What to do?

Casual discussion amongst spiritual friends.

What to do?

Postby plwk » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:55 am



http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i-wq-IHApis
I found this cat at one of the buildings at a Buddhist temple in Southern Thailand the other day. It didn't appear to be in good shape, I could be wrong.
There was no mother cat around, I stayed around the area for 30 minutes. It had urinated and was rolling in it. It was covered in urine and feces smell.
It was old enough to be walking around, it must have been sick to be laying there on it's side and crying out like that.

There were monks around. Some foreigners that were staying at the temple to meditate. Nobody gave it a second look.

Buddhism, as you may have seen in my Dying Monkey Video doesn't cause people to act to fix animals that are dying. I've seen it countless times in Thailand.
The animals are left to die, in pain sometimes. I told you about a dog that was backed over by a car as I ate at an open-air restaurant. Nobody did a thing for it. His back was broken and he dragged his twisted back legs behind him as his front legs tried desperately to pull him forward. He whined the entire time.
Nobody did a thing. Did I? Nope. I have this idea about watching the culture I'm in and seeing what is the norm. I'm a visitor here, not an animal savior.

BUddhists have this idea of fate. If it's going to happen, then don't worry about. Let the gods sort it out.

So, this kitten may die, or not. Some monkeys may take it up into the trees and drop it out for fun, or whatever reason. I've seen that at another temple a couple of times.

The Buddhist monk, Buddhadasa bhikku, who started the temple featured in the video, had a favorite saying... Thathata... suchness... as it is... just as it is... and there is nothing wrong or that needs fixing, it is just the reality of life here on this planet...

Thoughts? :popcorn:
Bhikkhus, if you develop and make much this one thing,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.
What is it? It is recollecting the Enlightened One.
If this single thing is recollected and made much,
it invariably leads to weariness, cessation, appeasement, realization and extinction.

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Re: What to do?

Postby Pax » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:21 am

I can't quote a scripture to the effect, but don't see the need in letting any being suffer needlessly. Offer aid or comfort to anyone suffering is imperative... for me anyway. Others may choose to ignore it, and that is their choice, I cannot.
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Re: What to do?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:30 am

Hi Plwk,

One thought that comes to my mind is that we need to balance wisdom and compassion. Teachers mention this often. It's all very well to cultivate a sage-like acceptance of things-as-they-are, but if a sentient being is in pain, and one has the ability to help, then one should.

Another thought is that the general attitude in Thailand (as described by the writer) seems to reflect a highly fatalistic view of kamma, which the Buddha rejected (we were discussing this in the other thread, as you know).

I'm a little surprised by the suggestion that Bhikkhu Buddhadasa would have endorsed this sort of indifference. I don't know his work well, but I know enough to know that he was a fairly committed social activist and reformer. So I doubt that he would adhere to a general policy of "accept whatever the hell is going on, even if beings are harmed as a result" -- but maybe someone more knowledgeable about his teachings can clarify.

Having said all that, though, I have to add that there are times when it really is wiser to let nature take its course. I've had some experience trying to rescue injured birds, for example -- in some cases I just made things worse.
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Re: What to do?

Postby SDC » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:06 am

Purely an assumption (and I would love to hear an opinion from those that have been or are currently at a monestary), but I get the drift from various reading over the years that the culture is to APPEAR as though you are an arahant. I guarantee 90% of the people around, monastics and lay people, wanted to do something, but didn't want to appear as though they did out of fear that they would be seen as "undeveloped". Personally, I would risk getting admonished in order to tend to the animal, not only out of compassion, but to clean up a gruesome, and potentially unsanitary situation in the monastery. Indifference to death is one thing, pretending not care, when you do, is another. And unless one is highly developed, walking past with no regard for what is happening is sociopathic. I guess some are that desperate to look like they "get it".

On the other hand, I guess it is a good tool to show the nature of reality, but if that were the case here the monks should have instructed them to watch it happen. At least with that they would be learning something. Who knows, maybe that is what happened. I don't know. To me it seems that people just want to appear that they are developed. Maybe I'm wrong...who knows
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Re: What to do?

Postby Reductor » Thu Apr 18, 2013 2:48 am

Buddha and Ananda once picked up a sick monk and bathed him. The lord then admonished the other monks who had allowed this sick one to lie around.

Everything dies, and every being suffers. But that fact doesn't prevent us from easing suffering to some degree or other. To say "they will inevitably suffer, so I need not do anything at all to help" would run counter to the Buddha's example of teaching householders, people destined to suffer because they remain in the world. He could have refused, and taught only those ready to go all the way; he didn't, though.
Michael

The thoughts I've expressed in the above post are carefully considered and offered in good faith.

And friendliness towards the world is happiness for him who is forbearing with living beings. -- Ud. 2:1
To his own ruin the fool gains knowledge, for it cleaves his head and destroys his innate goodness. -- Dhp 72

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Re: What to do?

Postby pegembara » Thu Apr 18, 2013 3:48 am

Wisdom and compassion goes hand in hand. Otherwise why would the Buddha bother to teach those with little dust in their eyes. I suppose this is one of the reasons the Mahayanist came up with the Bodhissata ideal.

"Form does not differ from emptiness"
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Re: What to do?

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 18, 2013 4:57 am

Over the years, I have watched over three dying cats. Two of them passed away right in front of me, as I was tending to them. They were all natural deaths; one passed away from old age and disease; one from a long-term disease; and one from what appeared to be poisoning. Previously, we have consulted veterinarians and all the cats have received medications or infusions. But we were strictly against them being put down by medical means.

I know from personal experience how difficult it is to watch a being die. What to do, what to say, what to think.

Especially in those times, I wished I would be certain of some religious tradition, so that I could follow the right procedure for times of dying - such as chant the right chants and such.
But I had no such certainty, still don't. I think this is the scariest and hardest about it all.


Perhaps some other people also lack such certainty, this is why they abandon a dying being.
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Re: What to do?

Postby dhammaprotectors » Thu Apr 18, 2013 5:17 am

These ppl shud at least have the heart to call the animal rescue team to help revive or alleviate the animals suffering if they find it bothersome and if they find themselves more superior without any heart of compassion. Buddha taught the four brahmaviharas : metta (unconditional love), karuna (unbiased compassion), mudita (joyful appreciation) & upekkha (tranquil equanimity). So? Did they put that into practice? That cat could have been their "parents" in those monks previous lives who "came" to see their "children" (who are now monks) perhaps. :tantrum:
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Re: What to do?

Postby Buckwheat » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:29 am

There's not a lot of context here. For all we know, the monks have been worried about this little guy for weeks, done everything they can to help (maybe it is not taking food because it is so sick). Maybe they are not there because they are in their huts wishing the cat a fortunate rebirth. Or maybe all monks in Thailand are sociopaths. How can I know from this video what is the whole story? :shrug:

Shouldn't we be more concerned with our own practice than finding excuses to judge others?
Sotthī hontu nirantaraṃ - May you forever be well.
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Re: What to do?

Postby Bhikkhu Pesala » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:45 am

dhammaprotectors wrote:These ppl shud at least have the heart to call the animal rescue team to help revive or alleviate the animals suffering if they find it bothersome and if they find themselves more superior without any heart of compassion. Buddha taught the four brahmaviharas : metta (unconditional love), karuna (unbiased compassion), mudita (joyful appreciation) & upekkha (tranquil equanimity). So? Did they put that into practice? That cat could have been their "parents" in those monks previous lives who "came" to see their "children" (who are now monks) perhaps. :tantrum:

If there is an animal rescue team in Thailand, I am sure they would not be able to respond to every dying cat or dog — there may be half a million of them on any given day.

When I was in Thailand, staying at Wat Bowoniwet, there were plenty of stray dogs, and starving puppies. Foreign monks would feed them, but that just increases the problem. More survive to have more puppies, and so it goes on.

The Thai monks have lived with it for years. They're not running an animal rescue centre. By not killing the animals, and letting them die of natural causes they are practising equanimity.

Maybe that particular cat had eaten some poison put down by someone to rid the temple of strays? Or maybe it just ate some poisonous frog or something to get sick. Whatever the cause is, the remedy is not simply a matter of calling the RSCPA or some other animal charity.
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Re: What to do?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 18, 2013 9:16 am

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
dhammaprotectors wrote:These ppl shud at least have the heart to call the animal rescue team to help revive or alleviate the animals suffering if they find it bothersome and if they find themselves more superior without any heart of compassion. Buddha taught the four brahmaviharas : metta (unconditional love), karuna (unbiased compassion), mudita (joyful appreciation) & upekkha (tranquil equanimity). So? Did they put that into practice? That cat could have been their "parents" in those monks previous lives who "came" to see their "children" (who are now monks) perhaps. :tantrum:

If there is an animal rescue team in Thailand, I am sure they would not be able to respond to every dying cat or dog — there may be half a million of them on any given day.

When I was in Thailand, staying at Wat Bowoniwet, there were plenty of stray dogs, and starving puppies. Foreign monks would feed them, but that just increases the problem. More survive to have more puppies, and so it goes on.

The Thai monks have lived with it for years. They're not running an animal rescue centre. By not killing the animals, and letting them die of natural causes they are practising equanimity.

Maybe that particular cat had eaten some poison put down by someone to rid the temple of strays? Or maybe it just ate some poisonous frog or something to get sick. Whatever the cause is, the remedy is not simply a matter of calling the RSCPA or some other animal charity.


I saw the same thing in Myanmar. I have never seen so many stray dogs, cats and chickens. Perhaps it is unrealistic for such a poor country to embark on a cat and dog desexing program. I don't know what the answer is.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: What to do?

Postby Dan74 » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:05 am

There is the following story from the biography (hagiography) of Asanga, an Indian Buddhist teacher, who together with Vasubandhu was one of the main figures in Yogacara school. Perhaps it is relevant.

Asanga retired to a cave to meditate on the future Buddha Maitreya, practicing for three years without success. Discouraged, he left the cave at the end of the third year and almost immediately came upon a man rubbing a piece of iron with a cloth. When Asanga asked him what he was doing, the man said he was making a needle. Asanga thought that if people had such patience even in worldly tasks, perhaps he had been too hasty in abandoning his practice, so he returned to the cave and continued with his meditation.

Asanga meditated for twelve years in all without having any direct experience of Maitreya. At the end of the twelfth year, he once again left the cave. This time he came upon a dog lying ill by the side of the path, his body covered with festering wounds in which maggots were feeding. Having meditated on Maitreya for twelve years and thereby having developed great compassion, Asanga immediately wished to ease the suffering of the dog. He thought of removing the maggots but reflected that if he were to use his fingers, he would injure them. In order not to injure the maggots and yet relieve the dog, he bent down to remove the maggots with his tongue. The moment he did so, the dog disappeared into a burst of rainbow-colored light and the Bodhisattva Maitreya appeared before him.

Asanga asked, 'Where have you been all these years?' to which Maitreya replied, 'I have been with you all along--it is just that you were not able to see me. Only when you had developed your compassion and purified your mind sufficiently were you able to see me.' To demonstrate the truth of this, he asked Asanga to take him on his shoulders and walk through the village. Nobody saw anything on Asanga's shoulders except for one old woman, who asked him, 'What are you doing carrying that sick dog?'
_/|\_
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Re: What to do?

Postby pilgrim » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:34 am

I once also encountered a dying cat. There was little I could do , but stroke it and put some water on its tonque. The dying process took awhile and I did not feel compelled to stay. So I left it to die on its own. It is possible that the cat here was in the same situation and that others had shown it some care before this man came along. Do we expect the whole monastery to gather around it until it dies? Right behind the man is a jungle with thousands of bugs being born, devoured and dying in the most horrible ways. We can only alleviate the suffering of others that cross our paths and to the extent of our compassion.

At a recent Goenka retreat, it was raining and scores of earthworms had crawled out of the ground and into a drain of running water. During the break, I pulled a few out of the drain, but when the bell rang, I left the rest to die to go back into the hall to meditate. Was that wrong?
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Re: What to do?

Postby Ben » Thu Apr 18, 2013 10:43 am

pilgrim wrote:At a recent Goenka retreat, it was raining and scores of earthworms had crawled out of the ground and into a drain of running water. During the break, I pulled a few out of the drain, but when the bell rang, I left the rest to die to go back into the hall to meditate. Was that wrong?

No it wasn't wrong. But remember there is a limit to what we can do individually. Whether we have control over a situation or not, getting upset is probably going to be unhelpful to ourselves. Whether we can do something or not, we should be aiming to do so with a mind anchored in equanimity.
kind regards,

Ben
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Re: What to do?

Postby Lazy_eye » Thu Apr 18, 2013 12:12 pm

pegembara wrote:I suppose this is one of the reasons the Mahayanist came up with the Bodhissata ideal.


Perhaps so, although Mahayana/Vajrayana sometimes goes too far in the other direction. Animal and fish release ceremonies can wreak havoc with ecosystems (and end up killing more sentient beings than they actually save).

Chogyam Trumpa made some pertinent remarks about "idiot compassion". We have to consider whether our actions are really helpful, or just in the service of an egotistical desire to feel good.
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Re: What to do?

Postby yawares » Thu Apr 18, 2013 1:20 pm

Bhikkhu Pesala wrote:
dhammaprotectors wrote:These ppl shud at least have the heart to call the animal rescue team to help revive or alleviate the animals suffering if they find it bothersome and if they find themselves more superior without any heart of compassion. Buddha taught the four brahmaviharas : metta (unconditional love), karuna (unbiased compassion), mudita (joyful appreciation) & upekkha (tranquil equanimity). So? Did they put that into practice? That cat could have been their "parents" in those monks previous lives who "came" to see their "children" (who are now monks) perhaps. :tantrum:

If there is an animal rescue team in Thailand, I am sure they would not be able to respond to every dying cat or dog — there may be half a million of them on any given day.

When I was in Thailand, staying at Wat Bowoniwet, there were plenty of stray dogs, and starving puppies. Foreign monks would feed them, but that just increases the problem. More survive to have more puppies, and so it goes on.

The Thai monks have lived with it for years. They're not running an animal rescue centre. By not killing the animals, and letting them die of natural causes they are practising equanimity.

Maybe that particular cat had eaten some poison put down by someone to rid the temple of strays? Or maybe it just ate some poisonous frog or something to get sick. Whatever the cause is, the remedy is not simply a matter of calling the RSCPA or some other animal charity.

-----------------
Dear Members,

Bhikkhu Peasala really knows how things are in Thailand :twothumbsup:

It's sad to say that most Thai people are Buddhists...but just by birth..just because their parents were so called-Buddhists...so they think they are Buddhists....believe it or not ...most of them hardly observe 5 or 8 precepts!! Especially Thai politicians !!!

In Thailand those days...no animal shelters...so most poor people would bring their cats/dogs that sick or they didn't want TO A TEMPLE and left them there...same as children..some parents left their young-boys at a temple and left...they became WAT-BOYS !

In Thailand..they believe that it's sinful to neuter animals (and also expensive to pay a vet. to do so)...that's why so many stray cats/dogs...Now Thailand becomes richer...may be things will be better!!!

Thailand is a beautiful country with beautiful beaches/flowers/great foods/desserts etc. ....but just like every country in this world..there are beautiful sides and lots of dark sides. If you're born with good deeds ..you'll be born in a great family who loves you/take good care of you...marry a nice husband/wife....If you're born with bad deeds...OH ..TOUGH LUCK indeed !!

Many hells on this planet earth!!
yawares
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Re: What to do?

Postby Sam Vara » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:42 pm

The Buddhist monk, Buddhadasa bhikku, who started the temple featured in the video, had a favorite saying... Thathata... suchness... as it is... just as it is... and there is nothing wrong or that needs fixing, it is just the reality of life here on this planet...


So any feelings of active and helpful compassion that we may have, and any ameliorative actions that we do, are part of that reality of life, and don't need fixing. Giving the cat shade and water - it's OK. Adopting the cat, curing it at great personal expense, and smuggling it out of the country into a life of western ease - it's all OK. Saving the cat, also known as "Thathata...suchness".
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Re: What to do?

Postby binocular » Thu Apr 18, 2013 6:53 pm

Ben wrote:I saw the same thing in Myanmar. I have never seen so many stray dogs, cats and chickens. Perhaps it is unrealistic for such a poor country to embark on a cat and dog desexing program. I don't know what the answer is.


Don't take birth as a dog, cat or chicken ...
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