2022-05-29 Dedication to Non-violence
2:13PM May 30, 2022
I'm thinking about how there are two sources within us, for how we act in the world. How we react to the world, responded the world. And what is more what I could consider more on the surface, and what is from our depths, someplace deep inside. And the surface, I associate with, responding reacting to the world, when the events of the world come to us, and it meets our fear, or our anger, or despair, or hopelessness, or greed. And all those things, I think have more surface, partly because they usually involve a lot of thinking, imagination of ideas and desires. And they also are more activated state. The depth within us is to allow something deeper inside of us to respond to be touched by the world. That's, that is deeper than whatever fear and despair angry might have. Maybe when those things there, fear and anger disappear, have settled and quiet. Greed has settled away. Enough so that we feel a sense of satisfaction and, and warmth than pleasure and happiness in life in a deeper way, without needing the world to be a certain way. Where we feel at ease and feel at home in a deep way. And so there's a different sensitivity is that we who in which we receive the world, the difficulties, that other things are, I think deeper inside and may be easily eclipsed by the surface can emerge. And rather than reacting, we respond rather than react, reacting, we, we something emerges from the heart merges from deeper deeper inside that where we can we feel our shared humanity where we can feel and see other people for their humanity. That's very hard to see, if we're reacting from the surface, if we're seeing through the fear, through hate, through greed, through despair, through a sense of hopelessness, helplessness. And so to be able to kind of tapped into some deeper place within is a hugely important part of meditation and Buddhist practice. And some of the guidelines for how to live a life that the Buddha gives make a lot of sense, or there's a lot of there's they resonates much deeper inside of us. If if we're in touch to this in touch with a stepped inside of us. So one of the guidelines, what are the kind of precepts of Buddhism, one of the maybe the first precept is not to kill. And and the kind of the primary principle associated to that and the principle that underlies all of Buddhism, I believe, is not to harm the principle of non harming, living a life of non harming. And I want to talk about this a little bit today because of recent events, you know, seems like to two weeks ago, we had this horrific shooting and in the Buffalo market called Tom's friendly market. And 10 Black Americans were shot just shopping. And that was the motivation for the talk last week on hate. It was a hate crime. And, and then just five days ago, we had this horrendous another horrendous shooting of children. They take children, others were killed in Texas And
you know, we've had a lot of shootings, school shootings in this country. And so what happens when these kinds of events are allowed to touch something deep inside? Is there a place that's deeper than anger? Deeper than fear, deeper than despair, deeper than then? Is there someplace deeper not to dismiss those reactions and those responses because they're so human? So? You know, so so much of how people respond to things. But what happens? Do we have access to someplace deeper? And I think that's the call, when are the calls of Buddhist practice, because of the first precept in this first principle, if not killing and not harming? To the call of Buddhists is to see how can we come from that place? How can we be dedicated and committed to non harming in a radical way in a thorough way? How can we be champions of not killing, not just not killing ourselves? Because the Buddha also taught that are encouraged more than just not harming, not killing, but advocating for others not to kill as well, or inspiring others not to kill? Too, cultivate a maybe a culture of not killing? And so how do we, you know, change this tremendous momentum of a culture that has so much, you know, it has so much momentum in violence in killing. After the killings in Texas, there was in the news, reports of that the manufacturer of the gun that was used the company called Daniel Defense, they had a advertisement, which I then found on their website, have a look, I can't see the face, but clearly a young child is my guess, is four or five years old, with a semi automatic rifle on his lap. And, and, you know, just resting there, and he has a t shirt that says a rascal on it, that seems to diminish, or kind of make light of or kind of suggest something very different about what it means to own or possessor, and a semi automatic rifle. But then even more remarkable is the statement that goes along with that, see, do it together with the advertisement, Train up a child in the way he should go, Train up a child in the way he should go. And when he is old, he will not depart from it. Start them early, with semi automatic rifle rifles. So here's a company a business trying to promote the sale of their rifles. So this is not necessary. I don't know if they're operating out of some kind of strange idea of compassion for our society. But it seems to me like they're operating under what it can make business, wanting to sell, and trying to hook people in. And so the momentum of some of the economic forces in the society that's advertising a culture of violence. How do we do something different? And where does that come from? So in the end, the description of the first precept, the kind of the longer description of it, one abstains from killing. One lays down a weapons and swords
modest compassionate dwelling with care for the welfare of all beings. So it isn't just killing, there's more that's involved with much more that's involved. And these are beautiful qualities. I'm inspired by some people who put down their weapons, throw them away. For me, that creates a different culture. A culture of people who are not going to succumb to fear, greed or conceit or arrogance. And one of the worst ways of I think of responding to the violence in the world is to allow the fear that it elicits to get the upper hand in such a way that we go out and buy another gun. Then we just kind of graduate more. There is a story from Japan historical event, maybe it's slightly interpretive the way I'm going to present it to you. But in the somewhere I don't know, when the fifth sixth century in Japan they were in the, in the Val in the valley that surrounded by mountains, that's now Kyoto. They were building Buddhist temples, and they it was a Capitol. And, and there was this idea that evil spirits forces would be coming out of the northeast corner of that valley down the mountains, and somehow come and harm the capital. So to protect the capital, they built a Buddhist temple up there, and the Northeast kind of liked and they would do rituals and practices and somehow have to dharmic protection. That monastery grew and developed to be one of the biggest monasteries in Japan. Over the centuries, at some point, they became so big, it became like, I guess, probably also like a landlord, landlord, like us, biggest state and, and they had some kind of monks, I don't know exactly what kind of monks they were, who were soldiers. And at some point, that was the evil force that came out of the Northeast down to Kyoto, to attack Kyoto to take over and to do. So it was a, it was a self fulfilling prophecy, that there's danger, let's protect us with the NSX monks up there who can arm themselves and be soldiers and, and it became so powerful that that came around. So it's a kind of a, you know, I don't know if we want to take too much of a lesson from that. But it's certainly an example of sometimes living with fear and often, you know, and kind of in a reactive mode can elicit the very thing that we're trying to avoid. A more contemporary statement of this is saying, what I'm trying to say here today is Sir Martin Luther King. The ultimate weakness of violence is that it is a descending spiral. begetting the very thing it seeks to destroy. Instead of diminishing evil, it multiplies it to violence, you murder the hater, but you do not murder hate. In fact, violence merely increases hate. Returning violence for violence, multiplies violence, adding deeper darkness to a night already devoid of stars. Darkness cannot drive out darkness, only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate. Only love can do that. So I don't know You know, there's all kinds of things being said now and in almost every time there's some mass shooting like this. Many the same things get said about what should happen and analysis of our culture in our society and
it's, it's kind of a kind of this is it's very sad to kind of think that here we're sitting saying the same thing over the repetition of this kind of phenomenon. So I don't want to repeat some of the cultural ideas, Saito ideas that are so common, they said, but I do feel inspired to evoke the importance of non harming and not killing in a Buddhist life. And that, learning how to do this in a wise way, learning how to do this, so that we can protect ourselves better that way, then we can't through violence. It's not an obvious and easy thing to naively say, you know, we should be non violent, when there are dangers in this world doesn't work. But are there ways resources that we can do, to prepare ourselves and to have other responses that come out of our compassion that help us be safe, help us live well, help us not perpetuate fear, not perpetuate fear, despair, or a sense of hopelessness with all this. And one of the reasons why to do this is to is to radiate from ourselves, hopefully a cultural change. So much of what's this, you know, the roots of violence in this country, as we see, it come of it comes from hate. Some of it like with this last one in the school shooting in Texas, this 18 year old who committed this horrendous killings, he was bullied, apparently had a stutter and a lisp, and other things and he had a mother who was a drug addict, and, and you probably had a very difficult life. You know, and bullying is horrible. Especially if you're already at home have a difficult life and no place of refuge. So the movements of bullying is not something to be taken lightly. I've had parents tell me that they went to the school to try to deal with the bullying of their child at school. And principals were not that interested in doing anything. But look what you know, we have to respond. But how do we respond kindly? What happens we've had correctional systems that, you know, put people in jail, and they become worse in jail than they were when they before they went in, because of how terribly disrespectfully they're treated. We don't call it bullying by the guards. But the guards can treat people horrendously. I met a man when I was in San Quentin, who had spent 24 years in solitary confinement. Can you believe that that's possible in this in California, state prison 24 years. And, and so you know, to protect, perpetuate, and the very system that's supposed to be a correctional system doesn't correct and makes things worse. So too, but what do we do, and what we do as Buddhist, among the many things you can do, but is to really appreciate and find a way to love certainly others but love non violence, love, not causing harm. Love it because it protects you. It protects the best that's in you. That protects something that's wonderful and beautiful and rich and and satisfying and and worth worth coming from away of that provides a meaningful life. That doesn't depend on things that which are relatively superficial, but comes in like from a heart that's full and satisfied or delighted and rich and to do this practice, not just to restrain from love, restraint, restraint from killing, but as the rest of the teaching goes.
To be certain kind of modesty dukkha They have exactly what that is, what kind of some kind of modesty, compassion and care for the welfare of everyone. The it's interesting that the Buddha's presented kind of an analysis of how rulers can care for people. It's an ancient myth that the Buddha, kind of, maybe he invented it, that he just composed it. But it evolved, the decay of society when the rulers do not care for everyone equally. And this is such an important idea that everyone should be treated equally, everyone should be given the same opportunities. And it's the role of the government to make sure that happens. And the way that this myth goes, is that there were a whole series of kings, hereditary kings, who were born and ruled for many years. And, and the custom was, they would always go when they first became king and get advice from wise people, from wise religious people and others. And then the teachings that they received was, was to live and to live by the dharma. And, and one of the ways that the dharma means outside of Buddhism, which is the meaning here, it means just justice, to live or to live to rule justly, to rule fairly, which I interpret to mean treating everyone equally giving everyone equal opportunities, which is still not the case in this country. And passage goes like this.
So these wise people will tell the king yourself depending on the dhamma, honoring it, reviewing it cherishing it and doing homage to it and venerating it has dharma as your badge and Banner, acknowledging the dhamma as your master, you should establish guard Ward and protect everyone, your household, your troops, your people. The every was a long list, including animals and birds. The first task of the rulers is to protect everyone. But this thing about the dhamma dharma is it's not isn't doesn't this in this context doesn't mean Buddhism. But it means kind of a natural law. It means justice and mean fear affairs and fairness. It's and so the the, the king is supposed to rule based on dhamma. Not on their own wishes, their own desires. You'll see this becomes important later. Let no non dharma prevail and your kingdom Nan dharma means injustice here. And all the different ways that can mean that no injustice prevail in your kingdom. And to those who have nothing, provide them. For those who don't have anything provide provide for them, provide for them property probably so that they can take care of themselves. And whatever religious people there are in your kingdom, who have renounced the life of sensual infatuation and are devoted to forbearance and gentleness each one taming themselves, each one, calming themselves and each one striving to the end of craving. it from time to time, they should come to you and consult you as to as to how they should come to you and consult you as to what is wholesome and what is unwholesome. Now, there was take advice from some of the people who do a lot of practice and have a whole different set of values. Don't consult with the people who manufacture assault rifles. consult with the Dalai Lama.
And EDD who can teach you those things that will, will in the long run, lead to welfare and happiness, not to harm and sorrow, you should listen to them. So this is the advice that King got. And so for many generations, that's what they did. Until one king kind of forgot to do that, for God to consult with him when he first became king. But finally, the ministers came and got him and said, You have to listen to this. So he heard this, this advice. And so he did start set up to guard and protect others. However, he did not care for the people who are in need. The people who had no property, did it the way of take care of themselves, he didn't provide them with property, so they could. And, and as a result, poverty became rife. With the spread of poverty, a person took what was not given, thus committing what was called theft. The king arrested them the person. And after a little short trial, the person admitted to having stolen it, the king gave him some property. Here, take care of yourself and your family this way. But the other people who are poor, that wow, that's all I have to do is steal, and then I'll get. So there's stealing began. And the king very quickly said, Wait a minute. This doesn't work, that people keep stealing. So instead, he, he killed them and punish them. And with punishment like that, then the people took up weapons themselves. And with weapons themselves, they started killing each other and other people. And so violence spread through the realm. And things society deteriorated dramatically. So this is a kind of a mythic story of origin. But the origin here the mythic story begins this decay of society begins when those who are ruling are not treating everyone equally, not giving everyone equal opportunity through property and something to to live and have a successful life. And so people become poor. And of course, when they're starving and they steal, and when they steal, then it's sort of a course that you sell that could be began with a good idea to give them something, but it was already too late. It set up a very strange dynamic where people other people started to steal and then violence and all that. So this spiral of violence, violence begets violence, as Martin Luther King said. non violence, does it beget non violence not harming does it be at non harming? I'm sure you could find situations where that's not the case. I'm sure you can find examples of where violence does not not beget violence. But the tendency is that non violence begets non violence. That non violence comes from this deep replace inside can come from this deeper place inside not from fear and non violence out of fear doesn't really work either. But can we find a place within? Can we clarify our hearts enough? So that we're in touch with something that's an inner wealth, an inner place of peace and satisfaction and inspiration. Where we feel we've resolved our wounds resolved our conflicts resolved are our fears and despairs it's possible to resolve them it's possible to settle. We should not succumb to the belief that how we see the world through fear how we see the world through despair and anger. How we see the world through greed or hatred gives us an accurate view of what The world is like it doesn't.
So if we seem to think that it's accurate, then we will only perpetuate that very view. It supports that view, the strength does it, but it's not accurate. There's the view of the world, through love that compassion is that a more accurate view. It doesn't have to be, that has its own problems sometimes. Especially if it's enforced like a surface thing, like I'm supposed to do this. Where I think really makes a huge difference is doing something like meditation that allows all the shoulds and all the kind of even like a lot of the structures of our thinking, to get quiet and peaceful, to resolve the challenges of our hearts, to get quiet in the heart, or peaceful in the heart. So that when do we, when we encounter the world, we're encountering it from this place inside or something resonates something different can happen. I don't know what's what I don't know all the different ways we will respond from the heart. But it'll be much healthier than responding from the surface, the reactive way. And so this, this to be inspired by the horrendous things that go on in our society, to change society, to find ways to promote non harming in our society, is one of the two great tasks of a life. But before we could do that, I think, to really do the work and ourselves there to find a way to be an exemplar. Have a life that's motivated by non fear, by non hatred, by non despair. Nod greed so that the most the most the most wonderous qualities of our heart, have a chance to be shared in the world that we live in. It's heartbreaking to have all this hatred and despair and anger and violence that goes on in this country. But in that heartbreak, don't despair. Use it as, as a powerful catalyst encouragement, to do your work, to do your practice, to resolve the issues of your heart, so that your heart can come forth beautiful response to what this world needs, and a response that's clearly and obviously one that never will harm anyone. Let's live in a world where non harming is understood to be one of the greatest gifts we can we can give. So thank you