Tag: Buddha Nature

The End of Suffering #4 – Right Action

We are now on my fourth post regarding how components of the Noble Eightfold Path can lead to the cessation of suffering. In previous posts I wrote about The End of Suffering #1 – Right Understanding, then The End of Suffering #2 – Right Thought, and my last post was The End of Suffering #3 – Right Speech. I would suggest you read these previous posts in addition to what is being presented here.

So what is “right action”? According to the Buddha’s words taken from the Pali Canon right action is as follows:

“And what, monks, is right action? Abstinence from the destruction of life, abstinence from taking what is not given, abstinence from sexual misconduct; this is called right action.”

Pali Canon (SN 45:8, V 8-10)

Right action is where the rubber meets the road, unlike “right understanding” or “right thought”, the Buddha is telling us our actions must align with the right thoughts and right understanding. Here the Buddha lays out three things you must abstain from to practice “right action”:

  1. The destruction of life
  2. Taking what is not given
  3. Sexual misconduct

These three things that you are to abstain from are largely driven by morality. To embrace Buddhism means you must conduct yourself in a moral manner abstaining from killing, stealing, and any form of sexual misconduct. Buddhism requires you to change the way you act not just aspire to a more moral way of living. If you have been brought up in the Christian Religion say Catholicism you are familiar with the Ten Commandments. Where #5 is “Thou shall not kill”, #7 “Thou shall not steal”, #6 “Thou shalt not commit adultery”, and #9 “Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor’s wife”. These four commandments align pretty well with what the Buddha had in mind.

So how does the destruction of life, taking what is not given, and sexual misconduct create suffering?

The destruction of life

In Buddhism, the scope of abstaining from the destruction of life goes beyond human life and instead means all sentient beings. I’m going to use the definition below for a sentient being, but I think from the Buddha’s perspective it meant any human, animal, fish, or insect that could experience pain and thus suffer.

“Sentient” is an adjective that describes a capacity for feeling. The word sentient derives from the Latin verb sentire, which means “to feel.” The first letters, “sen,” match the beginnings of common English words including sentiment, sensory, and sensation—all of which give hints as to the meaning of the term. In dictionary definitions, sentience is defined as “able to experience feelings,” “responsive to or conscious of sense impressions,” and “capable of feeling things through physical senses.” Sentient beings experience wanted emotions like happiness, joy, and gratitude, and unwanted emotions in the form of pain, suffering, and grief.

Sentience: What It Means and Why It’s Important, By Jane KotzmannApril 8, 2020

https://sentientmedia.org/sentience-what-it-means-and-why-its-important/

If sentient beings feel pain then it reasons that the killing of a sentient being will cause suffering. There is also the premise that causing pain to others harms us, making us more callous, ruthless, and less compassionate, morally bankrupt if you will. That is probably an understatement, but take even what we often consider to be innocuous destruction of life like killing a mosquito or some other insect that has invaded our personal space. I would suspect that many who are on the path would consider even that transgression as a violation of the abstinence of the destruction of life.

From a Buddhist perspective, the destruction of life means all life that can feel pain, which is people, most animals, reptiles, fish, types of marine life, and yes even insects. Make it simple on yourself and try not to kill anything that moves. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Let’s say a rodent or lizard invades your domicile, while your first inclination is to figure out some way to terminate their life as this is most of the time the most expedient and permanent solution, but as a Buddhist, you start thinking how can I capture them and release them outside.

Taking what is not given

From the Buddhist perspective-taking what is not given is more accurately thought of as stealing from someone. Well, that’s the way I interpret it. It is obvious that this will cause suffering for whoever you stole from. Through the ages, this has been a doctrine of all civilizations, one that is punishable by laws prohibiting it. Not only do you harm the person you stole from, but you are likely to end up in prison where you experience all kinds of suffering. The immorality of theft is rarely questioned in most societies, and the consequences are often dire. As one who follows the path, you also suffer ethically, undermining whatever integrity you had to begin with, as your conscience will plague you, not only suffering the direct consequences, but also the guilt that follows.

Sexual misconduct

There are numerous forms of sexual misconduct in this world, but a few come to mind that violate the norms of most societies. Cheating on your spouse or partner, also known as adultery comes to mind. Many marriages and relationships have been destroyed not to mention the harm it does to the family. For many, this breach of trust is devasting and causes immense suffering for the person that was cheated on. Then there are the lowly pedophiles that prey on children, scarring them for life. Other deviants will commit rape on their innocent victims, again causing horrific suffering to the person that was raped. Let’s keep this simple, a Buddhist does not perform any form of sexual misconduct. If you are having any issues understanding why or what constitutes sexual misconduct you need help.

Summary

Much of the pain and suffering in this world comes from killing, stealing, and sexual misconduct. The Buddha knew this and made sure that his followers abstained from these behaviors if nothing else on purely moral and ethical grounds. The converse of these destructive actions is promoting moral, honorable, and peaceful conduct, that is “right action”.

Namaste

I wish you peace and happiness; may your life be filled with compassion, kindness, love, and forgiveness towards others.

Let your practice help you end suffering for yourself and all other sentient beings.

 

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Meditation Experiences – Tres

Nice quote by Edgar Cayce

This is the third post on my meditation experiences. In Meditation Experiences – Uno, I spent some time discussing how I started meditating and the technique that works for me. In the post Meditation Experiences – Dos, the focus was on the benefits that I have received from my practice.

In this blog post, I will make the case that you should expect nothing from your practice. I know this seems contrary to all that we are taught during our life, which normally revolves around if I do something I should get some benefit from it, or in the opposite case maybe it detracts from my life in some way. For your practice to be pure and lasting you must not fill your head with expectations. The very fact that you expect something becomes an ego trip of sorts, where you say to yourself if I meditate then I will become enlightened or I will become calmer, or whatever you might expect from your practice. Before too long, you begin thinking you are superior to the rest of humanity because you have become more spiritual or by virtue of your discipline. I’m not saying that there won’t be benefits that come to you from your meditation practice, but I am asking that you leave the expectations at the door.

Here is the thing with expectations they will make your practice more difficult and may result in you quitting altogether. Let’s say that you expect your practice to make you calmer, more empathetic, or maybe more compassionate with the rest of the people on this planet. The next thing you know someone runs into your car and you start screaming profanities at the other driver, or thoughts of why does this shit always happen to me. Stop expecting your meditation practice to turn you into the Dali Lama and when you stop with all these expectations your practice just becomes something you do. Maybe your practice is actually part of a bigger picture on the road to becoming a more spiritual person who embraces Buddhism, Christianity, Judaism, or Islam. I would guess for many of us that meditate it has become just a part of our spiritual practice, and not a thing we do to satisfy some expectation of what we get from it or who we will become.

After I got over the idea that my meditation practice should give me something I dropped all the expectations and it became a habit. What I mean by that it has become like eating, sleeping, breathing, yoga, or any other thing you regularly do. Once your practice becomes a habit, something you just do, you can quit thinking about what is it doing for me. Will you benefit from your meditation practice? Absolutely, but beyond what you might expect is a realization that your practice helps you develop the Buddha-nature that is buried deep within yourself. Maybe what I call Buddha-nature will for you be, Jesus Christ, God, or Mohammed.

This is one of my favorite quotes and I feel is very applicable to your meditation practice:

“I expect nothing and accept everything” Gary John Bishop

Take this to heart as it applies to your meditation practice and all will be well with you.

Namaste

 

Note: I wrote this post using Grammarly, which really helps. Give it a try, it works with WordPress and Google Docs.

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If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Do you have Buddha nature?

The title of this blog post asks do you have Buddha nature? Well according to Buddhist philosophy we all have a Buddha nature somewhere inside us, but as you can see it took the Buddha Shakyamuni six years for it to be revealed to him. It was his revelation after six years upon becoming enlightened that all living beings are Buddha, meaning they are inherently enlightened. The Buddhist believe that through meditation or for Zen practitioners Zazen, one can strip away the layers of unconscious thinking and brainwashing that has covered up our true nature.

However my statement applied to human beings, homo sapiens if you will. The Buddha Shakyamuni stated “all living beings are Buddha”, not all human beings are Buddha. Often when one refers to the word Buddha they are referring to Siddhārtha Gautama who becomes the Buddha, but in this quote the term Buddha refers to meaning the enlightened one or a person who has attained Buddhahood. In my mind none of these definitions really fully explain what the Buddha Shakyamuni proclaimed upon enlightenment because they again bestow the term only to a human beings.

Maybe it is more precise to say that all living things are inherently enlightened or are Buddha. The Merriam Webster dictionary defines enlightened as:

“freed from ignorance and misinformation”

I like to think we all start out in life with a Buddha nature free from ignorance and misinformation, and then the brainwashing begins. As we are taught fictitious stories by our parents, society, and our formal education systems we begin to bury the Buddha nature beneath layers of thoughts about the world and most of them untrue. We are told stories that impart values such as:

  • Money is good, more money is better
  • Power is good and we should seek power over others
  • Sex is good and we should always want more
  • Success is the result of hard work and we need to work harder
  • Life is competitive and we need to grab all we can get before someone else does
  • Acquiring things is good and we should seek more
  • God is all powerful and we should worship him
  • Nationalism is important, we are better than they are
  • Praise is good, seek more, stoke the ego

Of course this goes on and on, and these stories only serve the purpose to make us subservient to a materialistic me oriented society, where the more you have the more successful your are as a person. We are always seeking more, craving for new experiences, and never knowing ourselves. It is not in our nature to live based on these stories we are told, but it becomes a matter of conditioning over time. The Buddha was not satisfied with these stories, and left the Royal Palace to seek the answers to life, ultimately finding enlightenment, then going on to teach the Four Noble Truths and the Eightfold Path to thousands of disciples.

Can we follow his example and gain enlightenment? I think the answer is a resounding YES! If in fact you believe that we all have Buddha nature buried deep inside us, then the possibility of gaining enlightenment truly exists. There is a catch here, and it is not a trivial thing. The Buddha himself spent six years meditating to gain enlightenment, which clearly points out his dedication and patience. Here is a quote I find applicable to helping you as you follow the path:

 

In a world of instant gratification, rampant materialism, and greed we are probably challenged like never before, but I take heart in seeing that many are disillusioned with the stories that have dominated society since the beginning of the Industrial Age. There seems to be a keen interest in Eastern philosophy and the practice of meditation. People are looking for meaning in their life that goes beyond the acquisition of material things. They are beginning to understand that craving begets more craving, and the cycle only leaves us more dissatisfied and disillusioned. Buddhism can show us the way out of this self imposed existence, ultimately ending the causes of suffering such as craving and ego. My advice would be start with understanding the Four Noble Truths, studying the Eightfold Path, and start meditating.

Let the process begin.

Namaste

 

If you would like to support this blog, check out the awesome selection of eBooks at:

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Sources:

https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/enlightened