Friday, January 08, 2010

Not unBuddhist: Not being a doormat

Nathan at Dangerous Harvests asks a good question about the Brit Hume/Tiger Woods affair (thanks again Kyle), and it's basically whether or not this whole thing is being blown out of proportion.

Think of any domestic dispute, fight between friends or strangers, or even some international conflicts. When you look at that which sparked the eruption, it's often pretty trivial...

We fail to write a lot about on going issues like those Marcus rightly pointed to [re: crises, though I disagree with a few things], and yet we can fill volumes and volumes about Brit Hume, our "asshole" neighbor, Bill Harris, and other such story lines. It's not that the latter shouldn't be commented on, but the level of intensity around them tends to be inflated, whereas we struggle to maintain an appropriate level of intensity around issues that should have such attention, like the continued oppression of millions of people in Burma.

It is true indeed that there are indeed crises far bigger than the ones we often encounter on a daily basis. It is also true that the things we encounter on a daily basis, if not addressed, can have a corrosive effect on us and those around us, and do need to be addressed mindfully and compassionately.

Vowing to overcome the 3 Poisons is not a vow to be a doormat, but rather an outlook, sometimes difficult to execute, that involves not poisoning others as well as not being Poisoned yourself, and sometimes that involves taking a stand. It involves risk, but unless you, yourself, are in a situation that is not fraught with abuse and neglect and other by-products of the Poisons, you will continue in dukkha. The aid workers must be fed before the starving masses or else no one will be fed. One cannot be a starving aid worker. You cannot help the Poisoned if you, yourself are hopelessly intoxicated, and if you do try to help the Poisoned in such circumstances the effects of the Poison can be pretty strong on all Poisoned!

Even if you are not Poisoned, you cannot help the Poisoned and not expect from time to time that there will be a reaction observed due to the Poison. They've been Poisoned, what do you expect?

And still you have to help, compassionately, with loving kindness. And with that in mind, let's go to the Metta Sutta from Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

This is to be done by one skilled in aims who wants to break through to the state of peace: Be capable, upright, & straightforward, easy to instruct, gentle, & not conceited, content & easy to support, with few duties, living lightly, with peaceful faculties, masterful, modest, & no greed for supporters. Do not do the slightest thing that the wise would later censure. Think: Happy, at rest, may all beings be happy at heart. Whatever beings there may be, weak or strong, without exception, long, large, middling, short, subtle, blatant, seen & unseen, near & far, born & seeking birth: May all beings be happy at heart. Let no one deceive another or despise anyone anywhere, or through anger or irritation wish for another to suffer. As a mother would risk her life to protect her child, her only child, even so should one cultivate a limitless heart with regard to all beings. With good will for the entire cosmos, cultivate a limitless heart: Above, below, & all around, unobstructed, without enmity or hate. Whether standing, walking, sitting, or lying down, as long as one is alert, one should be resolved on this mindfulness. This is called a sublime abiding here & now. Not taken with views, but virtuous & consummate in vision, having subdued desire for sensual pleasures, one never again will lie in the womb.

And if Poisons come to mind, note the thought, resume the practice...

1 comment:

Buddhist_philosopher said...

well put! I appreciate that wise people stood up and corrected Mr. Hume and that the ignorance about Buddhism and forgiveness was dispelled, but I think that was enough. Back to metta :)