The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Theravāda in the 21st century - modern applications of ancient wisdom

Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby Kim OHara » Sun Nov 25, 2012 10:29 am

Hi, Buckwheat,
Thanks for a reasonable and encouraging response. In return I should reassure you that I do know - and am grateful - that Ven Thanissaro is a good person and doing great work (as are most seriously practising Theravadins).
However, when you say, "The thing I see Ven Thanissaro warning about is developing a sense of self around this idea of sacrifice, becoming attached to it, and then doing things to satisfy that craving that sacrifice both worldly and spiritual welfare," I have to disagree somewhat. It is something I can agree with but I have to say that is not an obvious interpretation of his words quoted earlier in this thread. And it is still selfish, anyway, saying, "I had better not get involved here or I may wreck my chances of attaining nibbana," OWTTE. (Did I make that obvious enough? :tongue: )
I still believe that compassionate action in the world, when undertaken with mindfulness and the right motivation, is always consistent with the path and never an obstacle to practice - in fact, that some such engagement is essential to practice beyond the preliminary levels.
I suspect that for many members of the sangha, and almost certainly for Ven Thanissaro, that engagement takes the sole form of studying and passing on the dhamma - teaching, in fact. That's fine, but IMO it shouldn't be considered the only appropriate form of engagement.

:namaste:
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby imagemarie » Sun Nov 25, 2012 12:28 pm

:goodpost:

:anjali:
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:01 pm

Hi Kim,
Thanks for your response. I agree that one acting solely for "my chances of attaining nibbana," would be incredibly selfish. However, the intention to "stop adding greed, anger, and delusion to the world" would be a noble pursuit. That goal is nibbana.

Kim O'Hara wrote:...I still believe that compassionate action in the world, when undertaken with mindfulness and the right motivation, is always consistent with the path and never an obstacle to practice - in fact, that some such engagement is essential to practice ...


I couldn't agree more with your statement here. Let us further discuss "the right motivation". There are selfish reasons for performing acts of compassion, such as maintaining a self righteous sense of self. While that would be better than non-compassion, I think the most noble effort is to perform compassionate action as a simple side effect of one's pursuit of liberation, as this approach removes the sense of self but keeps the compassion. I personally have a tendency toward a self-righteous sense of self, which often leads me to make non-compassionate intentions. The only time I feel strongly confident in my ability to act with compassion is when I am not pursuing goals and agendas, not even righteous ones.

I must admit, this may or may not match Ven Thanissaro's intent in his essays. It is only my opinion and the lens through which I read his writings on the topic.
Last edited by Buckwheat on Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:42 pm, edited 1 time in total.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby Buckwheat » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:36 pm

dhammapal wrote:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:"worthwhile" goals that our culture and its sub-cultures tend to exalt, such as social acceptance, meaningful relationships, stewardship of the planet, etc. These, too, will inevitably lead to suffering.[/b]


Upholding social acceptance as the highest ideal can lead to various unskillful behaviors, the most vile example that comes to mind is Nazi Germany. Upholding meaningful relationships as the highest ideal can lead to various unskillful behaviors, such as prostitution committed during the inevitable moments of loneliness in this life. Upholding stewardship of the planet as the highest ideal can lead to various unskillful behaviors, such as activists who plant bombs or vandalize various facilities they deem unfit for existence.

Upholding the pursuit of nibbana as the highest ideal leads to the cessation of greed, anger, and delusion. In so doing, there will be moments of social acceptance, moments of meaningful relationships, and moments of stewardship of the plant, but when these moments pass, there will not be any vile actions committed in the name of an impermanent ideal.
Disciples, this I declare to you: All conditioned things are subject to disintegration – strive on untiringly for your liberation.

Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby DAWN » Sun Nov 25, 2012 5:59 pm

It's good seclusion, why nobody preach for seclusion :thinking:
Sabbe dhamma anatta
We are not concurents...
I'am sorry for my english
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby dhammapal » Mon Nov 26, 2012 3:20 pm

Hi,

Another difficult passage:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:Because the Buddha saw how these enlightened qualities of wisdom, compassion, and purity could be developed through the pursuit of happiness, he never told his followers to practice his teachings without expecting any gain in return. He understood that such a demand would create an unhealthy dynamic in the mind. In terms of Western psychology, expecting no gain in return would give license for the super‐ego to run amok. Instead, the Buddha taught that even the principle of renunciation is a trade. You exchange candy for gold, trading lesser pleasures for greater happiness. So he encouraged people to be generous with their time and belongings because of the inner rewards they would receive in return.
From The Problem of Egolessness by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby santa100 » Mon Nov 26, 2012 6:26 pm

dhammapal wrote: Another difficult passage..


I think Ven. T simply emphasizes the law of kamma: if one sincerely practices the wholesome teachings of the Great Teacher, then of course it will result in great gains and great benefits. I don't think he advocated the attitude of: "If I do this good service to others, what will they give me back in return?". Instead, it's more like: "If I do this service to others, wholesome qualities like peace of mind, sympathetic joy, etc.. WILL arrive". It's a positive confirmation of the truth of kamma..
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Re: The proper Buddhist attitude to the planet?

Postby dhammapal » Tue Nov 27, 2012 5:29 am

Hi,

This passage might explain how social withdrawal is not selfish:
Thanissaro Bhikkhu wrote:The Karaniya Metta Sutta goes on to say that when you're developing this attitude, you want to protect it in the same way that a mother would protect her only child.
“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.”
Some people misread this passage — in fact, many translators have mistranslated it — thinking that the Buddha is telling us to cherish all living beings the same way a mother would cherish her only child. But that's not what he's actually saying. To begin with, he doesn't mention the word "cherish" at all. And instead of drawing a parallel between protecting your only child and protecting other beings, he draws the parallel between protecting the child and protecting your goodwill. This fits in with his other teachings in the Canon. Nowhere does he tell people to throw down their lives to prevent every cruelty and injustice in the world, but he does praise his followers for being willing to throw down their lives for their precepts:
“Just as the ocean is stable and does not overstep its tideline, in the same way my disciples do not — even for the sake of their lives — overstep the training rules I have formulated for them.”
— Udana 5.5

From: Metta Means Goodwill by Thanissaro Bhikkhu

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