Inkwell: Authors and Artists
(fom) Wed 6 Feb 02 22:56
I don't really see the death penalty, euthanasia, and abortion as being very similar to one another. What a fascinating line of discussion this all is. Re ecology, I am often reminded that we wouldn't have any migratory waterfowl in the US if it weren't for the early efforts of Ducks Unlimited, a duck-hunting organization, to protect the flyways. I think they started this work in 1931 or so. Was that liberal or conservative or what? Oh btw Gary -- you say: >(For one thing, I'll suggest that Wonderland. start an Engaged Buddhist topic, if it doesn't already have one; it just started one on Tibetan Buddhism -- after all these years.) ...you do know, don't you, that anyone can start a topic? No suggestion needed (although suggestions are always welcome of course) -- just start any topics you want. If they duplicate existing ones, the hosts will make housekeeping decisions as indicated.
Linda Castellani (castle) Wed 6 Feb 02 23:40
E-mail from Vip Malixi: One thing I think a lot of people misunderstand about Buddhism is intellectualizing it. The Buddhist view of course encompasses the whole--heart as well as mind. Honking or not honking during a traffic jam is not due to the intellectual analysis of the situation, but awareness and then realization of what to do. For example, while walking through a mountain, when a person runs into the edge of the cliff, the realization that he's about to fall over creates complete action: he stops, he moves away from the edge--there is no intellectualizing about the pros and cons, there is no choice of whether it is "Buddhist" to fall or not to fall--there is no choice, only the right action. In circumstances that are vague, then intellectualization can come in--deciding whether to eat the carrot cake or have the carrot juice is purely due to upbringing and societal influence, and letting our conditioning decide in those circumstances but being aware of it is just as "Buddhist." Vip Malixi
ZeppoCat (zeppocat2001) Wed 6 Feb 02 23:58
From the standpoint of at least THIS buddhist, there is no contradiction between a position that allows both euthanasia and abortion. Because compassion encourages a buddhist first of all to act to minimize suffering. According to the buddhist theory of mind, a fetus is (though sentient) not yet even sapient, its suffering upon being aborted nothing compared to what it will endure if it grows to term, is born, lives and dies. Euthanasia, if you define it as "mercy killing" because it ends suffering, is obviously a compassionate act. Capital punishment, now that is a different matter. Typically, the acts that lead to sentences of death have already set in motion great karmic ripples, of which suffering is the most obvious result. It is not entirely clear that one can reduce suffering more by killing the offender or letting him live. It is tangled karma, and the thoughtful buddhist position in this case is just to respond directly to suffering wherever it is felt, without judgement. This means reaching out to both victims and offenders. No one can weigh the suffering of the tormented souls that commit crimes and say, they've experienced less suffering than their victims. Even if my buddhist training didn't make me suspect this, Sister Prejean would have convinced me. I'll stop there so this doesn't turn into a death penalty thrash. I think it might be more useful to talk about HOW buddhist practice leads naturally to engagement, rather than specific recommendations or examples of "engaging." The Bodhisattva vow is one part of the picture, but many of the most engaged buddhists I know are practicing in theravadan traditions. So it's not just something that's done because one takes a vow but rather something that grows naturally out of a personal practice. You don't naturally make decisions to engage in activism you can't politically support. I stress "naturally" to emphasize that in healthy, functional sanghas, one doesn't experience pressure to conform to any particular form of engagement. Form is emptiness anyhow, as we remind ourselves every day.
Scott Underwood (esau) Thu 7 Feb 02 00:24
Hmm. Is the practice of vegetarianism related to the "precept" (I don't know if that word applies) against killing? Because, if you can use compassion arguments to justify causing the death of another, you could make "special case" arguments about killing animals for food, no?
David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 7 Feb 02 08:59
<scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:25>
(fom) Thu 7 Feb 02 09:44
(May I just point out that assisted suicide and euthanasia are very much not the same thing.)
David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 7 Feb 02 11:36
<scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:25>
Gary Gach (ggg) Thu 7 Feb 02 12:35
<Zeppocat2001> and I are in perfect agreement. These topics certainly get the juices flowing, so to speak, but we might do well to consider, as we do so, that any one is but a lens for appreciating a more general way of seeing. A process. Rather than any mechanical model (<insert big toe in Slot "A" and twist>) E.G., the Precepts are discrete and separate: don't drink, don't lie, don't kill, etc. But deeper interpretations note how they inter-relate. Practice just one w/ which you feel comfortable, eventually you'll confront them all in your own life. Sooner or later, <esau>, I think your thought x'd everyone's mind. A case against eating our animal brothers and sisters, rather than our green brother and sisters, is clearer when we consider reverence for life in conjunction with another precept: mindful consumption. To eat mindfully, one cannot help but be aware of the suffering of an animal -- its panic at being separated from its family, adrenalin in its bloodstream upon seeing the butcher's work, etc -- as one eats. Just as some find it really difficult to mindfully eat just one chemical-laden cracker. Again, these are matters for personal awareness, direct perception. If "engaged Buddhism" sounds daunting, then consider just Buddhist ethics as part of practice; the Precepts. I really like Aitken Roshi's "Mind of Clover" on the Precepts, combining his resonant personal reminiscences with lucid interpretation.. Actually, nonviolence (precept against killing) is usually interpreted to include environmental protection. (King Ashoka, for example, was big on this.) Philip Kapleu has a pretty detailed book for those who want immersion (rather than gists and piths): "To Cherish All Life: A Buddhist View of Animal Slaughter & Meat Eating." Others: <http://a1.nu/vegetarian/books/>, <http://www.medicalengine.com/alternative_medicine/v/Vegetarianism/>, and <http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/094030600X/torontozencen-20/002-0129578 -6144004> (I'm also looking forward to the anthology Allan Hunt ("DharmaGaia") Badiner is putting together, even as we speak. My impish inclination wondered why people often ask their priest or rabbi if they'll see Fido in heaven -- but never ask about their garden or houseplants. (Well, would they!?) Well, now that abortion has entered the roster of topics, we may never plumb the depths of this Inkwell by Friday. In my Guide, I published a picture of Jizo Bodhisattva, who looks over both deceased and unborn children. It's a Japanese addition to Buddhist culture, where an aborted or stillborn fetus is called a "water baby." Aitken Roshi notes, "It's given a posthumous Buddhist name, and thus identified as an individual, however incomplete, to whom we can say farewell. With this ceremony, the woman is in touch with life and death as they pass through her existence, and she finds that such basic changes are relative waves on the great ocean of true nature which is not born and does not pass away." This neither condones nor condemns abortion. And so there is likely to be discord about this (or any) hot-button topic amongst Buddhists, just as w/ everyone else. Curious that the Buddha-L discussion group, for scholars, who'd be expected to have the last word on doctrine, has banned any discussion of this one topic there, 'cos it results in endless flames. I hope that this reveals a sense of the Way In Which these things get sorted out. Suzuki Roshi used to talk about "Way-Seeking Mind." It's like that. We want to do right, and the road isn't always straight and narrow (like a church aisle), certainly not across yin-yang, where you'll step equally into dark and light. Perhaps you could say Buddhism emphasizes extensive principles, values, qualities rather than any extensive set of customs. The Buddha set forth a minima of guidelines, then said it was up to the sangha to decide as situations arise, on a case-by-case basis. Thus <zeppocat2001>: > ... it might be more useful to talk about HOW buddhist > practice leads naturally to engagement, rather than specific > recommendations or examples of "engaging." Yes! ... Thank you <castle> for the post from Vip Malixi (a lovely name!) Yes, these nets of discursive thought ( w o r d s ) are like iceberg tip: not encompassing the unity of our true nature.) The Tao, the Buddha, nirvana, etc. aren't concepts, to be mentally grasped (not a "thing" so can't be grasped): more a way of seeing and being, to be experienced. [Howzat?!] If you find my book one day, you'll see there's calligraphy of one word in Chinese / Japanese, with a note that it means both mind and heart ... and meditation on just this can be a "door" to the entire Dharma. You have a lovely understanding, and I'd hope to hear more from you, if you wish (non Wellites can email in, before Saturday). (Any Internauts just tuning in, thru this Friday you can join us by e- mailing <email@example.com>, with "ggg interview" in the subject line.) Us Wellites can always look up each other's online biographies, so you're more than welcome to introduce your selves if you wish, (are you still with us? are you still in a sticky wicket? can we help?) and Vip Malixi. magnolias break free of the grip of winter ... February rain
David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 7 Feb 02 19:15
<scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:26>
(fom) Thu 7 Feb 02 19:21
Ya know, I don't think you muddied the waters or were inflammatory at all. The subject arose, it got batted around a bit (a very small bit), and it subsided. 'Sokay. We will be happy to see you in the Buddhism conference, and of course also happy to see you continue here with whatever line of questioning or commentary you want to pursue. (I am hoping this "interview" continues for a while, because I still haven't gotten around to asking my questions!)
Linda Castellani (castle) Thu 7 Feb 02 19:35
Take all the time you need! Start asking! (and yes, Gary, isn't that a great name?!)
David Dawson (dawson54) Thu 7 Feb 02 21:07
<scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:26>
Gary Gach (ggg) Thu 7 Feb 02 21:06
<Fom>, your duckhunters seem eminently conservative to me, but what do I know? In my ken, traditionally conservatives are conservationist: conserve the forests, conserve the ducks; yet the use to which they're put by the owners are not to be messed with (inalienable rights). Thus issues of water quality or air, say, is not a conservative banner (or am I wrong). But, hey, isn't it the relativity of the two terms, neo-lib and neo-con, that concerns us, in a context wherein they're less precise guideposts? I'm puzzled by your second paragraph, david, but then you seem to think it thru & resolve it as you go further along. What if, instead of defining the relative (the current political, the fickle) in terms of the spiritual, we consider defining the spiritual in terms of the relative, in terms of our actual lives, our lived-world, the direct evidence of our senses, what's in front of our nose? Would that work? Let me take a step back, a moment, and add that I'm in no way criticizing: there's no screw-up, so this ain't damage control; just following a train of thought to see where it might lead. I concur with <fom>. Perhaps the civility evidenced here is due to the Well's petri dish for virtual community, [grateful bow], as well as to the aim of awakened enlightenment, the luminous X, shared by us all. So, perhaps a skillful tool for any such discussion might be something which is one element I touch on in the book, which is a whole chapter elsewhere (such as "The Heart of the Buddha's Teachings"), is the the Two Truths. (What other names is it known by?) 1) Samvriti satya (relative truth) 2) Paramartha satya (absolute truth) "Call Me By My True Names" is arranged in two parts, according to this element: historical poems, from the war; devotional poems, of a more timeless nature. Each is prefaced by a page which says that if you touch the historical door deeply, you enter the transcendent dimension; when you are in deeply in the transcendent dimension, you have not left the historical dimension. Put it like this --------------------------------------------------: Everyday mind is the Buddha mind. Our daily experience is the place where we practice the teachings (of Jesus, of our ancestors, of the Buddha, of the Bluebird of Happiness). Well, something to play around with in anyone's own sense of these things. And, yes, please ask *here* -- as well as *there*, David. And please, yes, ask away <fom>. (For me I wouldn't call this an "interview" at all: more like "inter view" of our inner view(s).) (and *what name!?*, <castle> ... "LaZ-vada"?) Avanti! (siempre; avanti...)
Gary Gach (ggg) Thu 7 Feb 02 21:07
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David Dawson (dawson54) Fri 8 Feb 02 10:28
<scribbled by dawson54 Mon 26 Aug 02 13:20>
Gary (ggg) Fri 8 Feb 02 11:31
Consensus. [Sentire, Latin. To Feel Con; with]. Yea. Dig the scope as expressed in the Boddhisattva Vow ----- : Beings are numberless, I vow to awaken (with) them. Delusions are inexhaustible; I vow to end them. Dharma gates are boundless; I vow to enter them. Buddha's way is unsurpassable; I vow to become it. A mighty vow!! (There are various translations. <digaman> was maybe only half kidding when he heard of my book and said, "Idiots are numberless, I vow to save them.") Again, this is properly a feature of Mahayana Buddhism, but Theravadans also have a similar vow towards the world following attainment.) Plus, here are the 14 precepts of the Order of Interbeing -- maybe one or two might be worth futher consideration, by Quaker Buddhists, or anyone interested: <http://www.tased.edu.au/tasonline/sukhavat/14BuddhistPrecepts.htm> Engaged Buddhism isn't easy, and certainly controversial even within Buddhism at large. (BTW, does anyone know, by the way, where the name "WellEngaged" came from?) (Is there a Well dictionary? "Slippage" "Beams" etc?) -=/ a d m i n i s t r i v i a For all those non-Well internauts out there who want to post after Friday: please e-mail your post(s) to : <firstname.lastname@example.org>, with "ggg interview" in the subject line. (This goes to me, so it's also good for back-channel) I'll check this Inkwell from time to time, even 'tho it may go silent, representing the enlightenment of all concerned. Alright!
Jon Lebkowsky (jonl) Fri 8 Feb 02 11:46
Gary, thanks so much for the great interview! And for taking so much time to answer fully! And thanks, <fom>, for leading the discussion. A famous philosopher once said "It ain't over til it's over," and that applies here, too. This topic can live as long as there's interest. And those of you reading offline can also continue sending emails to email@example.com, and we'll post 'em here (though note above Gary's own email address set up for that purpose, if you prefer to mail him directly.) <bow>
BOWING (ggg) Fri 8 Feb 02 12:09
Inkwellers, it's truly a privilege, a pleasure, and a heavenly delight! Thank y o u ! May all beings thrive.
Linda Castellani (castle) Fri 8 Feb 02 17:24
G A S S H O (ggg) Fri 8 Feb 02 19:30
G E S U N D H E I T (rik) Fri 8 Feb 02 19:48
(chrys) Fri 8 Feb 02 21:31
Eleanor Parker (wellelp) Fri 8 Feb 02 23:49
Thank you for your excellent book, and for taking the time to talk with us all.
Kirsten Bayes (kirsten-bayes) Sun 10 Feb 02 12:43
What a wonderful thread: thanks to all for their reflections.
gary (ggg) Thu 27 Jan 05 19:56
This group inter view has really been a marvellous honor for me. Thank you again. One of the conference hosts recently noticed I have a book event posted, and suggested I list it here. [blush] Basically, here's the deal. I've expanded and revised my book, for a 2nd edition. &, to commemorate, I gave a talk/workshop at East West Books in Menlo / Palo Alto area. And will be doing one at Open Secret, in San Rafael, at 7, on 23 February. (The posting is # 868 at Well Conference BAT [go BAT].) Not that Dharma's changed all that much since we talked ... Anyway, posting this, here, brings a haiku to mind : end of winter birds return to the feeder as if no time's passed
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