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Jundo
03-07-2011, 02:45 PM
Someone wrote me to ask if Buddhism requires us to abandon most of our passions. Must we forsake all our drive and ambitions for what we wish to achieve in life? Must we be cold people, perhaps unable to passionately and fully love someone deeply, with all our hearts? Must we avoid feeling indignation in the face of injustices in the world, all feelings of anger or disappointment? And so on.

Here are my own 'rules of thumb'. As with fire ... which burns bright with light and warmth, or burns us and runs wild ... it depends how we treat these things.

I believe that the Precepts generally guide us away from anger, greed, jealousy and other such emotions. As anyone who has ever had a moment (or days on end) flooded by those emotions can testify ... they generally do not lead to the peace and balance which is at the heart of this practice. Others get hurt, we get hurt, holes get punched in walls, plates get broken and life gets broken. These emotions are fire, and we must be careful how we play with it.

On the other hand, to fully remove these emotions from the human mind ... including potentially harmful emotions such as anger ... would rob of us of an important part of being human. We would be reduced to living in a way as emotionally numb and dull as a piece of cold wood or a stone. Some schools of Buddhism (and some other Eastern and Western religions too) have sought to completely kill or squelch such emotions within us (sometimes many other human emotions too). This has traditionally been described as pouring water on the fire until coals become completely wet and cool, and the fire is completely out.

When Buddhism came to China, Korea, Tibet and Japan ... the Buddhist teachings on the emotions subtly changed (I paint with a broad brush, but I speak as a general trend). The fires of emotions were not seen as necessarily negative things, but they must be handled carefully and with balance. A campfire, so useful for cooking our supper if skillfully made, will quickly burn down the woods if left untended. A single candle which offers light can burn us and others, and the whole house down, if handled wrong. So it is with our emotions. Thus I say that the Precepts guide us away from excess and uncontrolled anger, greed, jealousy ... Anger at injustices in the world, for example, may spur us on to fight for change ... yet that anger should be kept in balance, and tempered with an equal dose of acceptance of life, lest it burns us to ashes too. The desire for change should not be allowed to run rampant as greed for and attachment to change from 'how things are'. A healthy dose of competition need not become jealousy and violence. We should use strong words much as we would scold a 3 year old child found playing with matches ... that is, with love and concern and understanding, not simply to hurt the child. A harsh word can be an "intervention" to shake a friend up who needs to hear ... or it can simply be a cruel and destructive word meant to hurt someone (the most famous example of "Zen tough love" may be all those old tough talking Masters administering "40 blows" of Wisdom). Thus, do not extinguish life fires ... but handle them with care and use them in constructive ways!

What is more, we must all recognize that we have these fires burning within us, and we must be mindful of that fact. I tend to believe that we all have the potential for the best and worst of human behavior within us, given the right ... or wrong ... conditions. We each have a little bit of Hitler or Osama, the murderer or the thief or rapist, within us (Kannon and Mother Theresa too). Under given conditions, the fire within any of us can run wild, and we could do truly heinous things when pressed. We must be very careful, for fire is a powerful thing.

I do not know if there are or are not firey hells after we leave this earthly world ... but I have seen enough people who make hells for themself, and those around them, in this very life by their thoughts, words and deeds.

I believe that the Precepts guide us toward generally healthful and helpful ways of using fire. I believe that Zazen and all Buddhist Practice ... with its emphasis on understanding the "mind theatre", not being ensnared by it, learning to let thoughts and emotions go, learning to embrace life and find balance ... make our living by the Precepts easier and easier. As the days and years of Practice pass, we do become much better fire handlers!

I also believe that, in the early days of Buddhist practice, we may not yet be good at keeping with the Precepts, so we may just have to "cold turkey" it! We may then have to do our best to grit our teeth, bite our tongue, and not yield to anger ... simply not letting the harsh words pass our lips. In that case, the Buddha's Precepts really are more like the "rules" that a parent sets for a child ... and insists that the child abide though the child does not like it or understand ... all until the child matures and learns to live by the Precepts herself. The children (us) must be forced as a "law" to not play with matches ... until the child grows up and is old enough to understand their use.

I believe that there is a difference between angry thoughts, angry words and angry actions. Thus, if you think ugly thoughts (I do not know of any human being, short of a Buddha, who will not think ugly things sometimes ... like yesterday when someone dumped trash in the farmfield behind our house), simply do as you can not to let them pass your lips. If ugly words pass your lips (again, I think it hard to be a human being and escape that ... as my wife can testify when we have our semi-annual husband-wife barn burner) ... do not act upon the angry and harmful impulses. All should be avoided, but thinking "I want to burn down your house" is not quite saying out loud "I want to burn your house" ... each far removed from actually pouring gasoline on the house and lighting it!

What is more ... we are not machines. We will all slip (although, hopefully, not doing too much damage in the process. I have never killed anyone ... Thank Buddha! ... let alone broken anyone's jaw ... but I do have a lovely dent in the wall that I made about 5 years ago in a moment of unbridled fire. I intentionally never fix it ... and even cut it out and brought it with me when we moved ... as a reminder of what I am capable of.) That is what it means to be human ... a creature made, in traditional Buddhist understanding, partly of the fire element!

If we fall into the fire we should simply pull ourself out, dust off, learn from the experience ... forgive what can be forgiven in our actions, sincerely apologize to whom we should ... move on and try not to fall into the flames again.

It is for these reasons that we recite again and again and again ... the Verse of Atonement ... the Verse of At-One-Ment ...

All evil karma ever committed by me since of old,

On account of my beginningless greed, anger and ignorance,

Born of my body, speech, and thought,

Now I atone for it all.

Gassho, J

Seiryu
03-07-2011, 03:15 PM
Thank you for that Jundo!

Just what I needed to hear...Now its time to put it into practice!


*Deep Gassho*


Seiryu

Jishin
11-16-2012, 02:30 AM
Thank you J,

JC

Joyo
10-15-2013, 08:40 PM
Thank you Jundo!!!

gassho1
Treena

MyoHo
10-15-2013, 08:56 PM
gassho2

Gassho

E.

jlewis
10-15-2013, 09:21 PM
Thank you Jundo for this wonderful lesson. Reading this put a smile on my face and made me realize even more that I have found my path.

Gassho

Josh

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ZenHarmony
10-16-2013, 11:14 PM
Thank you, Teacher

Gassho,

Lisa

Hoseki
07-22-2015, 02:41 PM
I recognize this is an old thread but I wanted to say thank you. For me its very timely :)

Gassho.


Adam
Sat2day

Tai Shi
08-01-2016, 11:49 AM
Thank you Jundo for this teaching.

Tai Shi
std
Gassho

Tai Shi
08-02-2016, 04:45 PM
Jundo, teacher, I have a cateract which must be removed and I had intend to reread The Mind of Clover difficult will wait for Doctor and read posts as I can will sit daily. And thank you
Tai ShGassjo

Shugen
08-02-2016, 07:29 PM
Jundo, teacher, I have a cateract which must be removed and I had intend to reread The Mind of Clover difficult will wait for Doctor and read posts as I can will sit daily. And thank you
Tai ShGassjo

Good luck with the surgery.

All you can do is the best you can do.

Gassho,

Shugen

#sattoday


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Kyotai
08-02-2016, 07:41 PM
Best of luck Tai Shi

Gassho, Kyotai
ST

Tai Shi
08-03-2016, 06:03 PM
This Jundo, is what I need! Thank you Tai Shi std Gassho.

Washin
09-03-2016, 03:39 PM
Thank you, Jundo, for this timely and needful reminder gassho2
I'm looking forward to studying the Precepts with you all during
this Ango again.

Gassho
Washin
sat today

Jyukatsu
09-03-2016, 05:35 PM
Thank you for this, and other postings, that I seem to randomly find just when i need them:)
Gassho,
Marina
Sat Today

Ongen
09-04-2016, 04:54 AM
[emoji1317]

Anso
09-20-2016, 05:55 AM
gassho1

Enjaku
09-20-2016, 02:45 PM
Very happy this thread popped up again during Ango. Thank you, Jundo for this teaching.
Gassho,
Alex
Sat

Koushu
09-20-2016, 03:47 PM
Thank you for this pearl of wisdom. Really needed it today as I deal with two co-workers that have a nice way of irritating everyone and have started on me. Though I have great patients it has been slowly eroding away.

Gassho

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derek12261984
09-20-2016, 04:04 PM
This was the first I've seen of this thread, but I'm glad I saw it. The topic helped me to resolve several conflicts I had. Thank you again Jundo.

Gassho
Derek
Sat2day

Seishin
09-20-2016, 08:34 PM
A very informative "lesson", many thanks.

Rosui
07-29-2018, 12:03 PM
Really beautiful.

Gassho

Rosui
st

Troy
07-29-2018, 02:50 PM
Thank you for this [emoji1374]


Sat2day

Ryudo
07-29-2018, 04:04 PM
gassho2

Thank you all.

SatToday

Aelric
01-01-2019, 02:34 PM
Thank you for such making such sense of something that has confused for so long. ......aha the middle way!

vanbui
01-02-2019, 12:30 PM
Thank you for this teaching.

Gassho
SatToday

Seibu
04-03-2019, 06:29 PM
There are so many wonderful lessons here at Treeleaf. Thank you for this teaching Roshi.

Gassho,
Jack
Sattoday/lah

Jundo
04-03-2019, 11:57 PM
Really came into play here yesterday when Mina, my wife, totaled our car. Other lady went to hospital, but both she and Mina seem basically okay. The other car is a mess too. Oh boy. Not sure what happened.

But, the fire stayed in the hearth. It is just one of those things. I am glad that both Mina and the other person are well. Material things are just things.

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

Troy
04-04-2019, 01:06 AM
Really came into play here yesterday when Mina, my wife, totaled our car. Other lady went to hospital, but both she and Mina seem basically okay. The other car is a mess too. Oh boy. Not sure what happened.

But, the fire stayed in the hearth. It is just one of those things. I am glad that both Mina and the other person are well. Material things are just things.

Gassho, Jundo

STLah

Glad to hear everyone is ok


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Shokai
04-04-2019, 01:30 AM
So good to hear Mina is OK. Metta to all involved.

gassho, Shokai
stlah

Seibu
04-04-2019, 11:52 AM
Happy to read that both are ok, and thank you for sharing this example of how the fire stayed in the hearth gassho1.

Gassho,
Jack
Sattoday

Shinshi
04-04-2019, 07:35 PM
Wow, glad everyone is ok. Often it can take a day or two for the experience like a bad car crash to sink in. Metta for Mina and all those involved.

Gassho, Shinshi

SaT-LaH

Gero
04-05-2019, 01:52 PM
Metta to all involved!
Hope the insurance will settle the material side.

To not let the flames of emotion (worry, fear) flare up too high - wow, amazing! I would be so glad to arrive at that point some time in the future.

Gassho
Gero (sat today)

Rob H
07-14-2019, 02:13 PM
Thankyou, Jundo.
I'm in an emotional state today and these are words that I needed to read.

Gassho.
Rob.

ST.

Jakuden
07-14-2019, 11:40 PM
I think of this lesson when I am pondering a passion over injustices... such as the one mentioned in another thread about the internment camps in the U.S. right now. This lesson has helped me have the courage to speak up sometimes, without having to worry that I will succumb to anger in the process. Thank you Jundo Roshi gassho1

Gassho,
Jakuden
SatToday/LAH

Tai Shi
01-05-2020, 08:44 AM
This I again speak of this year in 2020, Jan. 5th, 2020. Suicide prevention, and concentration camps, Nietsche, and Aldo Leopold. This my 3rd Jukai.
Tai Shi
sat/lah
Gassho

Peter_Shoemaker
08-08-2020, 11:55 AM
Many, many thanks for this. A perennial topic sprouting every year. Easier this time around, Jundo.

Gassho.

Peter, who sat today.