Sunday, June 19, 2005

The three pure precepts and non-discrimination

The three pure precepts:

Cease to Do Evil
Do Only Good
Do Good for Others

Yet I have read that the Fourth and Sixth Ch'an Ancestors (a.k.a. Zen Patriarchs) remarked that one could attain the Way by ceasing to discriminate between good and evil. Also, the the instructional poem Faith in Mind, we read:

"Be neither for nor against
For and against opposing each other--
This is the mind's disease."

How can one recognize suffering, generate compassion, cease evil, and do good without some form of metaphysical/grammatical discrimination?

10 comments:

  1. I think you are confusing religion with morality. Morality is a duality - good against evil. Religion is the transcendence of dualities.

    These are not my words, they are Osho's. I have posted more about it on my blog.

    jhanajian

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  2. It is one thing to acknowledge that judgements of right and wrong are context dependent, it is another to suggest that a person should never make judgements of right and wrong.

    I am simply asking how one reconciles the idea expressed in the three pure precepts, which involve a recognition of good and evil, with the admonition to not distinguish between good and evil. How can you avoid evil or do good if you do not discriminate good from evil?

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  3. PS--I read your blog entry, but it does not address the issue. According to what was printed there, the answer to my question would seem to be "the three pure precepts are poor advice." If that is not correct let me know.

    As for morality, it is not simply good versus evil. It is the expression of variable worth for different outcomes (expected and actual) of actions based on a system of values rooted in recognizing the worth of other people. This is not the same as moralism, in which it is presumed that a particular system of moral rules generated in one context should be applied to all contexts (i.e. adhering to the letter of the moral law rather than the it spirit/the principle on which the "law" was founded).

    No offense is intended, but from my reading, if one takes the excerpt from Osho seriously, then one accepts a vision of nihilism masquerading under the name of "religion". That may or may not be how you read it, and obviously you can respond to that objection. But if I logically take the position espoused to practical situations, it sounds awful. It sounds like this:

    There is no need to work to prevent rape or murder or torture, because that is choice. Do not choose, as some will always be raped and some will not. To choose to interfere is creating "right" and "wrong", what "ought to be" versus "what ought not be". There is no need to comfort the sick, the lonely, or the grieved. That is choice--that is choosing to differentiate between the assumed worth of the intent and outcome of action. There will always be happy people and sad people, those who feel loved and those who do not. There must be balance.

    I am not saying that Osho said those things, but it sounds to me that it is how such a philosophy would look if applied to real life situations. I always check all such philosophies with such a "road test", so this is not some kind of unfairly rigorous critique. If you have a different idea of how this philosophy would play in practical terms, I am more than willing to pay attention to it.

    Unless I have misuderstood what Osho was trying to say (and there is a good chance I have), a vision of escaping the problem of suffering by negating the meaning of suffering, and thereby compassion, is not a solution I can accept. Just because one chooses not to "recognize" beneficial from harmful, suffering from compassion, good from bad, that does not affect the practical reality of pain, anxiety, or despair. Moreover, in addition to seemingly implying that one should not work to lessen hunger, poverty, and disease as well as social problems unless they become too numerous, it sounds like one should actually work to promote those things if they are in short supply to maintain a "balance".

    I do not think that "good" or "evil" have inherent existence, and therefore I do not believe that either "must" be in a phenomenal sense. I think they are reflections of our values, and hence negation of discriminating "good" and "evil" as contextual descriptors is a negation of those values.

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  4. Osho is making a simple statement - that religion is not morality. He says they are two different things: one is apples, the other is oranges. Morality is about the duality of good and bad. The other is about transcending all dualities. He did not anywhere in this article say that morality is not needed or useful or necessary in a society. He did not anywhere in this article make any value judgement whatsoever regarding morality. He also does not anywhere in this article espouse anything resembling nilhism. The fact is, you did not read what osho said. The only thing you read is your own mind. And it doesn't seem to me that you are really arguing so much with osho here as you are arguing with Hsin Hsin Ming.

    If I misunderstood your original question, I apologize for putting words into your mouth. Perhaps I too was just reading my own mind.

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  5. "He did not anywhere in this article say that morality is not needed or useful or necessary in a society."

    I specifically stated that I was applying the logic of Osho's statement to real world situations, not quoting or paraphrasing his own words. If you have a different idea about how the logic of his statement would apply to such situations, please share.

    "He did not anywhere in this article make any value judgement whatsoever regarding morality."

    Actually, he does. He makes a specific reference to transcending morality. If you have neither morality nor immortality then what is left is amoral(ality). Whether one approves or disapproves, a person cannot deny the importance/validity of making moral choices and then claim to have no judgement/position on morality.

    "He also does not anywhere in this article espouse anything resembling nilhism."

    That's a personal opinion. You speak of seeing our own mind in things, and to some extent that is true. We all have expectations or assumptions. However, I am willing to lay out how I see what someone is saying and examine/scrutinize both their words and my own. Nihilism has two main uses--1 )traditional values and beliefs are unfounded and 2) existence is senseless/purposeless. In my view, if one denies the importance of choice and outcome (as I read in the cited materials), one has denied the values which give such choice meaning, hence, nihilism. That doesn't mean someone can't say, "Oh, well, he isn't talking about XXX here, which one might think based on the usual intepretation of the phrase YYY, what he is actually saying is ZZZ." I welcome such dialogue.

    "The fact is, you did not read what osho said. The only thing you read is your own mind."

    The only "fact" here, ;o) , is that you do not like my intepretation of the literature you cited. I specified that I was giving my own opinion/intepretation which was (is) open to correction. Instead of simply telling me I am wrong, or stating that it is "a fact" that I didn't read your cited material, why not specifically address the points I made? Show me how you interpret the relevant passages in light of my examples.

    "And it doesn't seem to me that you are really arguing so much with osho here as you are arguing with Hsin Hsin Ming."

    I am not arguing with anyone at all. I asked about two seemingly contradictory passages in Ch'an Buddhism literature. You cited another piece of literature, and I have yet to appreciate what relevance that citation has on my original question.

    "If I misunderstood your original question, I apologize for putting words into your mouth. Perhaps I too was just reading my own mind. "

    There is no apology necessary.

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  6. No, I don't care to get into any long, futile, hair-splitting debate with you. As far as I'm concerned, what Osho is saying is very simple: that religion is not morality. To me, it is saying just that, no more no less. You apparently are reading much more into it than what is being said. That is your preogative. That is your freedom. I am not about to try to interfere with it.

    You say you have yet to see the relevance of the piece of literature that I brought in with the 'seemingly' contradictory passages in Ch'an Buddhist literature. To me, Osho is saying pretty much the same thing that Hsin Hsin Ming is saying (only in a lot more words). And he is resolving the conflict between those statements by explaining that the Buddhist precepts are concerned with creating dualities while Hsin Hsin Ming's statement is concerned with transcending dualities. If you cannot give Osho's words a fair reading just because they are not 'official' Ch'an literature, then there is nothing more for me to say.

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  7. "No, I don't care to get into any long, futile, hair-splitting debate with you. "

    What hair-splitting debate? I asked you to clarify what you have written. I laid out my impression of something you presented (my reading of how Osho's statement would translate in practical terms to actual problems) and *invited* comment and critique. What burden is it to explain how you see Osho's statement in relation to suffering and compassion and the importance of choice?

    As far as I'm concerned, what Osho is saying is very simple: that religion is not morality.

    And I am asking about the effect of such definitions of morality and religion and the consequences of such a distinction.

    "To me, it is saying just that, no more no less. You apparently are reading much more into it than what is being said. That is your preogative. That is your freedom. I am not about to try to interfere with it."

    I invited you to offer your own analysis--that is not 'interference'. And as before, while it 'is apparent' or 'a fact' to you that I am misreading or misunderstanding the cited text (which includes a presumption that your reading is the right one), you imply it is somehow against your values to discuss our disagreement?

    "You say you have yet to see the relevance of the piece of literature that I brought in with the 'seemingly' contradictory passages in Ch'an Buddhist literature."

    That is correct. I did not say "there cannot be a connection or relevance", only that I have not seen it so far.

    "To me, Osho is saying pretty much the same thing that Hsin Hsin Ming is saying (only in a lot more words). And he is resolving the conflict between those statements by explaining that the Buddhist precepts are concerned with creating dualities while Hsin Hsin Ming's statement is concerned with transcending dualities."

    See? It's not so bad. :-) This is what I was asking about. But the resolution is a bit odd--the goals of the precepts (creating dualities) and the other teaching (transcending dualities) seem to be in conflict, which is why I posted about this in the first place. To me it's like saying 'you need to talk a lot' with one saying and 'you need to shut up' with the other. So should we spend our time creating dualities or transcending them? I don't really see this question as a hair-splitting debate. It's just an honest question.

    "If you cannot give Osho's words a fair reading just because they are not 'official' Ch'an literature, then there is nothing more for me to say."

    Whether or not you have anything more to say is your choice, not mine. I would suggest, though, that I have not stated anywhere that my evaluation of Osho's text has anything to do with whether it is considered to be a part of any kind of 'official' Ch'an literature. I asked a question about two saying in Ch'an, you cited Osho, I laid out what Osho seemed to be saying to me (and that it didn't seem to address my question), and you subsequently have said that the meaning is plain and obvious--to you--but that explaining it to me would be some kind of interference. Nothing in there about disregarding Osho on the basis of his religious affiliation or status. If you want to explain it in your own words to help me understand your view, feel free. If not, that's fine too.

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  8. While I do not wish to interfere with your blog site, I am compelled to highlight what one of your contributors did to me in recent times. This comment posted by Metacrock was unprovoked, rude and nasty. Most un-Christian like. I find it difficult to understand why he holds these double standards.

    "Butt fuckign queer. eat shit you little mother fucking bildo! You don't know jack fucking shit about politics, philosophy or anything else that requires a brain. Since you are too mother fucking stupid to figure it your, cock sucking cattamite, its' the stupid people who have nothing to say who attack other people's looks. MIss whatever, are you transvestite or something?

    --Posted by Metacrock to Donn't acted soo suprized at 6/20/2005 04:41:30 PM "

    Thank you for your time.
    Penelope HINKLER

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  9. jhanajian is a perfect example of an "enlightened" person who is extremely proud of himself for deciding to study and follow a "superior" path. I run across this type all the time in yoga. So smug. So proud. So intolerant of others who might not behave or think exactly as he does. The flower icon is a dead giveaway.

    Penny Hinkler, Metacrock has a loathsome reputation across the Net. TinyThinker's friendship with him is the exception, not the rule.

    Sorry for such negativitiy. I'm impressed by your patience, Tiny. Did you take a deep breath and count to 10 before you responded? :-)

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  10. jhanajian is a perfect example of an "enlightened" person who is extremely proud of himself for deciding to study and follow a "superior" path. I run across this type all the time in yoga. So smug. So proud. So intolerant of others who might not behave or think exactly as he does. The flower icon is a dead giveaway.

    Hehe. I have a flower icon for my EZBoard account. 8-D ... I don't mind jhanajian commenting, I just don't see why it's so horrible to ask for an explanation of a difference of opinion. I am open to alternative ideas on the issue, but I am not a mind-reader.

    Penny Hinkler, Metacrock has a loathsome reputation across the Net. TinyThinker's friendship with him is the exception, not the rule.

    Meta does have a reputation for a short-fuse on his temper, but he also makes lots of friends among pantheists and atheists and the like because once you get past the guff and call him on his overgeneralizations, he calms down and has intelligent, reasonable conversations. Penny recently went to Meta's blog and called him fat and stupid and put up mean-spirited info about Meta on the web. Meta blew a fuse and cursed like a sailor in a hurricane. I chose not to respond to the post here because it's not really about the topic or this blog.

    Sorry for such negativitiy. I'm impressed by your patience, Tiny. Did you take a deep breath and count to 10 before you responded? :-)

    This isn't so bad. Many places I visit are very hateful, not just frustrating or negative. Besides, it's the most activity my blog has ever seen ;-)

    ReplyDelete

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