Nothing further to seek...

General discussion, particularly exploring the Dharma in the modern world.
[N.B. This is the forum that was called ‘Exploring Buddhism’. The new name simply describes it better.]
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Wayfarer
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Nothing further to seek...

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:59 am

It’s rather easy to believe that as Nirvāṇa and samsara are not two, then we have nothing further to seek, that we are already enlightened. You hear that a lot in various forms of modernised Buddhism and other spiritual philosophies - you perfect as you are, there is no need to strive for anything. ‘Lucky is one with nothing further to seek’.

But what is the difference between that attitude, and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself? After all it is very popular nowadays to say that self-love is important for our well-being. So why the need for any spiritual practice whatever? Aren't we already enlightened?
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

ItsRaining
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by ItsRaining » Tue Oct 24, 2017 8:27 am

Wouldn't this just be another form of "Do Noting Zen" that Zen masters over the centuries spent a lot of time rejecting.

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KathyLauren
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by KathyLauren » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:23 pm

What you are describing IS narcissism.

It is true that we already have Buddhanature within us. So in that sense, there is nothing further to acquire. But that enlightened nature is covered up by ignorance and delusion. To be fully enlightened, we must get rid of those. So although there is nothing that we need seek to acquire, we do need to seek to get rid of those obscurations before we can consider ourselves enlightened.

Om mani padme hum
Kathy

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Dan74
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Dan74 » Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:56 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:59 am
It’s rather easy to believe that as Nirvāṇa and samsara are not two, then we have nothing further to seek, that we are already enlightened. You hear that a lot in various forms of modernised Buddhism and other spiritual philosophies - you perfect as you are, there is no need to strive for anything. ‘Lucky is one with nothing further to seek’.

But what is the difference between that attitude, and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself? After all it is very popular nowadays to say that self-love is important for our well-being. So why the need for any spiritual practice whatever? Aren't we already enlightened?
If I can play Devil's advocate here, this is a teaching which Zen masters from Huang-Po to Seng Tsan to Hongzhi had taught in some form. The devil, as usual, is in the detail.

If non-seeking is a through-and-through non-seeking, (rather than a conceited delusion which is fuelled by seeking status, respite from doubt, etc) then we have a very different story to narcissism.

e.g.

https://www.dailyzen.com/journal/zen-te ... f-huang-po
Q:   What is the Way and how must it be followed?
A:   What sort of thing do you suppose the Way to be, that you should wish to follow it?
Q:   What instructions have the Masters everywhere given for dhyana practice and the study of Dharma?
A:  Words used to attract the dull of wit are not to be relied on.
Q:  If those teachings were meant for the dull-witted, I have yet to hear what Dharma has been taught to those of really high capacity.
A:  If they are really people of high capacity, where could they find people to follow? If they seek from within themselves, they will find nothing tangible; how much less can they find a Dharma worthy of their attention elsewhere! Do not look to what is called the Dharma by teachers, for what sort of Dharma could that be?
Q:  If that is so, should we not seek for anything at all?
A:  By conceding this, you would save yourself a lot of mental effort.
Q:  But in this way everything would be eliminated. There cannot just be nothing.
A:  Who called it nothing? Who was this fellow? But you wanted to seek for something.
Q:  Since there is no need to seek, why do you also say that not everything is eliminated?
A:  Not to seek is to rest tranquil. Who told you to eliminate everything? Look at the void in front of your eyes. How can you produce it or eliminate it?
Q:  If I could reach this Dharma, would it be like the void?
A:  Morning and night I have explained to you that the Void is both One and Manifold. I said this as a temporary expedient, but you are building up concepts from it.
Q:  Do you mean that we should not form concepts as human beings normally do?
A:  I have not prevented you; but concepts are related to the senses; and, when feeling takes place, wisdom is shut out.
Q:  Then should we avoid any feeling in relation to the Dharma?
A:  Where no feeling arises, who can say that you are right?
Q:  Why do you speak as though I was mistaken in all the questions I have asked Your Reverence?
A:  You are a person who doesn't understand what is said to him. What is all this about being mistaken?
Q:  Up to now, you have refuted everything which has been said. You have done nothing to point out the true Dharma to us.
A:  In the true Dharma there is no confusion, but you produce confusion by such questions. What sort of 'true Dharma' can you go seeking for?
Q:  Since the confusion arises from my questions, what will Your Reverence's answer be?
A:  Observe things as they are and don't pay attention to other people. There are some people just like mad dogs barking at everything that moves, even barking when the wind stirs among the grass and leaves.

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Monlam Tharchin
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Monlam Tharchin » Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:09 pm

Excellent thread idea, Wayfarer. I've encountered this thinking in lots of general audience Zen books.

Samsara and nirvana may not be two (i.e. independent of each other) but they aren't one (the same thing), either. Awakening is not a special type of happiness that humans enjoy, and the situation of samsara doesn't just go away if we simply stop calling it samsara. In fact, very few do call samsara what it is, and as a result, the bonds of rebirth remain tight.

Buddha-nature is a potential, currently veiled by afflictions and wrong views. To say we have buddha-nature so we are already awakened is like saying our clothes are originally clean so we don't need to wash them, or that having an apple seed means we have apples to eat.

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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by CapNCrunch » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:21 pm

But what is the difference between that attitude, and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself? After all it is very popular nowadays to say that self-love is important for our well-being. So why the need for any spiritual practice whatever? Aren't we already enlightened?
Narcissism is excessive interest in one's self and one's physical appearance. Nothing to seek is confidence in one's path. If you are truly confident and honestly feel you've found the path for you, this doesn't mean that practice is finished :smile:

The idea that we are all already enlightened and there is nothing to do is mistaken view. There are people who believe this, for sure, but if they persist in this belief they will only waste their precious time and human birth. This kind of belief propagated by charlatans, flies in the face of the Buddha's entire life and teaching. If there was nothing to do, and we are already enlightened, then why did he teach of suffering, it's cause, and how to overcome it?
“I say good-bye to hope, but I also say goodbye to hope's disappointment.”

David Levithan

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Vasana
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Vasana » Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:29 pm

Intellectual understanding is not the same as realization. If you can't remain in equanimity towards pleasure or pain and still have even just a smidgen of attachment and aversion, you're not yet there. We have an enlightened escence or potentiality but thats not the same as saying we're all already enlightened. If sentient beings were enlightened, they wouldn't suffer...evidently they still do, evidently we still do. Abandoning efforts towards practice and not integrating samadhi 24/7/365 won't stop the suffering waves of samsara from welling up under your feet.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

boda
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by boda » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:29 pm

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:59 am
It’s rather easy to believe that as Nirvāṇa and samsara are not two...
It may be an easy thing to think. I doubt it's an easy thing to believe.

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Wayfarer
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Wayfarer » Tue Oct 24, 2017 10:51 pm

Dan74 wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 1:56 pm
If I can play Devil's advocate here..
Thanks, excellent reference! I especially like the opening line:
Your original Buddha-Nature is, in highest truth, devoid of any atom of objectivity.
Never a 'that' ;-)

Monlam Tharchin wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:09 pm
To say we have buddha-nature so we are already awakened is like saying our clothes are originally clean so we don't need to wash them, or that having an apple seed means we have apples...
CapNCrunch wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:21 pm
Narcissism is excessive interest in one's self and one's physical appearance. Nothing to seek is confidence in one's path. If you are truly confident and honestly feel you've found the path for you, this doesn't mean that practice is finished
Vasana wrote: If you can't remain in equanimity towards pleasure or pain and still have even just a smidgen of attachment and aversion, you're not yet there. We have an enlightened escence or potentiality but thats not the same as saying we're all already enlightened. If sentient beings were enlightened, they wouldn't suffer...evidently they still do, evidently we still do.

All very well said. That was the kind of distinction I was reaching for, but expressed far better here.

:namaste:
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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Wayfarer
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Wayfarer » Wed Oct 25, 2017 2:14 am

KathyLauren wrote: To be fully enlightened, we must get rid of those. So although there is nothing that we need seek to acquire, we do need to seek to get rid of those obscurations before we can consider ourselves enlightened.
Very true. It reminds me of the Taoist saying, 'in learning the arts and sciences, every day something is acquired. In learning the Great Way, every day something is dropped.'
In the beginner's mind there are many possibilities; in the expert's mind there are few ~ Suzuki-roshi

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tomschwarz
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by tomschwarz » Wed Oct 25, 2017 5:46 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:59 am
But what is the difference between that attitude (...Nirvāṇa and samsara are not two...), and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself? After all it is very popular nowadays to say that self-love is important for our well-being. So why the need for any spiritual practice whatever? Aren't we already enlightened?
))) that is your answer: narcissism and the-realization-that-nirvana-and-samasara-are-not-two are quite different things entirely (from the perspective of the relative truth, of course from the perspective of the absolute truth, a.k.a. emptiness, there is no difference).

so you probably know what narcissism is, i sure do ))))))), traits and signs of narcissism are (from wikipedia):
* An obvious self-focus in interpersonal exchanges
* Problems in sustaining satisfying relationships
* A lack of psychological awareness (see insight in psychology and psychiatry, egosyntonic)
* Difficulty with empathy

then, on the other hand the-realization-that-nirvana-and-samasara-are-not-two is quite different than samsara itself, it is giving up of all self territory, attachment, in favor of the basic space of phenomena, or "utter lucidity" (from book of the same title by longchen rabjam):
The ongoing flow of utter lucidity, timeless and omnipresent,
is spontaneously present within this context, in which nothing is
discarded or adopted,
and so it is the most sublime enlightened intent-the basic space of
phenomena, the nature of samsara and nirvana.
This vast expanse, unwavering, indescribable, and equal to space, is timelessly and innately present in all beings.
i dedicate this post to your happiness, the causes of your happiness, the absence of your suffering the causes of the absence of your suffering that we may not have too much attachment nor aversion. SAMAYAMANUPALAYA

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Dan74
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:39 am

CapNCrunch wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:21 pm
But what is the difference between that attitude, and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself? After all it is very popular nowadays to say that self-love is important for our well-being. So why the need for any spiritual practice whatever? Aren't we already enlightened?
Narcissism is excessive interest in one's self and one's physical appearance. Nothing to seek is confidence in one's path. If you are truly confident and honestly feel you've found the path for you, this doesn't mean that practice is finished :smile:

The idea that we are all already enlightened and there is nothing to do is mistaken view. There are people who believe this, for sure, but if they persist in this belief they will only waste their precious time and human birth. This kind of belief propagated by charlatans, flies in the face of the Buddha's entire life and teaching. If there was nothing to do, and we are already enlightened, then why did he teach of suffering, it's cause, and how to overcome it?
Perhaps because it is easier to do something new than to stop doing somethings we've been doing for a long long time, ie deluding ourselves. It's like people sometimes say "I need to do something about this stress." But really what they should do is stop stressing. The non-stress is something that is here already and what covers it up isn't real, we just believe it is.
What is ignorance? Good sons, all sentient beings fall into various inverted views without beginning. Just like a disoriented person who confuses the four directions, they mistakenly take the Four Elements as the attributes of their bodies and the conditioned shadows of the Six Objects as the attributes of their mind. It is just like when our eyes are diseased and we see flowers in the sky, or a second moon. Good sons, the sky actually has no flowers—they are the false attachment of the diseased person. And because of this false attachment, not only are we confused about the self-nature of the sky; we are also mixed up about the place where real flowers come from. From this there is the falsely existent transmigration through life and death. Therefore it is called "ignorance."
http://www.acmuller.net/bud-canon/sutra ... nment.html

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Dan74
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 6:42 am

Vasana wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 7:29 pm
Intellectual understanding is not the same as realization. If you can't remain in equanimity towards pleasure or pain and still have even just a smidgen of attachment and aversion, you're not yet there. We have an enlightened escence or potentiality but thats not the same as saying we're all already enlightened. If sentient beings were enlightened, they wouldn't suffer...evidently they still do, evidently we still do. Abandoning efforts towards practice and not integrating samadhi 24/7/365 won't stop the suffering waves of samsara from welling up under your feet.
It's not either or, I think. We are already 'it', there's nothing more to be 'added', only dropping mistaken beliefs. But beliefs of course run very deep, they are present in just about every activity.

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Vasana
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Vasana » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:30 am

It's not either or from the side of emptiness, but in terms of experience you're either free from the conditions that give rise to suffering or you're not. Buddhas don't suffer afflictions....If someone's version of enlightenmemt includes suffering then it's not Buddhahood as per BuddhaDharma.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Dan74
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:36 am

Vasana wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:30 am
It's not either or from the side of emptiness, but in terms of experience you're either free from the conditions that give rise to suffering or you're not. Buddhas don't suffer afflictions....If your enlightenmemt includes suffering then it's not Buddhahood as per BuddhaDharma.
No, I meant in terms of practice. This was Dogen's answer - don't practice to attain something you don't have, rather live-practice, no duality, no separation. In reality, it takes some time before one even begins to know what this means, but at least these artificial divisions are not set up from the get-go. When they are, they can be a bugger to remove later.

We can argue which approach is more practical, but the point I am trying to make is that 'nothing to attain' can be a valid teaching. Or it can be a load of BS. Depends what one does with it.

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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Vasana » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:51 am

Dan74 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:36 am
Vasana wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:30 am
It's not either or from the side of emptiness, but in terms of experience you're either free from the conditions that give rise to suffering or you're not. Buddhas don't suffer afflictions....If your enlightenmemt includes suffering then it's not Buddhahood as per BuddhaDharma.
We can argue which approach is more practical, but the point I am trying to make is that 'nothing to attain' can be a valid teaching. Or it can be a load of BS. Depends what one does with it.
Yup I agree - it can go either way. Unfortunately the view that there is ultimately nothing to attain leads many to jump the gun and assume that their wisdom is already fully ripened/ already present and that the absence of any attention or effort is the same as the non-referential, mental non-engagement that results from wisdom.

Kamalasıla writes,

'If the mere nonexistence of attention and mental engagement is taken to be “nonattention” and “mental nonengagement,” it is to be analyzed in what way these two [attention and mental engagement] are nonexistent.

[...]As long as yogic practitioners who evenly rest in meditative concentration have a mental consciousness, this [consciousness] must undoubtedly refer to something, [since] the consciousness of ordinary sentient beings does not abruptly become nonreferential. If they had no [such referential consciousness at all], how would they realize that phenomena are without nature? . . . Therefore, the arising of nonattention and mental nonengagement with regard to the genuine dharma should be regarded as something that is preceded by perfect discrimination. Why? Because it is through perfect discrimination that one is able to bring about nonattention and mental nonengagement.'
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

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Dan74
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Dan74 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:59 am

Vasana wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:51 am
Dan74 wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:36 am
Vasana wrote:
Wed Oct 25, 2017 7:30 am
It's not either or from the side of emptiness, but in terms of experience you're either free from the conditions that give rise to suffering or you're not. Buddhas don't suffer afflictions....If your enlightenmemt includes suffering then it's not Buddhahood as per BuddhaDharma.
We can argue which approach is more practical, but the point I am trying to make is that 'nothing to attain' can be a valid teaching. Or it can be a load of BS. Depends what one does with it.
Yup I agree - it can go either way. Unfortunately the view that there is ultimately nothing to attain leads many to jump the gun and assume that their wisdom is already fully ripened/ already present and that the absence of any attention or effort is the same as the non-referential, mental non-engagement that results from wisdom.

Kamalasıla writes,

'If the mere nonexistence of attention and mental engagement is taken to be “nonattention” and “mental nonengagement,” it is to be analyzed in what way these two [attention and mental engagement] are nonexistent.

[...]As long as yogic practitioners who evenly rest in meditative concentration have a mental consciousness, this [consciousness] must undoubtedly refer to something, [since] the consciousness of ordinary sentient beings does not abruptly become nonreferential. If they had no [such referential consciousness at all], how would they realize that phenomena are without nature? . . . Therefore, the arising of nonattention and mental nonengagement with regard to the genuine dharma should be regarded as something that is preceded by perfect discrimination. Why? Because it is through perfect discrimination that one is able to bring about nonattention and mental nonengagement.'
OK, but what is this 'perfect discrimination' Kamalasila speaks of? Does it of necessity imply a very fine perception, as a prerequisite, where the minutiae of experience are brought into awareness, as well as their arising and ceasing? Or can one break through by cutting at the root, then follow up by expanding into the little nooks and crannies? Or life-practice way of shedding the delusory way of conceptualising/being after the initial entry? I don't know, probably 84000 dharma doors sort of thing, horses for courses... As long as one actually follows the way.
Last edited by Dan74 on Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:09 am, edited 1 time in total.

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Vasana
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by Vasana » Wed Oct 25, 2017 8:07 am

Afaik, it's just refering to vidya that ascertains the emptiness of phenomena, aggregates, mind etc. Beings reifiy dharmas and selves but realized beings don't. Reifying dharmas and appearances results in suffering and the non-reification governed by vidya does not result in suffering. Perception can occur in both states but one is accompanied by wisdom and one isn't and one is a yogic-valid cognition and one isn't. There were better expressions of this topic in the Tibetan Zen and other Advaita threads.
"The changing cycle of joy and sorrow, like the changing seasons –
As a time of suffering will surely come around to me,
May I truly practice the sublime teachings."
- Dudjom Rinpoche

DharmaChakra
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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by DharmaChakra » Wed Oct 25, 2017 10:32 am

Namaste

Interesting topic, especially for the modern age where the rise of individual power or empowerment is almost a standard norm in modern society, its even advocated, so narcissism or being self centered is more or less relatively normal in materialistic society. Spiritual communities also suffer from sociopaths and ego maniac holy men with so many queuing up to take instructions. The desire for name fame and fortune can hit the practitioner very hard and becomes a major part of purification. In Buddhism the term often used most is self cherishing.

We all have it, ego, both negative and positive to different degrees, unless one is enlightened and liberated, and even then ego can still exist but it can be used to spread the teachings.

To some degree Buddhism is well equipped to deal with this due to the negation of the self as a primary practice and the constant reminder for altruistic nature.

In Advaita its much more of a serious problem, especially with all sorts of new forms of neo advaita popping up where people have a paradigm shift and suddenly start to become teachers or enlightened. Advaita promotes the Self but transcends the self or realizes the whole and transcends the finite limits. This is a post graduate realization in Vedanta, and if it comes to early or in the wrong conditions it can cause mental hallucinations and a type of solipsism and expansion of the Ego as Self, one starts think that they are everything. In Advaita Vedanta there is no practice, there is only Self, so people do not apply the transformative sadhanas because they are already it, the Self, so no energy is put into transforming, this is totally wrong understanding of Vedanta. Mix all that up with a modern society and you have narcissism to varying degrees.

I wouldnt say Narcissism is bad, I prefer to see it as something that exists and is there in all of us to varying degrees as selfishness, in fact its often better to see our own faults and hindrances and work with them rather than trying to project that it only belongs in other people. Narcissism within our self or within others needs to be met with skillful means and awareness, its just another condition which has causes.

:anjali:

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Re: Nothing further to seek...

Post by seeker242 » Wed Oct 25, 2017 11:59 am

Wayfarer wrote:
Tue Oct 24, 2017 6:59 am

But what is the difference between that attitude, and plain old narcissism, which is being in love with yourself?
The latter involves craving, and thus suffering, and the other is the relinquishing of craving.
One should not kill any living being, nor cause it to be killed, nor should one incite any other to kill. Do never injure any being, whether strong or weak, in this entire universe!

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