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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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When looking around the internet for information on The Ten Grave Precepts I came across a wonderful analogy used by the San Francisco Zen Center on their website and it said, “They are the strands of Indra’s Net.”[1]  With those words came a beautiful picture into my mind of a large fishing net with each strand being one of the precepts each linked with the other divided by a button holding them together throughout time and space. As you can see this still allows for the movement of energy and light from precept to precept through each of the button holes.

The Ten Grave Precepts are as follows:

A Disciple of the Buddha

  1. …does not kill.
  2. …does not steal.
  3. …does not misuse sexuality.
  4. …does not lie.
  5. …does not cloud the mind.
  6. …does not speak of the faults of others.
  7. …does not elevate the self and blame others.
  8. …is not possessive of anything.
  9. …does not harbor ill will.
  10. …does not disparage the three treasures.

I will take one of these at a time and share my thoughts on how they work in my life and how I hope, when practiced, they can work in yours.

Buddhism is not a philosophy that is meant to be discussed at Starbucks with a Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino® and Biscotti.  It is a philosophy to live by.  To take into each moment of your life and use, to make your life move more slowly, more pointedly, more lovingly, more happily, and finally more mindfully.  I am not saying that as a student of Buddhism it would be inappropriate to enjoy that Caramel Ribbon Crunch Frappuccino® and Biscotti.  Just remember to enjoy it slowly, happily, and lovingly!  And of course mindfully!

The way of “right” living does not mean right as in the opposite of wrong.  But in fact more like good, helpful, kind, or thoughtful living.  It is living a life that does not harm you or others in mind, body, or spirit.  It is one that uplifts and upholds positive thoughts, words, and deeds.  We do it not just when it is easy, but when it is hard or difficult to do.

If you are willing to embark on this adventure with me remember that they need not be worked on in any particular order.  In fact, this would be a good time to review them and to see which ones you are doing well, which ones—not so well, and which ones—not at all.  Then it would be an opportunity, over the next 10 weeks or so, to take one each week starting with your weakest one, and begin working on it.  I am sure that the universe will provide you enough opportunities to practice with!

I think one of my weakest is #6 …does not speak of the faults of others.  I want to start my work with that one.  Let’s see how good I am at it after a week and if I slip back into my old habits once I stop focusing on it.  Only time will tell…

I hope you will join me on this adventure in Buddhism.

Things to focus on this week:

  • Step one: Begin by deciding which one you will work on first.
  • Step two: Set your intention to practice that one throughout the day/week.
  • Step three: Remember to be mindful of it by writing it on a 3×5 notecard, or by putting it in your smartphone and having it remind you throughout the day.
  • Step four: Remind yourself to listen to your thoughts and observe your behaviors to see if you are practicing the principle.
  • Step five: Finally, keep a journal on this 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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