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Siddhartha Gautama (The Buddha): “Do not believe in anything because it is found written in your religious books.

The Rigveda is an ancient Indian text one of the four canonical sacred texts of Hinduism written between the 5th and 2nd century BCE, the first four books of the Bible Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers were written between the 6th and 2nd century BCE, the Tao Te Ching in the 6th century BCE, the Buddhist Sutras between the 2nd century BCE and the 2nd century CE, the New Testament in the 1st century CE, the Qur’an is the newest written around 632 CE.  Wow!  If you can remember all of that you’re better than I am!

 What’s my point?  The people who wrote these books were wonderful people who wanted to memorialize their beliefs and experiences for those who would come after them.  They were trying to explain, nature, birth, death, life, good and evil and more.  Science was not at the level it is today, they only had their eyes, ears, nose, and sometimes mouth to discover and memorialize their lives and how they dealt with what happened to them and in them in their waking and sleeping hours.

This is neither good nor bad—it just is.  Thus if saying a bed time Buddha at Bedtimeprayer will help keep you alive through the night—great what can you lose! If not eating meat is how you desire to live your life wonderful, go for it.  If eating meat but not pork or crustaceans (lobster, crabs, shrimp, etc.) is your choice that’s great too.  In ancient times you might have been better off not eating pork because it caused an infection we know as trichinosis, but so did lots of other foods.  Just a few more reasons “not to believe” everything found in your ancient texts.

My mom believed it about the pork and thus when we had pork chops for dinner they were so well done they tasted and acted like shoe leather!  That was one of the nights I always found a reason to eat at my best friend’s house for dinner.  Another time I bought some “free range chicken” and served it to her for supper.  I was bragging about how great they were and that all the chickens should be freed.  Once again mom told me a “farm story.”  “I fed plenty of chickens on the farm growing up and let me tell you they ate anything and everything in sight, at least this way their waste ends up far enough away that they can’t get at it.” You’ve got to love my mom!

So in this day and age with our education, science, technology, the internet, and more you have the opportunity to be your own researcher and discover about life for yourself.  If following your religious and family traditions is important in your life…go for it.  Just remember that not everything written in them is true…then move full speed ahead and live the life that works for you and spreads peace, love, and compassion wherever you go!

In gassho,

Shokai

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In a culture where almost everything is sold around “sex” whether it is toothpaste, cars, clothes, furniture, houses, or hair dye we have been misusing sexuality.  When studying and practicing The Ten Grave Precepts students of Zen are invited to take a look at their sexuality and decide what it means to them, how they use it, and how its use affects themselves and those around them.

Reb Anderson in his wonderful book Being Upright (2001) has a beautiful chapter entitled “NOTHING IS WISHED FOR: Not Misusing Sexuality.”  He talks about various ideas from sexual greed to sexual imagery, energy, and intimacy.  He describes it in one paragraph as—

. . .dancing in perfect harmony with the rhythms of our sexual passion. Eventually, the time comes when a human being appears before you as a brilliant and shinning god or goddess, acting as a mirror reflecting your wholeness.  This reflection reveals the dazzling promise of orgasmic unity and the bliss of the complete integration of your whole being (page 118).

When I read this passage it brought back to me a time many years ago when I had a lucid dream about my partner and we were both walking through a doorway, he coming from one side and me from the other.  The doorway was too small for us to pass by without touching and yet neither of us wanted to wait for the other so we both proceeded and our ethereal bodies slowly merged into one and from the top of my head to the tips of my toes I felt the energy—you might say it was a super orgasmic lucid dream from which I did not want to awaken.   But now these many years later I realized that is exactly what Reb was talking about in this chapter.  The merging of the “rhythms of our sexual passion” was “reflecting each others wholeness” and not as separate individuals but as one.

This is how we are taught to live in Zen Buddhism—as “One” with everything.  Regardless of where we are or what we are doing when we focus on the person or the object not as “the other” or something “separate” from us then we are practicing the Bodhisattva way.

I was counseled many years ago by a Unity minister friend of mine, Edwene Gaines, not to sleep with anyone whose consciousness I did not want to own.  I did not understand it very well then, but now I do.  She understood that when you had sex with someone you became one with them, as Reb speaks about, and that his or her energy—good or bad—enters you and yours enters them and you share thoughts, emotions, dreams and more.  Ask yourself before the encounter is this someone I would want to merge with.  Are his or her thoughts, energies, and emotions similar to mine?  Is the person filled with peace, love, compassion, and kindness? These are simple but tough questions to ask and to answer.

Remember Reb says it is a “mirror reflecting your wholeness.”  Is this person’s wholeness the wholeness you want to embrace and make your own?

In the end of the chapter he closes by saying he compares it to sitting Zazen which he calls “sitting upright.”

The world of sex is sitting upright, too.  Whenever you do anything with complete warmth and devotion, it is the same.  Creating a work of art, cooking a meal, or cleaning house: any action of body, speech, or mind, when done in this spirit of complete devotion, without imagining anything else, and without the slightest separation between yourself and the task, is the same.  This is immaculate sexuality (page 121).

This is not the sexuality we see on TV in the ads, or in the movies, or soap operas.  This is the sex that was illustrated in this joke that I heard many years ago.  A young married couple is having sex and in the middle of her husband’s organism the woman opens her eyes, looks up and says, “hmmm.  I think we should paint the ceiling pink, don’t you?”

Today and everyday I see you dancing in perfect harmony with the rhythms of your sexual passion as you recognize your oneness with all there is.

Things to focus on this week:

  •  Step one: Begin by deciding how you will refrain from misusing sexuality this week.
  • Step two: Set your intention to do so before each possible encounter.
  • Step three: Remember to be mindful of being upright in all you do and do not misuse sexuality.
  • Step four: Finally, keep a journal on the precept and make note of how learning to embody it in thoughts, words, and actions is affecting your life. Good luck with that!

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