Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Announcement: 2nd Annual Blogisattva Awards Nominees

I am pleased to announce the nominees for the 2007 Blogisattva Awards, honoring excellence in English-language Buddhist blogging during calendar year 2006. This year, there are an aggregate 115 nominees in 21 categories.

The recipients of the awards will be anounced in a post in this blog on February 15. [UPDATE: ANNOUNCEMENT OF WINNERS DELAYED UNTIL FEB 25.]

The nominees in 21 categories are ...

Blog of the year, Svaha!; 7 nominees; [Blog, Blogger]:
Best Post of the Year; 9 nominees; ["Post" Blog, Blogger]:
Best Achievement in Skilled Writing (The Wordsmithing Award); 7 nominees; [Blogger, Blog(s)]: Best New Blog, 2006; 7 nominees; [Blog, blogger(s)]: Best Achievement Blogging on Buddhist Practice or Dharma; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]: Best Achievement Blogging in the First Person [as a diarist; writing of events in one's life; offering thoughts; or by venturing out into the world, gonzo style]; 9 nominees; [blog, blogger]: Best Achievement Blogging on Matters Philosophical or Scientific ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Best Achievement in Kind and Compassionate Blogging ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Best Achievement Blogging Opinion Pieces or about Political Issues ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]: Best Achievement Blogging on Integral Issues ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Best Achievement in Creation or Use of Graphics in a Blog ; 3 nominees; [blog, blogger(s)]:
Best Achievement with Use of Quotations in a Blog ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:

Best Achievement in Wide Range of Topic Interests Blogging ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:

Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:
Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog, Blog Service, or Serial within a Blog ; 5 nominees; [blog, blogger]:

Blogger Best Demonstating a Multiplicity of Talents ; 5 nominees; [blogger, blog(s)]:

Best Multi-Part Blog Post ; 5 nominees; [post series, blog, blogger]:
  • "Conventional and Ultimate Truth", 1 to 5; Doe-Do, MikeDoe
  • "India," Posts #1 to #20, Danny Fisher, Danny Fisher
  • "Fear", 1 to 4, Doe-Do, Mike Doe
  • "Who Owns God?", Part One - Three; Integral Options Cafe, Bill Harryman
  • Suffering with a Cold, Part 1 - 3; This is This, Cliff Jones

Best Achievement in a Compassionate Blog Post ; 5 nominees; [post, blog, blogger]:
Best Achievement with Humor in a Blog Post ; 5 nominees; [post, blog, blogger]:
Best Conversation-Sparking Blog Post (not necessarily a good thing); 3 nominees; [post, blog, blogger]:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Sightseers Flock to Buddha Wall

Similar to the prior two posts in this blog, the following is a post nominated for a Blogisattva from a blogsite that has been taken down. This post is a nominee for Best Post Utilizing Humor. I thank blogger Chris Baskind for providing text and photographs from his post in Paper Frog which appeared on, ahem, April 1, 2006.

Sightseers Flock to Buddha Wall

NAPLES, FL (API) -- In a city better known for its proximity to the proposed Roman Catholic development of Ave Maria, Florida, authorities are wondering how to deal with a growing stream of Buddhist pilgrims. “It's to the point of being a real traffic problem,” said Naples Director of Street Safety Lisa Cagle. “We're probably getting two or three hundred people a day looking for the Buddha Wall.”

The Buddha Wall is a 7-foot high brick fence facing a quiet residential street in one of Naples' older subdivisions. Until a few weeks ago, the wall hardly drew a second glance.

That was until Dan Andrews noticed a face forming on its surface. “I jog past that wall every day,” said Andrews, a local building contractor. “Then one morning I noticed it seemed to have an image of that Buddha guy on it.” Andrews brought the apparition to the attention of Naples resident and self-described “dharma bum” Tony Ronca, who posted pictures of the wall to his MySpace page on the internet.

“It's not actually the Buddha,” commented Ronca. “It's Hotei, a friendly deity popular in China and Japan.” Hotei is probably most familiar to Westerners as the smiling, obese statue common at the entrances of Asian food restaurants. It's considered good luck to run his belly. Whether Hotei was a historical figure is a matter of academic debate -- as is the nature of the marks on the Buddha Wall. Ronca is a believer. “I saw what Dan did right away,” said Ronca. “The shape is really obvious, and it's getting darker and easier to see every day.” Standing in front of the Buddha Wall, Ronca traces the figure's outline with his finger. “The face is what's so recognizable,” explains Ronca. “There's the open mouth, as if he's laughing. You can see his belly button down here. But what's really wild is what appears to be decorative patterns where Hotei traditionally holds his fan.'

Apparitions of the Virgin Mary or the face of Jesus are sometimes reported in Roman Catholic tradition. Onlookers and the faithful have recently been drawn to an overpass on Interstate 74 near Moline, Illinois, where some say they see an image of Our Lady of Guadeloupe. A vision of the Madonna on a burnt wall is currently being venerated by pilgrims in Mexico, Maine. And a Hollywood, Florida woman discovered an image of Mary on a grilled cheese sandwich in 2004. It sold on eBay for $28,000. But these types of apparitions are uncommon among Buddhists, particularly in North America. Perhaps that's why the Buddha Wall is drawing national attention.

“People started visiting almost as soon as I put the pictures in the Web,” said Ronca. “We even had a group of monks from Atlanta the other day.”

Hotei's smiling face has begun to draw frowns from nearby neighbors, some of whom are annoyed by late-night chanting, the clouds of incense, and visitors blocking their driveways.

Louise Tucker lives almost directly across the street from the Buddha Wall, and says she wishes the traffic would go away. She also has a very earthly explanation for the apparition. “It sure looks like water seeping through to me,” explained Tucker. “We had Hurricane Wilma last year. Wind like that can blow rain right through brick.”

Ronca dismisses the idea. “It doesn't feel wet, and Wilma was months ago,” said Ronca. “And some of the detail is lighter than the surrounding brick, so it can't be rainwater.” Ronca says he's like to send samples of the brick to a laboratory in Massachusetts for analysis, but the owner of the Buddha Wall isn't cooperating. And he offers an explanation of his own for the image. “I think it has something to do with Ave Maria,” he confided.

Ave Maria -- just 17 miles east of Naples -- is the planned Roman Catholic town and university being bankrolled by Domino's Pizza founder Tom Monaghan. Groundbreaking began last month, about the time the image was first reported. The development is being viewed suspiciously by groups like the American Civil Liberties Union, which is concerned about religious and social restrictions in the new community. Residents will begin to occupy Ave Maria sometime in 2007.

“If this is Hotei, I think he's here to tell us something,” speculated Ronca. “It's like, hey, there's more to this part of Florida than Catholics. We have people of all faiths here.” Apparently there are also apparitions of all faiths, too.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

The Mind-Nature Sutra

Similar to my prior post ... The following was posted by Soen Joon Sunim in her blog One Robe, One Bowl on April 26, 2006. Unhappily for the world, Soen Joon Sunim took down her blog. A friend was able to provide text of this marvelous post which will be an awards nominee this year.
"The Mind-Nature Sutra" From One Robe, One Bowl by Soen Joon Sunim Saturday, April 26, 2006

“Did you know,” my youngest heung-nim tells me, “That science has found nearly 80% of people to be attracted to both sexes?” Except, of course, in Korean it didn’t come out that way. In Korean, she said something more like, “With science it’s been found that nearly 80% of people are both-sex-attractable.” I have a lot more sympathy for translators now.

The Korean word she used for “bisexual” begins with the Sino-Chinese character yang (兩), which means “both.” We had been discussing the phenomena of an Asian woman’s attractiveness to American men but white women’s lack of interest in Asian men. If I’ve got this wrong, please someone correct me, but really: I don’t think I do. My heung-nim kindly explained that it was because Asian men look too “feminine” compared to the average George Clooney, Brad Pitt, or even Tom Cruise (height or lack thereof not being as noticeable over here, I suppose) that regularly saunter their way across the Korean cable movie channels. I actually already knew this—that most non-Asian women in America think Asian men aren’t masculine enough—but it was interesting to hear my heung-nim pony up to the social critique and spit it out so succinctly and calmly. What followed was a brief discussion on sexuality and gender, including the uncorroborated statistic of 80% bisexuality among humans, begun with the observation that humans come in a variety of interpretable and relative genders and that our sexual response to the world is far more conditioned than we usually believe it to be.

I don’t have these kinds of conversations much any more. I’ve been out of the Yale Women’s Center for four years now—count ‘em, it’s May and graduation season—and I left a lot of social and gender theory behind with my bright college years. It’s usually a relief not to constantly pick at the not-yet-fully-healed scab of Being an American Woman with those kinds of conversations, actually. One thing I didn’t discover until I stopped talking s’darn much about the theory behind why it was so hard to fix my body image, fix my self-image, heal the hole in my heart and truly love somebody etc. was that talking theory and even experience rarely translates into a change of heart (and here I mean the Sino-Korean word for “heart,” “shim” 心 which means both mind and heart together), and therefore a change in the way we live our bodies.

But sometimes, it’s very instructive to suddenly find yourself talking old, old shop in a new context. What we didn’t have a chance to discuss (we were talking over dishes and when they were done, so was our conversation as we went upstairs to clean the Dharma Hall) was the place a Sunim occupies in this complex interplay of sexuality and fluidity and ambiguity—which was part of my heung-nim’s point, that there’s a lot more room for ambiguity in Korean sexual and gender culture than in western and especially American culture.

Despite the emphasis on roles and social hierarchy that characterizes the Confucian aspect of Korean culture, I’ll call any social critique that focuses only on this a vapid and shallow excuse for observation. Stick around this country long enough, and it’ll shock the pants off of your first, second, even third conclusions. What I’ve found is that Korean society relies heavily on appearances, not in a superficial way, but in a functional way. It’s part of the reason titles are more important than names in Korea. It keeps things structured and working. In the school I taught in my first year in Korea, about half the teachers knew each other’s names. The other half didn’t have a clue. It didn’t matter. You just called everyone “Teacher” and that was good enough. It was what you needed to know in order to make the school work. Names—a personal identity—were not a necessary component of the work-day. Call this crazy (and it is maddening for a Westerner), but it’s the way things work in Korea. Below this “skin,” however, of titles, ranks, positions, and functions in given situations, a person has an enormous amount of emotional and psychological freedom. I’m not going to get into a discussion of how “free” a Korean is in an “absolute” sense, i.e. by Western psychological standards. But I’m going to note that while Koreans are forever on my case about how I look, stand, sit, eat, and speak—in short, how I appear and function especially as a Sunim—they almost never mess with my thinking. Americans are almost the opposite. We’re obsessed with the inside’s of people’s heads, our own or others. Americans are forever asking, “What do you think? How do you feel?” Koreans? Almost never. I can count the times in the past year on one hand that my thoughts and feelings have been inquired after.

What this results in is a hemmed-in “outer world,” but an extraordinarily fluid inner world. What’s more, because Korean culture hasn’t been colored from the get-go with a fundamentalist reading of the Fall from Eden—with all the spiritual pain that accompanies such a literal interpretation of the myth—they don’t carry the same seemingly intrinsic guilt around about their bodies and their souls. Take it from me: I wasn’t Christian by faith, but gosh-darned-it, I was by culture. I reacted very, very poorly to the news that I was a) a sinner and b) inferior by biology and c) my biological sex somehow tied me to Eve and her primary role in the Fall, as it was preached unto me in my childhood of suburban Colorado yore. I spent most of my life trying to figure out why I was so wounded at the core of my heart if I didn’t “believe” in any intellectual or religious sense the story I grew up with.

I didn’t really get how not present the Original Sin Complex was in Korea until I watched “Blue Lagoon” with my teacher while we were doing some chores in the common room. I’m not a fan of such B-flicks. I watched it and thought, “Nice try at re-creating Eden, buddy. Whatevs.” But all my teacher could say was, “Look at how naturally they’re living! What a beautiful island! Oh my goodness, she doesn’t know she’ll get pregnant if they do that! She’ll have a hard time delivering…” And the like. I realized half-way through that my teacher simply didn’t and couldn’t view the movie as I did, an attempt to erase 2000 years of ingrained neurotic religious sexuality and imagine growing up without all that hoopla burned into your every interaction. She just saw two ignorant kids growing up wild and natural on an island.

Wow. Imagine not carrying the weight of mankind’s degradation on your heart. Seriously: all you feminists, post-feminists, liberal Christians, and recovering Catholics know what I mean. Imagine not constantly freaking out about your body as a perpetual source of Original Sin. When I look at the really horrible problems Americans have with their bodies, I sense the connection between this deep spiritual rift between body and soul and our daily battles with our hearts and bodies. Other people have and will explicate this further. I’m not going to.

I’m not saying Koreans have a perfect world. Far from it; but my point is that until I came here, I didn’t understand how unnecessary so much of my thinking was in relation to my body. All those rallies, teach-ins, papers, lectures, political actions groups, relationships, and even a go at therapy couldn’t help me the way that two and a half years outside the war-zone of my home culture did. To live outside of America first of all entailed a sudden slip off the marketing radar. A quick way to accomplish this if you’re still hide-bound in North America is to turn off your TV, stop reading the newspaper, and don’t listen to the radio. I’m serious: marketing is NOT GOOD FOR YOU. It comes from our culture, so it’s got the same conflicting and toxic messages about our hearts and bodies that we get from our parents, from our religion(s), from our music, from our schools. But we can control our intake of marketing right now, whereas we can’t do anything about what we’ve already consumed in childhood.

Second, I shut up. Not many of my expat friends wanted to discuss radical gender theory with me over kimchee chigae at the local bunshik-dang, so I basically had to quit talking, which is like turning off the TV in your head. Silence equals violence in some circles; in others, silence equals healing. Take my word for it—though I suggest you try it under the guidance of a spiritual teacher you trust, because sometimes we do need to talk. But believe me… we don’t need to talk nearly as much as we do.

Third, I entered the temple.

The temple is the ultimate sphere of ambiguity, and as such, it is about as opposite the polarized world I knew in America as can be. Ambiguity is what Americans spend a lot of time running from. We are not comfortable with internal ambiguity, far less so than external ambiguity. That’s why, in my humble opine, we’re so hungry to know someone’s thoughts. We want to know where the world stands so we can know where we stand. And when we don’t know, we feel lost. Even the “gender rebels” I knew and even tried to be in college were always placing ourselves in a relative position. We were or were not masculine or feminine compared to the prevailing American stereotypes. If you took away the cultural bounds on the scale, there was nothing left to rebel against in an absolute sense, except for the Demon Within who insisted, or did for me, that I was somehow essentially female and essentially sinful. That was the ultimate scale of my existence as a body and as a being.

This—this--ancient, painful spiritual wound can’t be healed in a continually polarized world. I take that back: maybe it can for some people, but not for me. It’s significant to me that I studied Buddhism in Nepal, another country where I slid off the cultural radar and entered a space of public ambiguity. It’s not that I don’t look female—I do, even bald—it’s that the old way of being female was gone. I didn’t understand and often couldn’t “see” the new paradigm of Nepal and later Korea, and so it didn’t exist for me—and since I had no stake in fitting in to either society, the paradigm couldn’t be imposed on me. I was off the radar, ambiguous, and treading the first steps of freedom.

The old spiritual wound, that constantly played itself out in and on my body and how I lived, was and is healing in ambiguity. A Sunim is outside nearly all the social conventions of gender and sexuality in Korea. Unlike Catholic orders, the robes of Korean Sunims are not differentiated by gender, though I’ve noticed some slight tailoring differences. Although female Sunims (who I call nuns fairly often, even though this is an unresolved question of address) do have a different code of conduct than male Sunims, this derives not from some fundamental understanding of a “woman’s nature,” but from a pretty blunt and honest look at the reality of being a woman in the world, however bald or renounced. The vows of a fully ordained Bhikkuni also differ from those of a Bhikku, but again this reflects nothing intrinsic to women. Basically, we’re not differentiated from the male half of the Buddhist clergy by any argument for a fundamental difference. Moreover, we’re visibly similar enough that I’ve heard people say they often can’t tell the difference between monks and nuns at first glance (in Korea). Ambiguity compounded by un-differentiation at the source of being: Gilead’s balm is right here, folks. Free for the tasting, free for the healing. Free.

It’ll be interesting to look back at this when I return to the West, for a trip or for longer, at some point in the future. I could of course stay up all night writing on this subject, but I’ll let the comments thread point out where further clarification is needed or further interest lies. It's not all roses here for women, for female Sunims, for me; but it's fertile, fertile ground for long-needed growth and change.

I still have my body. Yes, it's still a woman's body. A change of heart does not change the DNA. But the place where that awful canker of gender and sexuality used to be, constantly irritated by and irritating the world with its fears and insecurities and nightmares and even hopes, is just...well, just space. Space to breath. Space to be somehow more fully human because I'm not always thinking about how I should be more fully woman, but not knowing how.

No: chastity, celibacy, and meditation in a foreign country is not the recommended course for everyone. If someone had told me six years ago, while I was a sophmore in college and cerebellum-deep in anger, pain, protest, and self-hatred, that I'd wake up nearly every morning on the floor of a Korean temple increasingly free from that burden, I'd have laughed them out of my gender-queer dorm room. I didn't think it was possible to be free and I certainly wouldn't have foreseen that freedom in this obviously unusual path. The gifts that I can offer from the far side of the ocean and most American women's lives are the promises that no, it's doesn't have to be the way it is. Yes, we can let go of those old pains. And if you give yourself some space to be quiet and away from your own thinking, and give yourself the space to be ambiguous, you can heal. You will heal.

There's no sutra in the canon on gender and sexuality. Maybe we should write one. We can call it the "Yang-seong-shim-gyeong (兩性心經)", the "Both-natures-mind-sutra," by which I do not mean to imply a continued polarity, but instead to suggest that polarity is only in the mind. Heck, let's drop that 兩 and just make it the 心性經, "Mind-nature-sutra." Healing begins and ends here, inside us. It's our nature to heal and be healed. I promise.

posted by Soen Joon Sunim at 8:05 PM

A note on death

The following was posted by Soen Joon Sunim in her blog One Robe, One Bowl on April 7, 2006. Unhappily for the world, Soen Joon Sunim took down her blog. A friend was able to provide text of this marvelous post which will be an awards nominee this year.

"A note on death" From One Robe, One Bowl by Soen Joon Sunim Friday, April 07, 2006

We found a dead bird when we went up to clean the Dharma Hall this morning. Actually, I saw it first and waited for my sister to come up behind me. It was beautiful and large, certainly larger than the average song-birds I'm used to seeing. Somewhere between a robin and a magpie in size, its back and wings were brown with black markings--a soft, worn brown, the color of an old kasa. Its breast, however, was a clean white, the kind my mother would call "matte eggshell" and has painted on the livingroom walls of every house we've lived in. More of the same black markings there, too, making the white even whiter. "What lovely contrast!" my mother would say.

My sister came up the stairs. I said, "We have to hold a kido for a deceased. A bird-spirit," and I stepped aside to show her the feathered weight on the stone walkway. Sae-yong-ga-nim. She came up, said a quick "Pal-bo-ri-shim," and went downstairs to get a dustbin to carry the bird away. We would bury it in the park behind the temple.

Cause of death was unclear. A smudge on one of the windows suggested a collison, but who knows? We climbed up a dirt side-trail in the park and found a loose patch of soil under a shrub. As we were digging with our garden trowels, she talked a bit.

"When I was a child, so many different things would die on the temple grounds. Birds. Stray cats. Even dogs. We had a temple dog once, Ta-hui. We held a 49-day ceremony for her." And she laughed a little. "We said, 'kae-yong-ga-nim!'"--kae being "dog" in Korean. Then she became sober. We had dug about six inches down. "You know, the Japanese did this during the Occupation. They would make Koreans dig trenches, and then push them in. Bury them alive."
"Why?" I asked naively. Jeez. I watch the news. I read A Problem from Hell. I should know better.

She shrugged. "Just because. The Koreans knew why they were digging. They knew it was their own grave."

Enough. We gently rolled the bird into the shallow hole. We didn't want to touch it, because my mother always told me not to touch dead animals--"Disease!" she warned--and Avian Bird Flu isn't so far away, as the crow flies, in China. We pushed the soft soil, only a shade darker than the bird's feathers, over the body. My sister patted it all down expertly. "Come back as a human next time!" I said. "No, go to the Pure Land!" she corrected me. "Fine, go to the Pure Land and then come back here and teach us!" I amended. We said Namu Amitabul and then chanted the Heart Sutra. A passing jogger didn't stop to look us, two small women perched on a slope chanting to an empty bush.

On the way back down to the temple, my sister said, "Ahh, that puts a strange feeling on the whole day, doesn't it. Not quite bad. Not quite sad," and I didn't have enough Korean to tell her I think it's because we spend so much time around the spirits that we get used to Death just a little, but not enough to know what to do when it comes for the living breath. The yong-ga-nim on our altar arrive after their last breath. We see their anthropomorphic pictures, deal with their grieving families, project them into a limbo and imagine we can help them to life again. But when Death drops a bird on the Dharma Hall porch, we get a little bit closer to the reality of death: stiff body. A smell of danger--infection? contagious?--and the small thorn of sadness that pushes up through the skin. Niether of us has been a mourner at a loved one's funeral yet, so there's also an aspect of rehearsal to these moments. Yes I will feel sad, oh I will, and I will say the right things, remember the Pure Land, oh Yes, I will.

Cleaning the Dharma Hall, she told me more stories of the Occupation. One of her high school teachers had related tales to his students: villages forced to watch the torture of one of their own, excruciating displays meant not to kill a body but to terrify the heart. People unable to trust one another because of informers strewn throughout the community. "Maybe your next-door neighbor," she said. "Maybe your own family. No one had money or food, and the Japanese paid for information. People would do anything." I remarked it sounded like Nazi Germany and the Holocaust, not a terribly original observation, and then said, "But no one seems to really pay attention to Korea's occupation like they do Nazi Germany." She said, "Well, yes..." indicating she understood the world's larger eyes for a different spot of history.

By the afternoon, I'd largely forgotten the morning's death. The magnolia out front is full bloom. The blossoms look like small lofted lotuses; perhaps the magnolia is a tree from the Pure Land. I can imagine the yong-ga-nim being reborn as tiny sparrow-like beings in the nest of a magnolia in front of Amitabul, instead of in boat-like lotuses on a vast lake. I like the image of a lotus-tree better than a lake, personally. That much closer to the sky.

Sister Sophia sent me another letter, as full of strange incidents and, oddly, the death of birds as the first part of my day. My college fiction professor called it the "plate of shrimp" phenomenon: for no apparent reason and without any prior discussion, everyone in a given seminar will submit a short story that includes a plate of shrimp in it, either as an incidental object or a piece of the plot. As it is, the birds are relatively incidental, but Death is the plot. As per our usual, too, Sophia sent me a quote from Merton:
The marginal person, the monk, the displaced person, the prisoner, all these people live in the presence of death, which calls into question the meaning of life. He struggles with the fact of death in himself, trying to seek something deeper than death, and the office of the monk or the marginal person, the meditative person or the poet is to go beyond the dichotomy of life and death and to be, therefore, a witness to life.
I put down the letter and sipped my coffee. Children ran screaming joyously across the courtyard of the elementary school below us. Forysthia cascaded along the retaining wall opposite the temple, and the cherry trees are on the verge of leafing, to be quickly followed by their clouds of blossoms. I came inside to type this. Even now when I look out the window next to the computer, I see a magpie streak over the old-man pines lining our drive, and can hear the single long falling note of a song-bird whose name I do not know.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Intent of the Blogisattva Awards and a Few Words on Selecting Nominees and Winners

The Blogisattva Awards are intended to get out the good news that Buddhist blogs make for great reading. The buddhoblogosphere can be helpful to one’s practice or in helping people face the stress and challenges of knocking about on this old planet of ours, in addition to being fun and interesting to read.

Blogs, bloggers and posts nominated for awards or selected for awards will not necessarily be the very best blogs/bloggers/posts in their category out there. I do not pretend to be able to discern with precision what is magnificent from what is merely excellent. Often spectacular blogs and posts will be overlooked. And sometimes some less-than-sterling stuff will get nommed or win an award. Also, certainly, the idea of best is muddy and uncertain in this realm where judgment is necessarily subject to individual preference and prejudice.

But because of care and interest in what might be wonderful in the world of Buddhist bloggery, I will be bringing to the fore a boatload of stuff, most of which is really great, world-class reading material that deserves blog-readers’ attention. I hope you will come, read, and decide for yourself what you like.

A criticism has been expressed that these awards might cause some bloggers to alter what they do for the specific purpose of getting an award. I doubt that will happen. For one thing, it is known that the Blogisattvas are truly just a tiny enterprise and that Buddhists are immune to hoopla, fanfare, wild enthusiasm and anything that might make them giddy. Hooray for that!!! Also, the blogging art is, in and of itself, already, so exquisite a creative exercise that it cannot be augmented with greater pleasure; it is absolute bliss, a hardened sphere of perfect enjoyment. But in a larger sense, we cannot nominate, we cannot award, we cannot hallow the buddhoblogosphere. The brave Buddhist bloggers who struggle here have consecrated the Internet far above our poor power to add or detract.

Selecting nominees and winners

Generally, what is sought in making selections is excellence appropriate to the category. A few blogs, bloggers or posts that are a little blinky about whether they are Buddhist or not can be at a disadvantage. Blogs that don’t welcome comments and bloggers who don’t respond to their commenters can be at a disadvantage in being selected for awards. It is considered bad form not to have either a blogroll or a favorite-posts widget of some sort on a blog. If a blog isn’t opening doors to other blogs, it will be noticed.

But all this is not to say that bloggers should conform to what is sought by the Blogisattva Committee. Rather, I am just letting y’all know what minor elements are considered excellent and the committee will be aware of when your blog is perused. Just letting y’all know, is all.

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Sunday, January 14, 2007

Announcement of 2007 Blogisattva Awards Categories

The 2007 Blogisattva Awards Committee [of 1] is pleased to announce the categories and number of nominees within each category for the 2007 Awards that honor achievement in Buddhist blogging in calendar year 2006.

This year, the sophomore year of the awards, there will be 24 winners in 22 categories chosen from an aggregate of 100 nominees. This is up from 14 winners in 14 categories and an aggregate of 70 nominations last year.

One award category has been discontinued: Best Celebrity-Writer Blog. Many of the other 13 awards categories' names from last year have been tweaked this year to better describe what the award is for, or to change, slightly, the nature of the award.

Nine new awards categories have been created.

Four new categories were created to recognize blogging in styles not honored last year. Five categories were created to honor blog posts of different types.

A rule was written this year with respect to the two blog-design awards. Blogs nominated in the design categories last year that had not significantly altered their design at the end of 2006 are not eligible to be nominated this year.

Unlike last year when there were five nominees for each of the awards, the count of nominations varies by award this year. The number of nominations per award is governed by a rough sense of the population of candidates out there that might be appropriately nominated.

The awards categories in 2007 are the following with the number of nominations and winners in brackets. An asterisk indicates a title tweak. Text in orange indicates the award goes to a blog; red, the blogger(s); blue, a blog post(s).:
The thirteen carried-over categories:
  • Best Achievement in Clean, Straightforward, Unaffected Design [4/1]
  • Best Achievement in Wonderful, Remarkable, Elegant Design [4/1]
  • * Best Niche Blog, Unusual-Function Blog, Blog Service, or Serial within a Blog [4/1]
  • Best New Blog [5/1]
  • * Best Achievement Blogging on Integral Issues [5/1]
  • * Best Achievement Blogging on Matters Philosophical or Scientific [5/1]
  • * Best Achievement Blogging in the First Person [on events in one's own life on in gonzo style] [5/1]
  • * Best Achievement Blogging Opinion Pieces or about Political Issues [5/1]
  • Blogger Best Demonstating a Multiplicity of Talents [3/1]
  • * Best Achievement in Kind and Compassionate Blogging [5/1]
  • Best Achievement in Skillful Writing [5/1]
  • * Blog Posts of the Year [12/3]
  • Blog of the Year, Svaha! [7/1]
The nine new categories this year:
  • Best Achievement Blogging on Buddhist Practice or Dharma [5/1]
  • Best Achievement in Use of Graphics in a Blog [4/1]
  • Best Achievement in Use of Quotations in a Blog [3/1]
  • Best Achievement Blogging on a Wide Range of Topic Interests [4/1]
  • Best Multi-Part Blog Post [3/1]
  • Best Achievement in a Compassionate Blog Post [3/1]
  • Best Achievement in a Integral Blog Post [3/1]
  • Best Achievement with Humor in a Blog Post [3/1]
  • Best Conversation-Sparking Blog Post [3/1]

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Friday, January 12, 2007

Something's coming

Could it be?
Yes it could
Something's coming
Something good
If I can wait
Something's coming,
And I know what it is
And it is
Gonna be great!

With a click
There's a shock
A window opens
Words that rock
An announcement is near.

Something's coming, don't know when
But it's soon
See the moon
One handed catch

Around the corner
whistlin' down whiskey river
Come on - deliver
To me

Will it be?
Yes it will
Maybe just by sitting still
It'll be here!

Come on, something, come on in
Pour a nog
Find a blog
Pull up a chair

The air is hummin'
And something great is coming
Come on - deliver
To me