Posts

Showing posts from December, 2008

The Eighth Grave Precept

The Eighth Grave Precept

The Eighth Grave Precept is: Do not be stingy with the Dharma or property. In my Order we use: I will be generous with what I possess. Other translations are much simpler, "I vow not to be greedy."

Another koan: how can we be greedy with what we possess when, in truth, we can possess nothing?

This precept, like all of them, can be read at least in two levels: the ordinary and the extraordinary, with Small Mind or with Big Mind.

On the Small Mind level we are talking about actually sharing what we hold in our hands, our houses, our banks, and our heart/minds. As we realize aspects of the Dharma, we should share when asked or when needed.

On a Big Mind level, we realize there is nothing that we can possess, so we have nothing to offer, but more, nothing is needed. All is perfect just as it is. We just are not able or willing to perceive this and let it rise up.

A harmful thing happens, we engage it without attachment or emotional investment and make it bette…

The Seventh Grave Precept

The Seventh Grave Precept

This precept says that we vow not to praise self and slander others. This precept points us to treating everyone as equals, a very challenging precept to put into practice. Equality is a key reality from a Zen Buddhist point of view. When we see our true nature as One, than how can we not see others as ourselves and treat them as ourselves? The need to elevate ourselves is a need of the ego. By slandering others, insecure people feel they are placing themselves on a better footing. When if fact, that footing is illusion.

As we witness a person mistreating another, do we feel some bit superior? We would not do that. As we speak to a waiter or waitress, how do we speak to them? As equals?

We practice to become sensitive to our own internal processes and do the work we need to do as a result of what we discover.

Equality demands that we trust each of us is able to listen and process what we communicate and is communicated to us; it demands that we do not hold…

The Sixth Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The Sixth Grave Precept

The first five precepts are those taken in some traditions by lay practitioners. The next five, then, separate lay practitioners from those who are stepping up and traveling along the way of the Bodhisattva. They represent an increased demand for mindful attention.

The Sixth Grave Precept: I vow not to criticize others. In my order we use a slight variant: I vow to speak kindly of others. This precept is a precept that points directly to right speech. We should always try to say kind things about others and avoid unkind things. Yet, teachers often say things that are critical of a student. Parents say critical things of a child. Society says critical things about its outlaws. This precept points to idle chatter, to gossip: speech that has little value in that its aim is to spread rumors.

We have a positive obligation to criticize wrong, especially harmful behavior. We have an obligation to stop harm.

It is a difficult …

The Fifth Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The Fifth Grave Precept: Do Not Deal in Intoxicants.

The Fifth Grave Precept is our vow not to cloud our minds with intoxicants. Hmmm. Does this mean no wine with dinner? Not really, the point of this precept is that we vow to live with a clear mind. The problem comes in the fact that wine and other drugs have effects on our perceptions. But its not just drugs. We can intoxicate our minds with video games, television, news stories, books, magazines, foods, sex, etc. Too much of anything leads to a distorted version of reality. Its a cloudy mind that is the issue.
Drugs and alcohol we understand in terms of their intoxicating power. Yet, the power of electronic media, print media, and the entertainment industry has similar effects. When wee are inundated with images, messages, and invitations to meet every pleasure need, we seem to crave more. People can become what are now called "News Junkies", pornography is a multi-billion dol…

Fourth Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The Fourth Grave Precept is: Do not lie.

This precept, like all the others,is geared toward what makes for a civilized world. One of the foundations of civil society is trust. In order for us to function together we must trust that what is said to us is honest. Lying about, distorting, and otherwise "handling": the truth erodes this trust.

Yet, we have a similar paradox as with other precepts. What is the truth? Truth is subjective. It is perception and perception can (and is) distorted by experience. so, if we have been robbed by people of a certain background, we may perceive people from that background to be "suspect" when in fact, they are not.

Better then, that we focus our attention on our own speech. We should speak only honestly with right thought and right understanding. We should not try to deceive.

Yet, always we should have in mind the maxim, 'do no harm'. Sometimes telling the truth can be harmful, …

Third Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning we address the Third Grave Precept: Do not commit sexual misconduct. This precepts points directly at us and our society. We reflect ourselves in our art forms, if we can call them that: Desperate Housewives, The L Word, Californication...even Boston Legal. So much television is devoted to attracting viewers through sexual content that it is nearly impossible to turn the box on without seeing one seductive Victoria's Secret woman or a Hanes commercial, etc., etc. Then we are to walk away and keep our eyes to ourselves...whoops did you see that woman wearing nothing but lingerie at K-Mart? Or how about yesterday when a lady wearing pajamas walked past me in Wal-Mart. Eyes in head, head straight.

Sexual misconduct is all in the mind. Its also all about relationships. Its about health. Its about trust. Its about caring. Its about loving. Its about everything that is so challenging in our culture.

Another way to frame this…

Second Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning we explore the Second Grave Precept: Do Not Steal. To accept what is not given speaks to a breakdown in social and personal boundaries. It suggests a profound disrespect for the property rights of others. But more than that, it points to our own greed.

Stealing takes so many forms it is easy to violate this precept without care. Accepting more change than you are entitled to at a cash register for example. Accepting a mistake on the sale price of an item at the department store, for another example. These are forms of stealing. One does not have to hold someone up or slip something into one's pocket in order to be a thief.

This precept asks us to be diligent in our dealings with people, things, and money. A borrowed, but never returned book, for example is a kind of stealing. Loans are time-limited. And so on. So, it is our responsibility to do our own due diligence in returning things borrowed in a timely manner.

It would…

The First Grave Precept

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

The other day, I addressed the The Pure Precepts. This morning I would like to talk about the first of the Ten Grave Grave Precepts, do not kill. This precept is first among the Ten Grave Precepts. It is a very challenging precept for many reasons. Like most precepts its paradoxical. We must live, in order to live we must eat, in order to eat we must kill, yet here it says: do not kill. How can this be?

Moreover, even as we breathe or walk we kill. As we drink water we kill. Even if we are vegetarian, we kill. So how can we follow this precept?

Killing is more than simply taking a life, although that is its meaning. This precept is about the wanton killing of beings for no purpose, but to kill them. We are asked not to kill for the joy of killing, as a game, or a sport. We should try to avoid killing unintentionally, as well.

To meet this precept we must act mindfully around all beings. We should not kill for any reason but to sustain our…

Three Pure Precepts

With palms together,
Good Morning Everyone,

This morning I would like to talk to you about the Three Pure Precepts. In Zen Buddhism, these three precepts are core. These are: Cease doing evil; Do good; Bring about abundant good for all beings. It takes a lot of personal work to enact these precepts, even more to make them our own.

The reason these precepts are so challenging is that they point to a way of being as a Buddhist that is selfless and always in service.. In contemporary society this is difficult as we are constantly reminded to acquire, protect our acquisitions, and let others be responsible for themselves. But this is not the Zen way.

The Zen way is to release the self of its grip on us by practicing to realize its true nature as empty, with no permanent existence at all. We are dust made into form and will return to dust again. When we break through and realize this truth we can see that all that is left is our function as human beings.

True human beings function out of com…