Let no one deceive another or despise anyone anywhere, or through anger or resistance wish for another to suffer.

25 May 2010

Treasure existence

Every being treasures its existence. Every being fears for its life and seeks to guard its treasure. Am I a thief, ready to steal another's treasure? Am I a bully, ready to bring fear to another? Am I a cowardly gang leader, ready with money or inducements to persuade others to steal or bully, creating fear on my behalf, merely to satisfy my craving, my lust, my greed, all to support a fragmentary delusion of sense desires? These are the thoughts that one may use to explain a decision not to eat meat. 

Many troubled questions arise around food. This is natural in a world where the senses are so frequently assaulted with images, words, aromas, sense impressions and consciousness incitements; all manufactured and presented in such enticing ways by the food-media industries. What to do in the face of such overwhelming odds? 

Panca sila are the five precepts every follower of dhamma must seek to observe in their daily life:
    1. abandon the killing or harming of living beings 2. abandon stealing 3. abandon improper sexual conduct 4. abandon the telling of lies (abstention from impolite speech, abstention from setting people against each other, abstention from gossiping, abstention from backbiting) 5. abandon the use of intoxicants such as alcohol and harmful drugs
These are not commandments, but "Five Faultless Gifts" that when accepted and put into practice, become useful steps towards easing the burden of the usual round of socially-induced stress. Taking these steps cannot help but to add to the sense of well-being that induces one to go further along the path of pleasant work that is dhamma.

Would not the first precept suffice in relation to eating meat? Yes. However, the concept of killing carries with it the premise of defensibility, especially for those who are not fully aware of dhamma. That is to say, for example: if someone attacks someone I love, can I not act to kill in self-defence? What if I am starving, can't I kill then? These arguments run away from the point of easing stress and merely go towards views and positions of those not fully aware. Rather than trying to turn a ship in mid-stream, or to preach dhamma, or avoid entirely, all of which may perhaps cause the conversation to capsize, to sound evangelical, or to induce disharmony, it may be better to place the moral principle on sounder footing. Killing may be sometimes defensible in some people's minds, but the concept of theft is rarely so. No one wants to be seen as a thief. It is therefore hard to argue against the reasoning given above.

The sila panca are the basis of dhamma. Rather than becoming burdens, accepting their usefulness means the putting down of burdens. The greatest of these is the relief that flows from the putting down, the abandoning of, the causing of harm, either to oneself or to others. For further reading Thanissaro Bhikkhu  has written an eloquent outline of the healing power of the precepts in the face of our consumption seduced world.

Bhavattu sabbe mangalam.

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