Showing posts with label Ethics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Ethics. Show all posts

 Someone asked, “ What is the importance of morality in awakening? Since getting into buddhism, it seems to place a lot of emphasis on correct moral conduct”

Soh replied

“ see which i recommend reading in full


Ethical Conduct (Sīla)

The avoidance of all wrongdoing,

The undertaking of what is skillful,

The cleansing of one’s own mind—

This is the teaching of the buddhas.

— Dhammapada 183

Ethical conduct is one of the three main lines of development of the noble eightfold path.

Skillful ethical conduct is considered to be a necessary prerequisite for the other two lines

of development, which are meditative stabilization and discernment. This consideration of

ethics is functional and straightforward: if we are engaging in unethical conduct the mind

will be conflicted and unable to develop the mental qualities needed for steady

mindfulness, full awareness, and mental composure. And without the stability of

meditative composure the mind cannot develop discernment. This is the case regardless

of whether or not we are aware of any conflicted defilements.

The integral role of ethical conduct as foundational for the subsequent development of all

of the productive affective and cognitive qualities of the path and fruition is explained in

AN 11.1 Kimatthiya Sutta:

“What is the purpose of skillful ethical conduct, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Skillful ethical conduct has freedom from remorse as its purpose, Ānanda, and freedom

from remorse as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of freedom from remorse, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Freedom from remorse has gladness as its purpose, Ānanda, and gladness as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of gladness, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Gladness has joy as its purpose, Ānanda, and joy as its reward.

“And what is the purpose of joy, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Joy has tranquility as its purpose, Ānanda, and tranquility as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of tranquility, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Tranquility has pleasure as its purpose, Ānanda, and pleasure as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of pleasure, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Pleasure has meditative composure as its purpose, Ānanda, and meditative composure as

its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of meditative composure, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Meditative composure has gnosis and vision of things as they are as its purpose, Ānanda,

and gnosis and vision of things as they are as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of gnosis and vision of things as they are, venerable sir? What is

its reward?”

“Gnosis and vision of things as they are has disenchantment as its purpose, Ānanda, and

disenchantment as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of disenchantment, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Disenchantment has dispassion as its purpose, Ānanda, and dispassion as its reward.”

“And what is the purpose of dispassion, venerable sir? What is its reward?”

“Dispassion has gnosis and vision of liberation as its purpose, Ānanda, and gnosis and

vision of liberation as its reward.”

Suttanipāta 5.11 offers the following explanation of the importance of ethical conduct in

terms of its relationship with the eventual fruition of the path:

Dispel greed for sensual pleasures,

Having seen renunciation as safety,

May there be nothing

Grasped or rejected by you.

Dry up what was before.

May there be nothing after.

If you do not grasp anything in the middle,

You will wander calmed.

One completely without greed

For name and form, brāhmaṇa,

Has no mental outflows by which

He would go under the sway of death.

And so ethical conduct isn’t to be understood as an end in and of itself. It’s

a means skillfully employed to bring the re-becoming process of saṃsāra to an end. It’s a

line of development oriented towards the goal of ending birth and death. Therefore this

contemplative conduct actually transcends conventional norms of “goodness.”

There are repeated injunctions in the discourses — most notably in the fourth chapter of

the Suttanipāta — stating that the practitioner should not even grasp onto notions of

goodness, because it’s understood that such clinging only reinforces identification with a

view of self. Such identification can all too easily lead to views of moral superiority and

self-righteous indignation. And there is nothing skillful in looking down upon others.

In practice, ethical conduct begins as the support (a somewhat shaky support for most of

us) for the practice of meditation. And then over time, the calm (samatha) and full

awareness (sampajañña) developed through meditation begins to reciprocally support and

strengthen our ethical conduct. This makes it easier to see unskillful thoughts as they are

manifesting, allowing us to abandon such thoughts, replacing them with productive,

skillful applications of contemplation before they can manifest as unskillful speech or

actions. In this way all aspects of the eightfold path are integrated, and progress along

the path is understood to depend upon the refinement of the various aspects of ethics,

meditation, and discernment.


Also see

Totally agree with Anzan Hoshin Roshi and Dogen on this matter.

Excerpt from

Beyond this is the fact that, no matter how much we like or dislike, or are hurt or maimed by a thought, action or event, our attitudes do not colour the event itself, only our relationship to it. As this is so, no matter how much we stomp or shout or cajole or whine, reality is what it is. In this is sacredness and dignity.

This can extend into territory we might not be comfortable with. Our personal ambitions and dreams and hopes and fears are meaningless, just sounds that don't even find an echo in a universe that extends forever, in all directions. An earthquake that kills ten thousand people is not evil; it is just plates of rock shifting. A bullet is not evil. The universe is simply not conditioned towards our personal convenience. The person who pulls the trigger that kills the mother of three is original purity. But at the same time, we recognize that person as being evil, as being tainted or deranged. There is horror at the memory of Bergen-Belsen and Auschwitz and Hiroshima , of the fact that the molestation of a child is probably occurring somewhere at this moment. Yet even there, there is intrinsic purity. This is how it is. No one said (at least among the enlightened) that purity is necessarily what is pleasant. The fact that everything, every event, is intrinsically pure does not eliminate the fact of our responsibility. We can't just say. "Oh it's all Buddha Nature", and kick the cat. The fact is Buddha Nature, complete freedom from birth and death; the opposites of samsara and nirvana can both be transcended right here, now, but without that realization and in fact even more so after a good glimpse of it, the issue at point is meaning , and living in a way that honours this fact.

There is a famous koan about a Chinese Chan master called Nanquan or Nanzan, who cut a cat in two in order to teach his students about grasping. It appears in many different koan collections and is the ninth case of the "Shoyoroku" :

"One day the monks of the western and eastern halls of Nanquan's monastery were squabbling over a cat. When Nanquan saw this going on he seized the cat and held it up before them and said, 'Say one true word or I'll cut it.'
"No one could say anything. Nanquan cut the cat in two."

Dogen zenji saw this as an immense failure; he saw it as a Teacher with bloody hands standing before embarrassed, horrified, and confused students. He said that Nanzan may have been able to cut the cat into two, but had no realization at all of being able to cut the cat into one. Bringing together body and mind, self and other, time and space, bringing everything back into its original wholeness and bringing all that we are aware of into Awareness itself through cutting away separateness with the sword of insight, the thin blade of this moment, is cutting the cat into one.

At first kensho, the student sees into Ordinary Mind. So what? If you can't live here, there is no point in standing outside in the flower bed, peering in between the window blinds. It is not a matter of taking some particular moment of practice and setting that up as the entirety of the path. Realization must be embodied and unfolded completely. If you refuse to take responsibility for your body, breath, speech and mind, and unfold each moment as this Original Nature itself, then get the hell out or I'll throw you out. We can't excuse ourselves from true wholehearted practice just because we have a note from our Teacher saying: "Congratulations. Here's inka-shomei, you're a Sensei." How much more so if we have only had one or two satoris and have read too much Alan Watts, or D. T. Suzuki out of context, or buji zen ("doesn't matter zen").

Great Faith is abiding in True Nature as the root of practice so that practice acts to expose us to this True Nature always and in every moment. No experiences, no attainments define or limit this Way. Everything is this Way. Great Doubt shows us the outflows in our practice clearly. Great Practice is coming back to just this, again and again.

The Ten Grave Precepts reflect this. "There is no wrong action" is followed not by "nothing matters", but by "There is only the arising of benefit". Acting fully and responsibly from Awakened Mind, from that which sees tracelessness, is the Buddhaway. From such a mind, not only can wrong action not arise, all that is becomes of benefit to all beings.

Having taken your suffering and delusion seriously, opened it to see what's inside it, you work thoroughly with everything that arises as the world in which you live. As this is so, you recognize that this suffering is true for others, that this dignity and clarity are true for others. Thus, the bodhisattva brings forth benefit clearly and with open hands. A thousand eyes and hands are one's whole body. Free from the klesas of passion, aggression, and ignorance, one's action is clear and truly spontaneous -- not governed by impulse (which the usual mind likes to believe is spontaneity). There is only the benefit of all beings. The universe in which the bodhisattva lives is "all beings", he or she is "all beings", rocks and air and nostril hair are "all beings". Kannon's "thousand eyes and hands" are the whole universe itself.

This benefit is not a matter of self-congratulatory goody-two-shoed-ness, or deprecation of another's essential dignity through pity. It is simply a raw and open heart that does what needs to be done. It does not force others to be what it wants -- it is only a heart, it doesn't want anything. It does not seduce or console or convert. It is simply a raw and open heart.

Traditionally, there are said to be four ways in which the Bodhisattva manifests dana paramita: material benefit; giving what each needs to promote well-being; giving freedom from fear; giving the Teachings. Actually there is no number or limit to this benefit. There is only the benefit of all beings.[0]=AZWCSDvyMeayBhlj9-4nmkz92cnXzeOJCBTDO052vkbG3IeDJAXxFxZADRQ-rLzTXYeExtFCmYjBPmc0GM45MaqHjWh5fx_grhqvQp-sxL7q3H3jc938_aqMuB1QVPTUtF55fwG9p3mDN3YiQpF4gjqHY365fyjJXyh7AsDymqqtlTE5GgEypZcp4LFPGsghQc4&__tn__=%2CO%2CP-R

Where does ethics fit into all of this? Right and wrong are simply concepts, they don't actually exist, and there is no objective moral framework at all. However, no matter how deep your insight may be - even if there is not the subtlest form of self remaining, there still seems to be some sort of moral framework by which you/or by which spontaneous action takes place!
If you were a Nazi german officer in a concentration camp during WW2 and you had a huge realization of no self, would you stop what you are doing? And if so why? And also, if you didn't stop doing it, what would be wrong with that?
I have spoken to people before who claim to have the full realization of no self, and who say that they just play along with morality as if it was some sort of game - there is nothing actually happening at all, and people dying or being tortured is one with a sunrise - but they play the game, anyway. I dont know if anyone else has any better answers than that, or good resources on this. But, it seems like ethics should be an intricate part of all of this, as Gregg Good wrote in his book after awareness.
The conditioning of the body may still remain after awakening, but what is wrong with that conditioned body performing bad acts?
    Rick Indie
    A quote from Longchenpa Buddha's "Finding Rest in the Nature of Mind" :
    "By love, is anger driven out;
    The sambhogakaya and mirrorlike wisdom
    Are completely gained.
    The sambhogakaya is adorned
    With all the marks, both great and small, of buddhahood.
    By compassion, clinging love is banished;
    The dharmakaya and the all-discerning wisdom
    Are achieved.
    The dharmakaya is endowed
    With strengths, distinctive qualities, and so forth.
    Sympathetic joy removes all jealousy;
    The nirmanakaya and the sublime wisdom
    All-accomplishing are gained.
    The nirmanakaya is manifold with various forms.
    Its enlightened action is spontaneously accomplished.
    Impartiality removes both pride and ignorance.
    The svabhavikakaya is made manifest together with
    The wisdom of equality, the wisdom of the dharmadhatu.
    The svabhavikakaya is the dharmata
    Beyond conceptual elaboration.
    Therefore love, compassion, joy, & impartiality(The Four Immeasurables) are of unbounded excellence, and highly praised
    By the unequaled Teacher of both gods and humankind.
    [End quote]
    It sounds to me like you were talking to people who erred into a type of dullness/depersonalization via too much dhyana-meditation probably.
    The thing about morals and emotions is that they arent separate from buddha nature; they are part of the energy-body of a mindstream, so it's false to assume emotions get completely annihilated when you find realization; realization unleashes a different type of emotional-energetic state; a state of the Four Immeasurables.
    These Four Immeasurables are part of the "distinctive qualities" of the dharmakaya that Longchenpa Buddha described above. TRUE realization spontaneously &naturally compels a mindstream to exude actions & morals that are compassionate, which automatically leads to a certain moral code anyway; and you enact this code NOT because you were simply told to enact it, but because you directly, experientially know the truth of why its the most beneficial code. Its like how a river naturally comes rushing out once its no longer oppressed by a dam.
    It may take training to get there initially, but true realization frees you so that moralistic compassion finally expresses itself freely, spontaneously, and naturally. These compassionate morals will naturally radiate through you as a result of gradually exhausting the Three Poisons, and also as a result of breaking free from emotional dullness.

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    Yin Ling
    Rick Indie yes the above in OP is a nihilistic thinking. It’s the most dangerous amongst all dangers in the spiritual path.

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  • Yin Ling
    This is an important question, I am glad you asked.
    No self is the nature of reality. In Buddhism the deepest aspect of no self is equivalent to no inherent existence, or better known as emptiness.
    No self is not something you created and impute on top of reality or choose to believe. It is the nature, like how our body digest food naturally.
    So it’s not like, oh I realise no self, so there’s no one there to be responsible for anything.
    Knowing that, whatever is happening in our world now DO NOT change. It’s only the nature that we realise correctly.
    if you plant an apple seed, you get an apple tree.
    You don’t study for exams, you fail.
    You jump into cold water, you freeze.
    You act stupid and scream at your partner, the marriage will break up.
    Cause and effects are tenable, because of no inherent existence/emptiness, this is key. This is a super extremely important statement, you have to digest it slowly.
    So when one really understand no self, realise it, one will understand how cause and effect will contribute to the manifestation of this appearance that is “not truly there”…
    This is the way the “not truly there” display manifest- they manifest dependently on cause and conditions, do you follow?
    So these ppl who realise no-self in terms of no inherent existence and really understood dependent arising, they will respect cause and condition even more. They will know if they want a better “display” , they need to apply better conditions which will manifest that display. Like how you fertilise and water your soil to manifest a beautiful flower which has “no self”.
    The body is still there as long as we r human, I kinda want a roof above my head and not be too poor whilst this human “display” will go on?
    I also don’t really want to have a new “hell” display in my next life because my practice is not mature to the extent I can go to hell to help without fear yet.
    So I respect karma, cause and conditions. I don’t even dare have an evil thought knowing that will eventually manifest in something quite troublesome for me, let alone actions that are harmful.
    That’s my opinion:)

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  • Soh Wei Yu
    Very well said

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