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Thread: Shoaku Makusa- On 'Refrain from all evil whatsoever'

  1. #1

    Shoaku Makusa- On 'Refrain from all evil whatsoever'

    "Avoid all evil
    Do good
    Purify the mind"

    I'm struck by how well this sums up Buddhist practice in all traditions . Does anyone know how this presumably Theravada teaching ended up in the Shobogenzo?

    PS I apologize for being so active/loud in the forum lately.

    Gassho
    Tom

    SatLah

  2. #2
    There is an explanation in A Short History of BBB Buddhism, this primarily Theravada text but with much explanation about North and South Buddhism.
    Gassho
    sat/ lah
    Tai Shi


    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk Pro
    ...Thought and action/ your life would never experience, (even before you were born), But he also being the Devine Cannot, He etched every moment of your existence, With His own hand... Haifiz

  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by StoBird View Post
    "Avoid all evil
    Do good
    Purify the mind"

    I'm struck by how well this sums up Buddhist practice in all traditions . Does anyone know how this presumably Theravada teaching ended up in the Shobogenzo?

    PS I apologize for being so active/loud in the forum lately.

    Gassho
    Tom

    SatLah
    I think itís merely a buddhist teaching. Theravada, Soto, Shingon, Pure LandÖ itís all buddhism, so we share many of the teachings, unsurprisingly so Iíd be worried if the buddhism I practice had nothing in common with the one HH The Dalai Lama practices, for example.

    SatToday
    Bion
    美音

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by Bion View Post
    I think it’s merely a buddhist teaching. Theravada, Soto, Shingon, Pure Land… it’s all buddhism, so we share many of the teachings, unsurprisingly so I’d be worried if the buddhism I practice had nothing in common with the one HH The Dalai Lama practices, for example.

    SatToday


    I agree that it is a Buddhist teaching and am sorry that I wasn’t clear on that point. I didn’t mean to suggest that it’s just a Theravada teaching.

    I know that it is more important to practice and not worry about these things. I’m not worried, just curious because I think it would be fun to know the history of this particular Dhammapada teaching, and why he doesn’t quote from, say, the Satipatthana Sutra or Metta Sutra of the Chinese Agamas? Why do a lot of these Sutras play a central part in Vietnamese Thien Zen Buddhism and I think in Korean Zen too? Surely Dogen was aware of them? I’m not poo-pooing Sōtō Zen for not having them (not having many Sutras with complex instructions is one of the reasons I like Sōtō Zen) just curious for fun’s sake

    Gassho,
    Tom

    SatLah

  5. #5
    Quote Originally Posted by StoBird View Post


    I agree that it is a Buddhist teaching and am sorry that I wasnít clear on that point. I didnít mean to suggest that itís just a Theravada teaching.

    I know that it is more important to practice and not worry about these things. Iím not worried, just curious because I think it would be fun to know the history of this particular Dhammapada teaching, and why he doesnít quote from, say, the Satipatthana Sutra or Metta Sutra of the Chinese Agamas? Why do a lot of these Sutras play a central part in Vietnamese Thien Zen Buddhism and I think in Korean Zen too? Surely Dogen was aware of them? Iím not poo-pooing Sōtō Zen for not having them (not having many Sutras with complex instructions is one of the reasons I like Sōtō Zen) just curious for funís sake

    Gassho,
    Tom

    SatLah
    I wish I had an answer for you, but my knowledge is laughable
    I did however understand your question and the reason behind it, so donít misinterpret my reply.


    SatToday


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    Bion
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  6. #6
    Hi Tom,

    Dogen was seemingly a strict disciplinarian for monks, less so and more flexible for lay folks at home whose Precept vows are less restrictive. Even so, even with regard to his monks, "refrain from all evil whatsoever" is probably too strong from a Mahayana and Japanese Zen view. Japanese monks especially could be surprisingly earthy and tolerant of human foibles and failings. Surprisingly, in so many of Dogen's writings, after he lays out seemingly strict statements of good behavior, he includes stories of monks and nuns who did not quite meet that standard. Dogen seems to leave room for those who try their best, but for various reasons, do not strictly comply. One of the great modern scholarly experts on Dogen's ethics has written about this:

    ... On the one hand, one finds numerous admonitions throughout the Shobogenzo Zuimonki to uphold the precepts. Indeed, immediately upon concluding their discussion on the Nan-ch'uan story, Ejo and Dogen launch into a detailed conversation about the nature of violating the precepts and the actions required to rectify such violations. Dogen stresses the need for repentance of one's sins and for taking the precepts again, thereby enabling the sinner to regain purity. The very last exchange in section 1.6 demonstrates Dogen's emphasis on the precepts:

    Ejo asked: "If repentance of the seven grave sins is allowed, is it permissible to receive the precepts afterward?"

    Dogen answered: "Yes .... Once a person's repentance has been accepted, he must receive the precepts again. Even in the case of the grave sins, anyone who repents should be permitted to receive the precepts again if he so desires. Should even a Bodhisattva himself violate the precepts, he must be given the precepts again, since he has done this for the sake of others."

    Dogen holds up before the monk the bodhisattva ideal as exemplary for one's conduct: taking up the precepts for the sake of all sentient beings.

    On the other hand, Dogen's instructional exchanges with Ejo indicate that he is not attached to the precepts in matters of morality. For Dogen, right moral action varies according to the circumstances, which include not only the situation encountered but the capacity of the individual to respond. In the Nan-ch'uan story [of killing the cat], the circumstances concern the killing, or not killing, of the cat from the perspective of the enlightened mind. The exchange above more explicitly addresses whether or not, from this perspective, an evil act like cutting the cat can be a means of bringing enlightenment to others. Without denying that this act violates the Buddhist precept against killing, Dogen acknowledges the validity of this possibility.

    http://www.thezensite.com/ZenEssays/...Is_Arguing.htm
    For this reason, our Precepts as we undertake here at Treeleaf state, "Do as you can, in this body and life, not to ... " rather than a strict "whatsoever." Of course, some breaches ... killing in anger, stealing money from a poor family ... are worse than other breaches, e.g., gossiping or stealing bread to feed a poor family.

    As well, Dogen's essay Shoaku Makusu also emphasizes that, in the "non-doing" of Emptiness, no precept can ever be made or broken from the start.

    As to Dogen and the Agamas, well, he had some familiarity, and quoted sometimes when he wished, in his own way. But do not forget that most Mahayana (Great Vehicle) folks did interpret the so-called Hinayana (Lesser Vehicle) teachings as somehow incomplete, e.g., emphasizing a strict morality for those who needed strictness, for they could not handle the Mahayana view.

    Sorry I ran long, for which I repent.

    Gassho, Jundo

    STLah

    PS - Tom, I need to ask you again to replace your post photo with a human face. I will PM you. Thank you.
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-20-2021 at 02:39 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  7. #7
    In Mahayana Buddhism and thus in Zen the Three Pure Precepts are actually

    Refrain from doing bad things
    Try to do only good things
    Do good things for the benefit of others.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    泰林 - Tai Rin - Peaceful Woods

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by Tairin View Post
    In Mahayana Buddhism and thus in Zen the Three Pure Precepts are actually

    Refrain from doing bad things
    Try to do only good things
    Do good things for the benefit of others.


    Tairin
    Sat today and lah
    Well, that is an English translation of the Chinese/Japanese, and the original is open to some interpretation. It can be read as a strict statement or more as an aspiration, because the Chinese is written in a very shorthand way, and evolved over time. When it is expressed in English, the words can have various flavors. It can be read one way for lay folks, one way for Mahayana monks. Furthermore, the original may actually be read more literally as an admonition to follow all rules. The story is quite complicated. For a most detailed analysis, have a look at pages 67-69 here for the Kanji interpretations (as well as pages 60-66 for some very detailed history). It is from a comprehensive study of the history of the Precepts developed and presented to the SZBA a few years ago ...

    https://terebess.hu/zen/szoto/Precepts_Study.pdf

    Thus, I sometimes say, do as one can in this life to avoid to live in harmful ways, and to live in helpful and healthful ways, for oneself and others (who are not two, by the way).

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    Last edited by Jundo; 06-08-2021 at 04:07 PM.
    ALL OF LIFE IS OUR TEMPLE

  9. #9
    Quote Originally Posted by Jundo View Post
    Well, that is an English translation of the Chinese/Japanese, and the original is open to some interpretation. It can be read as a strict statement or more as an aspiration, because the Chinese is written in a very shorthand way, and evolved over time. When it is expressed in English, the words can have various flavors. It can be read one way for lay folks, one way for Mahayana monks. Furthermore, the original may actually be read more literally as an admonition to follow all rules. The story is quite complicated. For a most detailed analysis, have a look at pages 67-69 here for the Kanji interpretations (as well as pages 60-66 for some very detailed history). It is from a comprehensive study of the history of the Precepts developed and presented to the SZBA a few years ago ...

    https://terebess.hu/zen/szoto/Precepts_Study.pdf

    Thus, I sometimes say, do as one can in this life to avoid to live in harmful ways, and to live in helpful and healthful ways, for oneself and others (who are not two, by the way).

    Gassho, J

    STLah
    My approach is always aim for the highest level, take the strictest approach, set the highest standards, that way even when we fail we still accomplish much. But just giving oneís best is enough

    SatToday
    Bion
    美音

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  10. #10
    Member Getchi's Avatar
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    Hello, I spent some time with a Korean congregation, Seon I believe. The idea is that since we all fall short of Buddha's grace and sin against the other, who are we to judge?. There is a precept about this.

    Also, it's been said that no sin is original under this sun, and we simply repeat others mistakes.

    Excellent thread BTW.

    SatToday
    LaH.

    I've been doing penance.

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