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When I want to move
or to speak,
first I shall examine my state of mind,
and firmly act in a suitable way

Whenever my mind becomes attached
or angry,
I shall not reacvt, nor shall I speak;
I shall remain mum and unmoved like a tree.

     -- Shantidevi (8th century Buddhist)

The subject of the proposed entry allowed me to become angry and a little depressed.  I would have written about a group of people of whom i know almost nothing.  Statements that i would have made would have no assurance of being accurate, the usefulness of the entry and my reasons for posting it would have been highly suspect.  It would  have been unkind and would have seemed very harsh to families of people who have recently died.  It would have been ego boosting, showing off my power to draw connections among seemingly unrelated situations and events.  Every possible reason to "remain mum" would have presented itself at the most superficial examination.

I am not a Buddhist.  I am ignorant about Buddhism.  But i am a great fan of the 8 - fold path.  The purpose of Buddhism is to deal expertly with suffering.  One best does this by acquiring a sense of what it real and what isn't (wisdom), by living an ethical life, and by having "awareness" (through prayer, meditation, and contemplation.)  The steps of the path are not sequential but they do have a logical ordering.  An adult will do some work on his or her worldview and intentions before he can do much about ethics. and some cosideration of ethical behavior will preceed going very far with meditation and contemplation.  (Yes, i have heard of "the dark side of the Force" but i know nothing about it.)

The third "step" on the 8-fold path, the first "step" in ethics training is "right speech*."  Wisdom (Detachment -- step one and compassion--step two) pave the way for ethics.  If i am detached and compassionate, a certain ethic will follow, and that ethic will first become apparent to others in the words i speak (and in the silence i keep.)  Because i am detached, my speech will not be angry nor propagandistic or used in defense of self or possessions or institutions.  Because of compassion, my speech will not be unkind, gossipy, lying, intrusive, nor gratuitous.  I will not insult others with my words or  their implications nor ridicule their choices or philosophies or religions.  If i could follows these directions, two-thirds  of my customary speaking would disappear and theire would be plenty of room for delicious, disciplined, contemplative silence.

*Here are the contents of  the chapter "Step Three: Right Speech--Speaking the Truth." pp. 171-196, in Awakening the Buddha Within, Eight Steps to Enlightenment, Tibetan Wisdom for the Western Worl, by Surya Das {Jeffrey Miller).
  Everything you say can express your Buddha Nature
     Speak the truth, tell no lies
     Use words to help, not to harm.
     Don't gossip or tell tales.
     Avoid harsh, abusive language; speak kindly

  The kess full of ourselves we are, the more room there is for others

  Words from the heart

  The treasury of sacred sound
     Prayer as sacred speech
          Metta prayer, p. 183-4

  Using a mantra to find your own voice
     Outer, inner, and innate reasons for chanting mantras.

  Opening the throat chakra

  Chanting the Heart Sutra (189-90)

  Silence resounds like thunder

  The beautiful sound of silence

  The joy of silence, solitude, and voluntary simplicity


Jan. 29th, 2016 03:23 pm (UTC)
My son practiced Buddhism, at least he did till his clinical depression overwhelmed him so much even his beloved Dharma couldn't help him; but since his sudden death 4 months ago I've been reading all his Buddhist books because the precepts of The Four Noble Truths and the Eight-Fold Path appeal more to me right now than the vague promises of Christianity, the religion in which I was raised. I love Pema Chödrön and her books because she explains Buddhist thought clearly and simply and focuses on having compassion for ourselves and extending that out to all beings. Thich Nhat Hanh is also a very famous Buddhist monk and activist (he met with MLK in the '60's and was banished from Vietnam by the govt for his pacifist work) whose books are wonderful to read. I think if my son hadn't become so ill he would still have clung to the Three Jewels--Buddha, Sangha, and Dharma--and on one level my studies now are in honor of his memory. But I feel my son left me a gift of pointing the way to The Eight-fold Path to help me in dealing with my autistic daughter and her outbursts; right speech, etc. is helping me become more mindful about curbing my impulsive words of anger and negativity toward her when I become agitated with her behaviors.
Feb. 1st, 2016 04:59 pm (UTC)
When the Buddha died (after more than 40 years of teaching) 500 of his closest followers met to try to reconstruct an accurate record of his teachings. The result was the Dammapadda. This was, in my opinion, a good thing since the Buddha was a great teacher.

When Jesus was killed (after less than three years of teaching) his eleven closest followers (Mary Magdeline is usually not counted) were disoriented and confused. They came up with beliefs, teachings, and scenarios which had little to do with what Jesus taught. These are called the Gospels (the first of which was completed over thirty years after his death. This was, in my opinion, a bad think since Jesus was a great teacher.

I think that the teachings of the Buddha and Jesus were, in essence, almost identical.



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