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June 23rd, 2013

10:07 pm - Rahula and the Mirror.
"What do you think, Rahula: What is a mirror for?"

"For reflection, sir."

Reflection of what?Collapse )

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

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June 20th, 2013

08:15 am - A Buddhist Solution to the Mind-Body Problem.

As René Descartes put it, "cogito ergo sum." Popularly translated as, "I think, therefore, I am," it established, in Western thinking, a solid philosophical grounding for the actuality of being. At a basic level, the very act of doubting whether or not one exists is proof enough of that existence, at least in a provisional sense (more on that later) as "doubting" can only be done by someone who exists.

Though we have proven consciousness in an axiomatic way, the problem arises when considering the relationship between the brain and consciousness. There are two horns of this problem. In the following blog entry, I'd like to explain the Buddhist explanation of consciousness and in doing so, attempt a solution to a problem that has vexed many thinkers for years.

Read on for moreCollapse )

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

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June 18th, 2013

11:54 am - A link for you all.
How is everyone today? I'm stuck at home waiting for maintenance to pop in and fix my air-conditioning (hooray for summer in TX. Two years running so far at this complex), so I thought I'd post something light and humorous.

The Ten Funniest Scenes in the Pali Canon

One my favorites sadly isn't on this list: Sutta Nipata 1.2 which to me demonstrates the Buddha's incomparable discrimination of language.

You guys? Any favorite funny ones?

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June 17th, 2013

05:20 pm - On Ecumenicalism.
While reading through the introduction to a treatise on the paramis, translated by Bodhi (wheel 409), I was struck once again by the utter and irrefutable compatibility of mahayana and theravada. I'll admit that I'm at a loss to explain why I find the theravada canon preferable to the Bodhisattayana. A personal thing, I suppose. I'll admit my background in literature, that is, interest in textual criticism, philology and such has, in all probability, shaded my opinion in this matter. Though it is as a result of that ability to examine things that I've come to my current ecumenical conclusion.

The Buddha walks up to a hotdog vendorCollapse )

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

*1, Mogharaja's question. ATI has it as v.15, but my trans by KRN gives it as 5.16
*2, SN 22.45, SN 22.7-9, emptiness is also mentioned 7x in mn, 4x in sn, 8x in an, and many times in snp of kn. see note 1
*3, Bv II
*4, Remember, in MN 41 as elsewhere, one of the wrong kinds of view is that Buddhas do not exist, not just in our time, but in all places and in all eons.

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10:47 am - Discussion question.
Is it permissible to tell a lie to save a life?

Remember: Iti 1.25 says

This was said by the Blessed One, said by the Arahant, so I have heard: "For the person who transgresses in one thing, I tell you, there is no evil deed that is not to be done. Which one thing? This: telling a deliberate lie."

The person who lies,
who transgress in this one thing,
transcending concern for the world beyond:
there's no evil
he might not do.

And lying is also mentioned in the dhammapada (246).

However, in the vinaya, an offense of lying is considered by who told the lie to whom, for what reason, and what was gained.

Your thoughts?

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June 16th, 2013

10:17 pm - Nekkhama - renunciation.
Recently, I've been in contact with some of the local Mormons. There are two of them: an Elder Cruz, an immigrant from Mexico, and his companion in the holy life, the serene Elder Nichols. Their presence, though we disagree of course on fundamental points of doctrine, is a comforting affirmation of the call to renunciation present in many philosophies and all the great religions of the world. Further, I am reminded of the Buddha's teaching to treat all renunciants with compassion at Anguttara Nikaya 8.12.

Here we arrive at what I hope will be a good theme for reflection: renunciation.

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May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

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03:10 pm - Thoughts on Buddhism and eating vegetarian.
This topic has been done to death, I know, but it's still a valuable and fruiful topic of conversation.

Here are my thoughts, inspired by Bhikkhu Aggacitto's post on the subject.


Should a Buddhist be Vegetarian?

This is a topic of great frustration to me. It has easy answers, but no easy answers. If it seems to ramble, that's due more to me thinking out loud than anything else.

First, I am a vegetarian solely out of compassion for animals. Yes, I understand that somewhere along the line, something died. That cannot be prevented, but just because some death is inevitable does not justify casting aside good intentions. Since Buddhist ethics could be said to be consequentialist in nature (I put the welfare of others as my first priority after taking care of myself).

With that out of the way, when people ask me why I'm a vegetarian, I tell them the truth. I say, "It's a religious thing." No need to hem and haw. Most people don't have any follow up questions.

At times, I feel like that's a disappointment as this is also a troubling issue for me given my familiarity with the Pali canon. When it comes to the eating of meat, it can be said that this much is unavoidably apparent: it is not wrong, in and of itself, to eat meat. The sutta nipata (239-252) makes it clear that meat is not tainted fare. the majjhima nikaya (55.5) specifies that the only things that make meat unclean is the slaughtering of it for you specifically. And in the anguttara (5.127) this sort of clinging is identified with a special kind of suffering for a bhikkhu.

It should be obvious that my knowledge of these verses came from a curiosity to know what the proper ethical approach should be given my overriding concern. I'll admit that if someone were to accuse me of clinging, I'd be shaken by such criticisms given what I've just shared. However, as I'm always quick to remind in the lectures I've given in the group, that much of the suttas were delivered to monks and should be understood in that context.

Nevertheless, I think anyone who is not a monk should give it serious consideration as the consumption of meat is out of control in this country. Studies have shown that the diet of the average person is awful for them. Over-consumption of meat and cheese is the main culprit.

Perhaps it would be better to practice simple moderation in eating, another subject mentioned many times, but I think moderation refers not just to the amount and the type, some meats are forbidden in the vinaya - among them dogs and hyenas, but in the way one engages with food. Let me point out that every carnivore I've ever spoken to has said they eat it for the flavor. Rather, I've been told by all of them that they couldn't give it up for the flavor. Think about the simile of the son's flesh in samyutta nikaya 12.63.

For me there is no good argument for the consumption of meat in modern society. Let me say that again; let me say it with as little ambiguity as I can muster: the historical and continued existence of healthy vegetarians is an undefeatable point against virtually every argument for the consumption of meat even at a utilitarian level. There are some people who need it. I'm not going to deny that. There are some cultures that cannot live without it. I'm not going to deny that, either. Chances are, you are in neither of those situations. If one has the ability to act with volitional agency in this manner, I think that it is morally incumbent upon one to do so.

That being said, I feel it's necessary to quote the good bhikkhu here, "Some are, some aren't. From the Theravada perspective, the choice of whether or not to eat meat is purely a matter of personal preference. Many Buddhists (and, of course, non-Buddhists) do eventually lose their appetite for meat out of compassion for the welfare of other living creatures. But vegetarianism is not required in order to follow the Buddha's path."

May all beings be happy and free from suffering.

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May 6th, 2013

06:57 am - New to Buddhism
Hi all!
I'm newly researching/discovering Buddhism and am wondering if any of you can direct me where to go. I have found a free audiobook on iPhone with Buddhist readings and a free podcast for mindfulness of breath meditation but wonder if any of you have further recommendations?

Brad. In Cabot.

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April 16th, 2013

01:24 pm - Meditation on the Boston Tragedy
It always highlights the limitations in my progress as a "baby" Buddhist when these horrendous things like Newtown and the Boston Marathon bombing occur.  I feel so much anger towards the people that are capable of inflicting so much senseless harm and suffering on others: children, people they don't even know.  It is almost impossible sometimes for me to find any compassion in my heart for the instigators.  I do not like holding that kind of hate in my heart for anyone: I know it's very toxic, and it accomplishes nothing but to poison me.. (It's not helping me that today is the anniversary of the VA Tech shootings, an incident that was particularly close to home for me..)  I think to a certain extent, the emotional impact of all of these kind of violent events on our psyches can be cumulative:  as these things keep happening, we either get a little more angry each time, or we get a little more burned-out and numb inside, neither of which is healthy.

Lodro Rinzler, who if you don't already know, is the author of a wonderful book (one of my favorites) titled  "The Buddha Walks into a Bar - A Guide to Life for a New Generation," as well as a great blog on Huffington Post,  where he often poses theoretical "What Would Sid (as in Siddhartha) Do?" speculations about issues that arise for Buddhists living in the modern world - often dealing with things like sex, drinking, dating (all of which, I might add, he is in favor of, within moderation, unless you are a monk or an addict.)  He has a great sense of humor, a fine grounding in and grasp of Buddhist canon, and a great way of making it much less esoteric and more accessible to those of us (like me) that are not quite ready to dive headfirst into the more mind-twisting, heavier aspects of Buddhism.

Anyway, he posted a great article on his HuffPo blog today, titled "A Buddhist Meditation Practice for the Boston Marathon Tragedy." http://www.huffingtonpost.com/lodro-rinzler/a-buddhist-meditation-practice-for-the-boston-marathon-tragedy_b_3088724.html?utm_source=Alert-blogger&utm_medium=email&utm_campaign=Email%2BNotifications It's well worth taking a look at, I think, especially if (like me) you are having a hard time processing the whole thing.  It's also basically an excellent sort of "boilerplate" for how to meditate in the face of all such senseless tragedies, and it certainly seems like there's a never-ending stream of them in the last ten or fifteen years. I think his ideas are very useful, even if you are not a practitioner of Buddhist meditation, to help face these kinds of events and get through them, and hopefully head off some of that ever-increasing anger or creeping numbness.  I'm going to give it a try, at any rate. As my dad used to say, "it couldn't hurt!"

I wish you all equanimity, peace, and healing, to both everyone here on our LJ community, and to all those affected by the events in Boston.

(cross-posted to my LJ journal and buddhistgroup community)
Current Mood: melancholymelancholy

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April 15th, 2013

12:34 pm - help with transgender meditation
I could use a mindfulness program specifically designed for gender acceptance, specifically to help me with urges and help me accept them in a healthy way. Any suggestions either for visualization or for conventional mindfulness?

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