Author Archives: Jerry Flexer

Wild Nature and the Dusty World

Wild Nature and the Dusty World Gary Snyder on Dogen’s Mountains and Waters ‘Sutra’ http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/The-Practice-of-the-Wild-by-Gary-Snyder.pdf As T. S. Eliot proposed, the end is where we start from. In “Blue Mountains Constantly Walking,” a chapter in his book Practice of the Wild, Gary Snyder borrows from Dogen Kigen’s “Mountains and Waters Sutra” a dharma talk from the year 1240. Snyder ends the chapter with: “Dogen finishes his meditation on mountains and waters with this: ‘When you investigate mountains thoroughly….such mountains and waters of themselves become wise persons and sages’—become sidewalk vendors and noodle-cooks, become marmots, ravens, Read More

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From Many Gods to One God

Culture is ever-changing, and anthropology now recognizes that religion is not just a cultural system, but rather “the interpenetration of cultural systems…and all religions….are best understood as products of…multiple contacts with outside cultures” (Glazier 2009:37). Such contacts result in syncretism, a reconciliation of different belief systems and practices in a blended analogy. In this essay, I consider an interesting case of syncretism, that of the Maori myth of a supreme being named Io, and explore the likelihood that an ethnography, albeit dated (early twentieth century), likely enabled this syncretism to flourish to this day. Māori Read More

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Toward a global spirituality for peace: identity, pluralism, and Buddhism

Introduction To explore the potential evolution of a global religious movement for peace, I review four scholarly perspectives on religion’s present and prospective role in global civil society. These perspectives vary by focus of involvement, ranging from involvement strictly at the organizational level, to involvement at both organizational and individual member levels, and finally to involvement that emphasizes individual development as a prerequisite to engaging fully with society. My focus following this review is on Buddhist philosophy and meditation, specifically on how they contribute to developing in the individual a fluid sense of identity and Read More

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Peace Warrior

The man stood up and started chanting the morning call to prayer. “Shut up!” shouted the Israeli commando, aiming a handgun at the Muslim’s head from three meters away. Kevin Neish, sitting nearby, knew if he didn’t divert the soldier’s attention, the Muslim would be shot dead. The Israelis had already shot and killed nine men. Plastic cuffs binding his wrists behind his back, knees swaying, Kevin Neish stood up. The soldier pivoted and swung his body to the left, pointing the gun at Neish. For two long minutes, Neish stood there facing death, a Read More

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Rituals for Fun and Fitness

The city of Victoria is, of course, named for the former queen (1837 – 1901) of the United Kingdom, and Canada. It’s certainly no surprise, then, that the city has a Victorian flavour you can taste by taking a stroll around the harbour or afternoon tea at the Empress Hotel. But Victoria is also home to a social club that contrasts its British colonial heritage and the social mores you might associate with Victorian England. Times change. We gather at 3:30 on a grayish Saturday afternoon just before Thanksgiving. A group of joggers – 12 Read More

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Cain’s Creation

        Adam and Eve conceived Cain (he who is created), And later his brother Abel. And Abel became a shepherd, and Cain a farmer.   When he became a man Cain offered The first fruits of his harvest to God, And Abel brought the fattest young from his flock. And God accepted Abel’s offering But not Cain and his offering.   This troubled Cain.   Cain said to Abel let’s go for a walk And when they were alone, Cain killed his brother Abel.   Then God said to Cain listen Your brother’s Read More

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Drifting

We are all just visitors to this time, this place. We are just passing through. Our purpose here is to observe, to grow, to love – and then we go home.           –  Aboriginal Proverb Bruce Chatwin’s The Songlines is a collection of philosophical and anthropological meanderings quilted together by encounters with Aboriginals in Central Australia under the guidance of Arkady, a local expert originally from Russia. Bruce, the main character and narrator, explores human migration in parallel with his search for the etiology of his own restlessness. In one scene Bruce Read More

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Making History

 History is written by the winners. – George Orwell, Tribune, 1944 The worst thing that colonialism did was to cloud our view of our past. – Barack Obama, Dreams from My Father: A Story of Race and Inheritance 1995     As a high school student in Israel in the early 70’s, I had relegated chemistry, physics, the bible, and just about every other subject to the mental waste bin. For history, though, I had nothing but contempt. What possible relevance could the Magna Carta, the causes of the First World War, or the history of the Read More

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No Country for an Old Man

I came to creative writing in middle-age. 57 when I started, 60 when I graduate. I’ve never been a creative writer, though I have written for work: instruction manuals, educational materials, and advisory publications for accountants. More than four decades have passed since I’d been a high school student in Israel (quit in grade 12). I had no interest in high school subjects, and English class was about the language, not about literature. I’d never developed imaginative thinking – until I came to creative writing I couldn’t tell a metaphor from a hermaphrodite – and Read More

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The Rhyme of Life

The Rhyme of Life This January morning the world greets me with misty fog, and moist crispness refreshes the whole of nature in its beauty. Outside, a deer fawn strides cautiously on the lawn ten meters from my gaze. I can see no mother deer. No father deer. No brothers or sisters. She is grazing, this fawn, amid a scene of soft browns and grays and muted greens, two patches of white accent her gray coat. She feasts on grass and leaves, oblivious to time and weather, alone and yet serene. Her head turns to Read More

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