The Non-profit Related Posts

I have been doing a lot of research on non-profits, rights work, journalism and so on over the past few months for a project unrelated to this blog. But I discovered a lot of stuff that may be in the public interest to write about here. The rest of the posts for July and August and maybe beyond that will be about that. Snark will be involved but then I’m going to get serious after a bit. Some of it involves various Buddhisty charities/organizations but most of it doesn’t. So if you wish to confine yourself to strictly Buddhisty stuff you are free to unfollow or cease reading this blog now.

What a mess the non-profit industrial complex is in.

What a mess journalism is in.

What a mess we’re all in.

By NellaLou Tagged

Off the Grid

The Dutch Buddhist Channel (BOS-BUDDHIST BROADCASTING FOUNDATION) has produced numerous documentaries over the years. One recent production, titled Off the Grid,  in particular has caused some controversy. It is about Americans who can no longer, for a variety of reasons including both choice and necessity, continue to live in the capitalist way that they have been. It’s quite a startling documentary and asks some important questions.

My major qualm about it is the appearance of Alex Jones, who is something of a conspiracy type (9-11 “Truther” among other things) as well as a bit of a fear monger. He has his own agenda, despite making some good points, so keep that caveat in mind when he appears. As someone who is attempting to get off the grid though, his inclusion, despite some of his opinions, is in keeping with the production.

From the YouTube channel where I found the entire documentary:

Alexander Oey traveled throughout the United States and filmed communities who are taking matters into their own hands. 50 of the 46 U.S. states are nearly bankrupt. Over 13 million Americans are unemployed. More than 49 million people live below the poverty line.
How was it able to come that far? People seek for their own Utopia outside the financial system and government. Are these communities the right path and solution? Has they found effective alternatives, while governments worldwide are heading to bankruptcy?

The film-maker, in a recent interview said:

“Perhaps the current financial crisis is this big bang. People are starting to see the need of another way of life. Once life will get heavier, we will give up our luxury and we will have to survive on our own. Eventually people will search for alternatives and smaller economies, which are customized and therefore work better, will arise.”

From the same interview:

Originally, the production company Submarine and the Buddhist Broadcasting had the idea to make the journey of the American writer Jack Kerouac. They would follow Americans in their quest of the unknown. Jack Kerouac wrote in the 50s of the last century the cult classic On the Road, in which he describes his travels across the United States and eventually Mexico. The Americans in Kerouac’s book formed the Beat Generation in the 50s. They stood at the cradle of the hippie movement. For Off the Grid Alexander Oey would travel the route of On the Road and he would interview the Beat Generation. This plan suddenly changed; Oey: “The now 80-year-olds weren’t enthusiastic about this. The original plan of the film changed gradually and Off the Grid became a journey through America along people who are trying to find new ways of living together.”

You can watch the whole documentary here:

Qualifications, Ethics, Tricycle, Branding, etc.

Since I brought up psychology yesterday I’m going to continue on with something related, but in a somewhat less humorous [or surreal depending on your viewpoint] vein.

I noticed on the Tricycle website this post Introduction to Mindfulness with Meditation Doctor Andy Puddicombe .  It reads like a fairly slick advertising campaign and offers a bit about meditation and a few feel good analogies about blue skies.

I’ve got nothing against mindfulness meditation nor against clinical modalities such as MBSR. They have proven to be helpful for many suffering from psychological issues. Nor do I have any personal animosity towards Mr. Puddicombe himself. I’m going to assume he’s trying to be helpful. And even Tricycle magazine may have some concerns that reach beyond it’s own vaunted location just down the street from Goldman Sachs, which seems to merit mention in a number of articles.

One commenter, who was not me,  wrote:

What exactly is a "registered Clinical Mindfulness Consultant"? Registered with whom? I don’t believe it is right to cite qualifications that are dubious. Please clarify.

I wrote beneath that:

Is he an actual Doctor? That is a PhD or MD or DDS, etc? If not why is he being labeled as such? I can find no information on the Internet about him having achieved such a credential. Further to that I find no information regarding any training in psychology whatsoever. This link seems to have the most thorough biography yet there no mention of related training beyond Buddhist meditation.

Here is the list of educational attainments from that link:
-Clinical Mindfulness Consultant and Founder of Headspace
– Full-time Monastic Training Palpung at Kham Tibet and now temporarily located at Bir India Institute Sherab Ling Monastery
-FdA Performing Arts Kent University
– HNC Sports Science DeMontfort University

How does any of that authorize someone to treat psychological issues, particularly things like depression?

Sure the NYT writes, "he has become something of a Dr. Phil of the yogi set." but Dr. Phil, like him or not, has a PhD in psychology. [source:… ]

So he’s popular in some circles. Just as popularity does not make someone enlightened, it also doesn’t make them qualified to deal with psychological issues.

To which Philip Ryan responded:

"Meditation Doctor" is Tricycle’s own label. Brad Warner filled the role in February.

Since Tricycle has suddenly decided to not let me respond by consigning me to the spam bin,

Screenshot - 4_2_2012 , 1_59_14 PM

…here is further response:

Then I apply the same criticism to using that label with Warner to some extent.

I realize it is a branding issue, like The Rug Doctor, which sells carpet cleaning services or The Company Doctor, which is a business consulting firm. It is easy to see that the label is being used euphemistically in those cases.

In this context the label is problematic because of the author’s claims to do some kind of psychotherapy. It is true that Brad Warner has advocated zazen for psychological issues and received a certain amount of pushback from the Internet for it, particularly when he discussed it in terms of PTSD treatment, for which it may not be advisable and may even be harmful. However Brad Warner does not advertise himself as a medical consultant.

Using the word "Doctor" in a context wherein actual credentials are relevant lends an amount of authority where no such authority might exist. This can mislead people into putting more weight onto an opinion than they otherwise might.

But it’s your magazine to label as you choose. Thanks for responding. It’s good to know where this is actually coming from if not from the participants themselves.

So there you go.

I’ll leave it up to you to decide if The Meditation Doctor is someone you want to pour all your troubles out to or not.

By NellaLou Tagged

Sandmonkey’s blog post

The blogger and activist known as Sandmonkey, who many of us have been following for the past 10+ days  has been taken into custody in Cairo Egypt. It has been reported that his arrest was due to his final blog post on his website which has now had the account suspended. Many people have copied it and are mirroring it around the world. I have done so also in the form of a PDF file. Please take this file, read it and share it/post it where ever you can.

Sandmonkey’s last post entitled Egypt, right now!

Here is a plain text version if you want to post it on a blog or in a forum.

Recent news

He’s been released. Here are his latest tweets. (in reverse chronological order-meaning read from the bottom) Please follow him so they know we are all witnessing.

Please don’t respond to my phone or BBM. This isn’t me. My phone was confiscated by a thug of an officer who insults those who call.
Sandmonkey Sandmonkey
I am humbled by you all. Thank you so much. I am trying to get a decent computer to write it all.
Sandmonkey Sandmonkey
will tell the story later . Thank you all. I just need to rest now. #jan25
Sandmonkey Sandmonkey
I am ok. I got out. I was ambushed & beaten by the police, my phone confiscated , my car ripped apar& supplies taken #jan25
Additional News
Well he didn’t rest long. He’s got a new blog up already. Rantings of a Sandmonkey Yep, been deleted now. Though he’s now come out from behind the moniker and has been interviewed via phone by CNN. See below