Subjects
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When the day is spinning out of control, would stopping for 15 minutes of Daimoku help or make you feel 15 minutes more behind?

Buddhism is about revitalizing humanity, and transforming the world we live in from one dominated by greed, anger, and stupidity into one of peace and happiness. [Source, Jason Jarrett of A Buddhist Podcast, A Buddhist Podcast – Bodhisattvas of the Earth, 2:46-2:58]

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Get 14,000 Followers On Twitter In One Day February 8, 2009 8:15 pm

Posted by Doug McCaughan in : Communications, Of Interest, Religion / Spirituality, Technology, Touchy Subjects
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How do you get 14,000 followers on Twitter in one day? Be the Dalai Lama! You can follow His Holiness at @OHHDL and of course visit the Dalai Lama website. And, on a lesser note, you can follow me on Twitter @djuggler.

Update: The title should have actually been How to go from 0 to 14,000 to 0 followers on Twitter in one day considering @OHHDL was an impostor. See Willfull’s comment..