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March 12, 2007


Renegade Buddha

There's a Zen story (which I can't locate but will try to relay) about a group of monks who are stunned to see their master run out each morning and throw small rocks at deer who kept approaching the monastery grounds. Sometimes the deer would even take food from the monks.

They started thinking that the old guy was a jerk who enjoyed abusing animals. They thought that they were being kind to the deer where he was not. Finally one of them worked up the courage to confront him only to discover that the old master was just trying to keep the deer from becoming comfortable around people - people who, outside the monastery grounds, would happily eat a docile deer.

The point, which I think you are also making, is that a simplistic interpretation can easily lead you astray. We have to engage our brains at all times. In doing nothing we may be doing more harm. In blindly (and sometimes selfishly) following the precepts we may do more harm than good. It's all very difficult. So people will always make mistakes in this area.

As for the death penalty I'm not comfortable with it for many reasons but I think it is good to challenge people to look deeper.

Buddhist Jihad

Avoiding taking life is an over-arching precept. However, sustaining our own lives necessarily involves the taking of other life -- to use the Karmapa's example, making wheat for a loaf of bread to feed vegetarians, thousands of insects will be be ploughed under, so vegetarianism does not get one off the hook, karmically-speaking. While in samsara, one is never really off the karmic hook, so following this precept involves increasing/widening awareness, and doing the best one can to avoid doing harm.

isabella mori (@moritherapy)

i included this in my monthly buddhist readings here http://www.moritherapy.org/article/august-2010-buddhist-carnival-right-action/

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