Going Mobile

I’m goin’ home
And when I wanna go home
I’m goin’ mobile
Hee, hoo!Beep beep!

– The Who

GoingMobile-LP-USA2As you can see, The Endless Further has a new look. I’m going mobile. But, when Peter Townsend wrote the lyrics to The Who’s song, he was talking about mobility in transportation terms. I’m talking technology.

Nowadays, as more and more people use tablets or smartphones for surfing the Net, blogs and websites have to adapt their sizes to fit any screen dimension. Two things recently came to my attention: one, several potential visitors complained that the blog was not accessible to mobile devices, and secondly, I learned that back in April Google began using “mobile-friendliness” as a ranking signal (where have I been?). If your site is not mobile-friendly, you could lose page rank in Google’s all-important ranking algorithm. I don’t care much about rank. The Endless Further will never be anywhere near the top, but I hate the idea of preventing folks from visiting here out of sheer ignorance.

It’s been a learning experience. Mobile-friendly is definitely a case of less is more and small is better. The layout and design must fit to a small screen. Navigation must be arranged so a user can easily click where they want without accidentally hitting the wrong button. Images need to be compressed to speed-up page loading. And that’s just the beginning.

I checked my blog with the W3C mobileOK Checker – WC3 is the international standards organization for the World Wide Web, the place to go to see if your CSS or HTML code is correct – and my site had so many errors it was overwhelming. I wasn’t sure I could fix all that was wrong with the theme I’ve used from the beginning, so I went with a new one and simplicity was my guiding principle.

From here on, images will be smaller, compressed, and if you want to see the full image you can just click on it.

Any readers who are mobile who want to tell me how The Endless Further looks on their device – I’d appreciate it.

I am curious about the links. I always set them to open in new windows, because that’s what I like when I’m viewing Web content. It doesn’t work too well on my phone (because it’s a cheapie) but I wonder about other mobile devices. I’d like some feedback on that.

If you are hosted on Blogspot or WordPress.com, it might not be a major issue, because they will take care of the mobile stuff for you. But if you are like me, a self-hosted blogger and/or website owner and you want to become mobile friendly (if you’re not already) here are some resources:

Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool is the first place you want to head for, and it will quickly tell you if you are mobile friendly or not and show you what the Googlebot sees when it goes to your site.

If you fail and you want to know what’s wrong, go to the W3C mobileOK Checker. Not for the faint of heart, because unless you are an expert coder, you might be shocked. Still, it is an indispensible tool for learning about mobile optimization.

Responsinator is cool, but it just shows you what your site looks like on a small mobile phone, but not on a tablet or some of the larger cell phones.

OK, I am sure that was boring to most of you, so we’ll leave it behind and get mobile:

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Dana: The Paramita of Generosity

After giving this matter a great deal of thought over many months, I have decided to include a donation button on the blog. I’m sure most people would not agonize over such a decision, but they’re not me.

Honestly, operating a blog or website is not hugely expensive, especially once you are up and running. Up to now, I have been able to cover the costs with my web design and hosting service, even though I’ve never been able to compete with large design firms or the big hosting companies. Web design has changed so much that it’s very hard for independents to make money these days, and this year, I’ve lost a few hosting customers so the puny amount I use make from that service is now even punier.

Now, I don’t want to hand anyone a sob story here, but there are some other factors involved. When I was diagnosed with cancer, I was in-between jobs and without health insurance. In order to receive treatment for my cancer, I needed MediCare but I was not eligible for MediCare because I was too young. First time I have been too young for anything in many a moon. The only way I could get MediCare was through Social Security, and I’ve learned that means living a rather spartan existence. That doesn’t bother me too much. Even when I made lots of money, I didn’t have a lavish lifestyle. But the amount I receive is so small it doesn’t even cover my monthly bills, and they place limits on how much additional income you can have.

I could clutter this blog up with advertising, but frankly, I would rather cut my throat. I hate advertising on web sites in general, and especially on blogs. They’re ugly, annoying, and some sites have so many it takes forever to download the page. Pop-up ads are the worst.

I am a legally ordained Buddhist minister/priest, so there is no problem with accepting donations, although at the present time I am not able to offer anyone a tax write-off. And while dana or donations has long been a Buddhist tradition, I’m not going to lay a trip on anyone about how a donation will insure you benefits or merit or change your karma. It’s a nice thing to do and nice things when done usually come back to you in positive ways, or at the very least, gives you the satisfaction knowing you’ve helped someone.

But I don’t want to slight the importance of dana or offerings (pujana) either. As one of the six paramitas, it is seen as a way to cultivate generosity. Generosity is an integral component to a well-balance life, and there are many ways to be generous. As Buddhists, the most important offering we can make is of ourselves, to win over ourselves, to transform ourselves. From the Mahayana point of view this begins with generating bodhicitta, the thought of awakening. That’s why in the Bodhiicaryavatara, Shantideva makes many material offerings, and then ultimately, makes an offering of himself, for himself, and of course, for others:

To acquire the gem of this thought . . . For an offering I will avail myself of all the flowers, fruits, and medicinal plants, all the treasures in the universe . . . I also offer myself . . . I will devote myself without hesitation to bringing good to living beings. And I will free myself from the faults of self-cherishing, and attachment . . . “

The button is there, at the top, on the right. I don’t think I will publish the names of donors, mostly to protect the privacy of readers. But if anyone wants to be acknowledged publically, I’d be happy to do that, just let me know.

So, if you can help with a small donation, it would be appreciated.

I have to say that I am amazed that anyone reads this thing, and that regular readership has been growing over the past few months is even more amazing. My intention has never been to promote myself, but rather to simply share my understanding of Buddha-dharma in hopes that someone else might find it useful, and I thank you all for coming here.

Finally, while we make offerings for our own sake, and for others, the Buddhist spirit of generosity is to give without such thoughts, as described in this passage from the Gaganaganja Sutra:

skyskyHe gives that gift, pure of the notion of I or mine, pure of the notion of motive, of rationale, of expecting profit, a gift pure in thought like the sky . . .  as the sky is infinite, so is the thought with which he gives; as the sky is outspread over all, so that gift is applied unto wisdom; as the sky is immaterial, so that gift is dependent upon no matter; as the sky is without discrimination so that gift is detached from all discrimination; so it is without consciousness, not composite, with the characteristic of manifesting nothing; as the sky pervades all the Buddha’s field, so that gift is pervaded with compassion for all creatures  . . .”

– – – – – – – – – –

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The Searchers

From time to time, I am curious about how people find The Endless Further. One way is through online searches. As I blogged in December, some of the keyword and search phrases used are rather interesting. Here are recent searches I found intriguing:

is thich nhat hanh a buddha nature

In a manner of speaking, he is. We all are. That is, we all have buddha nature. Buddha nature is not just limited to sentient beings. Many Buddhists believe that animals and plants also have buddha nature. Thich Nhat Hanh once said, “Anything that can help you wake up has Buddha nature.”

bob dylan Buddhist” “bob dylan american bandstand

Bob Dylan is not now, nor has he ever been, a Buddhist. He had a passing interest in Buddhism during the mid-sixties when he used to hang with Allen Ginsberg, who was a Buddhist. Evidently, he did read some, and a few Buddhist notions found its way into his songwriting during that period, but that’s about the extent of it. Dylan never appeared on American Bandstand.

Smarty Pants
Smarty Pants

how to become smarty

Mel Brooks had an answer for that. Ahem. My answer is: dress like Einstein did.

can one read the lotus sutra instead of chanting it?”

Absolutely, and that, in fact, is the real purpose of the sutra, to be a text for reading and study. There are a number of good translations. For some reason, I am partial to The Threefold Lotus Sutra by Bunno Kato and Yoshiro Tamura.

chanting sutra to win difficult lawsuit

I wish this person lots of luck. Unfortunately, that not how it works. Chanting a sutra or a mantra is not like reciting a magic formula, although some people might like you to believe that. Chanting sutras is a Buddhist tradition. They form liturgy, to be used in ritual services called puja or sadhana. It’s a way of expressing respect for the teachings. Sutra chanting helps embed the teachings of a text in your mind. And it can be a form of vocal meditation.

the latest dirt on sgi ikeda” “ikeda bad photography” “ikeda is king of japan” “ikeda daisaku honary doctorate degrees mean nothing

Daisaku Ikeda, president for life of the Soka Gakkai International, has been accused of a lot of things, but never a bad photographer, as far as I am aware. Because of the power and influence he wields in Japan, he has been called a “King” and kingmaker. Some folks feel that he wants the Soka Gakkai to take over Japan, and frankly, I don’t think that’s such an absurd notion. I don’t know what the latest dirt is. There are some rumors he is dead or in a coma. The SGI is very adept at preventing negative material about Ikeda and the organization from ever seeing the light of day. How they do that, I am not sure, but I think someone should check into it. It would make a highly interesting story.

Now, I don’t want to say that academic honors conferred upon Daisaku Ikeda mean nothing, after all, it got him into the Guinness Book of World Records. But . . . I read a report of a recent poetry symposium in Dubai sponsored by SGI-Gulf. The article noted that Ikeda was “recipient of the World Poet Laureate Award.” What it failed to mention, or perhaps what the writer did not know, is that award was given to him by the World Poetry Society, publisher of Poetry World International Monthly, “Under the patronage of Dr. Daisaku Ikeda, President, S.G.I., Tokyo, Japan.” In other words, he underwrites the society financially. You got to hand it to him, it’s a pretty neat trick to give yourself awards and get away with it.

martin luther king why can’t we all just get along

Several people were searching for this. Martin Luther King, Jr. did not say that. Rodney King did, during the L.A. Riots of 1992.

ufo contact from planet acart

Roonik Landing Base
Roonik Landing Base

I know nothing about this. I do know, however, that for many years aliens from the planet Roonika having been coming to Earth and have targeted the United States, trying to infiltrate America through our public restroom system. To the right is a photo of one of their landing bases. You see them everywhere. People think they are power stations.

how do you handle a hungry ghost

Like this:

hungry

 

 

 

 

 

 

Unless the ghost is on a low-sodium diet.

Charlie Chaplin” continues to be the Number One search term. So, all you Chaplin fans, I hope you have stuck around to read some of the other stuff here. Sadly, no one has found this blog while engaging in searches related to my favorite comedians, the Marx Brothers. By the way, I have recently learned that the Marx Brothers have been reincarnated as High Lamas in Nepal. They are currently residing at the Paadal Hamsa Jhol (Holy Duck Soup) Temple. Here is a photograph of Their Holinesses during a recent dharma talk given in the temple’s main hall.

Guru-Hall

It is amazing how they look nearly same as they did in their last life.

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Top 5 Searches 2012

People find The Endless Further in a variety of ways. For instance, from Facebook, or from seeing it listed on another blog’s blogroll. Quite a few folks find me through online searches. As my fellow bloggers know, every blog and website has access to statistical reports on “traffic,” i.e. how many visitors you have each day, how many subscribe to your feed, etc. These stats also give you information about the keyword searches used to find your blog.

Most of the keywords and phrases are about what you’d expect: “buddha,” “samsara is nirvana,” “shantideva,” and so on. Some folks have found The Endless Further by searching for such things as “was bruce lee a Buddhist” (not a practicing Buddhist, but Buddha-dharma had a significant influence), and since I am a rather eclectic blogger, with searches like “who was known as the poet laureate of harlem” (Langston Hughes). I’ve blogged about Bruce Lee and Langston Hughes several times. Some searches are a bit off the wall, like “cape wrath deckhouse,” which results in a post I did about Hurricane Irene that contained the three words but not in succession. And a few are downright bizarre. Someone was searching for “naga sex scene.” Naga is the Indian word for serpent or dragon, and while I’ve mentioned nagas on occasion, I don’t recall anything about them having sex. Another strange one: “cortical gyrification meditation.” I don’t even know what that is, and frankly, I’m not sure I want to find out.

I thought it would be interesting (at least to me) to post the Top Five Keyword Searches that brought visitors to The Endless Further in 2012. Here they are:

No-self? Nah, Invisible Man.
No-self? Nah, Invisible Man.

A tie for Fifth Place with “taiji” and “invisible man.” Taiji or Tai Chi is an internal Chinese martial art and a form of exercise. I wrote about the Eights Truths of Tai Chi in 2011. When I Googled “invisible man,” I did not see The Endless Further come up in any results, not in the first 20 pages at any rate. There are a few posts where I have the word “invisible” contained in the text, but I suspect that most people landed on the blog from Google images, finding a post from Nov. 29, 2012 titled “No-self.”

Number 4 is “Lao tzu leadership.” When I searched this on Google, The Endless Further was the third listing with Dictators and Lao Tzu’s Principles for Leadership.

“Po chu-i” comes in at Number 3. Po Chu-i was one of the great classical Chinese poets. I blogged about him in The Chan Poetry of Po Chu-i.

Weighing in at Number 2 is “heart sutra chant.” Again, The Endless Further came up as the third result when I Googled this phrase. The short video in Chanting the Heart Sutra in English that I originally posted on YouTube has been viewed at least 4,067 times. I’ve seen it embedded on other blogs and websites, and I’ve gotten some good comments about it. It is gratifying to know that many people have enjoyed it and found it beneficial. The video appears at the end of this post.

And now, the Number 1 keyword search that brought folks to The Endless Further in 2012 is (drum roll) . . . “charlie chaplin”!

Charlies as "The Little Tramp."
Charlies as “The Little Tramp.”

I’ve mentioned Charlie Chaplin quite a few times, as he is a historical figure I greatly admire. Chaplin first appeared on film nearly 100 years ago, in Mack Sennet’s 1914 short Making A Living, and the Little Tramp character he created soon thereafter lives on today, a universal icon. His films have endured as well, the best of which were silent, and because they were silent they spoke a universal language. In a post about The Religious Sect That Worships Charlie Chaplin, I wrote,

From the late teens of the last century and into the 1920’s, he was arguably the most beloved man in the world. Almost everyone could relate to Charlie in one way or another, especially everyday people, working class people, folks who were closer to the bottom than the top. Charlie represented them. When he kicked a cop, tricked a bullying boss, or hit a pompous rich man in the face with a custard pie, he was doing what they wanted to do – strike a blow against authority. Charlie’s Little Tramp character was usually  left with the short end of the stick, rarely got the girl he loved, and at the end of many of the films, he wandered off alone, lonely and a little sad.

Chaplin’s silent films were loved the world over because the title cards, which he used sparingly, could be easily translated into another language. Walt Disney based his most famous character, Mickey Mouse, a bit on Charlie. He once said, “I think we are rather indebted to Charlie Chaplin for the idea. We wanted something appealing, and we thought of a tiny bit of a mouse that would have something of the wistfulness of Chaplin — a little fellow trying to do the best he could.” Film critic Leonard Maltin has said, “Shakespeare wrote great plays that we’re still watching all these years later. Charlie Chaplin made great comedies and they are still as funny today as they ever were.” I couldn’t agree more.

Here is my video of the Heart Sutra chanted in English:

May you have a joyful, peaceful, and productive 2013!

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Ethical Blogging Part I

I had another post planned for today, but I read something yesterday that rather disturbed me. Actually a couple of things, but I will deal with only one today. I’m just going to write this off the cuff, so to speak, so it might be a bit disjointed, and may seem like a rant, but so be it.

If you think of yourself as a Buddhist then as far as I am concerned you have an obligation to try to practice and behave as one. This is not a free for all party. There are some standards, and sorry to say, they are not really subject to your interpretation. At least not until you have had some real years of practice, or you are a qualified teacher.

Some people think Buddhism has nothing to do with morality or ethics. They’re wrong. Ethics is one of the cornerstones of Buddhism. And one thing I’ve noticed in the Buddhist Blogosphere is that some people also seem to be under the impression that when we switch on our computers, the reasons for why we should engage in ethical behavior somehow magically vanish. Ethics has no on or off switch.

If you are going to identify your blog as Buddhist then I believe that your blogging should reflect Buddhist values. That means more than just blogging about compassion and peace and stuff. Your blogging should be ethical and compassionate. It is neither ethical or compassionate to mislead people.

Most blogs are about opinions, and as such, they have a limited value. But whether it’s opinion or some sort of factual reporting, blogging falls under the category of journalism. It’s very true that people believe what they read. People forget that it’s merely opinion, especially when there are so-called facts thrown into the mix.

When mixing opinion with fact, I think one has to be very careful to make sure that somehow they stay separated or duly noted for what they are. When representing something as a fact, it should be a clear fact that is verifiable and linked to a source. To use hearsay or someone’s opinion and represent them as facts is, I believe, unethical.

If I were to write something like “In Zen Buddhism the practice of hitting people with sticks is widespread,” I would have to call this a misleading fact. Yes, it is true, it’s a fact, but if I don’t provide the context and some explanation, readers could get the wrong impression. If I want to be ethical, fair and balanced, then I should either mention that this is just something I’ve heard and since I have no personal experience with it, it should not be taken as a hard fact, or I should write that this only occurs within the context of formal meditation sessions and only with the consent of the practitioner. Otherwise, people might think that Zennies are just a bunch of stick-wielding abusers going berserk.

If I say that I am going to offer my opinion and then present what appears to be layers of facts that are not linked to any sources beyond a vague mention of some individuals I know, this is the same thing. Misleading and unethical.

As Buddhists we should try to rise above the fray, not sink to the lowest common denominator. We should try to set an example for others, not follow their misguided examples. Just because everyone else in this crazy world today seems to have forgotten about fair play and the importance of having some integrity, we should to? No way.

I think we should have the spirit that as Buddhists we will hold ourselves to a higher standard than anyone else. Why so? Well, I’ll have an explanation for that and more on the subject of ethical blogging when I’ve had time to sort out my thoughts. Had to get this off my chest for now.

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