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Treat the causes, not the symptoms
March 25th, 2015

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Treat the causes, not the symptoms

(…) a true religious person does not  ban 'desire' by inner will power or by outer pressure.
   Rather, it is due to a natural manifestation of Buddha-mind that life without possessions becomes a joy accompanying both activity for one’s own benefit and activity for the benefit of others.

   Since the majority of the monks and nuns that constitute the saṅgha  have not yet realized this, inner effort of will and vows and outer rules become necessary. Wherever there is coercion to conform to such rules, be it from the inside or the outside, there is bound to be hypocrisy and transgression.  From a historical point of view, too, it is clear how meaningless it is to try to eradicate this contradiction by systematic reform.
   There is only one way to completely transcend this contradiction, and that is by the joy of the monk’s and nun’s own self-awakened faith. If they ignore this joy of faith and attempt to preserve a saṅgha  that relies on some system, the saṅgha  will surely at some point perish. But even if that kind of saṅgha  perishes, the three treasures will not perish; just as the green leaves of spring sprout after the autumn leaves have been burnt, the Buddhadharma  will with certainty appear anew in a different form.
— Soko Morinaga

   The "true scotsman" fallacy (the "true religious person") is unlikely to convince, in particular followed by "the majority of the monks and nuns (…) have not yet realised this."
   But there remains an important point.

   "Letting go" or "non-attachment" —which is not  "indifference"— comes from dropping wrong views, dropping the fallacy that some object or another (e.g. money or sexual intimacy) is inherently pleasant, opening up to the context and inter-dependence (and co-dependent arising with the mind )… It does not  arise by force, by conflicts between imperatives or contradictory desires (e.g. worldly desires vs. spiritual desires), by replacing "clinging to objects" by "clinging to rules."
   And, all the same, out of seeing causality as it is, the wise being does  behave morally, does  appear to follow rules, does  refrain from blindly embodying impulses, is  able to engage in some activity but also able to stop at any moment (should the context evolve and require another form of engagement) without manifesting self-based inertia ("I started this, so I 'should' finish it")… Exceptions are freely considered, but not equated with a "carte blanche" (as if constraints didn't  matter, or as if potent consequences wouldn't unfold too!

   The precepts are 'conventional', sure, but they're also based on causality… They "tend to work" for the benefit of all (karma is about tendencies, so following precepts is naturally associated with wholesome karma).
   When you're about to break a precept, it acts as a helpful warning: « nothing inherently prevents you from ignoring this precept right now, but just be mindful again for a moment: are you confident that the wisest option at your disposal, in the present situation, is to trigger whatever will follow from your current intention? »
   Such a warning is to help you question your views! Views may cause suffering, by the consequences they tend to push forward… so views are to be thoroughly enquired into, without exception, and again, and more, as circumstances evolve. [A big trap for the practitioner lies in questioning 'everything' but only once… 'Crystallised' insights simply become new contextless views, i.e. 'prejudices'!]

   If you breach a precept, look for opportunities to re-center ( don't bind yourself to, or define yourself by, the breach —or whatever extreme you engaged in. Don't add a tainted view of your self on top of other views!
   We all made innumerable mistakes over numberless generations; what matters is that we don't voluntarily persist  in doing (more) mistakes! Intentions do matter, and we might as well be happy since we're here. So what wholesome intentions can we embody now?

   Food for thought: just like « leaving home » shouldn't be interpreted naïvely (, how do you understand « a life without possessions »?

#Buddhism #Dharma
The quote is an excerpt from
Unattributed photo (advert)