Daily Archives: January 9, 2009

No quarter asked, none given

One of the funniest things Ive ever heard about Buddhism is that it is a “passive” philosophy. That its about not doing ‘anything’ and sitting around zoning out. That it is a religion with no morality. This is funny because once you see through the outer trappings it quickly becomes apparent that being a Buddhist is non-stop, intensely moral activity!

I suppose seeing a bunch of folks meditating might seem to be just so much sitting around, but ask anyone whose tried zazen and they will tell you that the simple task of sitting for 20 or so minutes can be one of the most challenging things they have ever done. What is actually ‘passive’ is allowing your monkey mind to roam all over chucking its own poop around inside your consciousness and doing nothing about it as one suffering hits you after another. Its easy to suffer, its hard work to end it.

Observing and controlling yourself is non-stop and becoming aware of real morality is a one way trip, once your eyes have opened to the right way to treat yourself, others, and the world you can never go back to being ignorant again. Take morality for example;

we all know that stealing is wrong, but why is it wrong? Well before I sat on these concepts for years I might have told you it was because if you steal then you get in trouble or that it hurts that other person financially or emotionally, and thats fine as far as it goes. . .but it doesnt go far enough. This sort of morality leaves the door open for all kinds of rationalization. If we believe that stealing is wrong because of consequences then our oh-so-slippery minds can come up with reasons why it would be ok to steal. . . like what if you are stealing from someone who will never know it? (Like taking toilet paper from your giant corporate office.) Or What if you steal from someone who ‘deserves it? ( Like downloading music from those ‘greedy’ record labels). All of the sudden we have made it ok to steal in our minds. But Buddhism doesn’t allow you any refuge from what you know is the truth, and the truth is that stealing is stealing, even from work and even from ‘greedy’ people.We dont do it because its wrong, period.

These days if you ask me why stealing is wrong i would answer this way; stealing is greed and this causes suffering, stealing is imposing my needs over another and this is suffering, stealing causes friction among all and this is suffering, stealing is laziness and this is suffering, and stealing is harm to myself and others. Stealing is wrong because it brings suffering into the world.

Becoming a Buddhist and undertaking to end suffering means that this kind of thinking is applied to everything you do. It means you can not hide from your responsibility or conceal you own failings. It means eternal vigilance.

this doesn’t sound very passive to me.

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