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Posts Tagged ‘care-based thinking’

Our thoughts today will be on the verses from the “Prajna Paramita Heart Sutra” below.  Although they sound a little crazy once we get the idea that is trying to be expressed in the sutra our lives will be filled with much less stress, strain, and worry.

No old age and death, no cessation of old age and death;

No suffering, no cause or end to suffering;

No path, no wisdom and no gain.

No gain thus Bodhisattvas live this Prajna Pramita.

Shohaku Okumura in his book Living by Vow A Practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts writes about these verses beautifully.

If our life is based on dichotomies like good and bad, we chase after good things and run from bad things.  We are concerned about whether we are good or not.  If we think we are good, then life is worth living. If we think we are bad, then life is just a mistake. This dualistic thinking makes our life rigid and narrow.

No matter what mistakes we make, we can start over because everything is impermanent.  We can change. We can change the direction of our life.  This is the way we transform our life, our thinking, and our views.  According to Dogen Zenji, sitting in zazen and letting go of everything is the key to shifting the basis of our life (p. 163).[1]

Yet, we allow the above thoughts of old age and death and suffering to chase after us each day and we allow those thoughts to upset us and ruin our day.  Or, if we choose, we can begin our day with sitting (meditation) and let go of everything good and bad, fear and happiness and more.  We can be free of the mind made chains of emotions and thoughts. We can focus on the now and the only thing important in the now when sitting is “your breath.” Allow your mind to be free of the to-do lists, the past conversations and actions, the fears and the joys. Simply wait and watch quietly for the body to become still and the mind to become quiet and the breath to become deeper and slower.

I am not tied down forever to the behaviors that have been hindering me in my life and can see them for what they really are impermanent.  The programming may be old and deep but with time and effort all things are possible.  Remember the old saying, “All things are possible for those who believe.” So begin today to let go of your fears of old age and death, suffering, and limitation or whatever else may be holding you back from being the person you desire to be, a person living a life of compassion, love, and peace.

This is a new year the perfect time to begin your life a new!  You are a Bodhisattva, whether you know it or not, so live this Prajna Paramita today and watch the results manifest in your life.

Things to focus on this week:

  1. I will begin each day by sitting in quiet meditation letting go of everything but my focus on my breath.
  2. I will remind myself that doing this can help free me from my fears and my rigid and narrow thinking.
  3. I am changing the direction of my life for good today!
  4. Lastly, I will keep a journal of the opportunities that have been presented to me so I can keep track of my progress and my opportunities for growth.

[1] Okumura, S. (2012) Living By Vow A practical Introduction to Eight Essential Zen Chants and Texts, Wisdom Publications, Boston: MA

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The late Rush Kidder wrote in his book How Good People Make Tough Choices, Resolving the Dilemmas of Ethical Living (2003), “Ethics, after all, is all about the concept of “ought.”  It is not about what you have to do because regulation compels it (like paying to ride the train) or nature requires it (like eating and sleeping).  It’s about what you ought to do—have an obligation to do—because it is “right (page 153).”

Kidder tells us that there are three principles for resolving dilemmas. These principles can be used in our own lives, we can teach them to our students, children, extended family members, and maybe even our coworkers or employees.  They are as follows:

  1.  “Do what’s best for the greatest number of people (which we’ll refer to here as ends-based thinking).”
  2. “Follow your highest sense of principle” (or rule-based thinking).”
  3. “Do what you want others to do to you” (or care-based thinking) (page 152).”

The best way that I can see to do the teaching is by using these principles in our daily lives.  If we live these principles by our example we will be “teaching” others about what “ought” to be done in life.  We will be teaching without lecturing, or shouting, or having to say “I told you so.”

Our politicians are short on these principles in every corridor of government from the top down.  We find that to win an election they will say anything.  They will pander to one group and say one thing and then pander to another an hour later and say the exact opposite.  They will pit races, age groups, and the sexes against each other to garner votes.

Our police departments are going back to before the civil rights movement of the 60s and racially profiling everyone that is not white.  The Black community has something they call “driving while black” and the Hispanic community has something called “show me your papers.” And the women have something called “prove to me you’ve been raped.”  Do these policies fall into the three ways Kidder shows us to resolve dilemmas?  I don’t think so.

Would the people who are enforcing these three ideas want them done to them (#3), if they compared them to the “highest principles” they were taught in church or temple or at the mosque would they pass the smell test (#2)? Not as far as my little pug nose can tell.  And finally, if they asked them what is in the best interest of the greatest number of people would they pass the math test?  Maybe today, but in the very near future it would not (#1).

Fortunately, for us our children are growing up in integrated schools where they see people of all colors, sizes, shapes, and sexual preference.  They have the opportunity to have teachers that are young right out of college, grandmothers teaching for 20 years, gay and lesbians, Blacks, Hispanics, and republicans, democrats, and independents, and combinations of all of these put together.  Many of these people may even be living in the same households, no less be going to the same schools, or shopping in the same stores.

So when we are making decisions and solving problems for ourselves, our families, our jobs, and our communities it is imperative that we take advantage of the three decision making tools shared by Kidder.  One may be more appropriate than another depending upon the dilemma, but they are all based on one key idea “ought to do—because it is right to do.”

When the whites in South Africa stood up against apartheid they did not do it because it was easy—they did it because it was the “right” thing to do.  When the supreme Court decided to uphold the school children’s right to an equal education in Brown v Board of Education they did not do it because it was easy—but  because it was the “right” thing to do. When President Obama signed the Lilly Ledbetter Act on his first day in office to ensure equal pay for equal work for women he did it not because it was easy to do—but because it was the “right” thing to do.  It ought to have been done in the 1970s when women were fighting for the Equal Rights Amendment to the constitution because it was the “right” thing to do—but it was not.  Ponder on that thought for a moment…

What “right” thing did you do today?  What right thing “ought” you have done today?  When will the two merge?  Soon I hope because our communities, our country, and our world are in grave danger if we don’t.

 

 

 

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