Buddhism & Morality

A forum for discussion of Buddhist ethics.
Punya
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Buddhism & Morality

Postby Punya » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:03 am

I have been listening to Dzongsar Khyentse's Rinpoche's talk on Buddhism and morality which can be downloaded here http://www.khyentserecordings.org/namo/Podcasts.html. He says:

"The value of a practitioner will be judged by who is morally right and good. And this is very dangerous... Someone may be very good with the morality but they may have no compassion. They may have no understanding of the truth... The morality sort of becomes a pillar for our pride and arrogance so the whole purpose of the morality is defeated... the wish and practice to enlighten all the sentient beings. " (25.30 on)

This seems to be related to the idea that there are no absolute truths in Buddhism eg killing creates heavy negative karma but there may be circumstance where killing one person would save many. When I read Old Path White Clouds where Thich Nhat Hanh brings togeher a number of Sutras to retell the Buddha's life , I got the impression that the Buddha didn't start out setting down a whole bunch of rules but gradually assembled them as a way of keeping his sangha out of trouble.

But is my thinking a bit muddled (this would be nothing unusual) and what is the best way to approach the "rules"?
Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree
Lying in the forests of the Malaya mountains
Absorbs the perfume of sandal from the moist leaves and branches
So you come to resemble who whomever you follow.

~Words of My Perfect Teacher

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Konchog1
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Konchog1 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:16 am

Rules must be followed from a motivation of Bodhicitta to train one-self's behavior. Not because the rules exist and it's the custom.
Equanimity is the ground. Love is the moisture. Compassion is the seed. Bodhicitta is the result.

-Paraphrase of Khensur Rinpoche Lobsang Tsephel citing the Guhyasamaja Tantra

"All memories and thoughts are the union of emptiness and knowing, the Mind.
Without attachment, self-liberating, like a snake in a knot.
Through the qualities of meditating in that way,
Mental obscurations are purified and the dharmakaya is attained."

-Ra Lotsawa, All-pervading Melodious Drumbeats

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Dave The Seeker
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Dave The Seeker » Fri Jul 26, 2013 12:54 am

Also, in my opinion, the "rules" are just a right way to live. And be mindful of our actions.
As you said, Buddha made them as he went along to keep the Sangha out of trouble.
To me the one that was made for that reason, more than the others, was to avoid intoxicants.
The rest, as I said, are just the right way to live without harming others.


:namaste:
Dave
Everyday problems teach us to have a realistic attitude.
They teach us that life is what life is; flawed.
Yet with tremendous potential for joy and fulfillment.
~Lama Surya Das~

If your path teaches you to act and exert yourself correctly and leads to spiritual realizations such as love, compassion and wisdom then obviously it's worthwhile.
~Lama Thubten Yeshe~

One whose mind is freed does not argue with anyone, he does not dispute with anyone. He makes use of the conventional terms of the world without clinging to them
~The Buddha~

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Nicholas Weeks
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Nicholas Weeks » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:19 am

A bodhisattva does not become weary of evil beings nor does he commit the error of bringing forth thoughts inclined to reject them and cast them aside. Avatamsaka Sutra, ch. 25

Ramon1920
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Ramon1920 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:44 am

The poisonous attitudes slip in quietly, often without your detecting them. They warp your reasoning. Little things seem big, big things seem small, if anger wants it can make killing anyone seem reasonable.

The rules are a safety net for when the afflictions take control. They keep you from doing something with long term ill effects if your faith in the vows is strong enough to over power the afflictions.

The vows are like links in a chain that holds the various aspects of lineage and practice together, without them the afflictions will scatter the pieces and make sure they can never be used in conjunction and you'll lose attainments in a moment of rage or another affliction.

The vows aren't a clumsy set of limitations, they include injunctions to account for unusual situations like when you want to adhere to a petty rule to the neglect of a major rule, when you want to use a petty rule to avoid situations where you have work to benefit beings, and when compassion calls for destructive actions.

If we were already enlightened it's true we wouldn't need rules to account for the deception of the afflictions that makes us harm our own and other's welfare.
We are not enlightened yet.
So we need the rules or we'll destroy the positive relationships with the triple gem and sentient beings.

Ramon1920
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Ramon1920 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 1:54 am

It is no coincidence that people pick out of context teachings, out of millions of Buddhist teachings, that challenge the parts of the teachings that keep the afflictions in line.

It's a conspiracy, and the mental afflictions are the conspirators.

"Let's undermine vows, let's undermine the Buddha's credibility, let's undermine the attainments, let's undermine renunciation of samsara, let's undermine bodhicitta, let's undermine meditation, let's undermine wisdom realizing emptiness. We'll gradually tear down these things so they won't realize they don't have to do what we say and they can get rid of us forever. Instead we'll bring them to teachers that will convince them there is nothing they can do, it's already been done, or even that the methods like vows and concentration lead to harm and make them suffer!"
Sound familiar?

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Grigoris
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Grigoris » Fri Jul 26, 2013 8:30 am

"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

muni
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby muni » Fri Jul 26, 2013 9:49 am

:namaste:

Awaken Beings can be 'acting' in a not so moral way, seen by our habits, to awaken us. They act without any fear to lose face. Stainless Awaken ones are simple compassionate nature, beyond our creations their limitations.

I myself can behave as appearing good one to innocent beings, like an apple with beautiful skin, hiding my rotten inside.

I samsara, can use all as weapon, to attack others instead of attacking the only single mistaken one and be free. Awaken Beings see only nature and help the suffering rotten insides.

Therefore I need rules, like if I cannot help, at least I should not harm.

Ramon1920
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Ramon1920 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 10:29 am

I don't know Dzongsar Khyentse, much less well, so I cannot say.

Unless Dzongsar Khyentse is Punya, he did not pick out this one quote from, I assume, thousands of sentences Dzongsar has used to teach.

The afflictions give special attention to anything that can be used to wear down resolves they don't like. So Dzongsar probably has been teaching for a while and has said thousands of things, but this one quote is getting lots of attention. It's like when you give a little kid emergency money, then they want to say everything is an emergency because it means they can spend the money.

The idea of the afflictions is this, "lets ignore everything else the teacher said about keeping our vows and focus on the single time he said vows aren't the most important thing so we can disregard them".

It's like when teachers say studying is very important so students start denigrating meditation. Or when teachers say meditation is the most important thing and students start denigrating study. The afflictions like to split up and tear down aspects of the path at every opportunity.

I don't like talking about individual teachers unless I am familiar with them or their students. Let's talking about the the Buddha if we're going to talk about individual teachers.

Dvedhavitakka Sutta: Two Sorts of Thinking http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html
"And as I remained thus heedful, ardent, & resolute, thinking imbued with sensuality(ill will, & harmfulness one sort) arose in me. I discerned that 'Thinking imbued with sensuality has arisen in me; and that leads to my own affliction or to the affliction of others or to the affliction of both. It obstructs discernment, promotes vexation, & does not lead to Unbinding.'"

How does it obstruct discernment? By picking out exceptions, by making big things seem small and small things seem big. Mental afflictions can also produce mental blind spots like being unable to relate to another. Mental afflictions can take over your body in a few ways, making you fall asleep during teachings or whenever you start thinking about subjects they don't like is one.

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Grigoris
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Grigoris » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:13 pm

I dunno about what you read into the whole deal, but the quote seemed pretty clear to me.
"My religion is not deceiving myself."
Jetsun Milarepa 1052-1135 CE

"Butchers, prostitutes, those guilty of the five most heinous crimes, outcasts, the underprivileged: all are utterly the substance of existence and nothing other than total bliss."
The Supreme Source - The Kunjed Gyalpo
The Fundamental Tantra of Dzogchen Semde

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flavio81
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Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby flavio81 » Fri Jul 26, 2013 3:51 pm


Punya
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Joined: Thu Dec 20, 2012 10:50 pm

Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby Punya » Fri Jul 26, 2013 11:54 pm

Just as the trunk of an ordinary tree
Lying in the forests of the Malaya mountains
Absorbs the perfume of sandal from the moist leaves and branches
So you come to resemble who whomever you follow.

~Words of My Perfect Teacher

In the bone yard
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Joined: Wed Mar 07, 2012 12:06 am

Re: Buddhism & Morality

Postby In the bone yard » Sat Jul 27, 2013 10:52 pm

All sentient beings will have to eliminate their karma to eliminate rebirth. The path should be the goal.
We can't expect an animal or lower realm, human being to adhere to a Mahayana practitioner's set of morals.
A vajrayana practitioner cannot follow the morals of a Mahayana practioner without descent into hell realm.

For a Mahayana practitioner simply refraining from the 10 harmful acts will not be enough, generally speaking.
For example, no killing should be extended to animals (including insects and spiders!) and so forth. But as was stated in the original post, merit must be accompanied by wisdom.

We have to learn to listen to our heart for what's right and wrong and always use a healthy sense of discipline.
The biggest assistance to one's practice is keeping to the good influence of friends and acquaintances.


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