2021-06-16-The Dharmic Life (3 of 5) A Life of Non-Harming
12:27AM Jun 17, 2021
So this is the third talk now on living a dharmic life. So if you want to receive some of the benefits that could come from becoming a monastic living their true retreat center being on retreat a lot, where the whole life is kind of dedicated to the Dharma to practicing, if you want those benefits without doing those things, just to continue with your ordinary, everyday life, some offering different ways that you can maybe get quite a bit of this benefit. And a lot of it depends on how much you dedicate yourself to these simple practices of teaching. But simple doesn't mean they're not profound, or phenomenally impactful. So for this one, for today, I'd like to offer something that maybe is the only thing you really have to know about Buddhism. If you really live this idea, live this practice, live in this approach to life. If you do it well and thoroughly, that all of Buddhism kind of comes along and follows all the insights all the ways of growing spiritually and personally. Follow. And that is to be dedicated to causing no harm. That's it if you keep that with you. If you you know, if you had a ring made that was engraved, and no harm. So you really you remember it all the time, you know that this is really the heart of it, the center of it. And, you know, and that's all you did, was to live by that and become more and more refined and how you live that, that life more and more subtle and no harm in any direction to towards oneself to other people to the planet to the environment, to not cause any harm. And if that seems like too high a challenge and maybe impossible, then not causing any intentional harm, you know, willful harm, and, and at least start there. The So, I'm just not making this up for myself that there's an ancient teaching that the primary characteristic of the Dharma is in fact non harming. And the, in such a strong association with the Dharma is the idea of not causing harm. And the teachings we did gave in last few weeks, wholesomeness and unwholesomeness could be understood as non harming and harm, that what's unwholesome is, in some way or other defined by what causes vexations suffering stress on our system, and unto the world. And what is wholesome is that which does the opposite doesn't cause harm, doesn't cause the back of the cause of x day zation. And distress and stress. And, and the advantage of this one simple little thing, causing no harm, to use that as a, even if you're not, can't live up to it completely, to use that as a reference point, as a gauge, to really see much more clearly, than ever before, perhaps, that all the ways that you do cause harm. Now, not to harm yourself even more the way we live and dedicate ourselves to non harming, we do it in a way that's non harming, it doesn't work to dedicate oneself to non harming and do it in a way that's, you know, we set up to harm ourselves even more. So, but to but to use this gauge, this reference point of non harming so we can see much more clearly. You know, what we're going off and going wrong. I suspect because on on freeways, they have all these
lines for the lanes on the freeway, that those lines help us navigate and keep straight on the freeway. And, but if there were no lines, I think we'd be you know, swerving a little bit more moving back and forth further than we do. And so, the same way that this idea of principle of non harming is kind of like the lines that for life so a narrow lane We noticed much more carefully than when we're liable to kind of swerve too far in the direction of harming or, and I want to underscore a score again, both to ourselves and to others. And the so part of the function of this principle of non harming is becomes a mirror. So we see ourselves better. And then if we see ourselves really, honestly, to have the self honesty and see ourselves what that we were causing harm, then what then what do we do then? And I suspect that seeing this clearly, will naturally change what you'll want to do how you want to live your life, how you want to talk, or do what you what you want to do. It's when we don't see it so clearly, that we tend to go ahead and cause harm. So for example, with speech, which is mean speech, which is maybe spiteful or critical of someone angry at someone, we might even know that we're doing it, but we might justify it, you know, they deserve it. Or this is the way I'm trying to get my way or something. But if we remember that the principle is non harming, and then well, then we can have a explore this. What way is my statement I'm going to make to my friend. Where's the harm here? What kind of harm my causing? Am I harming myself? I'm a harvick harming our friendship, my friend. Is this something that I've been doing regularly? And what's the impact of it? And maybe, is there another alternative to take care of myself? I think that's what I'm doing. Can I figure out some way to take care of myself, without saying this harmful thing, the spiteful thing or something. And so that kind of reflection, reflective life is part of a dharmic life. It's not only about just showing up and being mindful as to in all situations, it's also being reflective. In the contemplating considering. And some of those considerations, sometimes are debates within ourselves and going back and forth. But if you have the referee the or the principle of non harming, as a reference point for those conversations, and yourself in the questioning and wondering, then maybe also you will come up with a question. What's the alternative to doing something harmful? Is there some way that I benefit more in some way that others benefit more? If? If I say this in a different way? And what does it take to say differently, maybe I need to learn new skills, skills. And then, you know, simple thing to point to these days is for some people is nonviolent communication techniques. But there's a whole slew of ways of speaking, that, that are not making statements about other people. So for example, that simple principle of making if statements, rather than use your statements, talking about what we're feeling, which doesn't mean saying, I feel that you're wrong, it means when you say x, I feel hurt or feel afraid. And, and so to find new ways of being in the world, that are maybe more intelligent, more creative, more innovative, then the ancient, primitive, simplistic way, reptilian way maybe of, of being aggressive or causing harm towards oneself and others. And then as we live by this one simple principle, not causing harm, to begin to appreciate what begins to bubble up into surface to appreciate
the peace that comes the ease that comes the calm that comes the the confidence that comes with not causing harm, the way we start feeling better for ourselves, and start appreciating that there is this, I think, I would think that in most people, there is a strong instinct to not cause harm. That's almost an instinct like, you know, pulling the hand off the hot stove. If, if we're quiet, mindful enough to really be sensitive to where that instinct lives in us. And we're not so sensitive. When the unwholesome mind that spinning and angry and frayed and desirous greedy, if that gets the upper hand, and we're claustrophobic with these thoughts and ideas, and And preoccupations, and that, that then there's no space to feel this wonderful place. That's I think, in most people, this wonderful place that really doesn't want to cause harm. And one of the reference points for this ideal so is, is the idea that, if you have, you know, for many of us, if you have a young child, or grandchild, or niece or nephew, or a neighbor or something, who's quite young, maybe still a baby, how much we don't want to cause harm, how much care we would do, and to not cause any harm there, and to people we love and and if we have it there, the idea in Buddhist practice is to begin universalizing it is to spread it out to all beings that we see that not exactly that their family, but as if their family, we don't want to cause harm for them. And one of the important family members for this whole enterprise is yourself. And I can't underscore how important it is not to cause harm to oneself. And so if someone comes and criticizes you for anything at all, watch yourself carefully there, to see what your inner responses and see if there's some way in which you respond, that you're actually causing self harm to yourself. If you're too quick to apologize, if you're too quick to be critical of yourself and to diminish yourself and, and kind of confess, you know, like, Oh, what a terrible person I am. The extent that that's not done wisely and carefully, we end up hurting ourselves. And sometimes we do it intentionally. Because if we show other people that we're hurting ourselves and feeling really bad, then we more likely think that they believe us or that they're, they see that they're having an impact that they want to have on us, which is actually to make sure that to put us us in our place. But what exactly does it mean to cause harm to oneself? And is it necessary? Can there be a confession of fault? Can there be admission of the SI did something wrong? Where where we don't diminish ourselves? We don't belittle ourselves, we don't harm ourselves. And in fact, maybe we can learn how to confidently say, Yes, I apologize when necessary. Fully And clearly, with, with a certain kind of strength, say I made a mistake. And I'm not going to I'm going to try my best not to do that, again, I'm so sorry. How can I make amends? What can I do for you or, but do it from a place where we're not diminished or harming ourselves. So in all directions, non harm. And I'll repeat what I said at the beginning, because I feel it's such an important point that I kind of, I believe that if this if you hold on to this one principle, this idea, you'd really don't have to believe anything else that Buddhism teaches. You don't have to hold on to anything, you don't have to learn all kinds of complicated practices. But you want to really become refined and subtle with it. And if you do that, then a nice easy chair and close your eyes, you'll then begin going through layers and layers of discovering how the you know, there's subtle movements of harm in the mind itself, quietly within, and begin releasing them and releasing them releasing them. And even to the point where the word harm
is not quite the right word anymore. Maybe, but rather, the word is stress. That we're also learned to not adds any stress. And in deep meditation practice, that we see the subtle, you know, an ordinary life insignificant, but in meditation, quite significant ways in which we self harm in that are really, we see as forms of stress, tension, and just that we can let go of them, let go of them of go them to that place of safety, that place of peace, that place where we can live breathing, safe and free from all tendencies to harm so thank you.