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Thread: More about Zen and morality..

  1. #51

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Hi Chet and anyone else that wants to wade in

    In my experience, the perfection of each moment is unconditioned. A realization of this is fundamental to Zen practice, IMHO. As the Heart Sutra proclaims, 'Form is emptiness'. A realization of the true emptiness of self and objects, that one does not directly experience them
    I really don't like the word perfection in this context and feel that "as it is" is about all we can really say without attaching a value judgement on it.
    It is unconditioned in the sense that when we experience no separation there is not one "thing" to condition another "thing" but that is only half the truth. There are also "things" conditioning other "things". My reply to you only exists because you exist as separate from me and your post conditions my use of time at this moment. One is no more 'real' than the other. Both are true and both need to be acknowledged and lived as one ultimately- which is beyond the concept of "one" too.

    This I think ultimately shows why the Theravadin insistence of morality, in one sense at least, is a skilful means. It doesn't throw out the relative in favour of the one sided absolute.

    If one tries to enforce morality upon oneself, there is internal conflict - there is then dualism and the casting of shadows. This will never work, because creating allies and enemies within oneself is inherently self-defeating.
    Seeing the internal conflict at the same time as experiencing the "not internal conflict" allows both the "as it is" andthe continued working on the desire to act in ways that are skilful to end suffering to be present without separation.

    All the best

    Rich

  2. #52

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Hi Dorje

    I'm not quite sure I understood you! I simply meant we have to actually DO something to break precepts. We are fine right now- we have to make an effort to go 'wrong'. That effort requires an intention and an action (is karmic). If we joined a Theravada monastery we would be keeping all the major precepts quite naturally...until we DID something else. That's quite amazing.....naturally and with no effort things are as they should be.
    Things are not as they should be. Your karma is intertwined with my karma. Action doesn't just flow from intent, intent also flows from action. If things are as they should be then we could simply settle within our own peaceful state and be done with it. Maybe that's Theravada but I don't know - I do appreciate that straight forward outlook however.

    Of coarse we have to find peace, we have to come from peace inside but inside and outside are not exclusive places. Suffering isn't just the result of wrong actions it is also all pervasive - just being is suffering. Suffering also causes wrong actions. Just being is breaking the rules. Another level of rules are the "Bodhisattva vows". They have more to do with doing, with taking action rather than simply non-action.

    BTW, this is a good reason to practice chanting the Bodhisattva vows and not strip zen practice down to "just sitting" alone.

    I don't think its an issue of putting teachers on pedestals. Its a practical matter of openess and transparency and following rules we have set ourselves. As soon as we add to just being ordinary humans- we get a Dharma name, some robes, teach a bit etc. - we have chosen to represent a tradition and that tradition has explicit and implicit rules, it presents an image to the public of what its there for etc etc. We take on responsibilities. Take me, I'm a nobody. I have no Dharma name, no robes. I can say anything without causing the Buddhist world and students any problems really. As soon as you 'move up' you become a representative and have to be sure you are in a position to be that. I recall Nhat Hahn tells of when he was doing a peace talk over the 'Nam war. He was asked a hurtful question and responded admirably, then quickly left the stage. He went outside shaking and was desperately trying to regulate his breathing. It turns out the question had made him so angry that he had to control his breathing to such an extent he was having some problems after. He wasn't perfect (whatever that is) but he took full responsibility for not causing suffering to others and to take it on board himself and deal with it. Everyone goes on about 'no goal' in sitting and living, and its a good teaching in its way, unless we hold on to it and use it to justify philosophical positions. The only point of Buddhism is to end suffering for every being and reach a good functioning level of that in our lives here and now. If we don't then we might be better off doing other things than wasting time on what may well be, in our self-deception, just another ego-trip. Because we all suffer from self-deception (its scary how bad it can be) its so easy to come up with reasons, justifications and excuses. In fact our conscious minds' job is partly to write those stories- we very often have no idea why we do what we do because its unconscious. In one sense morality can bring offer a way in to that stuff perhaps. If we set ourselves a goal of not speaking harshly then we have direct evidence of whether we are achieving it every single day. If we have courage to investigate when we fail we might gradually uncover and transform what kept us from speaking gently. At the same time when someone says that its too hard to do that we can recognise the truth of this and their decision without throwing them out of our hearts. Obviously we do this for those at the top that fail too, even if they continue to maintain their status and justify themselves, because our compassion includes them and reduces world suffering that way too.

    Have a good day

    Rich
    I agree with much of your last points

  3. #53

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Things are not as they should be. Your karma is intertwined with my karma. Action doesn't just flow from intent, intent also flows from action. If things are as they should be then we could simply settle within our own peaceful state and be done with it. Maybe that's Theravada but I don't know - I do appreciate that straight forward outlook however.

    Of coarse we have to find peace, we have to come from peace inside but inside and outside are not exclusive places. Suffering isn't just the result of wrong actions it is also all pervasive - just being is suffering. Suffering also causes wrong actions. Just being is breaking the rules. Another level of rules are the "Bodhisattva vows". They have more to do with doing, with taking action rather than simply non-action.

    BTW, this is a good reason to practice chanting the Bodhisattva vows and not strip zen practice down to "just sitting" alone.
    Let me see if I understand you my friend...Things are not as they should be. I'm not sure about the should in the sentence but if you mean there is suffering and we want to heal it then I agree. Intent flowing from action- by this if you mean (just as an example) when someone intends to steal then the subsequent actions create a psycho-physical change that keeps further new intentions in the same "mental grooves" then I agree also. So far if I have understood you correctly nothing you say is in discord with what I originally said.

    Peace having no inside and outside- full agreement. Being individuals is suffering yes. That I, me, mine suffering does set intent that causes problems, yes. The vow to save all beings I think starts from the place of being Ok- prior to intent/action that is problematic. At this point and with realisation we have already saved everyone by seeing through the one sided view of reality. Next we put it into practice with pragmatic help for others.

    I am hoping I have understood you right.

    Cheers

    Rich

  4. #54
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Hi Chet and anyone else that wants to wade in

    In my experience, the perfection of each moment is unconditioned. A realization of this is fundamental to Zen practice, IMHO. As the Heart Sutra proclaims, 'Form is emptiness'. A realization of the true emptiness of self and objects, that one does not directly experience them
    I really don't like the word perfection in this context and feel that "as it is" is about all we can really say without attaching a value judgement on it.
    It is unconditioned in the sense that when we experience no separation there is not one "thing" to condition another "thing" but that is only half the truth. There are also "things" conditioning other "things". My reply to you only exists because you exist as separate from me and your post conditions my use of time at this moment. One is no more 'real' than the other. Both are true and both need to be acknowledged and lived as one ultimately- which is beyond the concept of "one" too.
    I followed up with the 'Emptiness is form', just further down the post. My point is that without the freedom of 'Form is Emptiness', a realization that 'Emptiness is Form' is useless.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    This I think ultimately shows why the Theravadin insistence of morality, in one sense at least, is a skilful means. It doesn't throw out the relative in favour of the one sided absolute.
    And neither was I - read further down the post.

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Seeing the internal conflict at the same time as experiencing the "not internal conflict" allows both the "as it is" andthe continued working on the desire to act in ways that are skilful to end suffering to be present without separation.

    All the best

    Rich
    It's not a matter of 'seeing the conflict' - essentially, no conflict exists - it must be created. Typically it's created by identifying with one urge and shadowing the other. You don't need to act to 'be present without separation'. Separation actually has to be created - which is fine, if it is created in ways that do not create schisms within oneself.

    My point is that by acting 'against' urges, you actually feed them. If you are successful, it costs energy and the battle is only 'paused'.

    Chet

  5. #55
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by Dorje T

    Things are not as they should be. Your karma is intertwined with my karma. Action doesn't just flow from intent, intent also flows from action. If things are as they should be then we could simply settle within our own peaceful state and be done with it. Maybe that's Theravada but I don't know - I do appreciate that straight forward outlook however.

    Of coarse we have to find peace, we have to come from peace inside but inside and outside are not exclusive places. Suffering isn't just the result of wrong actions it is also all pervasive - just being is suffering. Suffering also causes wrong actions. Just being is breaking the rules. Another level of rules are the "Bodhisattva vows". They have more to do with doing, with taking action rather than simply non-action.
    Just being does not cause suffering. Just identifying causes suffering. Except when it doesn't.

    Zen is not philosophy - it is honoring BOTH truths of the heart sutra. That is to say, one embodies one's role, but is not attached to it. If you try to live Zen as a philosophy, you're already twice removed.

    In this moment, you act in the world - ready to relinquish your role at any moment if it is required - without being locked into either 'emptiness' or 'form'. The thing is, except for abstract philosophical statements, one rarely gets 'locked' into emptiness - and typically when one does, it is not 'real' emptiness one is locked into, one is using 'emptiness' to justify something. You cannot exist in the world without taking up your role, but you should always be also aware that your role as perceived by you is not a fixture of universal truth.

    Chet

  6. #56
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    I should say this as well:

    Just moving from 'form' to 'emptiness' is not in itself morality. One could move from one to the other in a self-protecting, subtly ego-identified way. The point is to move from reflecting one to the other without personal agenda. This is actually the compassion of the Buddhas.

    In this way, even if and when you make 'mistakes', these mistakes are blessed by the Buddha!

    In doing this, it is best to refrain from 'philosophizing' - as philosophizing is almost always an attempt at securing a position.

    Chet

  7. #57

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Let me see if I understand you my friend...Things are not as they should be. I'm not sure about the should in the sentence but if you mean there is suffering and we want to heal it then I agree. Rich

    Yes there is something to be done, always is suffering so something to be done. It's not that we have to make an effort to cause something to be needed to be done. Even without any effort, we are wrong, we don't really ever do enough to relieve the suffering - guilty as charged - we're all in this together. So sometimes it's best to just shut up the mind and act for the betterment not reach for a thing called enlightenment first and then act second. Of coarse our actions should be intelligent actions.
    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Intent flowing from action- by this if you mean (just as an example) when someone intends to steal then the subsequent actions create a psycho-physical change that keeps further new intentions in the same "mental grooves" then I agree also.Rich
    If you look at time for example, there is no way you can have a past without a present. No way you can have a present without a future. No way to have a future without past or a past without a future etc. There is no mountain without a sky, no earth without space, no space without objects, no objects without subjects, no life without death, no me without you, no nirvana without samsara. I don't think our experience is linear - as it often appears. Usually we think intent precedes action, but in a non-linear, interdependent experience how can you really say that? Reality (interdependence) is too sudden for that, too immediate, too present, too all inclusive. We can't look at reality. We can't become enlightened, it's impossible! We can't take a boat to a place called nirvana. Yet we vow to become enlightened, we vow that for everyone's sake. Forever failing, we go, we don't stand still, we go because going is all there is, going is THIS. We don't freeze the mind, there's work to do. Whether Im enlightened or not, I still brake for cats.

    Then, in there, in this, you can find something that is peaceful.

  8. #58

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Hi Chet

    It's not a matter of 'seeing the conflict' - essentially, no conflict exists - it must be created. Typically it's created by identifying with one urge and shadowing the other. You don't need to act to 'be present without separation'. Separation actually has to be created - which is fine, if it is created in ways that do not create schisms within oneself.

    My point is that by acting 'against' urges, you actually feed them. If you are successful, it costs energy and the battle is only 'paused'.
    If two people outside are battering the hell out of each other thats a conflict in existence. If I just take the suchness of it there's no conflict. This was what I was saying about both at the same time. Of course conflicts have to be created in the relative world as does non-conflict when conflcit exists.

    Your last sentence is doubtful though. I think we get generally conditioned to hold certain psychological notions from all the therapy talk engaged around us and this is one of them. It is quite easy to reel off many different urges in which acting against them in some way does indeed solve them for many people much of the time.

    Hi Dorje



    All the best guys

    Rich

  9. #59
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by Grizzly
    Your last sentence is doubtful though. I think we get generally conditioned to hold certain psychological notions from all the therapy talk engaged around us and this is one of them. It is quite easy to reel off many different urges in which acting against them in some way does indeed solve them for many people much of the time.
    It has literally never been successful for me - and for the brief time it may have been thought of as 'successful', it has taken all of my energy to maintain.

    But thanks for dismissing my comment without really thinking about it by attributing it to psychobabble! You display an awesomely ready mind!/sarcasm :mrgreen:

    And as for conditioning, your statement is questionable. I'd say we get FAR greater conditioning to repress and 'fight' our inner 'unwanteds' much more than we get the conditioning to work with them. I'll bet what you wrote looked really good on paper (and in your own mind), though.

    Of course, I'm talking about deeper issues than just 'should I eat that chocolate bar or not?' Even there, I may be able to hold off the urge for right now, but the urge comes back. Ultimately, I must work with it and not just repress it.

    You are talking to someone with an Axis II personality disorder here. I can't think of anything that better qualifies as a karmically persistent pattern than that! Following your advice, I'd have just tried to repress the 'wrong speech' and 'wrong action' caused by my personality disorder - which I did try for years. None of that was helpful, deeper work was necessary. These things must be untied at the root, and following the precepts robotically does not achieve this.

    Small urges can be blunted with willpower. Large problems or karmically persistent patterns cannot be effectively dealt with this way....

    But go ahead and try. Let me know how that works out for you!

    Chet

  10. #60

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    I feel there is a lot of wheel spinning here. Just keep it simple and clear.

    Seek as one can not to do harm to self or others ... and to act in ways healthful and beneficial to self and others (self and others, not two by the way).

    That is all any of us can do. Why all this other talk about it? Whether intent precedes action or action precedes intent or none or both ... whether there are karmic consequences or none at all ... it is all the same.

    Of course, we may have to weigh what we consider the best course to be in specific cases ... of course, sometimes opinions on that will vary or there will be no clearly harmless course (much of life being a mixed bag) ... sometimes the effects will be far different than the good we intend. No matter. All we can each do is sincerely seek to find the course we think best.

    Gassho, Jundo

  11. #61
    disastermouse
    Guest

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Hey man,

    Sorry about being snarky...but I'm going to leave the comment because I don't want to edit myself into being better than I am, LOL!

    Chet

  12. #62

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Once a very old king went to see an old hermit who lived in a bird's nest in the top of a tree, "What is the most important Buddhist teaching?" The hermit answered, "Do no evil, do only good. Purify your heart." The king had expected to hear a very long explanation. He protested, "But even a five-year old child can understand that!" "Yes," replied the wise sage, "but even an 80-year-old man cannot do it."

  13. #63

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Hi Chet

    It has literally never been successful for me - and for the brief time it may have been thought of as 'successful', it has taken all of my energy to maintain.

    But thanks for dismissing my comment without really thinking about it by attributing it to psychobabble! You display an awesomely ready mind!/sarcasm :mrgreen:
    Please forgive me if I came across as being dismissive, my sparring buddy. I really didn't mean anything personal by it. That was one of the reasons I added the 'many people for much of the time' at the end of the sentence. I think my statement does hold true. I had a really bad anger problem many years ago and a few months back had my wing mirror smashed by a numptie who didn't want to wait on for me to pass over a narrow bridge. He then decided to have a massive go at me as if he was on the bridge first. I noticed I'd placed myself and lined him up for a straight right and as soon as I caught this I smiled to myself and it went away. That came from working on it in much this way many years ago and now I've only had it even arise like that once in 15 years or so. Thats just one example from my personal history...

    And as for conditioning, your statement is questionable. I'd say we get FAR greater conditioning to repress and 'fight' our inner 'unwanteds' much more than we get the conditioning to work with them. I'll bet what you wrote looked really good on paper (and in your own mind), though.
    Our whole society is conditioned by many notions, one of which is this. I have worked with many people who had accepted much of the psycho-babble (as you put it) that is current in how we should live, deal with things, do deal with things, use our minds etc etc. They are surprised when I sometimes throw the exact opposite at that them. The proof of the pudding though is that they get better, and very quickly, in most instances. At other times I'll work with those beliefs about how psychological stuff is IF it helps. I view all those models with some suspicion because they are just models and not necessarily fact. I am only concerned with the result. I also agree we get conditioned to hide our shadows too.

    Of course, I'm talking about deeper issues than just 'should I eat that chocolate bar or not?' Even there, I may be able to hold off the urge for right now, but the urge comes back. Ultimately, I must work with it and not just repress it.
    But many people have just done that. After a time the desire can just go away for these things. Its not always one way or the other.

    You are talking to someone with an Axis II personality disorder here. I can't think of anything that better qualifies as a karmically persistent pattern than that! Following your advice, I'd have just tried to repress the 'wrong speech' and 'wrong action' caused by my personality disorder - which I did try for years. None of that was helpful, deeper work was necessary. These things must be untied at the root, and following the precepts robotically does not achieve this.

    Small urges can be blunted with willpower. Large problems or karmically persistent patterns cannot be effectively dealt with this way....
    My other posts show quite clearly that I haven't just said this. I have always said use whatever works be it simple stuff like the Theravadin state replacement through to therapy and medication if needed. As I have said before if people get better and happier I'm not fussy about theories or methods. I'm a pragmatist.

    None of these words are worth a damn though unless you are happy my friend.

    So with metta

    Rich

  14. #64

    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Once a very old king went to see an old hermit who lived in a bird's nest in the top of a tree, "What is the most important Buddhist teaching?" The hermit answered, "Do no evil, do only good. Purify your heart." The king had expected to hear a very long explanation. He protested, "But even a five-year old child can understand that!" "Yes," replied the wise sage, "but even an 80-year-old man cannot do it."
    Lovely

  15. #65
    Treeleaf Unsui Dosho's Avatar
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    Re: More about Zen and morality..

    Quote Originally Posted by disastermouse
    Hey man,

    Sorry about being snarky...but I'm going to leave the comment because I don't want to edit myself into being better than I am, LOL!

    Chet
    LOL! And we'd be worse off from such editing!

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