Okay, “Enlightenment or bust” might be a bit dramatic, but…

"Dang Zang" is an empty name. The blog has to do with the dharma; material related to Buddhist teachings (Tibetan style in particular, Kagyu in even more particular), meditation, gurus and lamas be they genuine or flaky, books and events. I do have a more personal blog, Pica Pica, and a site for my work.

Oh yes, it's by Alex Wilding


  • A Brexit puzzle 03/07/2017
    No, not the one about “why did we ever…?” This: Let’s think of an election, perhaps a general election. A vital part of our democratic process, of course. Usually it’s a two-horse race with a few also-rans, so let’s just concentrate on the two main parties, and call them left and right. One side wins, […]
  • Kathmandu trip 30/06/2017
    For the last few weeks I’ve been writing up “what I did on my holidays” in Kathmandu this April. It’s on this site, but not on this blog. You’ll find it at http://alex-wilding.com/the-kathmandu-report/  
  • Untitled 27/02/2017
    https://www.theguardian.com/…/grandmother-deported-from-uk-… How is this fair? How is this not vindictive? How is this not a failure to use discretion? How is this not a failure of compassion? How is this not a failure of common sense? How is this not narrow-minded? How is this not mean-spirited? How is this not pig-headed? Sorry, pigs, it’s just […]
  • Donny, Theresa and the Brexit effect 29/01/2017
    In her attempt to pretend that there is enough other “free trade” out there in the world to compensate for the financial hit to the UK (lower wages and higher prices, to you and me) that Wrexit will cause, we have seen Theresa May cosying up to a variety of questionable characters, most notably the […]
Monday April 13th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

Queen of Bland finds Prince

I should explain. Regularly on Sunday nights here in NSW, ABC’s Geraldine Doogue plays the part of the Queen of Bland as she presents Compass, which claims to be “an engaging program reflecting and exploring faith, belief and values in Australia and around the globe”. I don’t want to complain too much – it does look at a much wider range of issues than some straighforward “religious” programmes might. But in its worthy struggle to find common ground and not give offence it often appears toothless. Here she is:
(Thanks to ABC for picture)

The last two weeks have been taken up with a two-part series by Robert Beckford. He may not look bland:

but then he talks. I’ll be honest – I also allowed myself to be irritated at being spoken to like a 10-year-old, and at interviews where the subjects were left little option but to agree with the simplistic views he was urging on them. OK, they could have disagreed I suppose, but that would have ended on the cutting room floor. And, by the way, I do still use “simplistic” in its sense of excessively or misleadingly simple, not in the modern usage of just “simple”.

Our man presented “remarkable parallels to the Jesus story in other faiths; some that predate Christianity by thousands of years. He looks at the stories of Horus, Mithras, Krishna and the Buddha…” Let me take the last: we were told a number of times about the “remarkable parallels” between the teachings of Christianity and those of the Buddha. Quoi? Arguably a key feature of Christianity is love and compassion. Yes, some might argue against it, but the case can be made. Arguably a key feature of Buddhism is also love and compassion – we have a saying that if there were one teaching that could put Buddhahood in the palm of your hand, it would be great compassion. Arguably this is the most important thing about either religion. But that is as far as it goes. As for practically everything else I can think of – the soul, the self, the mind, god, the world, the effects of our actions, the nature of reality and so on – the teachings of the two are as different as bacon and bananas. To pretend otherwise is to reduce both to “just be kind to everyone”. Good advice, no doubt, but I expect something more incisive from someone advertised as “academic theologian Dr Beckford”.

I watched because there was plenty of colourful location shooting. But if there were a third episode I would hesitate before letting myself in for further exhortations to drop the doctrine1, drop the dogma2 and serve god by living the message of the real Jesus3.

1, 2 – said as if dirty words
3 – said as if it’s obvious what that means

Friday February 20th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

Am I a 98er?

Last night SBS broadcast Murder in the Snow. Of course, when we see those figures falling into the snow, knowing that we are seeing, for instance, 17-year old nun Kelsang Namtso being shot dead, we react in the obvious way – outrage at the behaviour of the Chinese soldiers is not far away.

But there was something that struck me as worse. When we give guns to kids and young men, and tell them to go and “keep order” in an occupied territory, there will be atrocities. Think of the Americans at Mai Lai in Vietnam, in Iraq or at the Sand Creek massacre; the British in Northern Ireland (or, if you don’t find that convincing, go back to the days of the Black and Tans) or at the Amritsar massacre; the Japanese at the Nanking massacre; Rwanda; and on; and on.

What frightened me more was the mountaineers. There were about 100 of them in the party. Of those, two (yes, the number after one) of them, having witnessed the murder of defenceless, innocent civilians with their backs to the soldiers, saw it in the first place as their human duty to tell the story to the world. These were the Romanian cameraman Sergiu Matei and American mountain guide Luis Benitez. A couple of the others were more or less cornered into saying something later, which is some credit to them, but essentially the other 98 were more worried about their tourist visas and climbing permits than about state-sanctioned murder.

It is these “98ers” who stand by and let it all go wrong – but which of us can be sure that we are not amongst the 98? I’ve only just seen The Reader – was it not the 98ers who stood by and let Germany turn into Nazi Germany in the 1930s? Is it not 98ers everywhere who let bullying turn into bastardry and bastardry grow into atrocity?

The events of Murder in the Snow took place in 2006; it was the events of 2008 that I referred to a week ago, but in that connection I came across another graphic:

(Courtesy Lhuboom/RFA)

You can get what may have better resolution from Phayul if you want to put a copy elsewhere.

Monday February 16th, 2009. Posted by Alex:

Murder in the Snow

In case you don’t notice it in the listings. SBS, Thursday 19th Feb., 8:30 pm. Preview clip at the SBS website.. How Chinese border guards treat Tibetans when they don’t realize that someone is watching. Harrowing, but should be seen.