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Thread: about the 5 precepts

  1. #1

    about the 5 precepts

    1. Do not kill
    2. Do not steal
    3. Do not indulge in sexual misconduct
    4. Do not make false speech
    5. Do not take intoxicants

    It is my understanding that there is no need for the 5 precepts. When one practices eventually the 5 precepts don't arise. What are the 5 precepts for?

    New 5 precepts

    Don't over eat
    Don't pick your nose and eat it
    Don't bite your fingernails
    Don't slouch
    Don't use too much perfume/cologne

    Gassho

  2. #2
    Nope. Sorry. It's "hell" dude. Only brown colored water and a xerox copy of a 1924 newspaper. Better luck next life.

    Instead of the precepts maybe they should have said "Shhhh" "Sit down"

    Zip it. zip. ah..zip it. zippity zip zip zip........ SHUTUP!!!

  3. #3
    Harry
    Interesting to note that Dogen grounds (and/or debases?) the precepts by inviting us to consider them from much broader views that seem directly related to the view of practice/ action.
    Yes. I noticed that as well. I think perhaps these are useful for clarifying certain things for some people. However, if the student is sincere and is willing to sit and check themselves out than there is nothing to practice but the practice. In the end these things become clear. No? We can read all we want but we can also have the tendancy to mistaken anothers words.

    Excluding the one about killing, I had partaken in the rest many times. It's only through my practice that I have noticed these things for what they are.

    I read so much, only to have misread.

    Gassho

  4. #4
    I think that for the Killing precept, what is being talked about is the type of killing that is caused by confusion, anger, contraction and misunderstanding, heat in the body, passion, tension etc... In fact I think that's what they're talking about (to some degree) in each of them. It would be nice if they explained them a little more instead of just saying "Don't do this and this and this." Why? "Because I say so" However, Dogen seems to have narrowed it down to practicing and realization.

    "One thing that Anzan Hoshin Roshi said was something like(not exact quote) "When you see a spider you pick it up and put it outside. If your house has cockroaches you call the exterminator or else your family might get sick."

    The kind of killing to be avoided is screaming to your wife there's a spider under the desk! stopping with your feet, then saying "oh, Gross" and cringing as you pick it up with a paper towel, using as little amount of fingers as possible, and drop it in the trash can. Then saying "uhhh!"


    The San fransico Zen center relates the precepts with their center.

    http://www.sfzc.org/zc/display.asp?cati ... &pageid=33

  5. #5

    Re: about the 5 precepts

    Quote Originally Posted by will
    It is my understanding that there is no need for the 5 precepts. When one practices eventually the 5 precepts don't arise.
    Beloved Brother Will,

    I feel there is truth in this. Lately it has occured to me that most religions have gotten morals completely backwards.

    The traditional approach to religious morals seems to be that if you follow certain ethical guidelines, rules, precepts, commandments, etc. that you will become holy, enlightened, a saint, one with God, etc.

    It seems to me, that as we become present and realize our true nature, that we then are ethical moral saints, because how can we be anything else in that state. When we are in our original state of connectedness/oneness, and are suffused with the love of the one-that-is, right action is all that is possible. In a state where you and I are one in all-that-is how could I act to harm you.

    It seems to me that ethical behavior is a result not a cause...

    It's just a thought.

    Namaste...Peace...Love...Gassho...

    Urug 8)

  6. #6

    Re: about the 5 precepts

    Hi Uruq,

    I think that this is a most important point where our Zen Practice diverges from many other Eastern religions, and other religions in general. I must offer a strong caution regarding what you have written. I do not believe it is true.

    It seems to me, that as we become present and realize our true nature, that we then are ethical moral saints, because how can we be anything else in that state. When we are in our original state of connectedness/oneness, and are suffused with the love of the one-that-is, right action is all that is possible. In a state where you and I are one in all-that-is how could I act to harm you.
    If I may say ... I dare not call the 'one-that-is' as 'love', 'good' 'just' or anything else for that matter. How dare I call that 'one-that-is' as 'one-that-is', or impose any label or characteristic upon it at all. How dare I believe that its vision of 'love' (if it has any vision) has the slightest thing to do with some frail human vision of love ... how dare I believe that it is 'love' when it might be cold and dead, amoral or somewhat (or ultimately) evil (though I do not believe it is that, any more than I believe that it is 'love'). In fact, there may be no 'one-that-is' in any way that has any thing to do with me, any more than I am the 'one-that-is' to the bacteria that reside in my lower colon ... I am neither love or evil to them, although we are one and the same.

    Give up such idealistic dreams of this universe. We cannot know, I do not know! Fetch water and chop wood, try to live a life without harm ... trust this universe to do what it will, for it will anyway. If you want to believe in such a spirit or god as a matter of faith, please do! You are free to believe in such things. I will 'wink' at the heavens, for I do not know. In the end, I will merely trust this universe to do with me as it will ... because it will do so anyway, whether I trust it or not.

    In our Zen perception of connectedness or 'oneness', we are free to do good or massive harm ... to ourselves and others. That will never change, so long as we are humans living in a wild world. Right action is not all that is possible. Ethical behavior does not naturally arise. Being a 'moral saint' does not materialize for more than a handful of us in this world ... if even that much (when you get beyond the saints in the story books). We must abide by the Precepts BECAUSE WE ARE FREE!.

    That being said, there is some truth in what you have written. In our dropping resistance to life, in our realizing the interconnectness of all things, in our embracing of life and each other ... the anger fades from our hearts. The clutching after worldly goods, territory and treasure decreases. It becomes that much easier, thus, to live a life that does not do harm.

    As well, we see that, ultimately, because all that is is one ... there is no one to kill, no one to be killed, nothing to steal, nothing to be stolen. That is true too.

    'Compassion' flower arises in my heart but ... as among the trees and plants in my garden ... so do weeds. Both flowers and weeds are natural, and only the human mind judges one as desirable and one as not. I must nurture this garden of my mind closely.

    Give me a break from the 'Great Spirit of Love in the Cosmos'. I do not live in such a simple realm.

    Gassho, with love, Jundo

  7. #7

    Re: about the 5 precepts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    That being said, there is some truth in what you have written. In our dropping resistance to life, in our realizing the interconnectness of all things, in our embracing of life and each other ... the anger fades from our hearts. The clutching after worldly goods, territory and treasure decreases. It becomes that much easier, thus, to live a life that does not do harm.
    Sigh...but what is "harm" but more color of the Jello?

    fwiw, I think, teacher, that you are right; "you" do not dare. But when "you" and "I" are diminished enough then that-which-is emerges to illuminate compassionate deeds.

    There is always that paradox. If that-which-is is ultimately undivided then all relationships are an illusion because there is no separation, no space-between for any relating, any compassion, any love.
    Or is it simply that compassionate deeds are simply those acts which end the illusion of separation?
    :lol:
    I know, I know.
    Shake the Etch-a-Sketch.
    Just sit.
    Just give.

  8. #8
    Hi Don,

    I just wanted to say that you are right. I just don't know, and I am an agnostic ... I have my reasons to doubt. But I don't know. My Practice does not depend on knowing or not knowing,

    I consider Zen Buddhism a form a mystical agnosticism, but it can be many things to different people ... jello as it is.

    Perhaps the only entity in the universe who really knows if there is a "Great Spirit of Love in the Cosmos" is the "Great Spirit of Love in the Cosmos".

    Gassho, Jundo

  9. #9
    Just something that I came across that someone might find interesting.

    Vinaya Pitaka
    The Basket of Discipline
    http://www.quangduc.com/English/canon/vinaya/index.html

    Just one part that I'm reading now:

    Incoming Bhikkhus' Duties

    A certain incoming bhikkhu, unfastening the bolt and pushing open the door, rushed into an unoccupied dwelling. A snake fell on his shoulder from the lintel above. Frightened, he let out a yelp.

    "An incoming bhikkhu, [C] thinking 'I will now enter the monastery,' having taken off his sandals, having put them down (close to the ground) and beaten off the dust, having lowered his sunshade, having uncovered his head, having put his robe on his torso/shoulder (khandha) (apparently, bhikkhus traveled with their robes over their heads), should enter the monastery properly & unhurriedly. As he is entering the monastery he should notice where the resident bhikkhus are gathered. Having gone where they are gathered -- at the assembly hall, a pavilion, or the root of a tree -- having placed his bowl to one side, having placed his robe to one side, having taken an appropriate seat, he should sit down. He should ask about the drinking water and washing water, 'Which is the drinking water? Which is the washing water?' If he wants drinking water, he should take drinking water and drink. If he wants washing water, he should take washing water and wash his feet. When washing his feet, he should pour water with one hand and wash it with the other. When pouring water with his hand, he should not wash with the same hand.

    "Having asked for a sandal-wiping cloth, he should wipe his sandals. When wiping his sandals, he should wipe them first with a dry cloth, and then with a damp cloth. Having washed the sandal-wiping cloth, having wrung it out, he should spread it out to dry to one side....
    I gather that this is about paying attention.

  10. #10

    Re: about the 5 precepts

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    I think that this is a most important point where our Zen Practice diverges from many other Eastern religions, and other religions in general. I must offer a strong caution regarding what you have written. I do not believe it is true.

    It seems to me, that as we become present and realize our true nature, that we then are ethical moral saints, because how can we be anything else in that state. When we are in our original state of connectedness/oneness, and are suffused with the love of the one-that-is, right action is all that is possible. In a state where you and I are one in all-that-is how could I act to harm you.
    ...Give up such idealistic dreams of this universe. We cannot know, I do not know! Fetch water and chop wood, try to live a life without harm ... trust this universe to do what it will, for it will anyway. If you want to believe in such a spirit or god as a matter of faith, please do! You are free to believe in such things. I will 'wink' at the heavens, for I do not know. In the end, I will merely trust this universe to do with me as it will ... because it will do so anyway, whether I trust it or not.

    That being said, there is some truth in what you have written. In our dropping resistance to life, in our realizing the interconnectness of all things, in our embracing of life and each other ... the anger fades from our hearts. The clutching after worldly goods, territory and treasure decreases. It becomes that much easier, thus, to live a life that does not do harm...
    Beloved Master Jundo,

    I meant no affront to you or your teachings. It seems I have touched upon a sensitive subject. I offer nothing but that which I have experienced and try to understand and convey in words. Perhaps my words are not up to the task of adequately transmitting that which I have felt.

    During dyad meditation intensives, I have felt the separation between myself and an other become thinner and thinner until there seemed to be a basic vital connection between us...it felt as if we were two flowers on the same plant looking into each others eyes...at that point I felt a love for the other beyond any type of romantic/sexual/family/etc love...it seemed most like a love of recognition of seeing someone you had known forever and just realized was sitting right in front of you the whole time...it was a feeling of such total connection and love that it was as if I and the other were one...on rare occasions during the intensives I have had a similar experience where the veil of separation between "I" and "all-that-is" also thinned to where everything was as it was but was perfect... beautiful... oneness... and there was a feeling of "love" that was so strong that it felt like it would annihilate me...and indeed in certain sense did...

    I don't "know" what it was that "I" experienced in these instances, but "I" felt a kinship/connection/oneness with existence and all other sentinent beings so profound that "I" have not been the same since.

    Thinking about this, it seemed to me that if through practice we reach this realization, then perhaps right behavior, right livelihood, etc. would flow from the realization rather than the other way around. Mabe I am completely wrong in this regard. I don't have much formal schooling in Buddhism like many of my brothers and sisters on this forum, so I can only relate what I have experienced and try to make sense of it.

    I apologise for any offense I may have inadvertently given.

    Namaste...Love...Peace...Gassho...

    Farewell...

    Urug 8)

  11. #11
    Harry

    An idea that springs to mind in relation to either interpreting, blindly following, or breaking the precepts to benifit of ourselves and others is 'Upaya' (commonly trans. as 'skillful means'). The classic example of explaining upaya is:

    "A famous story from the Lotus Sutra, often given as an example of upaya, is that of a man who comes home to find his house on fire and his children inside entertaining themselves with their favorite playthings. He calls out to his children to leave the house, but they do not believe it to be on fire, and they do not stop playing with the toys. Thinking about how he may use expedient means, the man tells his children that he has arranged for them to receive gilded carts and toy oxen to play with, and that these entertainments await just outside the gate of the house. Hearing this, the children then run from the burning house and are saved."

    Some other more extreme examples might be those instances where it's said that certain Zen masters have commited seemingly violent acts on their pupils to bring about some clarity or awakening: a thump, a stroke from a staff, a slap with a sandal, slamming a door on a leg, pinching the nose, shouting, banging things etc. etc. etc.

    A less extreme example that comes to mind is how appropriate it is for me to lie to my 3 year old daughter about the existence of Santa Claus: given the cultural conditions we are in, and the fact that all her little friends are lied to about it, I think it would make her somewhat of a social outcast not to participate in this breach of the strict precepts.

    I think this sort of action is largely intuitive, non-formulaic, and based in the view arising from Zazen. Its common sense besides.
    Nice insight Harry. Thanks

  12. #12

    Re: about the 5 precepts

    Dear Beloved Uruq,

    Quote Originally Posted by Urug

    I meant no affront to you or your teachings. It seems I have touched upon a sensitive subject. I offer nothing but that which I have experienced and try to understand and convey in words. Perhaps my words are not up to the task of adequately transmitting that which I have felt.
    On matters of Buddhism, no affront can be taken, you may always say anything in disagreement with words I write or some comment, there is no 'sensitive subject'. I hope you feel the same way.

    In meditation, many of us have had experiences ("us" and "we experience" are very poor words to use for it) much as you describe. Meditation casts the brain into such new realms, uncharted territory, that it struggles to interpret the experience. It is much like the sun at the entrance to Plato's cave.

    I merely offer words of caution. What you describe is certainly real to you, but some or much of it may be your mind reaching into the experience and applying interpretations. (As I said, I do not know. Only the source of the Love you describe, if there is such as source, knows for sure). The jury remains out on these questions, as numerous recent books such as this one (http://www.andrewnewberg.com/mystic.asp) and this one (http://www.andrewnewberg.com/why.asp) discuss. You should read them as reference for your experiences, not to say that they are the last word on the subject either.

    Yes, in our meditation, the separation between the 'self' and the 'other' becomes thinner and thinner, perhaps fully fades away. We are two flowers of the same plant, as you describe (the origin of the 'Treeleaf' name, by the way). But whether that 'other' is an entity (a very poor word again) flowing with 'love' ... I must leave that to you to decide for yourself. I have experienced such sensations too, I discount them and do not heed them in my practice (I have also experienced sensations of vast coldness, empy nihilism, death ... I discount all that too). I also have often felt, much as I described, as irrelevant as the bacteria in God's lower colon ... certainly not the object of 'love'. Which experience is true? Fortunately, my practice drops all thought of both 'unimportance' and 'importance', hot and cold, meaningful or meaningless, death and life, love and hate ...

    I believed that the Buddha preached 'emptiness', which is not the same as a feeling of 'Oneness', because there is no need for a 'One'. It is more 'being at One'. It is a subtle distinction, but the teaching is more about being 'At One' with an impermanent, often cruel, ever changing, complex universe lacking self nature, and not that there is a literal 'One' behind it all. The universe is purely and completely whatever it is, not that it is 'pure' or 'complete' in any way the human mind tries to impose upon it.

    More than a feeling of 'Cosmic Love', my view of 'Compassion' is along the lines that 'we are all in the same boat (in fact, we --are-- the boat), so we must care for each other. It is that sensation which naturally arises from amid Practice.

    It is in this way that I can feel 'at one' with a universe of both children's smiles and child abuse, charity and concentration camps. It is from this view of Compassion that I naturally wish to build a better world (even while knowing that the world is just-what-it-is, with nothing to add or take away).

    Anyway, I do not want to throw more words at this. Words are not what is needed. As I said, no human knows for sure whether you are feeling a 'Spirit of Love' or the firing of your hopeful neurons, some 'One' or 'Emptiness'. My practice is simply not dependent on any of this, and I tend not to believe in a cosmic 'Loving One'.

    But ...


    Namaste...Love...Peace...Gassho...

    Farewell...

    Urug 8)
    Please, do not sayr 'farewell'. The universe is big and wide enough for all opinions about it!

    Gassho, Jundo

  13. #13
    Harry, Will, Uruq & Jundo the Jello Master,

    I always seem to get myself into trouble when I create ideas of what the big G is about. The problem of evil and the list goes on. Me standing by the side of a road, a barren tree, waiting for Godot. Or, if you prefer this metaphor, I recall a Farside cartoon picture a school entrance, above it reads "Midvale School for Gifted Children" and young Mortimer pushing as hard as he can on a door that opens by pulling.

    Never underestimate our capacity to think our way into a corner. If the world does not confirm to my worldview, I can either build a taller more complicated edifice or simplify and accept a more humble view of myself.

    Will in another recent forum topic gave a very personal view of his coming to terms with getting oneself into trouble. So what do I know? I know I don't know. I intuit that this sitting is the right thing to be doing... and that's a start.

    Gassho,
    Louis

    ps Harry congratulations on the new baby.

  14. #14
    Hello Folks!


    My personal approach to the precepts has always been a bit of a tightrope walk (aka the Middle way between two different kinds of abyss/ extremes).

    On one hand hand there is a dangerous tendency to relate to written statements of Do and Do not almost in the same simplistic way that some monotheists might employ with regards to the ten commandments (did that glass of wine at the party last night just completely destroy my vows and create fXXkloads of bad karma? I am doomed...aaah....). In that case, at least in my experience, it is important to remember that THE MAP IS NOT THE TERRITORY.

    On the other hand,especially among us Westerners, there is the overemphasising of our individual intellectual faculties (Ahh,it's all symbolic, I know what's good for me, I can handle this and that, even if it may seem like not being in accord with the precepts, those funny lists that were devised centuries befor Freud and Jung and Ken Wilber ....).

    Funnily enough that second scenario usually comes into play, when there is craving and grasping nearby and good ole Mara comes knocking at our doors. It's the same impulse that makes people who should be on a diet justify their eating of another slice of chocolate cake...chocolate is good for you....I carried those thingies today which means I probably burned more calories today anyway....soul food is very important too for my mental balance....you get what I am trying to say.

    The chocolate cake can be sex, drugs and whatever.

    If one is trying to analyze the precepts in general without a particular scenario lurking nearby- that's one thing.

    If one is doing the same thing just because our ego wants to escape certain hardships....well....what a coincidence that buddhists who just loooove alcohol and drugs are more likely to de-construct and re-interpret the precept regarding substance abuse....what a concidence that those who are addicted to sex are more likely to have an extremely liberal interpretation of what constitutes causing pain through sexual behaviour.

    We should all try to see beyond our own wishful thinking.

    In my arguably limited view, the Middle Way is like walking on a tightrope (or a razor's edge....please insert metaphorof choice). the precepts however are a safety line which we can attach ourselves to, in order to avoid plunging into the abyss of extremism and bad cause-effect relationships.


    Gassho,

    Hans

  15. #15
    I think that Hans and Harry have expressed the 'tightrope' of the Precepts so aptly. Yes, Hans, we do have a tendency to stretch the Precepts to allow our own weaknesses. In other words, we rationalize or discount the harm that we are doing. In my case, it is the chocolate cake ... lots of chocolate cake. And Harry is correct too that we must be understanding of the human condition, not judgmental. There are some conditions that our Zen 'Wisdom' will not easily reach ... Daido Loori Roshi has some wonderful talks on his multi-year efforts to quit a multi-pack a day cigarette habit (I think he only quit a few years ago). It is all part of the tightrope which, not by coincidence, is also an act of balance in body/mind ... and thus a very beautiful description for the Zen life.

    And thank you, Harry, for starting my day with such beautiful Shakuhachi music. We must make a Treeleaf Marching Band with you, Jordan and some others. Your explanation of the philosophy behind Fuke Zen, and the Art of Shakuhachi, was as lovely as your playing.

    Gassho, Jundo

  16. #16

    about the 5 precepts

    Hello Louis:

    I liked your 'thinking ourself into a corner'--and of course, our thinking made a 'corner' to think ourself into to begin with!!!
    Or was this already the point you were making.....

    and the points Jundo, Hans and Harry were making re: the tightrope walk of the precepts--I guess Ikkyu in his own inimmitable way makes a case for not breaking/not keeping/not not-keeping; and following/not following/ not not-following the precepts.....

    On a completely different vein of thought: my computer's hard drive has died... so I don't have my usual access to Treeleaf for a while...even attendance at a cyber sangha requires 'showing up' in some form!!

    gassho
    Keishin

  17. #17
    Hans
    the precepts however are a safety line which we can attach ourselves to, in order to avoid plunging into the abyss of extremism and bad cause-effect relationships.


    I hope in time one can actually see in themself what causes the bad cause-effect relationships. Otherwise where is the wisdom?



    Jundo
    Daido Loori Roshi has some wonderful talks on his multi-year efforts to quit a multi-pack a day cigarette habit (I think he only quit a few years ago). It is all part of the tightrope which, not by coincidence, is also an act of balance in body/mind ... and thus a very beautiful description for the Zen life.
    I can relate to that.

    Gassho

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