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What is Zen.
Wu Bong Sa Autumn 2013
At the End of the Road in the Garden
Home where whole Europe’s Don’t know was born:
Deep, deep Silence inside green trees, songs of birds, dance of squirrels
Paid by all Colours of Pain
Thousands of hours up and down looking for this very moment
Deep silence slowly swallows and digests Everybody
Great hope for many in the Future
Where does this Clear, deep silence come from?
Where will it go?
Colourful leaves moving by Golden Autumn Wind warming up and feeding the Earth
Ja An/Bogumila MALINOWSKA
Ethics: In Order to Help
Ja An JDPSN (Bogumila Malinowska)
The sila (ethics) paramita is not separate from the other
paramitas; in fact, all paramitas support each other.
In Buddhist practice we often hear about a Middle
Way, staying between extremes. This goes back to the
story of the historical Buddha. In his pursuit of enlightenment,
the young Prince Siddhartha gave up a life of pleasure
and took up a life of extreme asceticism. He fasted
nearly to the point of death. Eventually he realized that
his correct path actually was between these extremes of
self-indulgence and self-denial.
This example shows us that we should take care not to
become too rigidly attached to precepts. Attachment to
rules can obscure the larger purpose of morality, which is
benevolent care for others. Focusing only on the rules can
hinder rather than help. We see how this hindrance is a
danger in our modern life. It is very clear it can become a
cause of many conflicts in the family, in communities and
among countries. Blind attachment to the rules can ruin
the whole world.
Buddhism—and Zen particularly—encourages us to
respond with compassion to the suffering in front of us.
And sometimes, that requires breaking rules. Buddhism
teaches that our actions should be guided by wisdom and
compassion, with no trace of selfishness, not even the urge
to do good to “feel good about myself.” For example, this
selfishness might mean you want to help others in order
to feel holy, perfect or clear.
The sila paramita is about ethical behavior, morality,
self-discipline, personal integrity and harmlessness. The
bone of this paramita is that through our love and compassion
we do not harm others; we are virtuous and harmless
in our thoughts, speech and actions.
P R IMA R Y POINT F a l l 2 0 1 3 ethical conduct is the very foundation for progressing in
any practice of meditation and for attaining all higher realizations
on the path. We should perfect our conduct by
eliminating harmful behavior and following the bodhisattva
precepts. We abstain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct,
lying, taking intoxicants, divisive speech, harsh
speech, greed, malice and wrong views. Following these
precepts or guidelines is not meant to be a burden or a
restriction on our freedom. We follow these precepts so
we can enjoy freedom, happiness and security in our lives,
because through our ethical behavior we are no longer
creating suffering for ourselves and others.
At some stage we realize that unethical behavior always
causes suffering and unhappiness. Practicing the perfection
of ethics, we are free of negativity, we cause no harm
to others by our actions, our speech is kind and compassionate
and our thoughts are free of anger and wrong
views. When we are strongly committed to the practice
of ethics we are at ease, naturally confident, without stress
and happy because we are not carrying any underlying
sense of guilt or remorse for our actions; we have nothing
to hide, we can be ourselves.
Self-honesty is very important. What we think can
make us happy can also make us miserable. If our direction
is to help and our mind is clear—before thinking--
then we don’t need to worry about precepts. “Good” and
“bad” are created by mind; if our mind is extinguished,
then our karma is extinguished—it works both ways.
So we try to keep our correct direction: Why am I doing
something? If I am not sure, then precepts give us an
Some of our actions are not visible to others, and the
results will only appear in the future, but inside we know
already what we are doing. Our true self—our intuition--
is guiding us. If we are aware of this guide—in touch with
it, hearing it—then there should be no problem deciding
what to do. There should be no problem in quickly
understanding the situation, choosing the correct action,
keeping the correct action from moment to moment.
In Zen stories we have many examples about keeping
and breaking precepts, and we know that the most important
is to keep a correct direction and then to choose the
correct action. We see this again and again in the familiar
stories about the greedy monk; the rabbit and the hunter;
the Zen teacher who admitted his affair with a girl from
a village, took responsibility for her baby for one year,
and was shunned by his village; and another teacher who
decided to have an intimate relationship with a very ill
women to give her great feelings of love and acceptance.
We see that sometimes the effect of “wrong” action may
not be understood by other people for a long period. It
may look like we did something terribly wrong, society
may reject us and exclude us, we may even face death. In
that time great faith, strong center and not-moving mind
These stories teach us to be flexible, open-minded,
honest, careful and quick. In everyday life we do not usually
have time to think through our decisions—we need
a very clear and sharp mind. Sometimes our actions will
be in opposition to common beliefs and traditions. We
have to be brave. Sometimes the price of keeping clear, of
keeping the sila paramita, is to give up our money, position,
fame, health, love and even our life. We take this risk
and accept the loss in order to help. So we are actually not
losers at all.
Correct direction is not something we are born with.
Some of us have less, some have more. But we can develop
this ability and make it strong. When we hear about direction
we understand: “Yes, this is good, this makes sense,”
but it takes time to find direction and to make it work. It
involves hard training. So we need tools to develop clear
direction in order to skillfully use ethics and all the other
paramitas for others. These tools are great question, great
courage and great faith, which we learn step-by-step; but
that is a topic for another essay.
All happiness comes from desire
for others to be happy.
All misery comes from the desire
for oneself to be happy.