A Robert Johnson crossroads dilemma, perhaps, has been reached or may soon come for many that could result in a slipping back into the reestablishment of our habitual definition of community as “us” and “them” or “it”. A definition fed by decades of illusionary support and planetary sustenance. Or it could lead onto an entirely different path. A path that is unknown and feels difficult and scary, but when done as a community may result in worldwide rewards. Like a flock of birds can we turn in mass in the direction of the “World of We”? Let’s take flight and gather in our common unity, hold on tightly, and lean into it time and time again.
The Abrahamic faiths as well as Buddhism offer ethical guidelines for how to attain their respective goals – whether it be intimacy with God or Awakening. The Hebrew Bible talks about, among other things, Commandments. But just the word, “Commandment” can be problematic if we have not properly developed our ability to choose from an early age, prior to understanding right from wrong. The 10 Commandments are really an advanced kind of practice, in my view, once an understanding of choice has been well established. If choice has not been well established during youth, in other words if a young person is consistently denied opportunities to make choices, or even consistently given things that they would never choose, then that person will not be prepared to even consider living by the 10 Commandments. I think the same can be said of the Buddhist precepts. The flip side of this is that – considering that the mental factor of choice has not been well developed – then precepts or “commandments” will most likely be followed blindly without the ability to question them.
Sangha member, Keith Knapp, has offered his musings on what it means to “self isolate”. Keith’s blog post recently appeared in Prairiewoods Franciscan Spirituality Center. Please join me in welcoming him to this blog.
Today, we see and hear the searing pain and anger of Black people, who have endured centuries of oppression in the United States and who, as a community, continue to suffer acts of violence and discrimination, including at the hands of law enforcement. We grieve the disproportionate number of people of color who have died of the coronavirus, and see that many people of color performing essential functions of society are undervalued and oppressed economically.
Is it ever okay to hit your child? If so, what are the reasons that parents do this? If not, what can support a parent in choosing not to use physical punishment on their child?
A prejudice mind is one that is experiencing fluctuations. It is the opposite of steady. When our mind is not steady, we know we are not seeing reality as it is. But this insight into our fluctuating mind only comes if we have a practice well established. Otherwise, we filter what we perceive through our confused senses as reality. We think what we are seeing is real, when in fact we are mistaking a distortion for reality.
Not every teaching the Buddha gave had universal application. Some of it was meant only for certain people, and in certain times. The Buddha was primarily concerned with helping others to wake up to the reality of suffering and in providing practitioners with the means to liberate themselves from suffering. All of the stories in the Pali Cannon were offered on specific occasions and at specific times and were in response to the needs of individuals or the community at that time.
What’s the way out of the pleasure/pain torment we find ourselves constantly navigating? Buddha suggests not just meditation.
I was struggling with the fact that altars in my mind always had crosses on them, not Buddhas. When I approached altars in church, it was a sacred event, and it was almost always to receive the Eucharist from a priest, and to say a prayer to Jesus. Would God punish me for getting this close to a Buddha statue and a Buddhist priest? When I look back on this event today, it’s a totally ridiculous question to me now, but at that moment my fears were real and stemmed from teachings about not worshiping idols.
At Mount Equity Zendo there were two very old pear trees. These were not the kind of pears you found in the grocery store. They fell off the trees and were quite hard. Because of the shed, consisting of a tin roof, that was right beneath them, when they fell they made quite a bang.