Dharmette: Kalyāna (3 of 5): Beautiful Actions 04-22-20
4:33AM Apr 29, 2020
So this morning, I'm gonna continue the theme of beauty, beauty and the beautiful in the teachings of the Buddha. And as I said on Monday, that if we translate the word kalyana, as beautiful, which is the first dictionary definition of the word, that it brings alive, wonderful perspective of the Buddhist teachings and Buddhist practice, that we are here to practice is to connect to to awaken to become aware of and to grow. What is beautiful meditation is to become skilled in the Beauty. And for today's perspective on this topic of beauty, I want to talk about action. That what we do, the actions that we do, and how the Buddha also talks about beautiful action
and that the beautiful deeds
And I find it's particularly relevant today on earthcare day, because it's a human action, which has a huge impact on the world. It's how we act, how we behave, what we consume, what we do with our consumption, that that causes a lot of damage on on this earth and has some chance to mitigate or perhaps lessen the damage we do and allow the earth to come back to some kind of homeostasis. And so human action is actually quite Important. It's a very hugely important part of human life, the impact human life has, and an impact that our actions have on ourselves. Buddhism is not only about sitting in meditation and getting quiet, it's also about learning to have choice and wisdom and care around the actions that we live by. And those actions can be guided by the idea of beauty, beautiful actions. So I felt very lucky here that in my early years of practice, I was practicing in zen, my monasteries in this country and in Japan. And maybe it wasn't as explicit it's maybe it could have been in my experience. But Zen practice and training had a lot to do with doing how we do things and there was a lot of emphasis on Not doing, having no gaining idea not being caught in desires not trying to become someone great or wonderful, just a really deep coming at home to ourselves. But there was also inseparable from Zen practice was the idea of action, doing things and when the monasteries, there was a lot of doing that we did, we would sweep, we would clean we would work, we would chant, we would be together and community to many, many things. And those were really seen as into an integral part of the practice as much as meditation practice. And not only that, but there was modeling and instructions that when we acted to do it wholeheartedly to be fully engaged in the activity at hand. And that was a slow thing for me to learn because there's many things I didn't want to do and I would do half heartedly and try to get through quickly to get on to the next thing. I was over time and also, you know, being sometimes people would explain to me what I was doing and encouraged me to be more wholehearted. And what I did an example would be, remember in Japan, I had the job of carrying the food from the kitchen to the dining room table where we're going to eat. There were about 30 monks. So there was you know, a lot of long long one long, very long table we sat cross legged on load table and that would brought bring the food and I would sometimes carry a pot or whatever I had, it was a small, you know, wasn't that big of a pot or bowl or something and just carrying the one hand and no, no, no, Gilson. Don't do that. You have to, if you're going to carry something you carried with both hands, as if it's the most important thing of the moment, and really care for it and really be there for that caring. Don't do it casually, like casually like Karen Just incidental thing, really be there and hold it. If you drink tea and zen, then, you know, you don't just pick up the tea and keep talking. And whenever you pick it up with both hands, and you pick it up, and you take with both hands, you would, you know, drink the tea. So this idea of both hands with all of ourselves really be there. I learned a lot about that in the kitchen in the monastery, to really be there fully for the activity of chopping carrots or onions or whatever it was. And you know, sometimes there were five gallons of onion such often so it just really had the chance to just me in the onion, just be there fully. And there was something that began to thaw and open and me in doing this the resistance I had to have heartedness. I had the impatience I had and, and I started to find this wonderful engagement. Some people might might say concentration involved in the activity I was doing, that the activities I did became really enjoyable or became something I got wonderfully engaged in, and kind of became free in the process of the action. And so my actions to start to become less from the inside out to feel beautiful.
Sometimes I'd see other people in Zen monasteries, and to watch how they swept or even watch how they ate or watch how they did certain things. And there was a sense of beauty or sense of elegance or sense of elegance and sense of simplicity. There were some people who would do heavy work, and you had a feeling that the end when they engaged in the heavier work, there was nothing extra no extra muscles were used. They were just there and doing it in a complete way. But there was no extra strain that was unnecessary that they were doing. So this idea of action Turns out in the teachings of the Buddha, action, which is the word for action is come our karma is really key. And, and part of this, how important action is, is the Buddha said there were three kinds of actions to care for. There was actions of body, speech and mind that what we think is a kind of action. And it's not just physical action that is important. And the teachings of karma are teachings about action that that, that our actions, whatever we do body, speech in mind have consequences. And we could be the caretakers of those consequences. That if we want to have good consequences, do good karma, good action. If we want bad karma, bad consequences, do bad karma, bad actions. That's usually the way it's talked about good and bad. And if you read the sutras, it's peppered with the Buddha's talking about good In bad karma, or they say, if you're speaking English that seems to be what he was saying. There are times when the Buddha speaks about good karma that he doesn't when it's translated that way in English. Turns out it's not the Pali word for it, the ancient word is colliano. Beautiful action. And, and so, when karma teachings and karma concerns, switch from being concerned about good karma to beautiful karma, there's a very different feeling about what we're doing here. Good has a very strong association with morality, with ethics and you know, and then a lot of it at the magnet for all kinds of cultural conditions and religious condition our condition condition we've been conditioned to understand, good bad, right wrong ethics, ethical and unethical and It can get kind of heavy very quickly and obligatory and kind of depressing even, you know, like, Oh no, I have to be good. But if the language instead is beautiful karma to do karma that's good. The Buddha said that a doer of beauty reaps beauty. So the idea of karma is an ancient idea in many places, many cultures, that you reap what you sow. And so their actions is what you sow. And then what you reap is the consequences of that. And here the Buddha says, A doer of beauty reaps beauty. So, so this idea of that, so well, how does that orient you to your lived life, how you behave in the world, if instead of being focusing so much on doing Good, you're focusing and doing beauty. Some people will protest that beauty is indulging in something it's, you know, just aesthetic. It's kind of something. But really good is where the rightness is and where the duty is and where we are doing the right thing for the world and we are supposed to do something good.
But what if
the if beauty is just an other another word for good? It can't be good unless it's beautiful. If we want to do good for the world, maybe it there has to be some beauty in it. There has to be some wholeheartedness and fullness and clarity. Where we don't do things with limitation. We don't do things with the burden. We don't do things with resentment. We don't do things with a sense of obligation and pushing and, and like this heavy duty and, you know, overcoming our resistance. We learn how To let go of resistance, we learn how to come from a freedom. We learn to come from joy, from inspiration from compassion and care. That's part of the beautiful heart. So, so if you want to do good, why not look and see about it? Can that be done beautifully as well? And what does it mean for you to do something in a beautiful way? Maybe it can mean that you do it, you know, in a beautiful physical wipeouts outside of you can see you and that's it. Yes, beautiful thing that person is doing. But that beauty in Buddhism is an inner beauty. We're doing it in a way that expresses the goodness the beauty, the the virtue, the generosity, the wisdom, the peacefulness the harmony we have, that we can discover within ourselves.
So this teachings of karma also has this idea of consequences that there's traces left by our actions and what we say and do and even think, and those traces can live for example, in our memories.
And the Buddha has this teaching that
if a person sits down,
to sit down to be quiet meditate or lay down in bed or just be quiet, sometime that then their actions look the traces of them will come and visit will come along. And if you've done bad actions, Ill Ill actions actions which are unhealthy and harmful, that they'll come and, and whatever actions whether it's body speech in mind, they will come and cover a person over spread through a person envelop a person, just as a great shadow, a shadow of a great mountain in the evening covers over spreads and develops the earth. So, you know, the sun is setting behind a mountain and the shadow of the mountain then spreads across everything. So it is shadow is an interesting metaphor here. Because you know, it's not really substantial. It's not really something that you can in it kind of kind of a touch. You can see it, it's really the absence of light. And so when we've done ill actions, they'll catch up to a sooner or later, if they're really bad. We sit and meditate and are somehow the inner psyche, will will churn up the things that we are unresolved things which are we feel bad about the things that have been created a kind of negative trace in their memories and psyche and they have to become up and be resolved or work through or, or be disavowed or be learned, learned, learn something and be changed by it for the better.
But there's like shadows
and things get dark. If we extend this metaphor, it's a little bit different than what the Buddha said. Then he uses the word beautiful actions, beautiful actions, beautiful actions of body speech in mind. Then if a person's sitting in a chair or bed or resting on the ground, then the beautiful actions that they did in the past, beautiful bodily, verbal and mental conduct. We'll cover them over spread them and invest Let them like the sun that's coming up and shining across the earth in the morning.
This is the kind of pleasure and joy
that wise people feel in this life. This is the kind of joy and pleasure that wise people feel in this life. If we do beautiful actions, then we will have beautiful results. And that's kind of a teaching of karma. So, that's for you do think about a little bit and reflect on and maybe that gives you a different perspective and how to live your life and live this life on Earth Day. That maybe it's a day to live in beauty. And if that beauty is connected to the what's best in our hearts, then it's I'm sure it'll be best for the world as well. May you live a beautiful life. Thank you