inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #76 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Fri 1 Feb 02 19:55
    
Fabulous!  This conference has given birth to a new religion!  La-Z-vada.
Swami Ikea-nanda will be teaching The Busyperson's Guide to Laziness
tomorrow afternoon at the Miami Club Med.

Will it have a logo (symbol)?  How about an empty deck chair?

And are there odds on any upcoming schism?

Meanwhile, I'm mulling over Buddha at war, and will post after I take
another walk, about that.

Oh, and thanks for showing up at my book party the other night <btraub>!  I
hope Tennessee sends you tix for the opening of your show, in time...
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #77 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Fri 1 Feb 02 21:08
    
I have sat in a public setting one time, when my friend mentioned above
invited me to see Scoop Nisker speak to a Palo Alto Buddhist gathering
at...wait for it...the Friends Meeting House!

(Sitting for forty-five minutes in my first attempt was probably not wise,
in retrospect.)
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #78 of 151: (fom) Fri 1 Feb 02 23:05
    
Yow! Forty-five minutes is a very long time unless you're a pro.

My son's uncle Richard is a big Buddhist Quaker. He teaches at Sidwell 
Friends' School and has a serious practice with Thich Nhat Hanh -- I 
believe he spends time each summer in France at TNH's place, and has 
received some kind of ordination from him that involves a dharma name. So 
I get the impression that the two paths are very compatible.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #79 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Sat 2 Feb 02 07:39
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:23>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #80 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 2 Feb 02 07:56
    
Well, to answer your question, then, Ten After Dave, (and, by extension, to
give an example of one form of Buddhist interpretation):

    "Are there conditions under which the Buddha would go to war?"

Answer:  No.

              Period.

                        And yet ...



No, because this is an essential truth of the Path.  Violence only begets
more violence. What spiritual path says otherwise?  Reverence for life.
Life adds life to life.

In the Dhammapada, one of the oldest of Buddhist texts,
(http://www.angelfire.com/ca/SHALOM/dhammapada.html)
we have what many believe to be the Buddha's own words.

In the very first book, we read:

     Hatred is never appeaed through hatred.  Hatred
     is always appeased through non-hatred.  This is
     eternal law.

Eternal law.  And yet ...

... even Gandhi said he did not think nonviolence would have worked against
Hitler ...

... how many of us live in conformity with eternal law, aligned with the
cosmos?  Eternal laws are often called into question by historical
occurrence.

E.G.:
http://www.uwec.edu/academic/curric/greidebe/BMRB/culture/student.work/hicksr/


June 11, 1963.  Saigon.  A car stops at a busy urban intersection.  Some
monks and nuns get out.  People think the car has engine trouble and they're
going to fix it.  Someone draws a big container of gasoline out of the back-
trunk.

One monks get into full-lotus posture in the intersection. He remains seated
in meditation as he becomes a human torch.  You've seen the picture --

-- the world saw the picture.  A Vietnamese Buddhist teacher now in in Los
Angeles recalls he and several others would be still be in prison today, if
it were not for this act, were it not for the world seeing.

& it was a pivotal moment in the evolving movement known as "engaged
Buddhism," & is believed to have lead to the overthrow of the Diem regime, &
changed heart and minds in the West as well as East.

But it was an act of violence.  And the first Precept counsels, "Do no
harm."

Yet it could be justified by 5th-10th century (CE) Chinese Buddhist texts on
self-suicide.  Still, one of Thich Quand Duc's monastic brothers, Thich Nhat
Hanh, argues it wasn't even suicide. There's an Eastern tradition that such
self-immolation is called for there are no other means available.  Rollie
Hicks explores the ins and outs in the website, above.

So there is the eternal law, and historical interpretation.  The two
interconnect, inseparably.

Recent posts in topic #71 in <Wonderland.> provide other historical
examples: such as Tibetan warrior monks; "Zen at War"
 http://www.tricycle.com/books/zenatwarrapeofnanking.html.

We could also mention contemporary Burma (Myanamar), a military regime,
where monasteries must ally in some way with the throne of swords in order
to survive.

The Buddha, and Ashoka, are the exception.  But they point to the eternal
law.  Zen at war and warrior monks and such are the historical dimension.
Touch one deeply and you touch the other.  History, hopefully, is
heliocentric, evolving toward the light.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #81 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 2 Feb 02 08:41
    
Or, rather, the Buddha, King Ashoka, are exceptional.
.,
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #82 of 151: Kathy Whilden (wildini-k) Sat 2 Feb 02 09:10
    
So it is still a question about how to respond to the violence around
us.  I watch the news reports on CSPAN and public television and my
heart breaks.  I guess we respond as we respond and we just have to be
aware of what comes up. My mind falls into the trap of wanting life to
be different then it actually is arising.  I have been a Zen Student
for 15 years.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #83 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 2 Feb 02 10:29
    
Hi, <wildini-k>, good to hear from you here.  I've been learning lately of a
20-year-old woman, who raised doves, who blew herself in Jerusalem Sunday,
from newsreports on the Internet, and it just breaks my heart.  And, I'm sad
to say, it won't break the heart of the Israelis who will respond with only
more violence, but still I hope for social justice and reconciliation.

I have to confess I've never seen CSPAN (I read the NY Times as a habit and
often go to the Internet for "Page Two.")  I find most media today toxic.
(Fourth precept warns about consuming toxins.) They never report the good
news; or seldom.

You're welcome to read some of the news I've published, if it provides any
antidote:  http://word.to/articles .   More to the point, if you're
concerned about the media, as I am, you might consider the movement
for what's called civic journalism or public journalism:
     http:///www.nyu.edu/gsas/dept/journal/Faculty/bios/rosen/websites.htm





Difficult:  responding to violence; responding to love.  Both.


As I hear you <wildini-k>, how do we remain aware without a knee-
jerk reaction ... to remain genuine ... yes?

In my practice, itUs transforming the act of keeping informed into
bearing witness ...    vowing with Kuan Yin to listen to whatUs not said
as well as whatUs said ... to listen to heal (not necessarily cure)
... to listen to awaken ...



nothing wrong of course with wishing for a better world; the bodhisattva
vow, which we renew with all beings ... reading of their suffering renews
the vow ... asks us to see deeply into the causes of suffering ...

... Reb Anderson says, "Study karma, see Dharma."



... practice in America, we have more lay than monastic in our make-up, and
so how do we read the paper?  And, along with American Buddhism, we have
another new phenomenon, engaged Buddhism, engagement in the world as
practice.


And practicing just one Precept deeply, we practice all the others.  So we
can respond to violence by vowing to listen deeply and speak from our
heart (the third precept); by eating lunch mindfully (fourth precept); by
mindful relations with others (fifth precept); and so on.


Back at the dawn of infoglut, Lew Welch once said that if you keep abreast
of all the negative news, youUll never get out of your door.  So instead of
talking about the negative news, he advocated just practicing the positive
solutions.  DonUt say no: be yes.

And, to continue, under all circumstances, to continue ...


                                                                 ...
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #84 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 2 Feb 02 10:38
    
      (oops!  those "U"s mid-word should be apostophies;
       i fergot to turn off "curly quote": sorry.)

Yes, sitting for 45 minutes can be hard ...
so can sitting for just 10-15 minutes everyday ... which is what I tend to
stress to beginning sitters can be more rewarding.

But sitting for 45 minutes ain't nothing compared to sitting for one week in
front of a computer, as I have now!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #85 of 151: La-Z-vada, the path of the chair (chrys) Sat 2 Feb 02 14:50
    
I think it is unfair - when on the brink of war - to turn to pacifists
for a non-violent solution.  Pacifism is a way of living, everyday
descisions made mindfully.  It doesn't get engaged *only* in times of
war.  

There was a documentary recently on PBS - The Good War and Those who
Refused to Fight It -  that looks into the lives of those who chose not
to fight Hitler:

http://www.pbs.org/itvs/thegoodwar/
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #86 of 151: Eleanor Parker (wellelp) Sat 2 Feb 02 15:18
    
Gary, I'm continuing to enjoy your fine writing.  You are really
making Buddhism seem less "foreign" and more applicable to a regular
American life.  I am also finding the discussion of the Quaker religion
in this topic interesting as it doesn't seem so "foreign" and yet
there are many commonalities between the Buddhist and Quaker
approaches.  Maybe all sensible approaches to life share common ground.

Some questions:

1.  Most of the time you refer to "the Buddha" rather than "Buddha". 
Is there a distinction?  What is the preferred form of address?

2.  In reference to the Cardinal Precept To Not Kill:  Reverence for
Life.  What about euthanasia for beloved pets? 

3.  In reference to the Cardinal Precept Abstinence From Alcohol and
Other Intoxicants.  What about prescribed medication that is
"mind-altering"?  I take medication for depression, and couldn't
function without it, yet by definition it is mind altering, although I
would not describe it as intoxicating.  I take other medication for
other physical conditions.  What is the Buddhist approach to Western
medication?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #87 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Sat 2 Feb 02 18:36
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:24>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #88 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sat 2 Feb 02 19:17
    
                                                   -/ slippage

Thanx <chrys> for mentioning that doc; I was going to too.  I was struck
by how the c.o.'s became a sangha, come together from
all diverse walks of life, and using each other as a sounding board to
test their beliefs, asking all kinds of questions (e.g., "What if someone
raped your grandmother?").

I also still remember Dave Dellinger saying there were some things worse
than death; like being unable to express one's love for one's
 fellow human beings ... including the oppressors as well as the oppressed.

I'm sorry to have seemed unfair, too; 'cos I absolutely agree with what you
say, so must have once again expressed myself poorly.


Thanks too <wellelp>, for your encouraging words, and beams!
"The Buddha" / "Buddha" are pretty much the same difference.  We no longer
say "the Christ" that often; both "Buddha" and "Christ" are honorifics, not
names, per se.  But don't sweat the small stuff (and don't pet the sweaty
stuff).
Don't get me wrong:  pets are family.  The precept is not harming life at
all.  Some Buddhists (like the Jains) will not walk on ants.  As for
euthanasia in general, I'll have to do some research and see if I can come
up with any lore; but, as with my example about self-immolation, you could
argue for it if it were in a wise, compassionate context.


The precepts are actually very terse in the original.  Like no alcohol ...
which by extension could include, I suppose, harmful chemical additives.  It
is not a question of mind alteration, but of, again doing harm.  Some
prescriptions cause harm to one system but benefit another; what can you
do?!     (be aware, I suppose, of what's going on, contents-wise, and
effects-wise, and to the degree possible take care of what you can take care
of yourself.)  There's a bunch of stuff in the chapter on science about
medicine, if you want to hop-and-skip and continue the thread, 'cos I'm
endlessly fascinated by it.  (The words "whole" and "healing" and "holy" you
know all come from the same root in Anglo-Sax.)




The availability of the Buddha's teachings to us in America now is a very
wonderful dawning, and I'm happy you agree.  Yes, there is common ground in
the Golden Rule, and other such sensible approaches to life, without need of
label.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #89 of 151: Chris Florkowski (chrys) Sat 2 Feb 02 20:23
    
>so must have once again expressed myself poorly.

Gary - I wasn't replying to what you wrote - but the 
implicit quandary offered by the Gandhi example.  
You didn't express yourself poorly at all!

BTW, Scott - how long ago was it that you attended that 45 minute
sitting?  Do you know that that sangha has moved to Redwood City?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #90 of 151: Scott Underwood (esau) Sat 2 Feb 02 22:17
    
Boy, three or four years, at least. I did not know that, but I'm not yet
ready to seek a regular group. I know who to call though!
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #91 of 151: jess (gobeyond) Sun 3 Feb 02 01:12
    

 I've heard <wellelp>'s questions put to a few Tibetan lamas, along
 with another about whether organ donation is appropriate for
 a Buddhist (because tradition is to leave the body unmoved for a period
 of time after death).  As I recall, the point was made that Buddha taught
 within the conditions of his time and community, and that a dogmatic
 approach which discounted change in society was probably not what he
 had in mind. And that organ donation, being a supremely compassionate
 act (especially considering the aspect of the donor being kept alive
 to facilitate harvesting, and then allowed to die under the best conditions
 for the organs, not for the person), would be fine. The replies about
 anti-depressants were similar--that motivation and consciousness are the
 key, and that restoring health with medicine from a physician is a
 perfectly prudent thing to do.



 I'm delighting in the discussion here (thanks, all), especially the
 details of Quaker practice.  As it happens, I'm an Osmotic Quaker--
 I grew up just outside Philadelphia, reigned over by William Penn,
 surrounded by Friends, in an atmosphere where pacifism and simplicity
 and the value of forthright honesty just seeped through everything
 and into me, too.  <g>


 Namaste !
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #92 of 151: David Dawson (dawson54) Sun 3 Feb 02 07:27
    <scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:24>
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #93 of 151: ZeppoCat (zeppocat2001) Sun 3 Feb 02 08:32
    
Um, excuse me, but Jains are not followers of the Buddha. Jainism was
founded in around the 6th century BC by Lord Mahavir. This is around
the same time the Buddha is thought to have lived (most scholars say
between the 7th and 5th centuries BC).

There are many similarities between Jainism and Buddhism, owing to
their origins in Hindu cosmology and beliefs. They were both the result
of the example of very holy men who followed, at least for some period
of time, the path of aescetic Hindu practices. And of course, anyone
from a Hindu tradition considers the Lord Buddha to be one of the
incarnations of Vishnu (so a Hindu would say Buddhists are
Vaishnavites, but Buddhists themselves would not say they are Hindus).
To my knowledge, Jains would not call themselves Buddhists.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #94 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 3 Feb 02 10:03
    
In going back to the time of the Buddha, it's intereting to see how much of
the Vedic traditions in the air influenced him.

A major point of difference was asceticism, as I guess you already know.
Having broken with the self-indulgence of his princely palace life, he next
broke with the self-denial of the forest ascetics, who starved themselves in
order to transcend their physical cravings.

This was the birth of the Middle Path.  Something I compare to the fluid,
flowing line *inbetween* yin and yang.

(Apologies:  the "s" popped off my keyboard a while ago, and it doesn't
always register now.)

In an informal level, I find the Middle Path applicable to our discussion of
interfaith:  finding a balance between elements of Buddhism and another
creed or path.  Practitioners of yoga often come to Buddhism for further
exploration of meditation; practitioners of Buddhism come to yoga for
further exploration of their bodies; their physical temple.

I was only
c o m p a r i n g
Buddhism and Jainism, in reference to not trodding on ants.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #95 of 151: Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Sun 3 Feb 02 10:14
    
The precepts are an area of Buddhist practice which seem to trip
people up the most. 

My experience of taking the five precepts - not to kill, not to take
what is not given, not to use false or harsh speech, not to be sexually
immoral (which for lay people means not to commit adultery) and not to
misuse intoxicants - has actually been very liberating.

The rules "not to do" something may be turned into positive virtues,
depending on the circumstances of one's own life. So, the precept not
to kill might be extended to providing aid and protection to any
creature. Nevertheless, even the harshest of precepts must be
interpreted according to circumstances.

It seems to me that providing medicine to ease a dying animal's
passing (even if that medicine kills them) or taking prescription drugs
for an ailment (even if the drugs are intoxicating) are blameless
acts, especially if a person has considered carefully the ethics of
such actions and performs them mindfully.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #96 of 151: Linda Castellani (castle) Sun 3 Feb 02 11:05
    
E-mail from M Savarese:

I have a question: I am in a situation with another person who is going 
through an incredibly difficult time in his life (as am I). Unfortunately, 
he's venting a lot of his anger and destructiveness at me, in an extremely 
harmful way. I don't believe in hurting anyone, but I'm afraid my only way 
out of this is to hurt him, before he does incredible damage. A mentor of 
mine told me the most important thing was to look after myself and cited what 
she called an "old buddhist concept": "Do no harm, unless harm is called 
for." I can't believe there's anything like that! Can you help me with this 
question?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #97 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 3 Feb 02 12:06
    
Thank you, <M>, for your question.  I hear two:   a simple and a more
difficult question.

Simple question, simple answer: No ----- I know nothing of "nonharming
unless harm's called for."  Simple.   And it fits in, actually -- with
our recent discussion, here, about war (violence) and about the guidelines
for conscious conduct called precepts.  The precepts are simple & plain
as pie.

Thou shalt not kill.  Not, "Thou shalt not kill unless you do so for good
reason."  Nonharming, as Kirsten has just affirmed, is expressed negatively
('thou shalt not') but is truly positive:  Schweitzer called it reverence
for life.  Awareness of the web of being which we are and of which we're
part of.   Respecting it such that knowing bringing harm to one part is
bringing harm to the whole.

We test these out in our lives, with our lives, and if the experiment calls
for us to try to redefine those boundaries, then we do so in dialogue with
the experiment -- not as a gesture of walking away from it.

So the recognition in your relationship might be that if your friend is
having difficulties, and is bringing harm to himself or others -- stopping
him in a harmful manner would only perpetuate the problem; like trying to
put out a fire with gasoline.  Instead, just a few drops of nonharm,
respect, kindness, love in candid simplicity, can bring calm to a raging
river.

And so I say that I'm hearing a second, more difficult question:  if I'm not
to do violence before he does more violence himself, then what am I to do?

Here I don't know what options might be available to you, but one I'd sugget
would be plain candor spoken from the heart:  "Dear, you know how much I
care for you, and (like/love/cherish) you.  Nothing I'm about to say in any
way contradicts that, by one grain.  I care for you, and want you know that
I know that you're suffering.  It makes me suffer too, because I care for
you.  I can understand your anger at how things are going, and it upsets me:
 your anger is genuine, but it isn't productive.  For you or for me.  Let me
know what I can do that will help ease your anger, and what I can do to help
you make your way through these difficulties."   Something like that.

If he experiences anger, can you watch him do so, without being pulled into
it?  If not, then you might need to consider getting yourself to a place in
it where you can.  And when you experience anger, can you be aware of it
without letting it pull you by the nose?  That is, be aware of it without
feeding it; be kind to yourself, have compassion for yourself, as capable of
feeling anger but keeping the door open, instead, for love.

Do these options seem available to you, in your difficult circumstances?
And -- for what it's worth -- are you taking a momoment now and then to just
look at the blueness of the sky, the clarity of the winter light; to
appreciate the freshness of your breath at your nostrils; to be thankful for
the flowers that are starting to bloom; to sense how fortunate it is to be
alive?  Doing so will help water seeds of peace and reconciliation, that
will grow in place of the seeds of anger and destruction, and bring the
brighter tomorrow present to you today.

Yes?
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #98 of 151: jess (gobeyond) Sun 3 Feb 02 12:59
    

 Gary, that's both lovely and brilliant.  Your compassion is a tribute
 to your teachers, and shines through your sensible advice.

 And this is just purely perfect:
"We test these out in our lives, with our lives, and if the experiment calls
 for us to try to redefine those boundaries, then we do so in dialogue with
 the experiment -- not as a gesture of walking away from it."
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #99 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 3 Feb 02 14:46
    
Thank you <gobeyond>.  I was just interviewed on TV this morning and came
away thinking of all the things i DIDN'T say (it's always like that); it's
also such a wonderful way you have with words yourself:  E.G., letting me
claim any merit on behalf of my (blessed) teachers) ...

'cos, as you probably well kjnow, we're entitled to the work, not the fruits
of the work.

And, not to suggest there's any problem whatsoever, but I return to <M>'s
post once more because of something else I heard.  A kind of third question
then.   "How do I keep his anger and violence from pushing me over the brink
too?"     (Yes?)

And, if so, I just wanted to tell you that he can't.  Only you can let him.

No one owns your heart or mind, but you.

One of the practical benefits of meditaiton is its potential for "emotional
intelligence," as Daniel Goleman calls it -- emphasizing the E.Q. rather
than the I.Q.   We know a lot about our heads -- we think.  But I think we
know very little about our hearts, which is where so much of the juicy parts
of life reside.

So being able just to recognize the arising of an emotion -- being happy /
sad / afraid / angry / ambivalent -- and being aware that you're happy /
sad/afraid/angry/ambivalent -- then the emotion doesn't own you.

And the arising will become cessation in the same gesture, if it has nothing
to feed on.   This is a marvelous aspect of the practice of mindfulness.


I forget the teacher that used this example, but imagine kids at a
basketball court:  one comes along and says, "your mama _________!" to
some little kid.  The little kid gets angry, but the bully can walk away:
the bully now knows he owns the little kid; he can push his buttons.  If
the little kid doesn't get mad, however, then the bully can't touch him.
It's like that.   That's all I wanted to add.

So.
  
inkwell.vue.137 : Gary Gach: The Complete Idiot's Guide to Understanding Buddhism
permalink #100 of 151: Gary Gach (ggg) Sun 3 Feb 02 14:55
    
I bow, palms joined together.  (<gassho>)
  

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