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Thread: Where do we turn?

  1. #1
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Where do we turn?

    I was having a great day.
    I had slept well and felt refreshed.
    I got some work done.
    All my sports teams had won.
    And by chance I flipped channels over to the Newtown memorial service and just lost it. Tears and sorrow flowed. The relativity of my day compared to the subject of that service was crushing. That the service was so beautiful is why I lost it. That service was as nice as I have ever seen of a multi-denominational event. So many faiths were represented; there were many variations of Christianity, but there were also Jews and B'Hai, and even Muslim, etc. But I did not see Buddhism. Each faith's representative took to the lectern to offer prayers to God, and those that sang their prayers I found especially moving. It was wonderful and there was nothing in any way wrong with it.

    All those faiths had one thing in common: an entreaty to another, God, to alleviate their suffering. God was not alone in this task, but He was in charge. I am a firm believer in God because of some very powerful experiences in my life, so I have no real issue with all those faiths' entreaties. But my question is if a Buddhist priest were invited to that service (surely there are Buddhists in that community, right?), what could they offer as comfort?

    We, as a natural human reaction in times like this, want that hug from another, and maybe especially The Other. It is quite normal that we feel a need for that external comfort, but providing this is not a strength of Buddhism, and maybe partly an explanation of why it is not more popular. Buddhism requires harder work, more internal reflection, and also because of my experience I embrace this heartily. But acceptance of emptiness can seem very heartless to those of other faiths in the context of such a terrible tragedy. We have Avalokitesvara, but it is so easy to make her/him a saint, just another external source of comfort instead of internalizing those actions.

    I know this is an old debate, an old question, usually one I now avoid here, but this new context brings it to mind, and it seems worthy enough to reintroduce in a slightly different way:

    If one had the chance, what would a Buddhist (priest) say to comfort those at Newtown?
    What can one of us say to comfort without calling on the Other?
    Last edited by AlanLa; 12-17-2012 at 02:10 AM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
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  2. #2
    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post

    All those faiths had one thing in common: an entreaty to another, God, to alleviate their suffering. God was not alone in this task, but He was in charge. I am a firm believer in God because of some very powerful experiences in my life, so I have no real issue with all those faiths' entreaties. But my question is if a Buddhist priest were invited to that service (surely there are Buddhists in that community, right?), what could they offer as comfort?

    We, as a natural human reaction in times like this, want that hug from another, and maybe especially The Other. It is quite normal that we feel a need for that external comfort, but providing this is not a strength of Buddhism, and maybe partly an explanation of why it is not more popular. Buddhism requires harder work, more internal reflection, and also because of my experience I embrace this heartily. But acceptance of emptiness can seem very heartless to those of other faiths in the context of such a terrible tragedy. We have Avalokitesvara, but it is so easy to make her/him a saint, just another external source of comfort instead of internalizing those actions.

    I know this is an old debate, an old question, usually one I now avoid here, but this new context brings it to mind, and it seems worthy enough to reintroduce in a slightly different way:

    If one had the chance, what would a Buddhist (priest) say to comfort those at Newtown?
    What can one of us say to comfort without calling on the Other?
    Hi Al,

    I cannot concur with many of the premises written here.

    A Buddhist experience of this life-world-self is not of something cold and empty, but rather an Embrace and Peace that holds all beyond and right between "inside" or "outside". Our message is no less hopeful, our Salvation complete.

    Some folks need an image of Jesus or Mary or Amida or Kannon, an outward Savior or Saint or Buddha or Bodhisattva, who takes all in hand and shines a light. That is fine for those who need or are helped by such, but I would say that the real Light shines through "within" or "without".

    It is not that we reject that "Other Power", by the way, but just that we find "Other Power" and "Self Power" is just "Power", no great divide of "Self vs. Other".

    Our way is simply to span both sides of that bridge of "here and there" "me and you" "what is and what is not" "beautiful and ugly", and the barriers that break this world into a billion pieces of our little human wishes and dreams and selfish views. Suffering is alleviated, our True Face and True Home found ... the Beautiful Pure Land washing away small human views of the beautiful and ugly, pure and impure, this place and that.

    Yes, we believe in total "Salvation" (big "S") because there is never a sentient being in need of saving from the first, no flaw although countless flaws and cracks and imperfections, and all things flowing vibrantly as they are. We do not find the universe an unfriendly place, but the one place to be or where we need be.

    I dare say that, for those who can pierce this fact, our Light shines brighter than for those who can never understand why their God fails to make this world into the world that men would want it to be, why their prayers often seem to go unanswered, why such evil and ugliness seems to appear in the "reality" that is actually a passing dream and theatre show (for that is ultimately what it is) of a world.

    So, I cannot accept the major premises of what you say. But yes, Buddhism (except the kinds which offer an external hearer of prayers) is not more popular because our Zen way is subtle and hard to fathom for the masses, and always has been. We teach that all our "prayers are answered" and always heard because our "Zen prayers" are songs of gratitude for all of life ... which is just who we are all along.

    What would I say to comfort those at Newtown?

    Our children have returned to that Peace and Wholeness which was never left, beyond and holding birth and death. Though lives appear to our eyes to be lost too early, please find that which is Timeless and never bound by "long or short". Though our hearts are broken, there is a Heart which can never be broken in its Wholeness. And though this life is like a dream, sometimes beautiful and somtimes ugly, it is our dream. May we go forth and make a world free of violence.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-17-2012 at 04:05 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  3. #3
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Gassho to Jundo for putting down to words so eloquently what I cannot express with words.

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  4. #4
    Beautifully expressed Jundo.

    When I fist came to Buddhism (quite recently) it was with a sense of relief that I had finally found a spiritual practice that was not defined by a belief in God.

    What I came to realise was that it was an entrapment of a notion of God within a particular religious upbringing that I couldn't gell with.

    Zen lacks nothing - it seems to me - in words of comfort and deeply held spiritual belief - and hope for the future that we as free, creative human beings can shape the world we live in.

    Gassho

    Willow

  5. #5
    Thanks Jundo and AMEN.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  6. #6
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Thanks Jundo for that. Spot on.

    We have the precepts. These Bodhisattva precepts are not optional in this practice. They are central. We do not sit on our Zafus only. But when we do, the precepts are fully realised. When we stand up, we must carry that into conventional reality ... our lived and daily lives first, as we encounter them. Or when children are murdered by a gunman, by a bomb in Gaza or southern Israel, by a drone or a disease or all the countless terrible things that happen everyday, when press cameras are there or when they are not. Each tragedy is real and all the dead deserve dignity.

    ... I am speachless now. Time to stop my foolish blather.

    Gassho,
    Myozan
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
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    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  7. #7
    Senior Member Hoyu's Avatar
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    Thank you Jigen for asking such questions and to Jundo for a most heartwarming reply to them!

    Gassho,
    Hoyu
    Ho (Dharma)
    Yu (Hot Water)

  8. #8
    Senior Member KellyRok's Avatar
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    Hello all,

    I can't say that I haven't asked this question before...so thank you Al for your post. But I'm also grateful to be reminded why I have chosen this path. Thank you Jundo for such heartfelt words! As I wipe my eyes for the hundreth time in the last few days, I'm printing this question and response so that I may share it with my family.

    Gassho,
    Kelly/Jinmei

  9. #9
    Beautiful, thank you Jundo.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Id like to thank Alan for an honest and sincere post.

    And I agree, there was nothing whatsoever wrong with the service....even with a representative of Buddhism missing from the podium. I live in a community (nearby) of roughly the same size as Newtown. You could not find Buddhism if you tried. Of course, there is a small yoga studio with some meditation classes, all and all...Buddhism is absent from the community, so naturally, it would not be included in a service in a community where tragedy took place.

    I personally, do not believe in any sort of god or higher power, which is why I am typing on a forum within this community (although as I understand it, all faiths are welcome). I think it is a natural CONDITIONED human response to look to a creator in times like this for comfort. I respect those that do, It is something that I cannot.

    I do feel that what you said.."acceptance of emptiness can seem very heartless to those of other faiths in the context of such a terrible tragedy" may have some serious truth to it, from those who do not understand buddhism.

    I saw footage of a man speaking to media, the day after his daughter was killled, he spoke with great compassion towards both the Killer, and his family..he even said he was not angry. Ultimately his faith in a higher power is what is getting him through this difficult time. I seriously admire his compassion and love given what has happened to his family.

    Just my ramblings.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  11. #11
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    I would like to add one small point. Other faiths use the term evil, as if some supernatural event is at work. I have an issue with the use of that word. It gives the suggestion that there is evil which can be fought, or repelled, instead of addressing real issues like mental health and gun control. I personally do not believe evil can really exist.

    No disrespect intended to anyone here.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  12. #12
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Shawn,

    I tend to agree with you about the word "evil" because, as someone who did not grow up religious, the word simply seems silly. I can see the point where people would say the acts themselves are evil, but I refuse to believe that killers are evil...they are sick from that which we all suffer from and in many cases were never shown love or empathy. Calling someone or their acts evil, in my view, only clouds the investigation into what happened and only by finding that out can we truly address these horrorible acts.

    Gassho,
    Dosho

    Quote Originally Posted by zen_rook View Post
    I would like to add one small point. Other faiths use the term evil, as if some supernatural event is at work. I have an issue with the use of that word. It gives the suggestion that there is evil which can be fought, or repelled, instead of addressing real issues like mental health and gun control. I personally do not believe evil can really exist.
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  13. #13
    Gassho Jundo, that is awesome!

  14. #14
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    All "evil" karma ever committed by me since of old ... ?

    We do use the word, but do we mean it in the same sense? Or, is it a translation issue?

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 12-17-2012 at 06:59 PM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  15. #15
    Good point Myozan - perhaps it needs to be translated as 'negative'.

    Gassho

    Willow

  16. #16
    negative or evil... now we're just getting into semantics. There is good and there is evil. If you say otherwise, you're just clinging to an absolute point of view, but we don't live and breathe in the absolute. We live and breathe now.

    Gassho,

    Risho

  17. #17
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Myozan Kodo View Post
    All "evil" karma ever committed by me since of old ... ?
    Actually, Jundo changed it within the last year or so from something like "All harmful actions, words, and thoughts ever committed by me...". When I asked him why he changed it, I mentioned that I didn't like the word "evil" and he asked me to explore that. So, I have...still working on it.

    I would still like to know why the change was made, but while it did make me uncomfortable to say it at first, I don't find it as such anymore. Maybe that means I can ask again.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  18. #18
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    negative or evil... now we're just getting into semantics. There is good and there is evil. If you say otherwise, you're just clinging to an absolute point of view, but we don't live and breathe in the absolute. We live and breathe now.
    For me, the difference is not semantics. Evil is a very loaded word that many in the West see as synonymous with the devil, often times implying that an evil doer was possessed or influenced by a diety that is pure evil.

    Negative is a mathemtical term.

    I still do not believe in evil and in my daily life do not use it except as Jundo has requested I use it. I also don't believe in an absolute good either...two sides of a no sided coin with many a shade of grey inbetween.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  19. #19
    ah ok.. I'm not talking about evil synonymous with the devil. I'm talking about negative, bad things. lol

    Edit: but maybe I am. You are right evil is a loaded term. I have to consider this as well. I was so certain when I responded to Willow, but now that I think about evil it gets tricky very quickly. I started to think about an absolute good as well.. and good varies by circumstance. For instance even love is not necessarily good if that type of action is not appropriate... this is a tricky one
    Last edited by Risho; 12-17-2012 at 08:08 PM.

  20. #20
    The word Evil brings some interesting reactions. I see it as descriptive of extreme willful cruelty. Just as saying something is beautiful doesn't mean a entity called "Beauty" exists ( it did for some ancients), neither does "evil" require an evil entity. I once knew a Buddhist who insisted on saying Pol Pot's killing fields were "unskillful", because there is no such entity as evil. It can slide into a Buddhist political correctness. IMO

    Gassho, kojip
    大山

  21. #21
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Our children have returned to that Peace and Wholeness which was never left, beyond and holding birth and death. Though lives appear to our eyes to be lost too early, please find that which is Timeless and never bound by "long or short". Though our hearts are broken, there is a Heart which can never be broken in its Wholeness. And though this life is like a dream, sometimes beautiful and somtimes ugly, it is our dream. May we go forth and make a world free of violence.
    This would've been a very nice addition to that service, Jundo.

    I completely and totally see its place there. My point is that it wasn't. And it is a very small point in this very large event.

    I know you and Taigu do this very hard work, the comforting of survivors in so many situations beyond this tragedy, the every day of it all, and I commend you for it.

    Honestly, such embracing of pain for this is beyond me. I am just not there yet in my Path. I am lost somewhere in between wanting to save those survivors, knowing that I cant't, and numbing the pain however I can. I haven't been this hurt since 9/11, but this is different because it's kids and it's local: 20 little beautiful children! Strangely, this was at a scale that I can at least try to understand.

    This is my lightly edited entry in my journal last night when I started this thread:

    Saw the Newtown memorial and can't stop thinking about it
    27 dead. What's the answer to such horror?
    I don't know
    And I am ok with that
    It still hurts horribly
    And that's ok, too
    It's not about feeling better. If anything, it's about feeling horrible as ok, as needed.
    And then, when ready, to move on with life
    But this only comforts me
    How am I to save?


    Oh yeah, and where do I turn?
    Here
    Last edited by AlanLa; 12-17-2012 at 10:17 PM.
    AL (Jigen) in:
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    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Dosho View Post
    Actually, Jundo changed it within the last year or so from something like "All harmful actions, words, and thoughts ever committed by me...". When I asked him why he changed it, I mentioned that I didn't like the word "evil" and he asked me to explore that. So, I have...still working on it.

    I would still like to know why the change was made, but while it did make me uncomfortable to say it at first, I don't find it as such anymore. Maybe that means I can ask again.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    A word is just a word, but I do believe there is "evil" in the world ... actions and movements and events so heinous in the degree of hate and destruction that they can truly be described as "evil". Yes, in Buddhism we try to avoid speaking of "bad people" or "evil people" because the true source is greed, anger and ignorance. However, I believe that there are truly "evil" actions. The events in Newtown, the Swedish youth camp, Nazi Germany, Cambodia ... I can think of no more appropriate word than "evil" for the heinous nature of what was done.

    I did try (I often forget) to change the wording of our Verse of Atonement during Zazenkai to "harmful" instead of "evil" because, frankly, most of the little daily harms we cause to self and others (not two, by the way) just don't measure up. Even Karma has a sliding scale. Greed, anger and ignorance comes in many degrees and forms. (There are many ways to translate the original chant from Sino-Japanese 諸悪業, so either word would do).

    By the way, I do believe in Buddhist hells in a very real sense. Many Buddhists traditionally did (still do!) believe in rebirth in heavens or hells based on volitional actions (Karma) in this and past lives. Some of the descriptions of "Buddhist Hells" are as hellacious as anything in Western imagination (although the images seem to have developed independently) ... complete with pitchforks and brimstone ... look here. Not for the squeemish. I have seen similar images here and there at temples in China, Japan, Thailand and Korea ... images that would make any Fire & Brimstone preacher in the Bible Belt faint. Just like in the West, images of "hell" were often used by Buddhist preachers to get people to "be good". WARNING: 18 and OVER

    https://www.google.com/search?um=1&h....1.6kyHCwPWJ54

    I personally am a skeptical, but open minded, agnostic on literal, mechanical models of rebirth. It is not vital to my practice. But I do believe ... and see all the time ... people who make very terrible "hells" for themself and others in this life through their actions in this world. As I often say ...

    If there are future lives, heavens and hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.

    And if there are no future lives, no heavens or hells ... live this life here and now, seek not to do harm, seek not to build "heavens" and "hells" in this world ... let what happens after "death" take care of itself.
    Buddhism also has an image of "the Devil" ... the tempter "Mara" who, in the old Suttas, is often seen trying to lead Buddha off a good course. Does Mara exist literally? Well, like Kannon as a symbol of Compassion who exists through us and is "made real" when we choose our actions and whenever we do something caring and beneficial to others, Mara likewise exists through us when we do something harmful through the temptations of greed, anger and ignorance. In the sense, yes, they are real because compassion and generosity and selfishness and hate all exist as "real forces" in this universe as humans make them real through our words, thoughts and acts. The great Buddhist skeptic Stephen Batchelor also believes in "the devil" in this way (and that, in a sense Buddha needs evil to wrestle with, thus to be Buddha), and one of his finest books is ...

    http://www.amazon.com/Living-Devil-S...With+The+Devil

    Yes, "evil" exists in this world. So does "goodness" fortunately. And also That certain Peace and Goodness beyond small human appraisals of "good and evil".

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 12-18-2012 at 12:20 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  23. #23
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    As Jundo says Hell is, in my modest opinion, nothing but something that comes from the three poisons and is self- made, home made and is no punishment.

    As to rebirth, I don t know and I don t care.

    Life as ii is here and now should be our sole concern and require our full attention.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Last edited by Taigu; 12-18-2012 at 04:56 AM.
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  24. #24
    The present moment is the most sacred gift of all, for this moment will never come again.

    Gassho
    Michael
    倫道 真現

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.

  25. #25
    Senior Member pinoybuddhist's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AlanLa View Post
    If one had the chance, what would a Buddhist (priest) say to comfort those at Newtown?
    What can one of us say to comfort without calling on the Other?

    I am no priest, so more likely I'll stay silent and let my arms do the talking. An embrace can speak volumes without mentioning god or buddha. That being said, sometimes you have to say something.

    I wrote this in remembrance of my dead parents (that's my dad and his wife, btw - my biological mother is still alive). In a way, I wrote it to comfort me. At the same time, I offered it as my own way of comforting those who remembered them without mentioning heaven or god's divine plan.

    "Gone and not gone:
    Like a wave that's reached the shore.

    Where did the wave go?
    Did it go anywhere at all?

    The ocean moves and waves are born
    Life dances and we are danced into being.

    You are dancing still."

    Of course they died of sickness and were both old already. How to offer comfort to someone who lost a child in such a violent way.... I don't know. Christians sometimes say it's part of god's plan, but that's hardly comforting when your kid has been murdered. Me, I think I'll stick to hugging.


    Gassho,

    Rafael

  26. #26
    Blue Mountain White Clouds Hermitage Priest Taigu's Avatar
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    Wonderful words indeed.
    You might sit with the final verse. And somehow you ll find out.

    Gassho

    Taigu
    Taigu, teacher at Treeleaf Sangha, was born in 1964, started Zazen early and received Shukke Tokudo in 1983 at age 18 from Rev. Mokusho Zeisler of the Deshimaru Lineage. Received Dharma Transmission from Chodo Cross in 2002. Now resides in Osaka, Japan.

  27. #27
    Friend of Treeleaf Myozan Kodo's Avatar
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    Thanks for this poem. A gift to the world.

    And thanks for these thoughts on hell and evil.

    Forces are always manifest. Words point to a part of reality we single out for attention. As our hand can be the hand of Kannon, so can it be the hand of Mara. But it is our hand ... Which is also the hand of the universe.

    Just my take, here and now.

    Gassho
    Myozan
    Last edited by Myozan Kodo; 12-18-2012 at 09:05 AM.
    Myozan Kodo
    Ordained Soto Zen Priest in Training
    Dublin, Ireland

    As a trainee priest, please take any commentary by me on matters of the Dharma with a pinch of salt.
    "Here the way unfolds."

  28. #28
    -------------
    A soldier named Nobushige came to Hakuin and asked: "Is there really a paradise and a hell?"
    "Who are you?" inquired Hakuin.
    "I am a samurai", the warrior replied.
    "You, a soldier!" sneered Hakuin, "What kind of ruler would have you as his guard? You look like a beggar".
    Nobushige became so angry that he began to draw his sword.
    Hakuin continued: "So you have a sword! Your weapon is probably too dull to cut off my head."
    Nobushige drew his sword.
    Hakuin remarked: "Here open the gates of hell!"
    At these words the samurai, perceiving the master's discipline, put away his sword and bowed.
    "Here open the gates of paradise", said Hakuin.

    -------------

    IMHO when we talk about words like "evil" or "good" we should distinguish between the deed and the doer.
    Everyone of us is capable of good deeds and evil deeds. That does not mean that we are good or evil. We just are as we are and should try to refrain from "evil deeds" and try to do "good deeds" instead.

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  29. #29
    Treeleaf Unsui Shokai's Avatar
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    In reading this thread I hear of 20 beautiful children, six courageous and heroic adults and later 27 victims but, let us not forget that Adam was the 28th. He is no less a victim than the others. Whether it be the cause of some mental lesion or the violent culture we are all subjected to; the daily reinforcement of social media and gruesome computer games. And yes, I cry as much as any when CNN runs the roll call with the pictures of those precious six year olds or we see the tiny caskets. Perhaps the wording should be changed to " all the evil or harmful acts committed by me" to remind us that samsara does have a sliding scale. That it includes the seeming harmless acts, not just the blatant mistakes.
    May all be free from suffering (pain, grief, loss, enmity) and be peaceful (loving, grateful, kind, compassionate); embracing all conditions of this existence
    gassho, Shokai, still learning the way and knowing nothing
    仁道 生開 - Jindo Shokai "Open to life in a benevolent way"
    Just another itinerant monk; go somewhere else to listen to someone who really knows.

  30. #30
    I am moved by pictures of children who died (especially being a parent), yet strong emotion is being milked by the media coverage. There is something we get from collective grief, from strong emotion. Because this shooting really was a horror, it is almost sacrilegious to say this, but it is true. I remember after 9/11.. which horrified me, latching onto that feeling, and keeping it going, and resenting those who pointed to the insularity of North Americans who thought it was the apocalypse. I remember sitting zazen at that time, and having moments free of melodrama, and not liking that, preferring to experience the strong emotions of day. I am not talking about real grief .. which comes uninvited. I'm talking about something else at play, that is at play on a low grade level every day, and that is seen in practice.

    Gassho, kojip
    大山

  31. #31
    Simply, Emptiness is what we perceive, not the Reality of Life.
    Thank you Jundo for opening Zen Buddhism to us here, now, again. No time for learning like a moment of pain.
    Gassho to all.
    "Know that the practice of zazen is the complete path of buddha-dharma and nothing can be compared to it....it is not the practice of one or two buddhas but all the buddha ancestors practice this way."
    Dogen zenji in Bendowa






  32. #32
    Junior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post

    IMHO when we talk about words like "evil" or "good" we should distinguish between the deed and the doer.
    Everyone of us is capable of good deeds and evil deeds. That does not mean that we are good or evil. We just are as we are and should try to refrain from "evil deeds" and try to do "good deeds" instead.
    I like the sentiment but disagree slightly with some of it.

    When looking at the deed surely no action is 'evil' without the intent of the doer being taken into account. This is why the term 'harmful' makes more sense to me, an action can be harmful even when done with the best intentions, and indeed harmful actions are even justified when all other courses of action (or inaction) are justified. Likewise an action that does good can be performed with incorrect intentions. Also the term 'evil' implies an active intent to do harm but we should also be aware of harm caused by inaction or by a more passive lack of thought in the situation.

    "All harmful actions, words, and thoughts ever committed by me..." really makes sense to me as it includes:
    - any intentional harm with malicious intent
    - any unintentional harm caused by lack of thought
    - any unintentional harm caused during active intent to do good
    - any intentional harm when other courses of action or inaction would have been worse

    My personal feeling is that we are reborn at every moment and inherit certain baggage both good and bad (aka karma) from the infinite instances of the self that came before so 'we' cannot be good or evil due to the lack of permament 'self', all we can do is choose the 'right' action from moment to moment, and as we cannot always be sure of what the 'right' action is we must ensure we choose our actions with the right intentions.

    i.e.
    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    We just are as we are and should try to refrain from "evil deeds" and try to do "good deeds" instead.
    (If any of you believe that you have a 'self' that is somehow permanent I would recommend reading some of David Hume's and Derek Parfit's writings)

  33. #33
    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    ah ok.. I'm not talking about evil synonymous with the devil. I'm talking about negative, bad things. lol

    Edit: but maybe I am. You are right evil is a loaded term. I have to consider this as well. I was so certain when I responded to Willow, but now that I think about evil it gets tricky very quickly. I started to think about an absolute good as well.. and good varies by circumstance. For instance even love is not necessarily good if that type of action is not appropriate... this is a tricky one
    I feel in our everyday use of words semantics is important. I don't feel comfortable with the word 'evil' at all, agree with Dosho as to the connatations. 'Harmful' feels ok - and 'negative' works for me because I believe negative energy in it's many manifestations (grasping, greed, anger, etc) causes many problems.

    But the 'root' cause(s) much harder to work out. At the end of the day all behaviour (skillful/unskilful - positive/negative) comes from mind. What is happening in a person's mind? I don't believe in evil because I'm certain all human beings are born innocent. But the central point of buddhism seems to be that mind is naturally ruled by instincts/desires/passions/perceptions.

    Perhaps 'evil' needs to be defined as the mind out of control, skewed, distorted and the reasons for this many - and often beyond our comprehension.

    Gassho

    Willow

  34. #34
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    Perhaps someday a teaching will come along that is "beyond words..."

  35. #35
    Hi George,

    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    I like the sentiment but disagree slightly with some of it.

    When looking at the deed surely no action is 'evil' without the intent of the doer being taken into account. This is why the term 'harmful' makes more sense to me, an action can be harmful even when done with the best intentions, and indeed harmful actions are even justified when all other courses of action (or inaction) are justified. [ ... ]
    I agree with you. The way you put it makes more sense and takes more factors into account (that I overlooked with my statement).


    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    My personal feeling is that we are reborn at every moment and inherit certain baggage both good and bad (aka karma) from the infinite instances of the self that came before so 'we' cannot be good or evil due to the lack of permament 'self', all we can do is choose the 'right' action from moment to moment, and as we cannot always be sure of what the 'right' action is we must ensure we choose our actions with the right intentions.
    Once again I fully agree.
    When I talked about that we should avoid doing evil (although harmful is more fitting, you are right) deeds, I thought of the (small) self at the current situation - a kind of snapshot that one is at this very moment.
    Our decisions have an effect that will affect "us" and "others" in the future (karma, cause and effect).


    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    (If any of you believe that you have a 'self' that is somehow permanent I would recommend reading some of David Hume's and Derek Parfit's writings)
    The illusion of self is a core teaching of Buddhism, but still the model of the 'self' can sometimes be helpful in order to describe certain things.

    Thanks a lot for your clarifying comments!

    Gassho,

    Timo
    no thing needs to be added

  36. #36
    Quote Originally Posted by chuck13 View Post
    Perhaps someday a teaching will come along that is "beyond words..."
    I agree. Call it strawberries or glass or turds ... call it nothing at all ... a rose smells as sweet, and little children die at the hands of a mentally ill man.

    Words are not important here.

    And there is That which Silently holds strawberries and glass, turds and roses, little children and ill men ... silently. **

    Gassho, J

    ** This is usually the point where someone shows up to accuse Jundo of shutting down good, stimulating philosophical discussion and debate just when it was getting going. Sorry, it is in Taigu and my "beyond words and letters" job description for questions like this. If you want good debate, maybe go find a Tibetan.

    Last edited by Jundo; 12-18-2012 at 04:19 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  37. #37
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    I just wanted to say that, for me, the more important question than "What is evil?" was Jundo asking me, "Why does the word bother you so much?". That's the thing to consider silently.

    And, so you know, I looked up the meaning of the word evil and for many centuries it just referred to "negative". Only the Europeans by around the 18th century started adding "other worldly" meaning to it. Which is basically is what we were debating.

    'nuff said.

    Gassho,
    Dosho
    Shudo Dosho - Ordained Priest-in-Training
    With your help and guidance from Jundo & Taigu
    I am learning, but please take what I say with a
    grain of salt, especially in matters of the Dharma.

  38. #38
    Senior Member Shawn's Avatar
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    Good point Dosho.

    Gassho

    Shawn

  39. #39
    Junior Member George's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LimoLama View Post
    ...
    The illusion of self is a core teaching of Buddhism, but still the model of the 'self' can sometimes be helpful in order to describe certain things.
    Hi Timo,

    Yes, sorry to be preaching to converted as it were. I am fairly new to Treeleaf so I am still getting used to the fact that I seem to agree with so much of what is said here.

    Thankfully the nature of the illusion of self seems to be well accepted on Treeleaf, I have not always found it so in other places though. Some groups that focus more on the rebirth and karma side of things seem to forget the illusion of self and my understanding has been that they almost see the continuing self as something to gain freedom from. One monk whom I had studied translations of the dhammapada with for almost a year put forward his view that disabled people must have done something evil in their past life otherwise why would 'karma' punish them so much? I felt his justification for this relied on a continuance of self and further discussions with another group on rebirth (i.e. after bodily death) raised the question of what part of our selves continue into the next life, without any thought as to what part of our self really passes from this moment to the next.

    'I' use the language of continuous self almost all the time so 'I' am as guilty as others of using that model.

    Gassho,

    George

  40. #40
    Quote Originally Posted by George View Post
    Hi Timo,

    Yes, sorry to be preaching to converted as it were. I am fairly new to Treeleaf so I am still getting used to the fact that I seem to agree with so much of what is said here.

    Thankfully the nature of the illusion of self seems to be well accepted on Treeleaf, I have not always found it so in other places though. Some groups that focus more on the rebirth and karma side of things seem to forget the illusion of self and my understanding has been that they almost see the continuing self as something to gain freedom from. One monk whom I had studied translations of the dhammapada with for almost a year put forward his view that disabled people must have done something evil in their past life otherwise why would 'karma' punish them so much? I felt his justification for this relied on a continuance of self and further discussions with another group on rebirth (i.e. after bodily death) raised the question of what part of our selves continue into the next life, without any thought as to what part of our self really passes from this moment to the next.

    'I' use the language of continuous self almost all the time so 'I' am as guilty as others of using that model.

    Gassho,

    George
    Without getting into a debate about it.. "No-self" is skillful means (upaya) , an antidote to being stuck in self-view. Hanging onto no-self isn't any better than hanging onto self. When just sitting, where is self and no-self? No-self view falls away in practice along with self view.
    Gassho, kojip
    Last edited by Daizan; 12-18-2012 at 11:39 PM.
    大山

  41. #41
    Senior Member AlanLa's Avatar
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    Yes, 28 dead. I am bad at the math when there are so many to add.

    Thank you for this rafael:
    "Gone and not gone:
    Like a wave that's reached the shore.

    Where did the wave go?
    Did it go anywhere at all?

    The ocean moves and waves are born
    Life dances and we are danced into being.

    You are dancing still."
    Where do we turn? I asked. We turn to each other. Great and tragic events seem to have a way of dissolving the separation between us, at least for a while. It's a horrible and much too costly method for that glimpse of enlightenment, however. But still, for a moment, we really can feel each others' pain. For a moment, we really do become safe and still in each others' arms. Horrors like this tend to bring out the best in us, generally speaking. Yes, there are exceptions, such as 9/11's associated prejudice and acts of violence against Muslims, but I am choosing optimism here. I think we have to, at least if we want to move forward on the Path.

    Thank you, everyone.
    Gasho
    AL (Jigen) in:
    Faith/Trust
    Courage/Love
    Awareness/Action!

  42. #42
    Thank you Al for bringing this up,

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Our children have returned to that Peace and Wholeness which was never left, beyond and holding birth and death. Though lives appear to our eyes to be lost too early, please find that which is Timeless and never bound by "long or short". Though our hearts are broken, there is a Heart which can never be broken in its Wholeness. And though this life is like a dream, sometimes beautiful and somtimes ugly, it is our dream. May we go forth and make a world free of violence.
    I wish they can hear it, feel it, be it. Thank you
    Gassho
    Myoku

  43. #43
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    The news not only shocked the US. It shook us all here in Mexico. So very sad and sorry event.

    Thank you for the words, Jundo.

    We still have lots to learn.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Shuso and Ango leader for September 2014.

    Please remember I am only a priest in training. I could be wrong in everything I say. Slap me if needed.

    The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few, or the one. Mr. Spock

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