A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Archive for the month “October, 2011”

Natural or Man made disasters

In comparing western doomsday predictions to a Buddhist view point, there is common ground. Both state the disasters or according to some views, Armageddon is the result of man’s evil actions. The difference is the western view point these are preordained, whereas the Buddhist view is they can be avoided or at least mitigated by right thought, right speech and right action. If we look at some of the so called natural disasters that have occurred in the world, we see the Buddhist view fits with scientific observation.  The nuclear disaster in Japan, was initiated by an earthquake and following Tsunami. However the lack of proper planning to have cooling water available, even if the power is out was the action of men. In some peoples view  current flooding in parts of Thailand because of heavy rainfall, have been made worse because of clear-cutting and over harvesting of trees up river. We have no control over the rain, Buddha told us there are natural disasters, and he also then explained that if we do not prepare for these we will pay a higher price. I am not an expert, but have seen the rain run through an area that was clear cut, and watched as the water carved the topsoil away, till it reached the harder surface below which allowed it to continue towards the river unabated. Threes have large roots that help hold the soil together, without the tree roots, smaller bushes and plants roots do not have the strength to withstand the rushing water. We must be careful stewards of the resources we have, use them wisely, and leave some for future generations. Today’s Green Movement around the world is sometimes called an attack on western values, for attacking corporate profits. Buddha pointed out that money gained through right livelihood then used correctly is good. Profit that does not leave a fair share for tomorrow, or provide safeguards against damage surely cannot be right livelihood.

Knowing is not the same as doing

In video track one; Venerable Master Chin Kung gives a clear explanation between the Catholic version of soul and Dharma-nature. It has to do with our minds distinctions from discriminatory thoughts. As a friend who I am proud to call my teacher says: We walk through our life with a filter that changes how we perceive what we are watching. Change the filter and the scene changes accordingly. He uses a visual representation of a rectangle made by holding his hands together with forefingers and thumbs extended to form a rectangle wen held together, and looking through this filter. Truth in knowledge is the same regardless of the source, except when we place distinctions on it. It is not how we gain the knowledge that is important, but rather how we implement the teachings. If we follow the Five Precepts and the Ten Good Conducts we are on the right path. A Christian who knows the Ten Commandments but does not follow them is no different than a Buddhist who knows the Five Precepts and Ten Good Conducts but ignores them in his daily life.

Teaching from those who are not a Buddha

I have started to watch Treatise on Response & Retribution by Venerable Master Chin Kung.  This video cd is from Amitabha Buddhist Association of New South Wales Inc. and is freely distributed.  It is a collection of half hour lectures that were originally produced by the Amitabha Buddhist Society in Singapore. As this is based on a Taoist text rather than a Buddhist sutra, the Lao Tsu reference yesterday was a pleasant and unexpected lead in. I posted yesterday’s entry just before I started watching the video. There is a saying in Buddhism, “Any teachings told by completely enlightened people are perfect and complete.” That it does not come from Buddha but is a worldly teaching is ok, as the only difference is the distinction we make in our minds. Knowledge that helps us along the path to enlightenment is either worldly or from Buddha in our minds, and how we perceive things here in the three realms. The Treatise on Response & Retribution is about the principle or Law of Cause and Effect. Plant bad seeds = bad results, plant good seeds = good results. What seeds do we plant with each thought, speech or action? The paper on Liao-Fan’s Four Lessons mentioned in the video may be freely obtained at http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/liaofan.pdf

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