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Thread: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

  1. #1
    disastermouse
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    How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    More coming, I just wanted to park this here so I can say what I really want to say after dinner. Sorry for the tease.

    Chet

  2. #2
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    I ll park here next to you just to see whats for dinner

    Gassho Hungry Ghost

  3. #3

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    I'll have second thanks.

    W

  4. #4

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Good grief, Chet- how long does it take you to eat?! I'm dyin' over here!

  5. #5

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Chet, hope it wasnt serious... otherwise we will need to beat the Cr*p out of those evil precepts.

  6. #6

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Is there any dessert left over?

    Ann--who can't seem to follow the precept about not over eating or indulging in too many sweets

  7. #7
    disastermouse
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Alright guys -

    After dinner, I went out with some girls from work and didn't get home till about 0230 - and more than a bit drunk at that.

    As some of you may remember, I had a sort of 'aha-holy-shizzle-kensho' thing when I was seventeen. Two years later, at 19, I began to deepen my practice and learned that yes, I probably really was a Buddhist.

    So I looked at the precepts:

    Don't kill: This led to my vegetarianism, which was disastrous for me physically and turned me into an unbearable moralist re: vegetarianism. Because of wanting to uphold this precept, I continued with vegetarianism long after the deleterious health effects should have led me away from it. So, strike one for the precepts!

    Don't lie: Okay, this one I often used to be brutally honest with people and to beat them over the head with my opinions. But hey, I was just being honest! Strike two!

    Don't steal: Okay, this one seems to have come out unscathed - there doesn't seem to be a downside to not lying.

    No sexual impropriety: This one I used to repress a lot of my sexual needs and to develop a shadow attraction to pornography. It seem the more I tried to resist it, the more attracted to pornography I became. It is still a staple of my sexual diet at this time.

    No intoxication: This made me an unbearable moralist to my friends. I bashed girlfriends over the head with it, etc. Also, I excised television from my life, as I saw it as a sensory intoxicant - and I forced more than one live-in girlfriend to forego a TV in order to live with me.

    The neurosis caused by trying so hard to be a 'good Buddhist' resulted in a total spiritual meltdown at the age of 24. I went from meditating daily to meditating about bi-yearly. I'm only just now sitting more regularly, and sitting daily has not come easily or quickly despite the renewal of my interest in Zen (it never went away completely, but as a daily practice, it was simply not in my life for nearly ten years).

    Now, I know, a lot of this comes from the inappropriate application of the precepts - but there are many in the Buddhist community who would support each and every one of these applications of the precepts as correct (minus the shadows, which would not be acknowledged as resulting from trying to be a 'good Buddhist').

    Now this is in addition to the pure wreckage done to my life by the application of what I thought at the time was a 'non-attachment to material things', which was really just a repression of the pure fact that I really did want some things very badly. This sort of resulted in rebound stupidity once my daily practice collapsed in 1998.

    Chet

  8. #8

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    I'm sure I'm not alone when I say I appreciate your candor- the tone and content of some of your other posts has become clearer to me after reading this. Thanks for sharing.

    gassho

  9. #9

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Hi Chet,

    This is why I believe so valuable the slow and personal study we each made of the Precepts in preparation for our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony) ... reading many teachers' interpretations, and each of us discovering how the Precepts fit into our own lives ...

    viewforum.php?f=7

    The Precepts should not be chains which bind us hand and foot, nor a whip with which to beat ourselves. On the other hand, many describe the Precepts as aspirations, or guideposts, or arrows pointing to a way of living that is healthful to our life and the lives of others (not two, by the way), and which will support one's Buddhist Practice.. I have described them this way ...

    All the Precepts come down to our seeking, as we can, to live in a manner harmless to ourself and to others, and healthful and helpful to ourself and others, knowing that ultimately there is no separation between ourself and others. If we are living already in such manner … seeking as we can do be a good father/mother/son/daughter/friend/human being … then (in my view) we have already “undertaken the Precepts”, and the ceremony[of Jukai] merely commemorates that fact. However, the ceremony also signifies our vow to continue to do so in the future.


    Nishijima Roshi wrote this ...

    The rationale of all of the Buddhist Precepts, the Mahayana Boddhisattva Precepts …… is as a pointing toward the best ways for us to live in this life, in this real world…. how to live benefiting both ourselves and others as best we can.

    The signposts and arrows of the Precepts just point us away from directions and locations which are bound to be destructive and harmful to us, others and this world (not three, by the way).

    That does not mean that there are not some definite "black & whites" amid all the daily choices we should make. But I think that they should not be much more restrictive then traffic rules ... allowing us to go where we want on life's highway, free choice, bearing the effects of our actions. The signposts point out a good path and road to the destination "home" (which, we find, was always where we started, always where the rubber meets the road).

    Yet, there are definite rules for actions that will likely cause harm to this driver, other drivers and getting anywhere ... like driving while intoxicated, driving while misusing sexuality (sudden flashback from some things I did when 17 years old, behind the wheel of my old Chevy ops: ), like running wild and going off the cliff, driving while angry, driving without respect for other drivers, driving while going too fast.

    The Ksrmic fines are tasted in your own life, here and now, when you do go off that cliff, spin out or hit someone!

    But apart from that ... drive! Put on some good tunes, see how the road opens before you, enjoy the trip!

    Here is a posting from the time we started Jukai study that gives many flavors for the Jukai. We will have the Jukai again soon, and I hope you will consider to join, Chet.

    viewtopic.php?f=7&t=994

    Gassho, Jundo

  10. #10
    disastermouse
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    I should also point out that I had no teacher or real life advisor on these matters. I will say, though, that things like the 'no TV' and vegetarianism were encouraged by other Buddhists once I began to sit with others. (I grew up in a remote section of the US and there were no teachers, nor even any other Zen Buddhists, nearby). Much of my neurosis would probably have been cut off had I had a true spiritual friend at the time. I think it's odd though how what started as a liberating realization not so slowly became a binding chain of shoulds and shouldn'ts.

    Chet

  11. #11
    Treeleaf Unsui Shohei's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Thank you for sharing!

    Gassho, Shohei

  12. #12

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    I should also point out that I had no teacher or real life advisor on these matters. I will say, though, that things like the 'no TV' and vegetarianism were encouraged by other Buddhists once I began to sit with others.
    Ya know, even Thich Nhat Hanh doesn't prohibit watching TV. :wink:

    Overcoming the Fear of Death
    by Thich Nhat Hanh
    Dharma Talk given on July 28, 1997 in Plum Village, France.


    I think it is possible to be happy without watching television a lot. Again, I want to say that I am not against television, because we can profit a lot from television. But we should have an intelligent policy. I think that the family should get together and discuss how to use the television. Everyone has to be present and we should agree on what kind of programs we should view and what kind of programs we should not view. I think we should have a TV magazine to find out what we can see and what we should not see.

    I know a family in Boston. They selected the programs of television very carefully. If they see in the program a very good film, they agree that everyone should be present to view the film together. Grandma, Daddy, Mommy, everyone wears their best dress and goes to the living room and sit very comfortably and watches televison, like going to the cinema, it’s like a ritual. Imagine, Grandma puts on her best dress and wants all her grandchildren to come and sit close to her. She is very happy. Watching that film alone would not make her as happy as watching together with the whole family.
    I once met a young lady who is mennonite. She was raised w/o much TV. She had no cultural relation with me when I talked about certain cultural events/references because much of it was related to TV. Nevertheless, she was a very cool and compassionate person.

    TV are like hammers. Neither hammers or TV are inherently evil....or good.

  13. #13

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo
    Hi Chet,

    This is why I believe so valuable the slow and personal study we each made of the Precepts in preparation for our Jukai (Undertaking the Precepts Ceremony) ... reading many teachers' interpretations, and each of us discovering how the Precepts fit into our own lives ...
    Though it may be presumptuous, I would add that to be truly living the precepts means that we are forever committed to redefining and discovering how the precepts fit into our lives. Their meaning cannot become fixed without them losing relevance to our ever-changing lives.

    Peace,
    Bill

  14. #14
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    You think the precepts are restrictive? Try being a Muslim female. Damnnnn. You'll be begging to return to the precepts. They'll feel like a coke party in the Hamptons. Oh well, the grass is always greener, innit.

    gassho
    Julia

  15. #15

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    HI Chet,

    I can only say what everyone else has said and say thank you for your post! And thank you to Jundo for your joyous response. And to everybody else's response.

    I am reminded that in Jeff Kitsis (zen master in Seung Sahn's Kwan Um School lineage) said about the precepts:"one must know when to keep them and when to break them". But Jundo's not causing harm to self or others (not two) is a great basis for these decisions?

    And of course Mel Weitzman's two sides to the precepts (proscriptive and prescriptive, e.g.
    Do not kill / cherish life.

    gassho,
    rowan/jinho (at least three or four)
    who really needs to stop fucking around (not about sex!)

  16. #16

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    You think the precepts are restrictive? Try being a Muslim female. Damnnnn.
    Well. It could be said of any "conservative" or "orthodox" religious view be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. Just try to follow the Kosher dietary laws in a non-Jewish community or being a Christian Evangelist in a liberal university town. : :wink:

  17. #17
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Well. It could be said of any "conservative" or "orthodox" religious view be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. Just try to follow the Kosher dietary laws in a non-Jewish community or being a Christian Evangelist in a liberal university town. : :wink:
    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho

  18. #18
    disastermouse
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    You think the precepts are restrictive? Try being a Muslim female. Damnnnn. You'll be begging to return to the precepts. They'll feel like a coke party in the Hamptons. Oh well, the grass is always greener, innit.

    gassho
    Julia
    I think you missed the point of my post. It's not that the precepts are too restrictive, it's that the neurotic mind finds ways to misuse them.

    Luckily, we have teachers (who aren't rocks or mountains).

    Chet

  19. #19

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki

    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho
    My father used to say that some folks talk about that there are different levels of poverty. He said in the end poverty is poverty. Who is more subjugated is really not the issue. Subjugation is the issue.

    As far as your word, it's your opinion and I'll respect it as much I hope you understand my opinion. N'est–ce pas? :wink:

  20. #20

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Well. It could be said of any "conservative" or "orthodox" religious view be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. Just try to follow the Kosher dietary laws in a non-Jewish community or being a Christian Evangelist in a liberal university town. : :wink:
    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho
    Buddhist cultures have also varied greatly in both the rigidity of the Precepts and their view of the punishments for our "bad" volitional actions (complete with visions of Heavens and Hells for infractions), and in the treatment of women too.

    So, do not think that the opinion ofa westernized, liberal, sometimes meat eating, lightly wine drinking, and married "monk" like me (and perhaps the majority of the other teachers in both Japan and the west) represents the entire Buddhist world.

    There may be a natural human condition that divides people into those who require a flexible view of ethical rules, and those require great detail and rigidity. I am not saying that one way is better than the other, and both need to be handled with care. But it is something found in all religions, without exception ... there are folks who need more "structure" and "black/white" than other folks.

    Although the rules were always much much more detailed and demanding for ordained men and women (more rules for women in fact) than for lay people, much of the Buddhist world views the Japanese view of the Precepts ... and the even more "modern" view in Western countries ... as just short of an orgy! In Japan, over time, the Precepts came to be interpreted in a way much more "down to earth", until in the 19th century Zen priests were allowed to marry (first it was actually an attempt by the Japanese government to weaken the clergy by forcing them to marry ... but the monks liked it! Now most Japanese clergy I know, of all schools, eat some fish or meat, drink a bit of Sake, marry. I think it actually a breath of fresh air ... though most of the rest of the Buddhist world is horrified by the "libertine" Japanese clergy!)

    (For those who have never seen the detailed Vinaya rules for Buddhist clergy ... look here)

    http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... index.html

    And women were always treated as, well, second class citizens ... Here are some of the Buddha's original rules for women ...

    Further, according to the canonical texts, before the Buddha allowed Pajapati into the Sangha, she had to agree to eight Garudhammas, or grave rules, not required of men. These are:

    * A Bhikkuni (nun) even if she was in the Order for 100 years must respect a Bhikkhu (monk) even of a day's standing.
    ...
    * On Observance days a Bhikkhuni should consult the Bhikkhus.
    ...
    * A Bhikkhuni cannot scold a Bhikkhu.
    * A Bhikkhuni cannot advise a Bhikkhu.

    Nuns also have more rules to follow than monks. The Vinaya-pitaka lists about 250 rules for monks and 348 rules for nuns.
    http://buddhism.about.com/od/buddhisthi ... twomen.htm
    It was no better in the world of Zen Buddhism until very recently ... and, even today, not really "equal" in Japan at least (in American and Europe, perhaps there are now more women teachers and Sangha members than men teachers and members!)

    Now, of course, a lot of this is just cultural. India, Thailand, Japan, China, Korea, etc., are just conservative countries, often infused with conservative Confusian family values ... the Buddha and old Buddhists just went with the culture.

    I happen to think that the more modern interpretations of the Precepts, the status of women, the role of lay people etc. is a great IMPROVEMENT in Buddhism. We are more about being in the world (while seeing through the world), and about equality.

    Gassho, Jundo

    PS - Some cool ... and very hot ... Buddhist hells are described here. Interesting reading.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Naraka_(Buddhism)

    I often wondered if Buddhists go to Christian hell for not believing in Jesus, while Christians go to Buddhist hell for not believing in Buddha. Kind of a Koan. 8)

  21. #21
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    You think the precepts are restrictive? Try being a Muslim female. Damnnnn. You'll be begging to return to the precepts. They'll feel like a coke party in the Hamptons. Oh well, the grass is always greener, innit.

    gassho
    Julia
    I think you missed the point of my post. It's not that the precepts are too restrictive, it's that the neurotic mind finds ways to misuse them.

    Luckily, we have teachers (who aren't rocks or mountains).

    Chet
    I'm glad you clarified that, because my initial impression was that you ran smack into a wall, and were then complaining about the evils of walls.
    gassho,
    Julia

  22. #22
    Senior Member murasaki's Avatar
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki

    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho
    My father used to say that some folks talk about that there are different levels of poverty. He said in the end poverty is poverty. Who is more subjugated is really not the issue. Subjugation is the issue.

    As far as your word, it's your opinion and I'll respect it as much I hope you understand my opinion. N'est–ce pas? :wink:
    Claro que si! (Sorry I had to omit the accent marks and that initial upside-down exclamation point, I know they belong there :wink: )

    My point in posting my two cents here was that I don't put much stock in people whining, "Look what such-and-such religion did to me," even if it seems like they have a legitimate excuse. It's pointless drama (although I acknowledge that people have to indulge in that in certain stages of emotional processing).

    Yes, I dearly wish religion could never be misapplied by anyone, or used as a weapon to hurt another person. But you have to own the way you interacted with it, and what you allowed others to do to you with it, and move on. 'Nuff said.

    gassho
    Julia

  23. #23
    disastermouse
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    You think the precepts are restrictive? Try being a Muslim female. Damnnnn. You'll be begging to return to the precepts. They'll feel like a coke party in the Hamptons. Oh well, the grass is always greener, innit.

    gassho
    Julia
    I think you missed the point of my post. It's not that the precepts are too restrictive, it's that the neurotic mind finds ways to misuse them.

    Luckily, we have teachers (who aren't rocks or mountains).

    Chet
    I'm glad you clarified that, because my initial impression was that you ran smack into a wall, and were then complaining about the evils of walls.
    gassho,
    Julia
    No, my headline was deliberately sensational.

    Chet

  24. #24

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    My point in posting my two cents here was that I don't put much stock in people whining, "Look what such-and-such religion did to me," even if it seems like they have a legitimate excuse. It's pointless drama (although I acknowledge that people have to indulge in that in certain stages of emotional processing).

    Yes, I dearly wish religion could never be misapplied by anyone, or used as a weapon to hurt another person. But you have to own the way you interacted with it, and what you allowed others to do to you with it, and move on. 'Nuff said.
    Thanks Julia- You just smacked me up the back of the head, which I think I needed. (Picture Gibbs & DiNozo, for you NCIS fans )

    gassho

  25. #25

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Well. It could be said of any "conservative" or "orthodox" religious view be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. Just try to follow the Kosher dietary laws in a non-Jewish community or being a Christian Evangelist in a liberal university town. : :wink:
    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho
    I have to really strongly disagree. Women in ultra-conservative Charedi communities, especially in Israel (and especially in Jerusalem) often have a much more oppressive life than most women in, say, Turkey or Singapore. I don't want to discount your experiences but I can't let that assertion go unchallenged.

  26. #26
    disastermouse
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    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Quote Originally Posted by Mountaintop Rebel
    Quote Originally Posted by murasaki
    Quote Originally Posted by chicanobudista
    Well. It could be said of any "conservative" or "orthodox" religious view be it Christian, Muslim, Jewish, etc. Just try to follow the Kosher dietary laws in a non-Jewish community or being a Christian Evangelist in a liberal university town. : :wink:
    That sounds plausible on the surface...but I must insist that the Muslim female role beats both of those in the subjugation department, hands down. And I'm not just giving an offhanded opinion based on hearsay. But that's all I'm going to say about it, so I ask you kindly to take my word for it, with sincere apologies for my curtness.

    gassho
    I have to really strongly disagree. Women in ultra-conservative Charedi communities, especially in Israel (and especially in Jerusalem) often have a much more oppressive life than most women in, say, Turkey or Singapore. I don't want to discount your experiences but I can't let that assertion go unchallenged.
    Some people would argue that the most oppressed woman in the world was my exgirlfriend. Most notably among those arguing that would probably be my exgirlfriend. She was so oppressed by my not being the person she wanted me to be.

    Wait, no - the most oppressed woman in the world was my mother - who's put up with my crap for going on 35 years now.

    No, wait...the most oppressed woman in the world is Will's mom!

    Just kidding, Will.

    Chet

  27. #27

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Ha- Ha - Ha :|

    :wink:

    W

  28. #28

    Re: How the Precepts destroyed my life!

    Chet, at least the precepts don't ask you to wear a sheitel. :mrgreen:

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