Audio Dhamma : Unity and Division

audio file –

Audio Dhamma Talk : Unity or Division : Building Bridges or Demolishing Them?

This is going to be a rough post, and a bit outside the norm of what I usually do, as it delves into the outside world a bit(I already can’t believe im doing this), but still related to dhamma, and those who wish to practice it. This post, and the audio dhamma talk associated with it, is the summation of 2 years of observation and contemplation, but first a little history.
As many of you have heard me say before, I’ve always been a bit weird in many ways. One of which was that I always tended to end up being a neutral or middle party between two opposites. When my family would get into tiffs growing up, I’d always be the one to try and calm everyone down to interact rationally and discuss… my sisters nick named me “Switzerland”.
Many also know that I was heavily involved in politics and activism for most of my adult life. In fact I was even the chair for most of the southern part of my state in my party for a few years. Here again I am a bit weird, I was never either of the two major parties, I was neither a conservative, or a liberal, nor a progressive, nor have I ever voted for a candidate for either major party, but I always voted.
Over the years of my experience in politics it showed me that there is actually very little difference between the two major parties, and they often work together to suppress and control , more then being opposed. They are coke and pepsi, mcdonalds and burger king, supposed rivals who are always right next to each other…hmm ;).
I use to always watch the news, and no not my just a favorite news channel, but all of them, CNN, Fox, MSNBC, all heavily biased and focusing on only the parts of the story they want. I watched them all because I believed that they all had partial truths that could be combined into as close to the actual truth I’d get in any news event. Towards the end I was even including BBC and Aljezera for more views and biases to add to the mix.
This was when the era of the “pundits” arose, people who worked for the news but who’s only job was to point out how stupid and evil the other side was and to get you angry about what was going on.
I’ve seen more deeply then the average folk how politics works,I’ve hit the streets, I’ve sat in at state gubernatorial (governor) debates, and when the time in my life arrived that all aspects converged as one, my knowledge of history(its all happened before, tell me about a modern politician and I can tell you about an ancient roman one), politics, and the growth of my Buddhist practice, I was ready to let it all go, and I did. This was a few years before I even went to the monastery.
Fast forward to the Election of 2016. All of a sudden people lost their minds. I wrote a post about unity and how humans are, and it was met with so much strong aversion and derision.
We had a retreat not 3 days after the election, and many of the people looked shell shocked and had so many questions. It was out of compassion for them and the feeling that I needed to be able understand what was going on so I could speak with them and do what I could to help them cope, that I delved deep into the political culture of the day.
Suddenly so many people were ” racist, sexist, biggot, homophobes” and there were now apparently Nazis running rampant in the streets that needed to be punched. There were SJWs and Anti- Sjws, Intersectional Feminists and Mgtows. I did a deep dive into it all. When I researched something I always delved into both sides, same as when I use to watch the news.
This was unfortunate for me, because it brought back all of the views and opinions I had practiced letting goes of years before. All of a sudden I started watching more and more videos about “the culture war” and the politics of the day. I fell into the same trap of many these days, mentally getting involved in the back and forth, my views and opinions feeding off of it, pushing me to know more and worry about the state of the country.
These days thankfully I am ramping back down from this, trying to bring myself back to focusing on my practice and building Bhavana. I have slowly begun to bring myself back to renouncing these worldly tangles, as a monastic is supposed to, and it’s bringing back the peace of mind I had when I let go years back.
I know most people in the world feel they cannot afford to do that, so what I’ve tried to tell people these two years, is that if you have to be involved in all of this and act, do so not when you are full of emotions like anger, but when you are calm enough to mindfully think about the most skillful way to act that is beneficial to yourself and others, and not harmful to yourself and others.
also that It is important for people to be able to develop the skill of listening to people of a diversity of views and opinions. This does not mean you agree with them, but that you can accept people think differently. This is also a great thing for helping you lessen your attachment to views.
I’ve sat across from all kinds of people in this world, from people who molested their grand children, to the leaders of gangs, and I always had a policy of treating others like human beings, they were not the sum total of their actions, and no being is the sum total of their political party or a singular view. I always listened to what they had to say, not only because I had to, but because I wanted to. It’s all to easy for us to dehumanize people we don’t like or who have different views then us, or who have done actions we don’t want to identify as human, since it hits too close to home for us.
In the end I’ve figured out what my message would be in this time, or should I say Buddha’s message, and that message is Unity. I’m not going to go preach it from the roof tops, nor do I expect whatever I say will make much of any difference, but when people ask questions about anger and dealing with situations in modern life, My message is one of Metta, bringing people together and building bridges, to fight against the political parties and social media algorithms that seek to divide us and inflame our anger. Divide and Conquer is the tactic of the day. I want to speak only words that unite people, not divide.
The Buddha told us to demolish the bridge of our craving, of our views, not of the connection we have with all of our fellow beings, not out of hatred or fear or anger.
So hence this dhamma talk, “Unity or Division”. This was not really a prepared talk, but it was a topic I wanted to speak about and see what came out. Topics include:
– our natural tendency for in group/out group categorization (or us vs them) and how many religions preach bringing more people into our in group, into our circle of “us”.
– trying to view things from various perspectives
– that you have the choice to destroy bridges, or to build them. You can bridge wide divides if you choose to.
– and more.

Audio : Sutta Readings and Commentary on Kamma in the EBTs


I’m Sharing this recording because it is , to date, my most complete summation of Kamma as taught by the Buddha in the Early Buddhist Texts. We go over what are probably the two most important suttas on Kamma (Majjhima Nikaya # 135 & 136 the Shorter and Greater Analysis of Kamma). I read and provide commentary and context , including what the Buddha has said from various other suttas in the EBTs.


THe Buddha said it would be an imponderable thing to understand the full workings of kamma, so it is wise not to over simplify it, however If I were to give a paragraph as to the Buddha’s summation of Kamma it would be this:


“Your actions matter, in this life and in future lives. Your kamma fully determines how you are born into life. Once born, Kamma continues to play a role, however the Buddha expressly states that not everything that happens to you is due to kamma, there are many other factors, such as environmental, social etc, however even in these situations kamma is interwoven to a greater or lesser degree.. you cannot escape the consequences of your actions, but you can choose how to respond right now in the present moment, because in the present moment, you create your future.”



This is from our weekly sutta reading on our discord Sangha “Students of the Path” ( come join our international sangha of practitioners, link in description.

Project to Bring the Nikayas to Audio Book for Free(

I recently found out about , a neat organization where volunteers record themselves reading the classic books in the public domain for people to download and listen to the audio books, all for free.
I noticed they even have some recordings of the Dhammapada, and recordings of other religious texts like the bible etc.
I thought it would be a neat project to start recording suttas to put up on this website for anyone across the world to download/listen to for free.
If any monastics or lay people who can read the suttas well enough for recording, would like to volunteer to do this, send me a PM.

2019 Bhavana Housekeeping

Some 2019 Bhavana Housekeeping Announcements :
Now that Bhavana is officially out of seclusion and gearing up to start a new year, I wanted to post up some reminders and announcements.
Firstly, Bhavana is always looking for residents. If you would like to stay for one week, or one year, you are welcome to apply with a residency application on the website :
Secondly, although we have a cook currently, that position tends to change hands every year or so, and hence Bhavana is always accepting applications and interest in living at Bhavana in the paid cook position :
If you are interested in attending Bhante G’s Saturday Dhamma/Pali sessions, keep an eye out on the website as the date it starts up for the year and subsequent dates will be posted there on the front page.
I look forward to a new year of sharing Dhama with all of you, and helping to maintain and grow Bhavana as a place for all people to come to learn and experience the Dhamma first hand.
– Bhante J

Scheduling Events for 2019

One final post. The 2019 Bhavana Schedule is up, those of you who wanted to schedule an event with me in 2019, feel free to check the calendar and send me an email ( – put Visit Scheduling or some such in the topic), This will be the last time I post for the next three months.,

December 1st to March 1st : Partial to Full Seclusion.

Starting December 1st I will be going mostly/partially off internet for the next three months. For December and January I will be off social media and most online dhamma work, but will still need to use email for monastery business and the like. February I will then do my full month totally off the grid in seclusion.

So I’ll technically still be online December & January, still will be doing my dhamma sessions on Saturday and Sunday nights. but otherwise I’m switching my focus to running Bhavana and my own practice for this time.

If it is an emergency that you need to contact me, you can write that in an email, it would probably best be done via calling our office manager at the Bhavana number to get in contact with me. I will still be available for those who want to schedule visits for next year and for emails that are an emergency, but otherwise, I wish to have this time to spend working on myself and my practice.

Come Join us in January and February for some Seclusion!

It’s getting to that time again when Bhavana begins the slow process towards winter shutdown and seclusion.
If you are interested in coming to stay with us for a time during this period to help support the community with work and spend lots of time in practice, fill out a residency application on the website (
During the January and February months of Seclusion, the minimum length of stay is a week. It is not very different than staying at any other time, except there are no visitors and we concentrate mostly on work centered around food and wood work. The afternoons for the most part will be free for you to practice, although you may be asked to work with the residents when needed.
If you have any further questions feel free to PM me.