Dzogchen and Ethics

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Dzogchen and Ethics

Postby Sönam » Mon May 14, 2012 10:29 am

What is unnecessary

Six things are unnecessary when you apply profound teachings to your experience:
If your good qualities flourish wherever you stay, you need not remain in solitude.
If you experience the freedom of your concepts in their own ground, you need not renounce sansara.
If you can guard against heedlesness, you need not worry about appreasing other's minds.
If you realize that mind itself is uncontrived, you need not study the scriptures.
If you realize that whatever you perceive is illusory, you need not try to ward off fixation.
If you recognize that the way of abiding is your own true nature, you need not seek buddhahood.
Those for whom these things are no longer necessary are great spirituel people, truly sublime beings.

- Longchen Rabjam - Man ngag rin po che'i mdzod - Precious Treasury of Pith Instructions -
By understanding everything you perceive from the perspective of the view, you are freed from the constraints of philosophical beliefs.
By understanding that any and all mental activity is meditation, you are freed from arbitrary divisions between formal sessions and postmeditation activity.
- Longchen Rabjam -
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon May 14, 2012 10:48 am

Well then, given that none of us here satisfy all those qualities I guess it's back to the ethical behaviour (Noble Eightfold Path) and the scriptures then!
:namaste:
PS We do realise that Longchen Rabjam is describing a fully enlightened being here and not a wannabe Dzogchenpa?
"When one is not in accord with the true view
Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby DharmaKitty » Mon May 14, 2012 11:53 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Well then, given that none of us here satisfy all those qualities I guess it's back to the ethical behaviour (Noble Eightfold Path) and the scriptures then!
:namaste:


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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Norwegian » Wed May 16, 2012 10:49 pm

gregkavarnos,

If you think that Dzogchen does not have an ethical framework, or think that Dzogchen do not have methods that guards practicioners from the lower realms (and so on), then you really don't know anything at all about Dzogchen.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed May 16, 2012 11:34 pm

Norwegian wrote:If you think that Dzogchen does not have an ethical framework, or think that Dzogchen do not have methods that guards practicioners from the lower realms (and so on), then you really don't know anything at all about Dzogchen.
Of course it currently has ethical frameworks: Buddhist and Bonpo. Of course it has methods to guard practitioners from the lower realms: Buddhist tantric methods.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Sherab Dorje » Wed May 16, 2012 11:44 pm

Mr. G wrote:You're making the assumption Dzogchen practices are not rooted in the mindfulness of one's state.
No, you are misinterpreting me: I am pointing out the fact that not all Dzogchenpa are capable of mindfulness 100% of the time, but believing that they are, merely because they are wearing the label "Dzogchenpa" they indulge mindlessly in actions that a practicing Buddhist (due to their adherence to the 8FP) would avoid like the plague. This is how Dzogchen benefits from its relation to Buddhism: the ethical framework.
:namaste:
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Meditation and conduct become delusion,
One will not attain the real result
One will be like a blind man who has no eyes."
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Wed May 16, 2012 11:53 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Norwegian wrote:If you think that Dzogchen does not have an ethical framework, or think that Dzogchen do not have methods that guards practicioners from the lower realms (and so on), then you really don't know anything at all about Dzogchen.
Of course it currently has ethical frameworks: Buddhist and Bonpo. Of course it has methods to guard practitioners from the lower realms: Buddhist tantric methods.
:namaste:



The method of Dzogchen to protect practitioners from the three lower realms has not one single thing to do with tantric methods, Buddhist or Bon.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Wed May 16, 2012 11:55 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:
Mr. G wrote:You're making the assumption Dzogchen practices are not rooted in the mindfulness of one's state.
No, you are misinterpreting me: I am pointing out the fact that not all Dzogchenpa are capable of mindfulness 100% of the time, but believing that they are, merely because they are wearing the label "Dzogchenpa" they indulge mindlessly in actions that a practicing Buddhist (due to their adherence to the 8FP) would avoid like the plague. This is how Dzogchen benefits from its relation to Buddhism: the ethical framework.
:namaste:


You are also assuming that Dzogchenpas indulge mindlessly in actions and that Dzogchenpas think they are capable of mindfulness 100% of the time. The ethical framework is there - it's laid out quite thoroughly in ChNN's book "The Precious Vase".
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    grasping the letter of the text and ignoring its intention!
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Mr. G » Sun May 20, 2012 5:56 pm

Hi Malcolm,

How do you think ethics should be framed for religious denominations that are, or want to practice Dzogchen? Specifically the idea of ahmisa. I read this from a Sikh on another forum:

    As a kirpan carrying Sikh, I am duty bound to give my life for the protection of the defenseless.

    Practically how does this play out?

    •Random person being mugged, yeah I have to step in
    •Random lady crying in the street, ask her why
    •lost kid in the mall? probably

    I hope that helps describe the basic reasoning behind it.

    The name kirpan itself is a derivation of "The Grace of God". Weapons are respected and worshiped by Sikhs simply because they have the ability to bring death, a god given power. Wielding this power should not be done lightly. Sikhs have a duty to ensure the success and freedom of all mankind, even if you don't agree with them. (One of our founding Gurus, or prophets, was executed because he stood up for the Hindu right to freedom of religion).

    This is also a reason that historically Sikh weapons were created to bring death quickly as to alleviate the suffering of anyone who was struck. To paraphrase spidey, "With great power comes great responsibility"
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 4:35 pm

Adamantine wrote:If we don't believe in samsara, and rebirth, as Dzongsar Khyentse pointed out in his teachings on Abandoning the Four Attachments: it would be a lot easier and more fun to just rob a bank and retire to some exotic island, enjoying sensory pleasures indefinitely.


Oh this is total nonsense. There are many reasons to behave ethically, and most people behave ethically merely because it is in their best interest to do so, no medieval threats of hell realms needed.

You know, when ever Buddhists bring this example up, normal people look at them like they are completely full of shite and just consider them fundamentalist weirdos.

These kinds of statements by eminent Buddhists teachers are intellectually impoverished. They make these statements largely out of cultural ignorance of the centuries of upon centuries of very pointed western philosophical inquiry into the nature of morals and ethics.

My father is a former philosophy professor and he would consider such as proposition above childish and simplistic, which indeed it is.

Apparently Dzogsar as never read Kant's Groundwork For a Metaphysics of Morals nor does he know anything about the categorical imperative. Indeed, the human rights movement grew out of Kantian moral metaphysics.

1) Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.

2) Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.

3) Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends.

M
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 4:54 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:If we don't believe in samsara, and rebirth, as Dzongsar Khyentse pointed out in his teachings on Abandoning the Four Attachments: it would be a lot easier and more fun to just rob a bank and retire to some exotic island, enjoying sensory pleasures indefinitely.


Oh this is total nonsense. There are many reasons to behave ethically, and most people behave ethically merely because it is in their best interest to do so, no medieval threats of hell realms needed.

You know, when ever Buddhists bring this example up, normal people look at them like they are completely full of shite and just consider them fundamentalist weirdos.

These kinds of statements by eminent Buddhists teachers are intellectually impoverished. They make these statements largely out of cultural ignorance of the centuries of upon centuries of very pointed western philosophical inquiry into the nature of morals and ethics.

My father is a former philosophy professor and he would consider such as proposition above childish and simplistic, which indeed it is.

Apparently Dzogsar as never read Kant's Groundwork For a Metaphysics of Morals nor does he know anything about the categorical imperative. Indeed, the human rights movement grew out of Kantian moral metaphysics.

1) Act only according to that maxim whereby you can at the same time will that it should become a universal law without contradiction.

2) Act in such a way that you treat humanity, whether in your own person or in the person of any other, never merely as a means to an end, but always at the same time as an end.

3) Therefore, every rational being must so act as if he were through his maxim always a legislating member in the universal kingdom of ends.

M


Malcolm, with all due respect you were at the same teaching and brought up this same quote, with a similar point in a thread about Reggie Ray on Esangha a few years ago. He wasn't in your list of things you felt sorry for, should he have been? If you've completely gone 360 on this issue, that is fine, it is sad to see you join the ranks of Stephen Batchelor though.

In regards to the philosophical approaches to ethics within an existential or scientific-materialist framework, perhaps there can be found an infinite number of reasons to act ethically. But ethics are completely subjective in many ways, as is the idea of non-harm. For many, capital punishment, or abortion as a means of family-planning, or even torture are considered ethical for many. And even if some nominal sense of ethics can be found in materialistic traditions or those of other religions, your above quotations included, I think the six paramitas would be way outside of their comfort-zones, and would appear completely nonsensical.

I also strongly disagree that Dzongsar Khyentse's statement is intellectually impoverished. I think he is fully aware of other Western philosophical tradtions of ethics, and their limitations. I believe he is making a point with an exaggeration, because he enjoys teaching with humor, --a skillful means that many students appreciate. The essence of his point was that Dharma practice can make things more difficult in this life, so if you do not believe karma or rebirth, it can be self-defeating to create more suffering for yourself in the immediacy of this life through these type of practices. He was not relying on fear of the Hell-realms, this is not his style at all, I would think you would know this.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 5:30 pm

Adamantine wrote:Malcolm, with all due respect you were at the same teaching and brought up this same quote, with a similar point in a thread about Reggie Ray on Esangha a few years ago. He wasn't in your list of things you felt sorry for, should he have been? If you've completely gone 360 on this issue, that is fine, it is sad to see you join the ranks of Stephen Batchelor though.


With all due respect, I never said that ethical action without beleiving in karma was impossible. I think it is a foolish thing to say.

As far as Ray goes, I criticized him for saying that rebirth was not a necessary part of the Dharma taught by the Buddha. He was wrong to say that. So, not I am not sorry for making that observation. If someone claims that we can eject rebirth as so much Asian baggage, that person is not teaching the Dharma of the Buddha correctly.

Just because I feel a little sad for some things I have said does not mean that I have necessarily changed my opinions about these issues. It just means that I recognized the folly of creating enemies when it is not necessary.

I also strongly disagree that Dzongsar Khyentse's statement is intellectually impoverished. .


I find the suggestion that moral action only to be possible in the context of rebirth a repugnant claim.

M
Last edited by Malcolm on Thu May 24, 2012 5:33 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby treehuggingoctopus » Thu May 24, 2012 5:40 pm

@Norwegian: :good:

Malcolm wrote:There are many reasons to behave ethically, and most people behave ethically merely because it is in their best interest to do so, no medieval threats of hell realms needed.

You know, when ever Buddhists bring this example up, normal people look at them like they are completely full of shite and just consider them fundamentalist weirdos.


I totally agree, heart and soul. I accept the doctrine of rebirth because it appears to make sense, because those I've come to trust have utter confidence in it, because it was the first 'afterlife' proposition I found appealing when still a kid - plenty of reasons. I can't imagine accepting something like that only because it would be socially useful - nor expecting others to accept it for such reasons.

The "people-must-believe-in-rebirth-because-otherwise"is precisely cynicism, if you ask me. Of the blackest Hobbesian sort, too.

gregkavarnos wrote:Not wanting to sound negative or anything but I would like to see where this conversation will go after ChNN (long life to him) is dead.


You're forgetting about Kyentse Yeshi Namkhai.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 5:42 pm

Adamantine wrote:
In regards to the philosophical approaches to ethics within an existential or scientific-materialist framework, perhaps there can be found an infinite number of reasons to act ethically. But ethics are completely subjective in many ways, as is the idea of non-harm. For many, capital punishment, or abortion as a means of family-planning, or even torture are considered ethical for many. And even if some nominal sense of ethics can be found in materialistic traditions or those of other religions, your above quotations included, I think the six paramitas would be way outside of their comfort-zones, and would appear completely nonsensical.


It is quite clear from your statement you have not delved into the Western tradition of moral philosophy very deep.

The impact of Kant's metaphysic of morals is very simple, and can be stated as follows: "A rational being has the obligation to protect other rational beings, even and especially at their own expense because rational beings must never be used as a means for our own end as we would never wish to be used as means."

The entire human rights movement grew out of Kant's moral metaphysics. In terms of moral philosophy, Buddhism is far behind the curve in terms of sophistication, for the most part still in the 14th century somewhere.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 5:47 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:Malcolm, with all due respect you were at the same teaching and brought up this same quote, with a similar point in a thread about Reggie Ray on Esangha a few years ago. He wasn't in your list of things you felt sorry for, should he have been? If you've completely gone 360 on this issue, that is fine, it is sad to see you join the ranks of Stephen Batchelor though.


With all due respect, I never said that ethical action without beleiving in karma was impossible. I think it is a foolish thing to say.

As far as Ray goes, I criticized him for saying that rebirth was not a necessary part of the Dharma taught by the Buddha. He was wrong to say that. So, not I am not sorry for making that observation. If someone claims that we can eject rebirth as so much Asian baggage, that person is not teaching the Dharma of the Buddha correctly.

Just because I feel a little sad for some things I have said does not mean that I have necessarily changed my opinions about these issues. It just means that I recognized the folly of creating enemies when it is not necessary.

I also strongly disagree that Dzongsar Khyentse's statement is intellectually impoverished. .


I find the suggestion that moral action only to be possible in the context of rebirth a repugnant claim.

M


As noted in my post which you are purportedly replying to, I don't believe that is at all what DKR was saying. I don't see how you get that from what he said, and it wasn't my point in quoting him either. You haven't even addressed the pertinent points in the post where I initially quoted him yet either, so I think you are purposefully obfuscating the issue.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 5:53 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
In regards to the philosophical approaches to ethics within an existential or scientific-materialist framework, perhaps there can be found an infinite number of reasons to act ethically. But ethics are completely subjective in many ways, as is the idea of non-harm. For many, capital punishment, or abortion as a means of family-planning, or even torture are considered ethical for many. And even if some nominal sense of ethics can be found in materialistic traditions or those of other religions, your above quotations included, I think the six paramitas would be way outside of their comfort-zones, and would appear completely nonsensical.


It is quite clear from your statement you have not delved into the Western tradition of moral philosophy very deep.

The impact of Kant's metaphysic of morals is very simple, and can be stated as follows: "A rational being has the obligation to protect other rational beings, even and especially at their own expense because rational beings must never be used as a means for our own end as we would never wish to be used as means."

The entire human rights movement grew out of Kant's moral metaphysics. In terms of moral philosophy, Buddhism is far behind the curve in terms of sophistication, for the most part still in the 14th century somewhere.



I am aware, and I am aware of how completely amoral Kant was in regards to animals. As he determined animals to be not rational, and without wills, he saw them as mechanical and in no need of any ethical treatment. It is traces of Kantian theory which I believe lie at the root for the scientific atrocities that are perpetrated on animals every day in modern society, not to mention industrial animal farming. I find Kant completely ethically bankrupt on this count. I couldn't think of a worse example.

If you think Buddhist ethics are behind the curve in comparison, I simply don't think we will have any point of convergence in any dialogue, so perhaps this discussion is futile.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 5:58 pm

Adamantine wrote:I am aware, and I am aware of how completely amoral Kant was in regards to animals. As he determined animals to be not rational, and without wills, he saw them as mechanical and in no need of any ethical treatment. It is traces of Kantian theory which I believe lie at the root for the scientific atrocities that are perpetrated on animals every day in modern society, not to mention industrial animal farming. I find Kant completely ethically bankrupt on this count. I couldn't think of a worse example.


You are confusing Kant with Descartes:

Any action whereby we may torment animals, or let them suffer distress, or otherwise treat them without love, is demeaning to ourselves
-- Immanuel Kant.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 6:06 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:I am aware, and I am aware of how completely amoral Kant was in regards to animals. As he determined animals to be not rational, and without wills, he saw them as mechanical and in no need of any ethical treatment. It is traces of Kantian theory which I believe lie at the root for the scientific atrocities that are perpetrated on animals every day in modern society, not to mention industrial animal farming. I find Kant completely ethically bankrupt on this count. I couldn't think of a worse example.


You are confusing Kant with Descartes:

Any action whereby we may torment animals, or let them suffer distress, or otherwise treat them without love, is demeaning to ourselves
-- Immanuel Kant.


Maybe Kant developed a little more subtlety around his approach to animals than Descartes, but he still retained the view that animals were without will, and basically mechanical. I don't see how you can have it both ways, I don't think he did much to further any ethical approach to animals, when he continued to further Descartian paradigms. Anyhow, even in the above quote, the act of killing is not included as being problematic.

Kant himself did not think that we had any direct ethical duties to animals. He believed that the only reason we should avoid being cruel to animals is that in doing so we might develop cruel habits that we would inflict on other people. According to Kant, we only owe ethical duties to rational beings, and animals are not included in that group.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Malcolm » Thu May 24, 2012 6:26 pm

Adamantine wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:I am aware, and I am aware of how completely amoral Kant was in regards to animals. As he determined animals to be not rational, and without wills, he saw them as mechanical and in no need of any ethical treatment. It is traces of Kantian theory which I believe lie at the root for the scientific atrocities that are perpetrated on animals every day in modern society, not to mention industrial animal farming. I find Kant completely ethically bankrupt on this count. I couldn't think of a worse example.


You are confusing Kant with Descartes:

Any action whereby we may torment animals, or let them suffer distress, or otherwise treat them without love, is demeaning to ourselves
-- Immanuel Kant.


Maybe Kant developed a little more subtlety around his approach to animals than Descartes, but he still retained the view that animals were without will, and basically mechanical. I don't see how you can have it both ways, I don't think he did much to further any ethical approach to animals, when he continued to further Descartian paradigms. Anyhow, even in the above quote, the act of killing is not included as being problematic.
'

If a man shoots his dog because the animal is no longer capable of service, he does not fail in his duty to the dog, for the dog cannot judge, but his act is inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind. If he is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men.

-- Kant

That the Buddha did not accord animals the same status as humans can be understood from the mere fact that killing animals is an act which requires mere confession with no punishment at all, like drinking alchohol, digging in the earth or plucking the leaves off of trees. For a Buddhist monk, masturbation is considered a more serious offense than killing an animal, requiring not only confession but a form of stringent probation in isolation. Needless to say, killing a human or even a human fetus is a parajika offense which causes one to lose one's vows completely.

In general, the prohibition against killing for lay people primarily means killing humans, but has been extended to all sentient beings though long and ancient custom as an extension of Ahimsa, formally included in Tibetan Buddhism as a commitment of refuge in the Dharma. But the discussions of killing in Abhidharma, etc., never involve discussions of killing animals, only the murder of human beings.

The practice of ahimsa is actually separate from the vow of not taking life, since ahimsa extends not only to animals but plants and other features of what we considered the natural environement. Ahimsa is not a vow. Ahimsa is an ethic, a way of life.
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Re: Dzogchen and Buddhism

Postby Adamantine » Thu May 24, 2012 7:09 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Adamantine wrote:
Maybe Kant developed a little more subtlety around his approach to animals than Descartes, but he still retained the view that animals were without will, and basically mechanical. I don't see how you can have it both ways, I don't think he did much to further any ethical approach to animals, when he continued to further Descartian paradigms. Anyhow, even in the above quote, the act of killing is not included as being problematic.
'

If a man shoots his dog because the animal is no longer capable of service, he does not fail in his duty to the dog, for the dog cannot judge, but his act is inhuman and damages in himself that humanity which it is his duty to show towards mankind. If he is not to stifle his human feelings, he must practice kindness towards animals, for he who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men.

-- Kant

That the Buddha did not accord animals the same status as humans can be understood from the mere fact that killing animals is an act which requires mere confession with no punishment at all, like drinking alchohol, digging in the earth or plucking the leaves off of trees. For a Buddhist monk, masturbation is considered a more serious offense than killing an animal, requiring not only confession but a form of stringent probation in isolation. Needless to say, killing a human or even a human fetus is a parajika offense which causes one to lose one's vows completely.

In general, the prohibition against killing for lay people primarily means killing humans, but has been extended to all sentient beings though long and ancient custom as an extension of Ahimsa, formally included in Tibetan Buddhism as a commitment of refuge in the Dharma. But the discussions of killing in Abhidharma, etc., never involve discussions of killing animals, only the murder of human beings.

The practice of ahimsa is actually separate from the vow of not taking life, since ahimsa extends not only to animals but plants and other features of what we considered the natural environement. Ahimsa is not a vow. Ahimsa is an ethic, a way of life.


There is a huge philosophical and ethical difference here: Kant argues that an animal is essentially valueless, and conduct towards animals has value only as a sort of rehearsal for our conduct towards fellow humans.

Buddhadharma, even if it recognizes a greater value in human life, still sees significant value in the lives of all other beings, including animals. Part of this is recognizing that our own mindstreams can incarnate in such forms, and that any animals or other beings may have been a close relation to us in prior lives. This is a practical way to see an equalizing factor that instills a naturally arising empathy: Kantian theory doesn't even have a trace of this. I don't find any solace in his ethical theory regarding animals.
Contentment is the ultimate wealth;
Detachment is the final happiness. ~Sri Saraha
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