June 10th, 2010

Dhammapada (10) - Violence

Dhammapada (10) - Violence*

"First do no harm." is part of the Hippocratic oath and it is now part of a new oath for MBAs (yay!)
Daniel Berrigan once quoted the Buddha as saying: "Don't just do something, stand there."
(A beautiful statement of the principle of non-action).
Westerners and people influenced by westerners hate passivity.
If you are passive, there is something wrong with you.
"Passive aggressive" is worse than just plain "aggressive."

But in spite of all our activity, things seem to fall apart.  Or is it because of our activity that things fall apart?
And the world has become a far more violent place

Be still and silent says the Dhammapada, this is freedom.
Striving seems to be equated with violence.

I am taught that my brothers and sisters include serial killers, corporate executives, and terrorists.
If i try to harm any of them, i hurt  myself.
(Not my ego, my real self--the spark of divinity within me.)

*The Dhammapada consists of 423 verses.  How those verses got divided into 26 chapters is something i have not learned.
Nor do i know why the titles were selected.  Often in ancient manuscripts, an editor focuses on a word or idea that jumps out at him, and this becomes the title of the whole section.  In this chapter, the first third (22 lines) is clearly about violence.  Then the text seems to drift off into other issues,  Or does it?  One thing we have learned in the past fifty years is that previous discussions of violence have been far to narrow, excluding nearly all of the subtle or socially approved violence upon which that violence that we don't like is almost always predicated.  I marvel at how contemporary mahayana buddhist and philosophical taoist thinking is.  Especially in the area of violence we are still trying to catch up to what the Dhammapada and the Tao te Ching were saying 2500 years ag0!