Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

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

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Tue Jan 28, 2014 9:03 pm

I do a good deal of beta testing for various software. To do my job well I have to find faults and point them out. If they are not fixed, I let the developers know that they're not fixed yet. If they cannot find the fault, I try to explain it better.

However, if they don't agree with me that it's a bug, or don't know how to fix it, or haven't got time to fix it, that's not my problem. I did my duty — let them do theirs.

I am sure you heard the story about the Acrobat and his assistant, but it bears repeating:

An acrobat and his apprentice earned a living by performing tricks on top of a bamboo pole. One day, while performing their usual routine the assistant said to the acrobat, “You look after me, and I will look after you. That way, we will both come down safely from this pole.”

The acrobat replied, “No. You look after yourself, and I will look after myself. That way we will both come down safely from this pole.”

I enjoy trying to improve things. It's satisfying to know that some software I use every day works better because of my efforts. I also understand its limitations much better, and don't expect it to be perfect. Others who use it, often get upset and angry, and often don't accept my advice to calm down, and be polite when reporting problems. That's beyond my control, but if I get angry and upset, that teaches me about my own attachment, which is the cause of my own suffering.
AIM WebsitePāli FontsIn This Very LifeBuddhist ChroniclesSoftware (Upasampadā: 24th June, 1979)
User avatar
Bhikkhu Pesala
 
Posts: 2098
Joined: Thu Jan 29, 2009 8:17 pm

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby SamBodhi » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:26 am

chownah wrote:If we are to consider the meaning as you suggest can you talk a bit about "the nature of the condition in which all humans find themselves living" and how it relates to the topic of this thread?
chownah

I don't think that we should really consider the meaning I suggested. I only wanted to offer a different way of reading the statement mentioned.
"An inward-staying
unentangled knowing,
All outward-going knowing
cast aside."
--Upasika Kee Nanayon
SamBodhi
 
Posts: 184
Joined: Sun Dec 18, 2011 6:38 pm

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby suriyopama » Thu Jan 30, 2014 12:46 am

Mr Man wrote:Action vs seclusion is a false dichotomy.


That’s your theory, but the mind and the world are not aseptic laboratories where you can put solid labels, laws, and limits to everything.

That contrast was true on my mind when I wrote the title of the topic.

If I am walking with the firm resolution that I will sit to meditate on the cushion as soon as I arrive home, and I suddenly feel a bowel movement, I will have a “Meditation Vs Defecation” dichotomy, no matter if you call it “false”. At that instant, my mind would contrast the two things as being opposed, entirely different, and with no additional options. Perhaps a moment later I could figure out a third option like meditating while sitting at the WC, and then the dichotomy would vanish. Or maybe not, and then I would feel the urge to discuss that topic at the Lounge section of Dhamma Wheel, or even write a book about the choices in life. Who knows! :lol:
User avatar
suriyopama
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby binocular » Thu Jan 30, 2014 10:35 am

suriyopama wrote:but the mind and the world are not aseptic laboratories where you can put solid labels, laws, and limits to everything.

... which is also why "action" and "seclusion" are not as neatly (or sharply) separated as they are sometimes thought of.
binocular
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Jan 31, 2014 12:32 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:I do a good deal of beta testing for various software. To do my job well I have to find faults and point them out. If they are not fixed, I let the developers know that they're not fixed yet. If they cannot find the fault, I try to explain it better.

However, if they don't agree with me that it's a bug, or don't know how to fix it, or haven't got time to fix it, that's not my problem. I did my duty — let them do theirs.

I am sure you heard the story about the Acrobat and his assistant, but it bears repeating:

An acrobat and his apprentice earned a living by performing tricks on top of a bamboo pole. One day, while performing their usual routine the assistant said to the acrobat, “You look after me, and I will look after you. That way, we will both come down safely from this pole.”

The acrobat replied, “No. You look after yourself, and I will look after myself. That way we will both come down safely from this pole.”

I enjoy trying to improve things. It's satisfying to know that some software I use every day works better because of my efforts. I also understand its limitations much better, and don't expect it to be perfect. Others who use it, often get upset and angry, and often don't accept my advice to calm down, and be polite when reporting problems. That's beyond my control, but if I get angry and upset, that teaches me about my own attachment, which is the cause of my own suffering.


If that were the software that controls the landing systems of the new Airbus A380, and the developer still doesn't want to acknowledge the bugs that you report (e.g. for time or cost restraints) would your attitude be the same?
User avatar
suriyopama
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 31, 2014 7:48 am

suriyopama wrote:If that were the software that controls the landing systems of the new Airbus A380, and the developer still doesn't want to acknowledge the bugs that you report (e.g. for time or cost restraints) would your attitude be the same?

Do you find that when there is more at stake (such as when it comes to the systems that control airplanes), the appropriate response is to allow oneself to be overwhelmed with worry?
binocular
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:33 am

binocular wrote:
suriyopama wrote:If that were the software that controls the landing systems of the new Airbus A380, and the developer still doesn't want to acknowledge the bugs that you report (e.g. for time or cost restraints) would your attitude be the same?

Do you find that when there is more at stake (such as when it comes to the systems that control airplanes), the appropriate response is to allow oneself to be overwhelmed with worry?


I am not saying if it is appropriate or not, but I can tell that I would not be able to sleep until they fix it, or they fire me from the company. (I've been in similar circumstances, but not in Avionics).

I go back again to AN 2.98 - Bala Sutta: :smile:
"Monks, these two are fools. Which two? The one who takes up a burden that hasn't fallen to him, and the one who doesn't take up a burden that has. These two are fools."


I imagine that, depending on our kamma, some of us are presented with innocuous burdens, and others are presented with more threatening burdens.

My need to open this thread comes from my doubts about how to disentangle oneself from all that responsibilities and burdens without being neglectful.
User avatar
suriyopama
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby Mkoll » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:43 am

suriyopama,

You've provided a lot of personal details here which is honest and helpful. In the end though our words on the internet forum can only be of so much help to your situation because only you are the one with boots on the ground. I'm guessing you've tried talking to those closer to you or in the know who sympathize and can give more specific advice. But if not, that's an idea. And if you have, maybe try again with a different approach.

:anjali:
Peace,
James
User avatar
Mkoll
 
Posts: 4151
Joined: Wed Dec 05, 2012 6:55 pm
Location: California, USA

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 31, 2014 8:46 am

suriyopama wrote:I imagine that, depending on our kamma, some of us are presented with innocuous burdens, and others are presented with more threatening burdens.

Yes ...

My need to open this thread comes from my doubts about how to disentangle oneself from all that responsibilities and burdens without being neglectful.

Good point.

I think your situation may be quite rare - someone with both great worldly responsibilities that involve the lives of many people, and an interest in Buddhism.
So there are probably few role-models whom one could consult.
binocular
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:22 am

binocular wrote:
suriyopama wrote:
My need to open this thread comes from my doubts about how to disentangle oneself from all that responsibilities and burdens without being neglectful.

Good point.

I think your situation may be quite rare - someone with both great worldly responsibilities that involve the lives of many people, and an interest in Buddhism.
So there are probably few role-models whom one could consult.


I am also curious to know about how things are from the other side: monks that are actively involved with worldly challenges and confrontations. From environmental movements to politics or human rights. Are their minds developed to a level where they are not distressed at all while being at the fire front? But... if their minds are so developed in the path, why do they keep entangled with samsaric matters? Although it may be out of compassion, in some cases they are causing distress to their followers.
User avatar
suriyopama
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby suriyopama » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:41 am

Mkoll wrote:suriyopama,

You've provided a lot of personal details here which is honest and helpful. In the end though our words on the internet forum can only be of so much help to your situation because only you are the one with boots on the ground. I'm guessing you've tried talking to those closer to you or in the know who sympathize and can give more specific advice. But if not, that's an idea. And if you have, maybe try again with a different approach.

:anjali:


Thank you Mkoll.

In the last years I've had the priceless opportunity to talk with several famous Ajahns, and I always got a similar answer: "More Sati".
The first time it was from Ajahn Dtun, and I was a little bit surprised for the short answer (to other persons he was giving long and elaborated answers). But the case is that it has always been the same answer over and over again (more or less elaborated, but talking exclusively about sati). And I know that they are right :smile: I just have to carry on doing as they say: "More Sati". So far it is leading me to more and more discontentment with all things.
It is a pleasure to share views with all of you.
:anjali:
User avatar
suriyopama
 
Posts: 291
Joined: Thu Sep 24, 2009 10:44 am
Location: Thailand

Re: Engaged Buddhism - Action Vs Seclusion?

Postby binocular » Fri Jan 31, 2014 9:52 am

I guess it comes down to what one sees as the source of one's tasks.

Does one think that one is basically the source of one's tasks oneself. That one's tasks don't come about or don't appear unless one wills them into existence.

Or does on think that tasks exist sort of "out there", "surrounding a person," much like water surrounds a person who is in it.

I know this might sound strange. It's the result of my thinking a lot about goals and priorities and where work and tasks come from.

I tend to think that tasks already exist, that there is always something to do, that I don't have to invent tasks when writing my to-do list. But that I just look around, think a bit about what needs to be done, and then I prioritize and decide which of those things I will do. IOW, I don't create my context out of nothing.

In one sense, I believe one sort of "swims in karma" - karma as context - the things I have to deal with, the tasks I have to do (or choose from) are already there, I don't have to invent them from scratch. The context is already there, whatever it may be.

Which is why questions like these -
I am also curious to know about how things are from the other side: monks that are actively involved with worldly challenges and confrontations. From environmental movements to politics or human rights. Are their minds developed to a level where they are not distressed at all while being at the fire front? But... if their minds are so developed in the path, why do they keep entangled with samsaric matters? Although it may be out of compassion, in some cases they are causing distress to their followers.
don't occur to me.

I don't think those monks (or anyone else for that matter) were first in a secluded, strictly non-worldly setting, peaceful and content in their secluded lives, and then one day, entirely of their own volition, they decided to get into politics etc..
I wouldn't describe it that way.
Instead, I'd sooner think that politics and other worldly issues are the context that is already there, and then one tries to make the best of it.

So it's not a question of either "getting involved" or "staying out", but a question of how to get involved, for one is already involved by default. (And that one can on principle get involved in such a way that leads to the end of involvement.)
binocular
 
Posts: 1351
Joined: Sat Jan 17, 2009 11:13 pm

Previous

Return to Theravāda for the modern world

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 5 guests