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Thread: A few questions about this practice

  1. #1

    A few questions about this practice

    Hi everyone, I'm new here, and have a few questions that I'd like to hear your opinion if you want to give it! Thanks for reading this even if you don't have a reply!

    Firstly, I've always been a sort of...rigid person with my morals, even before I was reading about Buddhism off and on for about 6 years. I'm a vegetarian (Vegan for about 6 months last year, but there was nothing to eat!) and I've always had WAY more compassion for animals than for humans. Mostly because, well, humans cause their own suffering. I realized that even when I was a teenager. Of course, bad things happen to good people, but a lot of the times, bad things happen to people because of their actions or the type of crowd they are surrounding themselves with. But animals...have done nothing. They just live, which is much like Buddhism, I think. They just live in the moment, day to day, I don't think they worry about the future too much. And yet we factory farm them, give them horrid conditions, over breed our pet animals until they are suffering on the streets, torture them for amusement and medicines, test them for beauty products...etc....I've always had sort of a bleeding heart for animals, because they don't know why anything is happening to them like that. I'm wondering if this practice will give me more compassion for people (Of course, I feel the same way about say, starving kids in africa as I do about animals, both just had the misfortune of being born where they were) or is it okay to be sort of...distant from them? I feel that I'll always feel more about animals than people, but I'm not sure if that's good, or okay, even here in Buddhism?

    The second question is kind of silly, probably a personal preference for everyone. I drink coffee every morning. I've read some Buddhists don't drink caffeine because it's seen as altering the state of mind, so I'm wondering what you guys think about this? I've limited myself to 1 cup (most days) and am thinking about quitting, but it's something I enjoy, it doesn't wake me up really. I can drink it and go right back to bed, but I like the smell and taste, it is the part of day I look forward to most, do I really have to give it up?

    Thanks for reading this,

    Gassho

    Sarah

  2. #2
    Hi Sarah,

    We will begin looking and reflecting on the Precepts in the Fall for our Jukai, but you are welcome to start reading about them and learning even now.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/forum...Y-SEWING-FORUM

    You will find them to be something like arrows pointing us toward ways of living which are as gentle and harmless as possible, a freeing from greed, anger, jealousy and the like. They are not rigid rules, so much as a a guide to a good direction to walk.

    It is fine to be a vegetarian as a Buddhist. Most Chinese Buddhists are strict vegetarians. However, Japanese and Tibetans tend not to be (it is an individual choice). The historical Buddha, you may be surprised to hear, was not a strict vegetarian. He accepted whatever was placed in his bowl, even meat, although with certain restrictions (such that the animal was not known to have been specially killed just for him). But even if eating meat, that too ... as all things ... should be in moderation.

    http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbu...etarianism.htm

    Many related questions on, for example, animal testing. No clear answers perhaps, but certainly testing with rats and rabbits for a new cosmetic is not the same as testing to develop a new cancer drug that may save thousands of human beings. Keeping food animals in terrible conditions, and treating them inhumanely, is to be avoided. These are the kinds of questions we reflect on when examining, for example, the Precept on Avoiding the Taking of Life.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...om-Taking-Life

    I would say that, in our Bodhisattva Vows, we are concerned about all Sentient Beings. In a very real way (even if one does not believe in literal rebirth), people and animals (especially more self aware animals) are all cousins and intimately linked, and should be treated with respect and caring. Even if an animal is taken for food, they should be treated with care and gratitude. What is more, we tend to see ALL people as victims of violence, ignorance and the like ... even the people who commit the violent and harmful acts. For example, even the fellows who commit horrible school shootings are themselves doing so because of some anger, some excess desire, some ignorance (separating "me" from "you"), some dark hole within them which led them to act so. It is the greed, anger and ignorance that is the real "wrong doer" in our book.

    (That does not mean that we do not put the shooter in jail, or take other police action ... even violent action if needed ... to stop them. We should in order to preserve the life of others. It is simply that we see the real culprit as something deeper within them).

    For that reason, in our Metta Practice, we even wish the following toward people who may do ugly or violent things in the world. Why? Because if they truly knew Peace and Contentment, they would likely not do the ugly violence.

    1. May he(she) be free of suffering; may he(she) feel safe and still.

    2. May he(she) be free of enmity; may he(she) be loving, grateful and kind.

    3. May he(she) be healthy and at ease in all his(her) ills.

    4. May he(she) be at peace, embracing all conditions of life
    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...Metta-PRACTICE

    So, I would say that you do not need to shrink your heart toward animals, but please try to widen it boundlessly to include all Sentient Beings. We recite this Vow ...

    To save all sentient beings, though beings numberless

    To transform all delusions, though delusions inexhaustible

    To perceive Reality, though Reality is boundless

    To attain the Enlightened Way, a Way non-attainable
    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-07-2013 at 04:32 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  3. #3
    Thank you for that, Jundo. Actually, I do feel sorry for most people, even ones that kill and are filled with hate, because I know there is an underlying cause, that they are suffering even as they cause suffering. But we are not supposed to feel sorry for them, right? I am still trying to grasp the subtle differences between pity and compassion. I guess, since people seem to hurt each other all the time, and most days I think they are all just horrible dark demons wrapped up in a human body, that I try to protect myself from them by not feeling anything towards them. But, it is time, I suppose, to let go of my judgements, and to let it be what it will be. That is why I've started down this path again! I will try to open myself towards all sentient beings and get rid of "this one deserves more compassion than this one", which is what I tend to do.

    I also came to the conclusion a long time ago, that if I were somewhere where it would be offensive to turn down what was offered or something like that, well, I'd have to eat meat then wouldn't I? Better to eat it than let a precious life go to waste. But actually, I became a vegetarian long before I started reading books about Buddhism, just because...I don't like to eat my friends, haha.

    Thanks for replying!

  4. #4
    Sarah,

    I have always seen a link between empathy and compassion. I am compassionate to a friend who is angry because I know anger, I am compassionate to the lonely, bullied shooter because (to a lesser degree) I know loneliness and being bullied. I think (and I could be very wrong here) that the difference between feeling pity and compassion is the difference between feeling sorry FOR a person and feeling sorry WITH the person. We are all interconnected so even if you have never been starving you know hunger and can feel that with another person.

    Compassion, I think, realizes that you and that person (or animal) are the same. You join them in their experience and share that sameness with them.

    Gassho,
    Joe

  5. #5
    May be cutting down on coffee is a good idea. The caffeine can affect our meditation. I'll let some senior people confirm though

  6. #6
    Oh, I forgot about the coffee! (Probably because I need a cup of coffee! )

    In reality, Zen folks have a long and deep connection with caffeine. Bodhidharma is said to have brought tea to China (probably a myth), and Zen folks tea from China to Japan (likely a true story). I have never been to a Zen monastery in Japan where the green tea is not flowing freely, especially during Sesshin and such.

    So, I see nothing wrong with coffee, before or after Zazen (not during!). Drinking tea or coffee before Zazen is not frowned upon ... although, be careful of the resulting "bathroom need" that may result in the middle of sitting! Of course, every body is different, and some people more sensitive than others. If it makes someone too "edgy" during Zazen, best not to drink so close to the time or at all.

    Legend says that tea leaves are just Bodhidharma's eyelids ...

    http://www.theteafaq.com/tea/informa...s-eyelids.html

    I think that whoever cooked up that story was suffering from too much caffeine!

    In all cases ... everything in moderation.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - I feel "sorry" for folks and animals who are suffering, even the folks who do terrible violence. That is an aspect of Compassion.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-07-2013 at 05:51 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  7. #7
    Friend of Treeleaf Taikyo's Avatar
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    Hi Sarah,

    I guess I have always been kind of hung up on vegetarianism, having been one now for 40yrs. This was also around the time I got interested in Buddhism. I remember going to stay in a Therevada monastery in the 80’s and being appalled that the monks were eating meat!!! They, of course were just, as Jundo, says following the Buddha and eating what was given to them in alms. Of course the monastery being in the UK and in a very conservative English county they didn’t get much from the alms around but lay people, & at that time most came from the Thai community in the UK would give the alms a lot of which was meat. This kind of put me of Theravada Buddhism and I took an interest in Zen! I then thought all Zennists were vegetarian, as all the people that I knew that were into Zen were vegetarian. This was reinforced I guess by spending time on retreats and at a Zen monastery where all the food was vegetarian. But then I came across this story about a Japanese Zen teacher in America called Suzuki Roshi:

    Suzuki Roshi and a student, who kept a strict vegetarian diet, were driving along when they both got hungry. Suzuki wanted to stop right away but the student wanted to look for a place where he could get a strict vegetarian meal. This took some time as all they passed were places selling hot-dogs and hamburger Finally Suzuki told the student to just stop at the next hamburger stand. Once there Suzuki Roshi ordered a cheeseburger the student ordered a cheese sandwich.. When the food came they both started to eat their meals. But then Suzuki Roshi made a face and said, I don't like this and he handed the cheeseburger to the student saying “you eat it” and took the cheese sandwich for himself.
    This story sort of confirmed for me that there are koans too in Soto Zen as this seemed to be my koan don’t get hung up on concepts of how things ‘ought’ or ‘have’ to be or make judgements on others. Have no expectations of how Buddhists or Buddhism should be but just practice. I thought for a very long time that I had learned this this and not just intellectualized it, but I did not finally lay this ghost particular until last year. I had organized a visit from a Zen teacher and a Dharma heir, to give a talk at the university at which I teach and he was staying with me. It was late when the talk finished so I offered to buy him a chinese meal to take home with us. I asked him what he would like, expecting of course that he would order something vegetarian. He ordered Chicken!!! Immediately the prejudices I thought I had dealt with came up again. But also it enabled me and taught me much about how feeling and thoughts in dealing with the world never cease arising but also that practice allows the watching of these arising and to let them go. These feeling and thoughts and concepts are, as many Zen teachers say, like clouds that float across a clear sky, sometimes the are white and fluffy and we can dream with them, sometimes grey threating and have faces, forms or shapes. But the more you practice, I find anyway, the more I can, but not always by any means, just let them go on their way without too much turbulence!
    Gassho

    David
    Last edited by Taikyo; 06-07-2013 at 10:40 AM.

  8. #8
    Senior Member Daijo's Avatar
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    I understand your compassion for animals being stronger. I sometimes feel the same way. What I try to do (to the dismay of many conservative Buddhists I am sure) is to stop separating humans from the animal world. We aren't other. Which is yet another case against eating "them".

    Of course that's just my personal way of tackling the problem.

  9. #9
    Thanks for the replies guys! All very helpful and interesting reading!
    I probably should stop coffee, or meditate further away from morning, because my mind is always going going going. Of course, that might just be my mind! I find I'll be meditating and I will finally have NOTHING on my mind, then I'll think "Ah, there it is" and realize I just thought of how good I was doing, and a bunch of blurry images just passed through, time to start all over and let go haha.

    I actually don't see humans and non-human animals as separate. I see humans as animals who forgot how to be animals, which makes me dislike them more. But, it's something I must work on. Time to just, SIT!

  10. #10
    Treeleaf Unsui/Engineer Kyonin's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I do feel sorry for most people, even ones that kill and are filled with hate, because I know there is an underlying cause, that they are suffering even as they cause suffering. But we are not supposed to feel sorry for them, right?
    Hi Sarah.

    And what about people who suffer from natural disasters, victims of war and violence? What about insects? What about the very plants, nuts and seeds you eat? They have as much right to not being eaten as you.

    What about the bacteria and germs you kill every time you wash your hands? Why don't you feel bad for them? Is it because they don't scream or you don't watch them trying to save their lives from water and soap? It's not their fault they are bad for us, they just happen to be borned germs.

    We feel compassion for ALL beings. We understand all beings suffer one way or another. We get involved in helping them all as much as we can. But at the same time we keep a realistic perspective on our place in the universe.

    We need to eat and be healthy. But at the same time we help and care for all beings.

    If you haven't developed compassion for people, take some time and go to a hospital. Tons of people suffering illness they didn't bring to themselves. Go to an elders' home and see how we have forgotten them and left them to die. Take a look to international news and see how people in South America or Africa suffer from just being born there.

    To only feel sorry is to be part of the problems of the world.

    Compassion is to have an open heart.

    Compassion is to take action and help, weather by donation, work, time, education, community service or just being nice to everyone.

    And about coffee... drink it! Just be sure to not harm anyone, including yourself. This is from me, a heavy coffee drinker Like Jundo says, all things in moderation.

    Gassho,

    Kyonin
    Last edited by Kyonin; 06-07-2013 at 06:15 PM.
    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

  11. #11
    Good points, Kyonin. I know I've had all those thoughts before, but ignored them, because if I thought about them and still held to my morals I was afraid of being seen as a hypocrite! I'm trying to work on that too, what others see me as isn't necessarily what I am. And actually, the mail man that comes to my work always uses that argument on me "if you eat plants you're killing a living being too" and all I can say is "well...yes....but I still don't want to eat animals." I definitely used to be a black and white, I don't eat meat I'm good, you eat meat you're bad, type of person. But as I got older, I learned to just let everyone do what they will, it is none of my business! And my family all eat meat, my fiance, everyone, so I can't say "you eat meat you're bad" because I wouldn't include them!

    About all those people, that is very true! I tend not to think about all those types of suffering, maybe I will get too depressed if I do. But you are right, they don't deserve what happens to them, they do deserve our compassion. Thank you for phrasing it that way!

  12. #12
    I have some new espresso roast coffee beans that smell and taste delicious. REmember the darker the roast the less caffeine. The first thing I do every day is make a cup and go outside. After I really wake up then I'll go and sit.

    The Buddha went off by himself and sat for a long time because he wanted to understand how to live this life without suffering when the conditions of life itself - birth, sickness, old age and death - is suffering.
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  13. #13
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Hi, well we have much in common. I am new here also. And I feel the same connection to animals that you have. I grew up on a dairy farm/ranch and many a time I cried, as a child, when I saw such horrific things such as brandings and other abuse. I became a vegetarian when I was 18, which was a long time ago I have a deep bond with animals, all of them. Other people in my life think i am crazy for not eating meat, I've even lost a few friends over it (crazy, I know!!) Anyway, since studying Buddhism and evolution, I can now say I don't see a line between humans and animals. We are all connected.

    As for being so upset with animal abuse, this has also caused me a great deal of suffering. The only thing that has helped ease my anxiety and stress over this is meditation and Buddhism. I can't change the world, I just do the best I can to make this world a happy place for as many people and animals as i can.

    with metta,
    Treena

  14. #14
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    The second question is kind of silly, probably a personal preference for everyone. I drink coffee every morning. I've read some Buddhists don't drink caffeine because it's seen as altering the state of mind, so I'm wondering what you guys think about this? I've limited myself to 1 cup (most days) and am thinking about quitting, but it's something I enjoy, it doesn't wake me up really. I can drink it and go right back to bed, but I like the smell and taste, it is the part of day I look forward to most, do I really have to give it up?

    Sarah
    Zhaozhou, Great Master Zhenji, asked a newly arrived monk, “Have you been here before?” The monk said, “Yes, I have been here.” Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.” Later, he asked another monk, “Have you been here before?” The monk said, “No, I have not been here.” Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.” The temple director then asked Zhaozhou, “Why do you say, ‘Have some tea’ to someone who has been here, and ‘Have some tea’ to someone who has not?” Zhaozhou said, “Director.” “Yes.” Zhaozhou said, “Have some tea.” - Dogen, Shobo Genzo, Everyday Activity

    As Jundo says, a little tea or coffe with some toast in moderation sounds good to me.

    Have some tea!

    Gassho, John

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I've always had sort of a bleeding heart for animals, because they don't know why anything is happening to them like that.
    Thank you Sarah for this thread ... I too love and have a strong advocacy towards animals as well. Just as you said above ... not all humans know the cause of their own suffering, so they go round and round with their destructive actions to themselves and others (animals included) ... so knowing this, it helps me have compassion for the humans causing these sufferings.

    As for coffee ... me and coffee and great friends.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

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

  16. #16
    The only thing I would add here, to all these very good answers, is as soon as you want to be more compassionate toward people, it will likely be more difficult for you to be more compassionate toward people. Or, at the very least, it will be contrived. Why? Because you're fighting yourself, trying to be better, trying to be kind to others, and there's a kind of insincerity in that: you know, you're doing it for you, because you think you should. The problem (not even a problem) probably isn't that you're not compassionate toward people. The problem, as others have said, is the idea that people can somehow better take care of themselves than animals, that people are different from animals - this is just concept, idea. And while ideas are useful, they're also barriers. So, I'd say, don't try to be more compassionate toward people. Don't fight, don't try to improve yourself because that's just for you. Instead, allow your own barriers, your own concepts, your own ideas of yourself to fall away - when we do that, we are compassionate toward everyone because there are no ideas of separation between you and i, person and animal, etc, and that is a great improvement.

    As for the coffee thing, Robert Aitken: "the things of this world are not drugs in and of themselves. We make them drugs by our use of them." Even meditation, zazen, can become a drug. As an added note, one of the precepts is to refrain from intoxication, but when lonely Ryokan had a visitor, they enjoyed their sake together.

    gassho
    Shōmon

  17. #17
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I drink coffee every morning. I've read some Buddhists don't drink caffeine because it's seen as altering the state of mind, so I'm wondering what you guys think about this?
    A bit more on the Zen connection to tea, a writing by the great Rinzai Master Eisai (who is said to have brought tea to Japan from China for the first time), extolling the virtues of the tea leaf ... perhaps a bit much, due to the effects of all that caffeine!


    The oldest tea book in Japan, Kissa Yojoki – How to Stay Healthy by Drinking Tea, was written by Eisai in 1211. Eisai was a famous Zen Priest, who had brought tea seed from China to Kyoto in 1191. He had given the seeds to a priest named Myoe Shopin who had made then into Uji tea. In the two-volume book, which Eisai wrote, the priest begins by saying “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete”.

    The book describes the positive effects that tea has on the vital organs, particularly the heart. It praises the value of tea as a medicine in curing indigestion, quenching thirst, avoiding fatigue, working as a stimulant, undoing the effects of alcohol, and improving brain and urinary function. The book also explains the parts of the plant and the appropriate dosages and administration for specific ailments.
    http://books.google.co.jp/books?id=G...Yojoki&f=false
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  18. #18
    “Tea is the ultimate mental and medical and medical remedy and has the ability to make one’s life more full and complete”
    My very English mother would certainly agree with that pronouncement. Anything from a bad day up to one's spouse leaving is dealt with using her special mantra 'I'll just put the kettle on!'

    I have a nice little book called The Book of Tea by Kakuzo Okakura which talks about the role tea plays and has played in Japanese society including in relation to Zen.


    Gassho
    Andy

    ps. on adding the Amazon link it appears that the Kindle version of The Book of Tea is free!

  19. #19
    Senior Member Amelia's Avatar
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    Yep! Book of Tea is free!
    迎 Geika

  20. #20
    I completely agree that by trying to be "better" I will be pretty insincere. I actually haven't been on here for a few days, partly because I'm sick and going through a "cycle" of depression that comes and goes week by week, but partly because, well...How could I ever change? My ideas about life and the so-called meaning of all of this are all twisted up and confused, I want to believe in an after-life, even in a god, if not an interfering one, but even there I can't because I haven't seen it, so it can't be real. However, when I die I don't want to be nothing, I don't want to lose my loved ones. I agree with most of what Buddhism teaches, and it makes perfectly good sense, except that I can't love everyone equally, and I'm not sure I'd like to try? You know, I figured out a long time ago that I'm sort of that quiet person, I look a lot younger than I am, I dress pretty sort of...innocently? People think I must be that shy-nice type, but if they knew what I was thinking...I know I'm not a nice person, probably not even a good one. I hold to my morals when they matter to me, but they seem to be pretty different than everyone else.

    Anyway, I haven't been on here lately because I kind of thought, what was the point? I'm not a nice person inside, I don't know that I could change it. I suffer a lot from my attachments to things, like my loved ones and my ideas, but I'm not sure they aren't worth suffering for. Should we just let it be? I suffer for things and that's okay. But isn't that the opposite of this practice, to sort of "end" suffering by "ending" attachment? Or have I missed the mark. Sometimes I think of Buddhism as sort of cold, even though I've heard others say it allows them to live life more fully, I don't see how if we are...supressing?...our feelings a bit. I'm definitely one of those people who feels things super passionately, and then it burns away fast. I never know what I'll like or not like tomorrow, always changing my mind. I hoped I could learn to live with it, to let it pass, to sit with it, but I don't know if I'm really that strong.

    I'm confused how there is an I, and not an I. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't, sometimes I don't want to. Who knows.

  21. #21
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I completely agree that by trying to be "better" I will be pretty insincere. I actually haven't been on here for a few days, partly because I'm sick and going through a "cycle" of depression that comes and goes week by week, but partly because, well...How could I ever change? My ideas about life and the so-called meaning of all of this are all twisted up and confused, I want to believe in an after-life, even in a god, if not an interfering one, but even there I can't because I haven't seen it, so it can't be real. However, when I die I don't want to be nothing, I don't want to lose my loved ones. I agree with most of what Buddhism teaches, and it makes perfectly good sense, except that I can't love everyone equally, and I'm not sure I'd like to try? You know, I figured out a long time ago that I'm sort of that quiet person, I look a lot younger than I am, I dress pretty sort of...innocently? People think I must be that shy-nice type, but if they knew what I was thinking...I know I'm not a nice person, probably not even a good one. I hold to my morals when they matter to me, but they seem to be pretty different than everyone else.

    Anyway, I haven't been on here lately because I kind of thought, what was the point? I'm not a nice person inside, I don't know that I could change it. I suffer a lot from my attachments to things, like my loved ones and my ideas, but I'm not sure they aren't worth suffering for. Should we just let it be? I suffer for things and that's okay. But isn't that the opposite of this practice, to sort of "end" suffering by "ending" attachment? Or have I missed the mark. Sometimes I think of Buddhism as sort of cold, even though I've heard others say it allows them to live life more fully, I don't see how if we are...supressing?...our feelings a bit. I'm definitely one of those people who feels things super passionately, and then it burns away fast. I never know what I'll like or not like tomorrow, always changing my mind. I hoped I could learn to live with it, to let it pass, to sit with it, but I don't know if I'm really that strong.

    I'm confused how there is an I, and not an I. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't, sometimes I don't want to. Who knows.
    Snowe,

    Thank you for your honest post ... as I read it the thing that came to mind right away was, be easy, patient, and gentle on yourself. Things will come in time ... the seed (question) is there, so be patient and kind and let it grow.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

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

  22. #22
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I completely agree that by trying to be "better" I will be pretty insincere. I actually haven't been on here for a few days, partly because I'm sick and going through a "cycle" of depression that comes and goes week by week, but partly because, well...How could I ever change? My ideas about life and the so-called meaning of all of this are all twisted up and confused, I want to believe in an after-life, even in a god, if not an interfering one, but even there I can't because I haven't seen it, so it can't be real. However, when I die I don't want to be nothing, I don't want to lose my loved ones. I agree with most of what Buddhism teaches, and it makes perfectly good sense, except that I can't love everyone equally, and I'm not sure I'd like to try? You know, I figured out a long time ago that I'm sort of that quiet person, I look a lot younger than I am, I dress pretty sort of...innocently? People think I must be that shy-nice type, but if they knew what I was thinking...I know I'm not a nice person, probably not even a good one. I hold to my morals when they matter to me, but they seem to be pretty different than everyone else.

    Anyway, I haven't been on here lately because I kind of thought, what was the point? I'm not a nice person inside, I don't know that I could change it. I suffer a lot from my attachments to things, like my loved ones and my ideas, but I'm not sure they aren't worth suffering for. Should we just let it be? I suffer for things and that's okay. But isn't that the opposite of this practice, to sort of "end" suffering by "ending" attachment? Or have I missed the mark. Sometimes I think of Buddhism as sort of cold, even though I've heard others say it allows them to live life more fully, I don't see how if we are...supressing?...our feelings a bit. I'm definitely one of those people who feels things super passionately, and then it burns away fast. I never know what I'll like or not like tomorrow, always changing my mind. I hoped I could learn to live with it, to let it pass, to sit with it, but I don't know if I'm really that strong.

    I'm confused how there is an I, and not an I. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't, sometimes I don't want to. Who knows.
    Hi Snowe,

    I would say that our practice is about "non-attachment", not "detachment". We need not be "cold" toward life or people. I might give as an example our loving deeply those we are with when with them, crying when they leave us ... yet simultaneously being open and allowing of the change, also content to let go. Perhaps it is the way we deeply embrace an experience when happening, but moving on and not clinging to it when it is over. We savor our ideas and feelings, but don't become their prisoner.

    I would also say that we feel Compassion toward all sentient beings, perhaps "love" the human race. However, I would not say that there is call to love each and every person we encounter equally.

    I do not know exactly what happens when we die ... but sure as shooting, we Buddhists believe that we don't become "nothing" nor "lose" our loved ones (because we are all already everything).

    Your mind seems to be filled with a lot of drama and self-imposed soap opera. This is precisely the kind of self created crap that we let go in Zazen.

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-13-2013 at 06:42 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  23. #23
    You mind seems to be filled with a lot of drama and self-imposed soap opera. This is precisely the kind of self created crap that we let go in Zazen.
    From my experience with depression (not personal but being around others who have it), going 'inside' and over thinking is one of the symptoms of the illness. It may well be 'self-created crap' but seeing through that can be hard. Also feeling different and isolated.

    Snowe, the wisdom aspects of Buddhism can sound hard at times and pain is something that will happen to all of us. One of the beautiful parts of Buddhism for me is seeing that pain is universal so our own pain connects us to others who are suffering and can soften us to be kind to both our own thoughts and those of others.

    Another part of depression and illness that I have experienced personally is a tendency to see the suffering as unchanging and it being pointless trying. Things are harder to see clearly too. What you will be when you die I have no idea but the important thing is that you are alive now and have a choice on how to be. There is no need to try and force change but being a little kinder to yourself and others can help with the ever-changing bundle of thoughts and passions. Learning to sit with impermanence takes practice but you are not alone in this confusing world. Come or go, we are here.

    Gassho
    Andy

  24. #24
    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    From my experience with depression (not personal but being around others who have it), going 'inside' and over thinking is one of the symptoms of the illness. It may well be 'self-created crap' but seeing through that can be hard. Also feeling different and isolated.

    Snowe, the wisdom aspects of Buddhism can sound hard at times and pain is something that will happen to all of us. One of the beautiful parts of Buddhism for me is seeing that pain is universal so our own pain connects us to others who are suffering and can soften us to be kind to both our own thoughts and those of others.

    Another part of depression and illness that I have experienced personally is a tendency to see the suffering as unchanging and it being pointless trying. Things are harder to see clearly too. What you will be when you die I have no idea but the important thing is that you are alive now and have a choice on how to be. There is no need to try and force change but being a little kinder to yourself and others can help with the ever-changing bundle of thoughts and passions. Learning to sit with impermanence takes practice but you are not alone in this confusing world. Come or go, we are here.

    Gassho
    Andy
    These are wise words. Thank you.

    By the way, I suffered with depression for many years (although it lifted about 25 years ago, and Zen Practice was a significant part of the reason). I believe your description of depression is accurate in my experience.

    Gassho, J
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  25. #25
    Quote Originally Posted by Snowe View Post
    I completely agree that by trying to be "better" I will be pretty insincere. I actually haven't been on here for a few days, partly because I'm sick and going through a "cycle" of depression that comes and goes week by week, but partly because, well...How could I ever change? My ideas about life and the so-called meaning of all of this are all twisted up and confused, I want to believe in an after-life, even in a god, if not an interfering one, but even there I can't because I haven't seen it, so it can't be real. However, when I die I don't want to be nothing, I don't want to lose my loved ones. I agree with most of what Buddhism teaches, and it makes perfectly good sense, except that I can't love everyone equally, and I'm not sure I'd like to try? You know, I figured out a long time ago that I'm sort of that quiet person, I look a lot younger than I am, I dress pretty sort of...innocently? People think I must be that shy-nice type, but if they knew what I was thinking...I know I'm not a nice person, probably not even a good one. I hold to my morals when they matter to me, but they seem to be pretty different than everyone else.

    Anyway, I haven't been on here lately because I kind of thought, what was the point? I'm not a nice person inside, I don't know that I could change it. I suffer a lot from my attachments to things, like my loved ones and my ideas, but I'm not sure they aren't worth suffering for. Should we just let it be? I suffer for things and that's okay. But isn't that the opposite of this practice, to sort of "end" suffering by "ending" attachment? Or have I missed the mark. Sometimes I think of Buddhism as sort of cold, even though I've heard others say it allows them to live life more fully, I don't see how if we are...supressing?...our feelings a bit. I'm definitely one of those people who feels things super passionately, and then it burns away fast. I never know what I'll like or not like tomorrow, always changing my mind. I hoped I could learn to live with it, to let it pass, to sit with it, but I don't know if I'm really that strong.

    I'm confused how there is an I, and not an I. Sometimes I get it, sometimes I don't, sometimes I don't want to. Who knows.
    What Jundo said about the difference between non-attachment and detachment is the thing (thanks Jundo, for the reminder, by the way).

    I would (and will) say this: don't worry about I or not-I. A plant, a weed, a flower, a dog, a cat, an ape, a rock, doesn't wonder or stress about whether it has a self or not. A river doesn't worry about where it's going. Where is there to go, you know? Like completely literally: you might have to go to the dentist today or to work, but no matter what, You are here, in and part of this universe; where is there to go, what is there to do? When there's nowhere to go, then you'll be naturally compassionate. It's good to want to be good to people, just don't get stuck on it: it begins a game, then a stress, then a failure. Just sit with nowhere to go and be with yourself. If you can be with yourself, you can be with others. If you can be with others, you can be with everything. You already are with everything and everyone; we are here with you; okay? No need to suppress feelings; if you're suffering, then suffer, and in sitting with it, you'll come to find it's not so bad. It's not about being strong (everyone can do this), but it is about being patient.

    This can be a confusing practice. Remember: it's okay to be confused! When you're confused and know you're confused and don't fight that confusion: then you are the river with nowhere to go.

    gassho

    ps: sorry about the cheesy/cliched nature imagery and maybe my overly romanticized conception of all this...difficult to put into words.
    Last edited by alan.r; 06-13-2013 at 06:37 PM.
    Shōmon

  26. #26
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Snowe, please don't be so hard on yourself. I also struggle with depression and sometimes Buddhism can feel like a huge measuring stick of how I'm not measuring up. Just before I logged on here, I got mad at my dog for barking hysterically, I snapped at my husband, and I got angry at my son because, well, he was not acting very well. So then I beat myself up, but that's not a healthy place to stay. One thing I am learning from shikantaza is that it is **ok**. I don't live in those bad moments, I live right now. I apologized to my husband, gave my son a hug, and went forward. We all make mistakes. If you struggle so with depression, take it from me, this is the perfect place for you to be then and we are here to help.

    Have you read the book by Thich Nhat Hahn called Practicing Peace? I just bought it, it is also transforming my life. So much good information in there to help with depression. One thing about Zen is that it will help you to look deep inside yourself, beyond the labels you or others use, beyond the mistakes and this and that, and it just helps you to clearly see inside, which becomes a beautiful thing.

    with metta,
    Treena

  27. #27
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    We all make mistakes. If you struggle so with depression, take it from me, this is the perfect place for you to be then and we are here to help.



    with metta,
    Treena
    Yup, we all make mistakes. And we seem to focus on the mistakes instead of learning from them and moving on.

    not expecting much so if one moment out of a hundred is clear and peaceful and full of wonder that's enough.

    Just went for a walk and took this pic. Changed my day.
    WP_20130613_004.jpg
    _/_
    Rich
    MUHYO
    無 (MU, Emptiness) and 氷 (HYO, Ice) ... Emptiness Ice ...

  28. #28
    @ Rich.

    Beautiful picture. .

    Gassho,

    Simon

  29. #29
    Quote Originally Posted by Emmy View Post
    One thing I am learning from shikantaza is that it is **ok**. I don't live in those bad moments, I live right now. I apologized to my husband, gave my son a hug, and went forward. We all make mistakes.
    Lovely. This is why ours is a life-Practice. Like riding an ox ... sometimes nice riding. Ox and rider are one all along. Sometimes ox in a bad way or we slip off into the mud. Hopefully we can dust off, get back on the ox, continue the journey from there, trying not to fall off again.

    Repeat as needed. However, we do become better riders with time.

    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  30. #30
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Karasu View Post
    From my experience with depression (not personal but being around others who have it), going 'inside' and over thinking is one of the symptoms of the illness. It may well be 'self-created crap' but seeing through that can be hard. Also feeling different and isolated.

    Snowe, the wisdom aspects of Buddhism can sound hard at times and pain is something that will happen to all of us. One of the beautiful parts of Buddhism for me is seeing that pain is universal so our own pain connects us to others who are suffering and can soften us to be kind to both our own thoughts and those of others.

    Another part of depression and illness that I have experienced personally is a tendency to see the suffering as unchanging and it being pointless trying. Things are harder to see clearly too. What you will be when you die I have no idea but the important thing is that you are alive now and have a choice on how to be. There is no need to try and force change but being a little kinder to yourself and others can help with the ever-changing bundle of thoughts and passions. Learning to sit with impermanence takes practice but you are not alone in this confusing world. Come or go, we are here.

    Gassho
    Andy
    Yes, the overthinking is very detrimental to your well-being. Shikatanza goes beyond sitting and thinking about all the junk in your mind, it's so beautiful to just sit and even as the thoughts and the stress and everything come up, there is then a way to be rid of all of that. I have found personally, that when you sit zazen and start to see beyond the junk in your mind, you become in tune with who you really are, deep down inside, beyond the depression.

    As for life after death, I was raised in a strict Christian family so, let's just say the afterlife was a terrifying thing for me for a long, long time. It has been a journey to let go of all of that and I am thankful every day for Buddhism because it gave me much more peace about death. I also do not know what happens after death, but if we spend our lives worrying about what happens when we die, we'll never truly live. I've made it my goal to just live in the now, to live a rich, full life each day, and be at peace with that. It doesn't happen over night, everything with the mind takes time, much like if a person were very out of shape and wanted to become a champion bodybuilder--it takes a lot of time and dedication.

    Gassho,
    Treena
    Last edited by Joyo; 06-14-2013 at 04:20 AM.

  31. #31
    Aha, I feel like a fool now, because of course, the mood has passed hours ago. As I knew it would. Thanks so much for all your helpful and kind words, tomorrow I will get back to sitting, which I had been neglecting in this depression. But it is nice to try to actively turn off all these worries and thoughts, so tomorrow I will get up and do it. I was also raised Christian and I think that is why I struggle, worrying for my soul and what not. I've had pastors tell me that it doesn't matter if you are a good person, or like, in another country and never raised with the christian god, he would still send you to hell for not believing in something you never heard of, and I was very young so I think these awful words must have left their marks somewhere.

    As my fiance tries to tell me, no need to worry about things I'll never get answers to, I should listen to him and others more often. What happens will happen ^^ But today I am alive, and that's good.

    And yes, my depression is a giant black pit. This morning I got up, couldn't read, couldn't watch tv, couldn't do anything without thinking "I am incredibly tired with this society" and wanted to wander off into a mountain somewhere and never come out again. And of course my brain gave me a hundred reasons why society sucks, why my life sucks, I'm going no where, I have massive debts from school, things won't get better etc etc... I know the feelings will pass, even as I'm getting more and more upset, I still let myself fall into it for some reason. The thoughts just circle around each other until I either go to sleep or just snap out of it somehow hours later.

    Perhaps these are the perfect times to sit?

    Sorry I talk so much, no one around my home "gets" me really, so this is all I get to talk to, to try to reason it out.

  32. #32
    Oh, and I'll look into that book, I love reading so I'll pick it up next week.

  33. #33
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Snowe, I so understand what you are talking about. The whole hell doctrine is in many religions and when I found that out I realized that I no longer had to live in fear of hell because there's no was of escaping it and it is simply not true. It's used as a way to control. Mormons have a hell, Muslims beliefs you go to hell for believing Jesus is god, Christians believe you go to hell for believing Jesus is not god. The whole topic is just enough to make your head spin. If you are interested, I've got some good websites and book recommendations that really helped me to let go of this fear.

  34. #34
    Actually, I don't really believe in hell. I stopped a long time ago (ghosts and maybe demons though, well, my eyes have SEEN things o__o;. I know that these ideas are used by "religious" figures to control the population, truly if one is a Christian then I believe they should just read their book and stop letting some man tell them about it. But I guess, if I really think about it, there's always going to be that fear in the back of my mind, because people like you and me were raised this way, and it's hard to escape your "culture". If I had a choice, I'd like to just be a stream of light/music that floats around and can get all mingled up with other streams of light/music! Yes, you could post those websites and books, I will check them out!

    I just started watching the "zazen for beginners" video number 6 I think (I watched all of the other ones about Buddhism Basics) and apparently it held the words I should have heard this morning, haha.

    Thanks everyone

  35. #35
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Snowe, there is a Christian book called Love Wins by Rob Bell. I am agnostic, so I obviously have different views than he does, but it was still a good read. Another is Leaving the Fold by Marlene Winell.

    I will warn you, this website goes into some very disturbing things from the inquisition etc. But it does have a good write-up on hell http://www.christianitydisproved.com/hell.html

    And if you are really want to go deeper, here's a few more websites

    http://www.rejectionofpascalswager.net/jesus.html

    http://www.pocm.info/getting_started_pocm.html

  36. #36
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    And, Snowe, yes the fear is still in the back of my mind once in awhile. But it does disappear. My in-laws, and probably my parents too, think I"m going to hell because I am a Buddhist. I used to be deeply hurt by this, but now I can laugh it off. I'm not nearly as afraid of death as I used to be.

  37. #37
    Senior Member YuimaSLC's Avatar
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    Snowe,

    As best I know, most Zen Buddhist monasteries here in the West observe a vegetarian diet....some ovo-lacto and others vegan. I've yet to hear of any week-long December sesshin
    ending with a robust steak and ribs BBQ.

    There is a long tradition of vegetarian cooking in Japan. Some argue that land-animal meat just wasn't available to most people, and the Japanese were incredibly talented about creating cuisines out of foods (including lots of wild plants) they could find or cultivate. And, because of the absence of dairy products, Japanese vegetarianism tends to be vegan.

    I'll note a very good, and current cookbook written by Elizabeth Andoh KANSHA, Celebrating Japan's Vegan and Vegetarian Traditions
    Also, Mari Fujii The Enlightened Kitchen, Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan.

    and, as it concerns Buddhist ethics...

    Philip Kapleau To Cherish All Life A Buddhist Case for Becoming Vegetarian.

    Kind regards

    Richard

  38. #38
    Quote Originally Posted by YuimaSLC View Post
    Snowe,

    As best I know, most Zen Buddhist monasteries here in the West observe a vegetarian diet....some ovo-lacto and others vegan. I've yet to hear of any week-long December sesshin
    ending with a robust steak and ribs BBQ.
    This is so, and there is a wondrous tradition of Shojin Ryori in Japanese Zen temples, some intricate dishes so amazing that I have actually done a double take thinking that some vegetarian creation served during a Japanese Sesshin was meat. I often wondered about eating an imitation that actually tasted like meat, but I suppose it is fine.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Buddhist_cuisine

    Now, whether the priests leaving the retreat in America, Europe, Japan or Korea head for the nearest McDonalds after the retreat is over ... I cannot say.

    Here is a thread on Zen and vegetarianism. My own teacher, Nishijima, turned to celibacy late in life, and refrains from alcohol, but will (like many Japanese priests, as well as many Tibetans, Koreans and others) eat meat and fish in moderation. He thinks there are certain proteins and such that can only be had from meat and fish, and that we are naturally meant to eat some meat. However, he is not in any way an expert on the bio-chemistry of vegetarianism, so many vegetarians say his understanding of replacing those proteins with other sources like tofu and such is wrong. In fact, I have passed the information on to him a couple of times. I don't think he will change his view at age 93.

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post87532

    http://www.treeleaf.org/forums/showt...ll=1#post58214

    Gassho, J
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-17-2013 at 05:48 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

  39. #39
    Finding scientific nutritional information without some political agenda can be tricky. But the thing I'm wary about with a non-meat diet is b-12 deficiency

    http://chriskresser.com/what-everyon...b12-deficiency

  40. #40
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    I've been a vegetarian for 18 years, I'm very healthy and never had a problem with b-12. YOu can get b-12 from dairy products, or nutritional yeast, or a supplement.

  41. #41
    Thank you... I've wondered about that. But according to that article you are probably B-12 deficient, which is why you disagree. lol just kidding Funny enough my doctor put me on a B-12 inhalant; I'm on the low spectrum of B-12 levels. I'm not dangerously low but he said he'd like me higher. He said that the body just doesn't absorb it well via digestion through vitamins, which leads me to wonder if eating would really effect it much.. especially if one's body just doesn't absorb it well through digestion anyway.

    My wife and I don't really eat a lot of meat, but we do eat some.

    Not to put you on the spot, but do you know of a good source for vegetarian recipes?

    Gassho,

    Risho

  42. #42
    Senior Member Myosha's Avatar
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    Vegetarian recipes free download via Google will help.


    Gassho,
    Edward

  43. #43
    Senior Member Joyo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Risho View Post
    Thank you... I've wondered about that. But according to that article you are probably B-12 deficient, which is why you disagree. lol just kidding Funny enough my doctor put me on a B-12 inhalant; I'm on the low spectrum of B-12 levels. I'm not dangerously low but he said he'd like me higher. He said that the body just doesn't absorb it well via digestion through vitamins, which leads me to wonder if eating would really effect it much.. especially if one's body just doesn't absorb it well through digestion anyway.

    My wife and I don't really eat a lot of meat, but we do eat some.

    Not to put you on the spot, but do you know of a good source for vegetarian recipes?

    Gassho,

    Risho
    What do you mean, I do not have brain fog or memory problems, or premature aging!!

    I am on pinterest, I have a board called vegan/vegetarian, where I have posted many of my favourite recipes. If you are on there you can look me up, my name is Treena Davis.

  44. #44
    I have was a vegetarian for 25 years and have been a vegan for about 7 years now. For me this lifestyle works, but it is not for everyone. I know Risho mentioned B-12 issues ... I just started taking B-12 supplements last year and the only reason for this was because of my running schedule.

    But just like the other thread about posture during Zazen, we have to also work with our bodies and what is best for them.

    Gassho
    Shingen
    倫道 真現

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

  45. #45
    Not to put you on the spot, but do you know of a good source for vegetarian recipes?
    I absolutely love the Complete Tassajara Cookbook. Not just a wonderful source of recipes but contains copious amounts of Zen poetry and wisdom too!

    Otherwise the internet is full of vegetarian sites and you can get many cookbooks second hand. Cranks Cookbook is a veggie classic, also Madhur Jaffrey's World Vegetarian.


    Gassho
    Andy (veggie for 25+ years)

  46. #46
    Senior Member Genshin's Avatar
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    Thanks Andy. I shall have to check out that Tassajara cookbook!

    Gassho,
    Matt (also a vegetarian)

  47. #47
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    My mom's mantra is "Moderation in all things - including moderation." !

  48. #48
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    I haven't read the other replies yet - I'm sure there are excellent ones already. But I felt compelled to respond. I've been involved in Buddhist practices that seemed to expand the sense of detachment you refer to here. Yet there is another perspective I've come to embrace - when I hold to my morals - I recognize that they arise from a multiplicity of experiences and imprints. They are not Reality. (Nice/not nice = duality) That does not mean I need to abandon my morals. But I need to recognize that they are not a fixed truth. Other truths may become evident to me. That has proven true (no pun intended) throughout my life. We live in a culture that values certainty, which contrasts so starkly with Zen. So it is honest to be confused about I and then not I. Getting it and not getting it. Wanting to and not wanting to. But they are just places on a spectrum. There is no "true" feeling to have. Meaning the feeling I have IS valid - if I need it to be so. Which will create movement. And then I will feel something else. Which is valid as long as I need it to be so. Etc. That is my understanding anyway - I hope it does not confuse.

  49. #49
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    I love how the discussion evolves to diet! (I'm hungry ) I enjoy 101cookbooks.com for wonderful vegetarian and vegan recipes. Two great cookbooks from that blog author as well. Good night (that's my thread for tonight as you will see from my responses)

  50. #50
    Quote Originally Posted by Patricia View Post
    I haven't read the other replies yet - I'm sure there are excellent ones already. But I felt compelled to respond. I've been involved in Buddhist practices that seemed to expand the sense of detachment you refer to here. Yet there is another perspective I've come to embrace - when I hold to my morals - I recognize that they arise from a multiplicity of experiences and imprints. They are not Reality. (Nice/not nice = duality) That does not mean I need to abandon my morals. But I need to recognize that they are not a fixed truth. Other truths may become evident to me. That has proven true (no pun intended) throughout my life. We live in a culture that values certainty, which contrasts so starkly with Zen. So it is honest to be confused about I and then not I. Getting it and not getting it. Wanting to and not wanting to. But they are just places on a spectrum. There is no "true" feeling to have. Meaning the feeling I have IS valid - if I need it to be so. Which will create movement. And then I will feel something else. Which is valid as long as I need it to be so. Etc. That is my understanding anyway - I hope it does not confuse.
    Yes. Generally in the Zen Buddhist perspective, the Precepts are much like arrows pointing in what are likely "good" directions because leading to wholesome behavior which avoids harm, and is beneficial, to others and oneself (self and others ultimately "not two", by the way). Generally, we see the Precepts as wise guides and arrows pointing in the general direction of a harmless, healthy, mutually beneficial way of living, with the "details" left open and involving much tolerance and remolding and many gray areas.

    Of course, some directions ... those marked by greed, anger and ignorance ... are most clearly harmful than others. Some paths very obviously lead right off a cliff. But for other paths, it is often a case-by-case situation, and a mixed bag. It is much like our discussion celibacy on another thread, each certainly the appropriate way for some people but not necessarily all people. Both including various perspectives and trade-offs. On the other hand, some sexual behavior ... violent, abusive, addictive ... is probably harmful, and thus "wrong", in any situation imaginable and for anyone.

    And in our Mahayana Buddhist way, there is also another view of the Precepts beyond simple human "right and wrong", a view by which there is no separate self to do harm or be harmed, no harm possible. All these views are true at once.

    This is something we all reflect on closely as we prepare for Jukai, our "Undertaking the Precepts" Ceremony, in our Sangha each year.

    Gassho, Jundo
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2013 at 07:40 AM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

    #SAT TODAY!

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