Feeds:
Posts
Comments

Posts Tagged ‘evil’

Our dear teacher Reb Anderson writes about “evil” in his book, Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. In it he writes:

The root of all evil is misunderstanding the nature of self and other by actively ignoring the interdependence of self and other. Evil comes from turning away from the vivid world of creation, where the self can never remain separate from other beings.
To ‘practice all that is good’ means ‘to wholeheartedly live life based on freedom from the illusion of an independent self.’ It is to awaken fully to the interdependent self, and to express such a self (page 49).[1]

Begin today to free your mind of evil. If you believe that some of the thoughts and behaviors a person can have in business and in life can be evil, then learning how to free your mind of evil will help maintain an ethical stance in every situation in your life.

What do you think would happen if each time a hurtful or negative thought or action came through us and we were personally and immediately affected by it? Might we try to think before we spoke or committed the “evil” action? But unfortunately the pain we feel from these actions is usually minutes and sometimes years before we are personally affected by them.

Two of my friends Armond and Angela have a great song called “Love is a Boomerang.” The words go like this: “Love is a Boomerang-give it away and it comes right back-hear the words that set you free. So is anger so is judgment. Give it away and it comes right back”[2]. What you send out comes right back at yah! What are you sending out?

Remember we are not separate from anyone or anything on the planet. Since we live in individual bodies and think with individual brains we “feel” as though we are separate. That allows our minds to be full of evil and it is difficult to understand that we are actually all one. One mind, one body, one world in creation.

When I am cruel to you it affects me in many ways. So I might go out and spend the rest of the day thinking negative thoughts about myself, condemning myself, and demeaning myself. Or you might be the type of person who does not internalize it but takes your anger out on others, such as fostering harmful words and actions on those around you like your family, co-workers, or friends.

If people only knew at a visceral and conscious level that when one is hurt–we are all hurt. If they did then they may not say the words or act in harmful and even deadly ways. We are all capable of feeling the pain and the suffering of the victims and their families, friends, and communities.

When we can all live a life that understands “interdependence” and learns to express that interdependent self this world can be a healthier, happier, more loving place in which to live. But so long as we think that we are only hurting “the other” the world will give us plenty of opportunities to reflect on our negative thoughts and actions. Let’s begin today to live life as though love is all there is.

Let’s begin to awaken fully to the idea that we are all interdependent selves and express that in all ways and to all people, in all places, and through all things. Imagine what a wonderful world we could create!
Remember the boomerang is right around the corner!

In gassho,

ingassho

Shokai

[1] Anderson, R. (2001) Being Upright Zen Meditation and the Bodhisattva Precepts. Rodmell Press: Berkeley, CA

[2] Follow Your Dreams, Armand & Angelina. http://www.armandandangelina.com

Read Full Post »

Well, we may think that this is an easy topic to talk about when it comes to ethics in business and in life. There are stories every day about people who get caught up in their inability to resist temptation which often can result in “evil” actions. We can name them by the dozens, from big thieves like Bernie Madoff, who made off with everyone’s money and Jerry Sandusky the Penn State coach who turned out to be a serial child molester. But what about the smaller actions that we take every day in business and in life that might not create “evil” but could create hardship and anguish in our loved ones, friends, or co-workers lives. Those actions could be on purpose or by accident, but they can still create harm. Today might be a great day to look within and see the faces that we show to others though out the day.

Naming things good or bad or evil is what we do as human beings. If you look up the word on dictionary.com you’ll find 14 different definitions for the word which can be used as an adjective, noun, adverb, or idiom. Definition #10 was my favorite, “anything causing injury or harm: ‘Tobacco is considered by some to be an evil.’” Wow! The word is so broad that we can use it daily until it becomes meaningless.

Barbara O’Brien (http://buddhism.about.com/od/basicbuddhistteachings/a/evil.htm) defines evil in two ways.

First evil as intrinsic characteristic: It’s common to think of evil as an intrinsic characteristic of some people or groups. In other words, some people are said to be evil. Evil is a quality that is inherent in their being.

Second: Evil as external force. In this view, evil lurks about and infects or seduces the unwary into doing bad things. The problem with doing that Barbara says is then “it becomes possible to justify doing them harm.” Then who becomes the “evil one”? She goes on to say, “Buddhism teaches us that evil is something we create, not something we are or some outside force that infects us.”

We had a saying in Unity: “What you resist persists.” Because while we are “resisting evil” what are we doing? We are thinking about it, mulling over it, doing something “evil” to the “evil doer” and that creates more energy and “evil” thoughts and deeds. That then affects our lives in a negative way. Remember good thoughts beget good actions, bad thoughts beget bad actions. That’s the law. Look for the good in all things. If bad things are happening look for a way to turn that into an opportunity for thinking good and doing good.

A great example of this technique is Malala Yousafzai the young woman who was shot in the head for wanting to go to school in Pakistan. She is now an education advocate for girls around the globe and was awarded the 2014 Nobel Peace Prize. [1]

It is good to recognize that every day is a new day and we are given the opportunity to look a new at our thoughts and the actions that they create in our lives. As we observe we can choose to act on the negative thoughts or not. We can choose goodness, happiness, kindness, and compassion over evil thoughts and mean actions or harmful words–or not.

We can learn how to quickly identify the negative thoughts in our minds and just as quickly dismiss them and let them go. Or we can continue to give them power and harm ourselves and others. Just this…as we say in Buddhism. Or how about turning them into good like Malala? The choice is yours, which will you make today?

In gassho,
Shokai

ingassho

[1] https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=66tIRTm91F8&spfreload=10)

Read Full Post »

I am so excited to begin writing about “The Three Pure Precepts” they are simple yet powerful maxims to live by.  Robert Aitken in his book The Mind of Clover (1984) writes, “In Mahayana Buddhism, these lines underwent change reflecting a shift from the ideal of personal perfection to the ideal of oneness with all beings.  The last line was dropped, and the third rewritten:

 [Zen Buddhism-Dhammapada]

Renounce all evil;

Practice all good;

Keep your mind pure—

thus all the Buddhas taught.

                [Mahayana Buddhism]

Renounce all evil;

Practice all good;

                Save the many beings (page 4).”

I’ll begin with the first verse.  For each of us the word “evil” will mean something different.  For some our religious beliefs say that consuming alcohol is evil and that a person who loves someone of the same sex is evil.  Thus, is the conundrum: How do I define the word for myself and for others? How do I know it when I see it?  How can I stop it when it is coming from and through me?

For some things the word “evil” is a little too strong and that may allow us to be rude, or critical, or thoughtless and still “believe” that we are upholding the Pure Precept of “renouncing all evil.” This happens because many times we are only willing to see it when it is coming from others but not from ourselves.  For sure, evil is in the eye of the receiver.  If you were the receiver of these words or actions how would you feel? What would you do?  Since we are working toward being “one with all others” I imagine it might be very painful. If you are practicing mindfulness you will pause and listen to your thoughts and observe your behavior and then you can make the judgment as to whether or not these words or actions directed at the “other” might be considered “evil.”  Being mindful gives you the opportunity to choose to either continue or to stop.

 Another great way to “renounce all evil” is to practice the Golden Rule: “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.” When I read this in a Dharma talk by Roshi James Ismael[1] it rang a bell for me and I thought, “What a great idea!” If I include this maxim in my life it will help me to pause when I think evil thoughts or are contemplating evil deeds.  In that moment of pause I will be able to reflect upon my next words or actions and choose to renounce them and take a different path. If I start each morning with my mind set on being one with all sentient beings I would be kinder and gentler.  Doing this just may help me be less critical at home or at work with myself and others.

To save the many beings may mean saving them from you with your negativity in behavior and thinking.  It also may mean saving you from your own negative thinking and recriminations.  This too is a part of the violation of the vow that we take to “renounce all evil” evil to self and others!

So this week our task is to begin working on The Three Pure Precepts beginning with #1.

Things to focus on this week:

1.       Set your intention each morning to practice the Golden Rule, “Do unto others as you would have them do unto you”  live a life where being one with all others is reflected in your thoughts, words, and actions.

2.       Define the word “evil” for yourself.

3.       Be mindful throughout the day and listen to your thoughts and observe your behavior then determine if those words or actions directed at the “other” or at “yourself” might be considered “evil.”

4.       Finally, keep a journal on this precept and make note of how learning to “renounce all evil” in thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life.


[1] Reflections on the Three Pure Precepts
A Dharma talk by Roshi James Ishmael Ford, 3 June 2002
Henry Thoreau Sangha, Boundless Way Zen
http://www.boundlesswayzen.org/teishos/threepureteisho.html

Read Full Post »

In The Dhammapada as translated by Irving Babbitt (1936) he writes, “Difficult is it to obtain birth as a human being, difficult is the life of mortals, difficult is the hearing of the true Law, difficult is the rise of the Buddhas (page 30).”  When I read that a little light went on in my brain and I just sat quietly for a few minutes reading and reading over and over again this small yet powerful phrase.

It has been many years since I thought about this concept.  We used to say that in another way in Unity.  We would let our students know how hard it was for that one tiny sperm out of the huge number (20 to 100 million of them) that went swimming up the fallopian tubes to meet with the egg and create you.  What were those chances—one in a hundred million?!  That surely makes everyone on this planet extra special and as hard as it was for the sperm to fight gravity and rush up that tube toward the egg—it is just as hard a life for many of you.

Each of us has had to swim upstream against the current at times whether it was as a child who may have been bullied or did not do well in school, or had to move from place to place because of the parent ‘s jobs or financial difficulties.  As adults we often find ourselves in many of those same predicaments, but now as the adult we are supposed to solve the problems and create a safe, healthy, and prosperous life for ourselves and our families.

These words by Zeami may be a little solace for you.

Ten thousand fold are the roads on which we pass through life

Our eyes are caught by many things

Darkness and light come and go

Far over the mountains we walked

Clouds are hiding our traces

The path that we traveled we no longer know.

Zeami (1363-1443)

It is not the difficulties in life I’m worried about, but how I handle those difficulties as I travel the ten thousand roads.  How I handle them is what has created my life and my character. Those thoughts, actions, and desires empower, help, or hinder me and affect those who are in my life, from family, to friends, to co-workers.  They even affect total strangers who may encounter me on this road of life. Those thoughts cause me to suffer greatly or to be filled with joy and peace.

Babbitt continues to translate The Dhammapada and offers us a path to relieve our suffering, “Suffering, the origin of suffering, the destruction of suffering, and the eightfold noble path that leads to the release from suffering. That is the safe refuge, that is the best refuge; having gone to that refuge, a man is delivered from all suffering (page 31).”  As I have written before the Buddha did say that there would always be suffering in the world.  So that being true, how can we deal with it so that it does not take us over and destroy our lives?

Practice the eight fold path as it says in the Dhammapada.  Try taking one of the things each week and working on it until you see some relief and lightening up in your life.  Even if the light only appears for a minute it is better to spend that minute in the light than in the darkness and sorrow.

The Eightfold Path: Teaching of Siddhartha Gautama the Buddha

  1. Know the truth.
  2. Say nothing to hurt others.
  3. Practice meditation.
  4. Control your thoughts.
  5. Resist evil.
  6. Free your mind of evil.
  7. Work for the good of others.
  8. Respect life.

With this simple weekly practice soon you will no longer know that old path that you had traveled, but a new one will have taken its place and you will be born anew.

Read Full Post »