Sunday, May 15, 2011

Do Not Cling To Views - The Simile of The Raft to Get to The Other Side

The Raft

"I shall show you, monks, the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to. Listen, monks, and heed well what I shall say" — "Yes, Lord," replied the monks. and the Blessed One spoke thus:

"Suppose, monks, there is a man journeying on a road and he sees a vast expanse of water of which this shore is perilous and fearful, while the other shore is safe and free from danger. But there is no boat for crossing nor is there a bridge for going over from this side to the other. So the man thinks: 'This is a vast expanse of water; and this shore is perilous and fearful, but the other shore is safe and free from danger. There is, however, no boat here for crossing, nor a bridge for going over from this side to the other. Suppose I gather reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and bind them into a raft.' Now that man collects reeds, sticks, branches and foliage, and binds them into a raft. Carried by that raft, laboring with hands and feet, he safely crosses over to the other shore. Having crossed and arrived at the other shore, he thinks: 'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore. Should I not lift this raft on my head or put it on my shoulders, and go where I like?' "

"What do you think about it, O monks? Will this man by acting thus, do what should be done with a raft?" — "No, Lord" — "How then, monks, would he be doing what ought to be done with a raft? Here, monks, having got across and arrived at the other shore, the man thinks: 'This raft, indeed, has been very helpful to me. Carried by it, and laboring with hands and feet, I got safely across to the other shore. Should I not pull it up now to the dry land or let it float in the water, and then go as I please?' By acting thus, monks, would that man do what should be done with a raft?"

"In the same way, monks, have I shown to you the Teaching's similitude to a raft: as having the purpose of crossing over, not the purpose of being clung to."

"You, O monks, who understand the Teaching's similitude to a raft, you should let go even (good) teachings, how much more false ones!"

Note: For free distribution. This work may be republished, reformatted, reprinted, and redistributed in any medium. It is the author's wish, however, that any such republication and redistribution be made available to the public on a free and unrestricted basis and that translations and other derivative works be clearly marked as such.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Take a Minute and Think

If I assumed the role of a disabled person living within the confines of the Judeo-Christian thinking, I would be upset with myself most of the time. To live life saddled with the idea that I deserve to be crippled, that I deserve whatever some spook in the sky wants to grant me as a life condition and no more, then I would be in a wheel chair and on morphine for the rest of my life. That isn't me. The idea that because someone ate an apple in a garden when the first people were created, then, I am born into sin and misery for the rest of my life, as a punishment for being human, doesn't sit well with me. For me to say merely that I am a sinner is a great way of casting off responsibility for my own actions, but that doesn't seem like I am trying to learn or develop and actually speaks highly for those who are dying of alcoholism and addiction since they are poor sinners who can't help themselves. This doesn't deal with the fact that some people have a moral code and stick with it without being given a book full or guilt ridden ideas that "kind of" similate a parable of right and wrong in parts. If people could decide on which part of the parables that are parables and not try to act like all the stories are a history of ancient times, then, we could all agree.
Religion was early man's way of describing what science and nature were doing all around him, devoid of education or verification of any facts. He made things up that he was comfortable with and that was how it went. ALL RELIGIONS CONTAIN MYTHOLOGY. These have been taken to the point of being treated as empirical (provable or verifiable by experience or experiment) views. That has created wars and arguments. The fact that any statement that isn't qualified is enough to start an argument over ambiguity should lead us to understand that a parable that isn't qualified should also be considered capable of creating an ambiguitous argument. I am not saying that anyone is wrong for having faith in something that makes you feel good, I am just saying that if you take it to the point that you would kill or die over something you have no evidence of, then, you have started a war in the same manner some of our own governing officials seem to constantly do. When we asked after the nine eleven attack, "WHY would someone want to attack us on our own soil like that?", we were asking two things. 1) "Who would want to attack the land of the free, home of the brave, and the greatest ideology seeking nation in the world?" and 2)"Who, after all these years after Pearl Harbor, would be insane enough to attack us in our own country where our innocent citizens live?".
The immediate reaction from the then Bush White House was the statement that,"They hate us because we (Remember we are talking about a politician who lives not only in the United States, but in it's capital, Washington, D.C.) are Christian and we are White." I wanted to scream at that person, "Do you ever look outside your window?" Not only is Washington, D.C. more populated with African Americans than most any other state in the United States, the Bin Laden Group is right across the street from the White House. BUT, that sort of short thinking and ignorant bliss is exactly why we found ourselves in three wars over whose mythology we choose to believe. No one in the United States government wants you to know this but Bin Laden had put out a video tape, while in exile, of himself making a statement in Arabic, that said when our Seventh Fleet shelled Beruit, he had been there and saw the two sky scrapers in downtown Beruit burning and falling and said to himself, "I know another twin towers that needs to be destroyed." Our foreign policies of backing the Israelis over and over has cost us a few problems. All of
these, once again, are over religious differences. One can try to put a different light on it, but under it all, the ideology of Capitalism and Christianity rules all and is considered the "ONLY" kind of civilization that is considered "REALLY CIVILIZED" has got to either stop or we should expect more retalliation, as we try to change the rest of the world to suit us.
I am today a Buddhist by choice, not by the religion thrust upon me as a child, as I can see that they don't thrust their religion on anyone. They lead by example and are quite outspoken and activist, but don't force you to believe their doctrine, because part of their doctrine is to allow for and adapt to, change. Thich Nhat Hanh, the Zen monk, author, and peace activist developed the Order of Interbeing and I am now seeking this way to look at my life. It includes meditation and fourteen mindfulness trainings. The first three are significant here:

"...1. The First Mindfulness Training: Openness
Aware of the suffering created by fanaticism and intolerance, we are determined not to be idolatrous about or bound to any doctrine, theory, or ideology, even Buddhist ones. Buddhist teachings are guiding means to help us learn to look deeply and to develop our understanding and compassion. They are not doctrines to fight, kill, or die for.

2. The Second Mindfulness Training: Nonattachment from Views Aware of the suffering created by attachment to views and wrong perceptions, we are determined to avoid being narrow-minded and bound to present views. We shall learn and practice nonattachment from views in order to be
open to others' insights and experiences. We are aware that the knowledge we presently possess is not changeless, absolute truth. Truth is found in life, and we will observe life within and around us in every moment, ready to learn throughout our lives.

3. The Third Mindfulness Training: Freedom of Thought Aware of the suffering brought about when we impose our views on others, we are committed not to force others, even our children, by any means whatsoever - such as authority, threat, money, propaganda, or indoctrination - to adopt our views. We will respect the right of others to be different and to choose what to believe and how to decide. We will, however, help others renounce fanaticism and narrowness through practicing deeply and engaging in compassionate dialogue."

Cite: < > The mindfulness bell, The fourteen mindfulness trainings by Thich Nhat Hanh.