face6ccbe50eda85e9b31ad9ecac5912The covetous delight in things.

The ambitious are pleased by flattery.

The ignorant rejoice at meeting another fool.

The virtuous exult at hearing the truth.

—Sakya Pandita

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“Here He Goes Again…”

17992325_420630691644418_7444085101279218524_nSome people ask why it is that I advocate so frequently and insistently on universal radical compassion, especially toward non-human animals.

They are of the opinion that a Buddhist monk should concentrate his efforts on sharing a “broader and higher” view of the Dharma, instead of pointing repeatedly to the cruelty that humans inflict on animals by enslaving, torturing, experimenting, exhibiting, killing, and consuming their flesh, skin, feathers, products, and secretions.

Although these persons consider that there are more important topics to discuss in Buddhism, and that I should focus on proclaiming a “more inclusive” Dharma, the Eightfold Noble Path is not a cafeteria discipline, where each person selects that which is to his liking and discards the rest.

The Buddha Shakyamuni instructs us:

“Knowing the fruit of causal effects of any action, the wise gains complete understanding of dependent origination and sees all action as it really is. By action are all phenomena determined, by action the world goes on, and by action, the beings go on. Beings are bounded, conditioned, and created by their behavior. By self-taming, by self-control, and by living the moral life, only by this supremely pure state do they become noble. […]

“And what is right action? Abstaining from taking life, abstaining from stealing, abstaining from sexual misconduct. This is called right action.”

The exploitation of non-human animals violates these precepts of Right Conduct, whether through depriving them of life, appropriating their secretions and products, or artificially breeding them for our benefit.

Animal exploitation impedes spiritual cultivation. Shabkar Tsodruk Rangdol states categorically:

“Eating meat, at the cost of great suffering for animals, is unacceptable. If, bereft of compassion and wisdom, you eat meat, you have turned your back on liberation. The Buddha said, ‘The eating of meat annihilates the seed of compassion’.”

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Away From Home

sammar-planes-hogarThe usual has a way of becoming reified as well as invisible. Like fish in water, when we are home we do not see our surroundings for what they are, and we come to believe that this is what reality is truly like. We do not question the norm.

Leaving home forces us to look at the environment more critically, and we start to realize that what we thought was natural is merely conventional —it is just what happens habitually in that specific place we call home.

Dharma teachings recommend leaving home, but it need not be taken literally. Leaving home is fundamentally developing a mind that questions the reality of habitual perceptions and recognizes the difference between what is natural and what is merely normal.

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No Guilt

Dorje2Whenever we become aware of having performed an unskillful act, regret is beneficial and necessary. It is the first of the ‘four powers’ of purification (regret, reliance, resolve, reparation).

Regret is defined as the realization that negative acts produce negative effects, and that no lasting advantage can be gained from them.

The traditional image associated with regret is that of becoming aware of having swallowed poison: we feel a strong motivation to do whatever may be necessary to expel it and counter its effects.

Regret is not guilt. It is the urgent motivation to undo the harm we have caused others and ourselves.

Guilt is self-condemnation. It is impotent, self-indulgent, and produces the desire to hide, dissimulate, and obfuscate.

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Past, Present, Future

8. VasubandhuWhat is in the past is already destroyed.

What is in the future has not yet arrived.

What is in the present does not abide.

Although we contemplate in this manner the production, destruction, scattering, and demolition of phenomena, we nonetheless remain constant in the accumulation of the roots of virtue and wisdom leading to enlightenment.

This is what is meant by skillful means in contemplating the three periods of time.


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wpid-taranatha-e5a49ae7bd97e982a3e4bb96e5a4a7e5b888-5-jpgAll of the suffering in the three lower realms and the two higher realms does not arise without causes and conditions. The cause is non-virtuous actions.

Although there are various enumerations of non-virtuous acts, the principal ones to be abandoned are summarized as ten.

The three non-virtuous actions of the body are depriving others of life, taking what is not given, and engaging in sexual misconduct.

The four non-virtuous actions of speech are to tell lies, to slander, to speak harsh words, and engage in idle talk[i].

The three non-virtuous actions of mind are covetousness, malice, and wrong view[ii].

I should strive to abandon all thoughts and actions related to them,

and definitely give up these ten.

―Jetsun Taranatha

[i] Idle talk includes any speech motivated by afflicted emotions, such as insinuation and flattery; needlessly conversing about mundane topics (politics, war, sex, and others’ business); frivolous singing and joking; and expressing distorted views.
[ii] Wrong view specifically refers to denying (1) the relation between cause and effect, (2) past and future lives, and (3) the Three Jewels.
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Views and Beliefs

images (9)The various Buddhist views of reality are not competing with or refuting each other.

They are indispensable at various times, and for different persons. They are necessary while helpful.

There is an orderly progression, from Vaibhasika realism, through Sautrantika subtle realism, and Madhyamika self-emptiness, to the realization of Maha Madhyamika other-emptiness. 

If we grasp at these stages as “The Truth”, we lose the view, and become attached to a blind belief.

tadyatha om gate gate paragate parasamgate bodhi svaha

OM, it is thus: Gone, gone, gone beyond, gone perfectly beyond, to enlightenment!

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