Problem with the 5th precept

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Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Ikkyu » Fri Jun 08, 2012 4:56 pm

*This topic has been partly copied (from the Introduction forum viewtopic.php?f=10&p=108954#p108018 ) and pasted in the "Personal Experience" forum

Hello.

My username -- Ikkyu -- is that of a famous Japanese Zen monk, poet, rebel and eccentric who, despite being ordained, is known for his enjoyment of sake, sex and the Japanese bamboo flute (or shakuhachi.). When he wasn't meditating in the mountains, Ikkyu would decend into nearby towns to visit a brothel or just get smashed. His poems often satirize, and at the sime time revere, the Dharma utilizing sexual/erotic puns and unorthodox methods of criticizing conventional Buddhist ethics.

Like Ikkyu, I'm into Buddhism although I am by no means perfect at it. I often stumble over the uncarved block. My original face is mired with the fact that I don't meditate as regularly as I should, and after I do meditate I don't exactly always practice "mindfull consumption". I have yet to take precepts as, you guessed it, I have a problem with the fifth one. (And to a lesser extent the third.) I'm a believer in the idea that being liberal with alcohol use and sexual conduct isn't so bad if a person is mindfull and aware of their actions, and doesn't intend to cause harm. :shrug: Feel free to disagree.

Also like Ikkyu, I am fond of poetry and the shakuhachi. (But damn, it's hard to play.)

Anyhow, I'd like to maybe one day commit to the precepts but I simply don't get how never smoking pot again or refraining from "sexual misconduct" is somehow compassionate. Live and let live, I say. Ikkyu said the same thing, and yet still believed he was treading a Buddhist path. As long as you're not hurting anyone what's the problem?

I've been attending a local sangha group in a nearby town for about a year and a half now. My group is a delineation of Thich Nhat Hanh's lineage in the Lam Te (Rinzai) Thien (Vietnamese Zen) tradition. I'm still considering looking aound to find out whether or not any other certain tradition will suit me better.

I would love to study the history of the Komuso, or the mendicant, basket-wearing monks of Japan who played the shakuhachi in order to gain enlightenment more.

I guess the reason I'm here on Dharma Wheel is primarily because I'm a skeptic. Although I've read A LOT on Buddhism and most other religions (I'm sort of a comparitive religion and philosophy nerd in my spare time, although I'm working to get my BA in professional writing at the moment), I still have issues with the Dharma that I may very well bring up in later posts.

In any case, thank you for reading my introduction and I hope that everything works out well. Many happy returns. Metta. Namaste. Gassho. Yada yada.

:yinyang:

[...]

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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Paul » Sat Jun 09, 2012 6:31 pm

Ikkyu wrote:Anyhow, I'd like to maybe one day commit to the precepts but I simply don't get how never smoking pot again or refraining from "sexual misconduct" is somehow compassionate. Live and let live, I say. Ikkyu said the same thing, and yet still believed he was treading a Buddhist path. As long as you're not hurting anyone what's the problem?


Hi Ikkyu - sexual misconduct refers to forced sex and sex with someone 'under protection' - i.e. someone married (and therefore 'under protection' of their spouse) or someone under age (and so under protection of their parents). So basically rape, adultery and child abuse. I'm sure you agree avoiding these is compassionate.

In my substantial experience, pot is terrible for concentration and also very bad for effects like subtle paranoia. It does have a different effect on different people, but I believe that it's a far more powerful drug than many realise. Meditation is so much better in many ways - I'm sure you'll eventually decide to quite pot in favour of it.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:36 pm

Paul wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:Anyhow, I'd like to maybe one day commit to the precepts but I simply don't get how never smoking pot again or refraining from "sexual misconduct" is somehow compassionate. Live and let live, I say. Ikkyu said the same thing, and yet still believed he was treading a Buddhist path. As long as you're not hurting anyone what's the problem?


Hi Ikkyu - sexual misconduct refers to forced sex and sex with someone 'under protection' - i.e. someone married (and therefore 'under protection' of their spouse) or someone under age (and so under protection of their parents). So basically rape, adultery and child abuse. I'm sure you agree avoiding these is compassionate.

In my substantial experience, pot is terrible for concentration and also very bad for effects like subtle paranoia. It does have a different effect on different people, but I believe that it's a far more powerful drug than many realise. Meditation is so much better in many ways - I'm sure you'll eventually decide to quite pot in favour of it.


I don't favor one over the other. They're completely different. When I do zazen I do zazen. When I smoke ganja I smoke ganja.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby LastLegend » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:43 pm

For beginners, precepts should be upheld dearly. Enlightened masters can break all the precepts but they only do so to demonstrate to their students. Monks who drink alcohol and have sex are not good examples.

The point of practice is to train the mind and train the mind to a point where it becomes completely still-then one is said to be liberated. Consuming liberal alcohol and having sexual misconducts will not help training the mind. It's merely letting the mind to do what it desires, what the body likes.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 11, 2012 4:54 pm

I was never more than a once-in-a-blue-moon pot smoker. I stopped smoking weed when I realised its effect was basically similar to meditation without the lucidity. It was a day of fine practise and I was enjoying the natural gladness that comes with it and was surprised to discover that the only effect the weed had was make me less lucid.

At that point it seemed silly to smoke pot when a bit of practise could accomplish the same thing without negative side effect and plenty of positive side effects.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 7:51 pm

Anders wrote:I was never more than a once-in-a-blue-moon pot smoker. I stopped smoking weed when I realised its effect was basically similar to meditation without the lucidity. It was a day of fine practise and I was enjoying the natural gladness that comes with it and was surprised to discover that the only effect the weed had was make me less lucid.

At that point it seemed silly to smoke pot when a bit of practise could accomplish the same thing without negative side effect and plenty of positive side effects.


But I'm not smoking as a matter of practice. Yes, psychedelics -- Cannabis included -- alter our consciousness in strange and sometimes beneficial ways. The use of ayahuasca, peyote and Cannabis as spiritual tools (entheogens) has been practiced since the dawn of civilization, far before the Buddha's time.

But when I smoke I do so very occasionally. I don't believe I become "heedless". And I'm not using it as a substitute for meditation or Buddhist practice. The two are entirely separate.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ogyen » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:10 pm

All 'morality' aside, my take on this is very practical. It's your brain, it's your life, it's your choice to do with as you please. That's how we create our karma, positive and negative. You walk your path alone. No one walks it for you, so you are your own ultimate counsel on all matters of choice. It is wise to look at substances of any kind and our responses to them, where we grasp, where we avoid, and see in mathematical terms the benefits.

All 'recreational' drugs accelerate the death of your brain cells. You only have so many. It's your brain, your life, your choice to spend those however you want. Just like your time and effort. No one ultimately cares, but you. When time comes due for you to foot the bill, you will have given yourself more or less time as it were based on the many compounded choices of your life. You will pay just like every other fool on this earth who thought they were 'just fine' but didn't bother to do the math and perhaps mistakenly invested their notions into what they believed instead of what was real. Death is indiscriminate, and we're all doing our best.

My point is it's simply a question of priority. What do you want? To grow down into truth and clear yourSelf of all grasping and be a non-returner (and yes, you probably need as much time as life will give you for this) or to duck your head in the sand for the sake of your notions and desires to smoke a lil this and do a lil that? Like I said, ultimately, there is no one looking over your shoulder, no judge, no jury, just your choices and the consequences in your karma of how you invested cultivating your mind (and towards what).

I don't actually need the answer to these questions, they are more for you to just think about - I'm simply posing them in an a-moral but practical way. I like facts, they tend to keep me grounded. I have to pose myself the same question daily in many choices I face. What do I want, because doing this xyz thing is a choice, every moment is a choice. It's a good habit to get into to know and be lucid about where your path gets cut out (in the present choices you make, not some day over there) and that those choices become a tangled past which lead up to sometimes rather choiceless futures. Awareness is key. You have the power to know where you're going, if you let yourself be practical and clear about your present intentions...

not necessarily very buddhisty, but just my two cents.

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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:42 pm

Ogyen wrote:All 'morality' aside, my take on this is very practical. It's your brain, it's your life, it's your choice to do with as you please. That's how we create our karma, positive and negative. You walk your path alone. No one walks it for you, so you are your own ultimate counsel on all matters of choice. It is wise to look at substances of any kind and our responses to them, where we grasp, where we avoid, and see in mathematical terms the benefits.

All 'recreational' drugs accelerate the death of your brain cells. You only have so many. It's your brain, your life, your choice to spend those however you want. Just like your time and effort. No one ultimately cares, but you. When time comes due for you to foot the bill, you will have given yourself more or less time as it were based on the many compounded choices of your life. You will pay just like every other fool on this earth who thought they were 'just fine' but didn't bother to do the math and perhaps mistakenly invested their notions into what they believed instead of what was real. Death is indiscriminate, and we're all doing our best.

My point is it's simply a question of priority. What do you want? To grow down into truth and clear yourSelf of all grasping and be a non-returner (and yes, you probably need as much time as life will give you for this) or to duck your head in the sand for the sake of your notions and desires to smoke a lil this and do a lil that? Like I said, ultimately, there is no one looking over your shoulder, no judge, no jury, just your choices and the consequences in your karma of how you invested cultivating your mind (and towards what).

I don't actually need the answer to these questions, they are more for you to just think about - I'm simply posing them in an a-moral but practical way. I like facts, they tend to keep me grounded. I have to pose myself the same question daily in many choices I face. What do I want, because doing this xyz thing is a choice, every moment is a choice. It's a good habit to get into to know and be lucid about where your path gets cut out (in the present choices you make, not some day over there) and that those choices become a tangled past which lead up to sometimes rather choiceless futures. Awareness is key. You have the power to know where you're going, if you let yourself be practical and clear about your present intentions...

not necessarily very buddhisty, but just my two cents.

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"What do you want? To grow down into truth and clear yourSelf of all grasping and be a non-returner (and yes, you probably need as much time as life will give you for this) or to duck your head in the sand for the sake of your notions and desires to smoke a lil this and do a lil that? Like I said, ultimately, there is no one looking over your shoulder, no judge, no jury, just your choices and the consequences in your karma of how you invested cultivating your mind (and towards what)."

... Who is to say that entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self"? Ego death is a very common effect of psychotropic rituals, especially for the shamans of Peru, for instance.

My belief is that, despite my Buddhist leaning, the Dharma is not the ONLY way. (This would be exclusivistic.) It is simply one way, one path, and a very good one at that. However we know of people who have become enlightened spontaneously. While meditation and Dharma practice cultivate a mind more susceptible to enlightenment, we cannot exclude examples of individuals who achieved it when, for instance, simply washing the dishes (as a Zen priest once pointed out to me), or Pratekyabuddhas.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Mon Jun 11, 2012 8:47 pm

LastLegend wrote:For beginners, precepts should be upheld dearly. Enlightened masters can break all the precepts but they only do so to demonstrate to their students. Monks who drink alcohol and have sex are not good examples.

The point of practice is to train the mind and train the mind to a point where it becomes completely still-then one is said to be liberated. Consuming liberal alcohol and having sexual misconducts will not help training the mind. It's merely letting the mind to do what it desires, what the body likes.


Who says that we have to be heedless simply because we drink alcohol. I have moment of deep clarity after smoking marijuana. I'd hardly call that heedlessnes.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Anders » Mon Jun 11, 2012 9:58 pm

Ikkyu wrote:And I'm not using it as a substitute for meditation or Buddhist practice. The two are entirely separate.


That may change for you later. The eventual point of meditational practise is that practise = life without compartmentalisation or segregation.

I would say rather, if you do smoke weed, by all means take the opportunity to meditate.
"Even if my body should be burnt to death in the fires of hell
I would endure it for myriad lifetimes
As your companion in practice"

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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ogyen » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:18 pm

Ikkyu wrote:
Ogyen wrote:"What do you want? To grow down into truth and clear yourSelf of all grasping and be a non-returner (and yes, you probably need as much time as life will give you for this) or to duck your head in the sand for the sake of your notions and desires to smoke a lil this and do a lil that? Like I said, ultimately, there is no one looking over your shoulder, no judge, no jury, just your choices and the consequences in your karma of how you invested cultivating your mind (and towards what)."


... Who is to say that entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self"? Ego death is a very common effect of psychotropic rituals, especially for the shamans of Peru, for instance.

My belief is that, despite my Buddhist leaning, the Dharma is not the ONLY way. (This would be exclusivistic.) It is simply one way, one path, and a very good one at that. However we know of people who have become enlightened spontaneously. While meditation and Dharma practice cultivate a mind more susceptible to enlightenment, we cannot exclude examples of individuals who achieved it when, for instance, simply washing the dishes (as a Zen priest once pointed out to me), or Pratekyabuddhas.


Nor did I ever mention Dharma was the 'only way' either. Who is to say indeed entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self" - but unless you have proof of what the effects of entheogens are on the Self, or even what the Self is, OR a cultural context within which to believe that method and process of clearing it, who's to say Santa Clause won't just give me full Buddhahood for Christmas? It's about the same magical thinking and holds about just as much water, as far as reasoning goes. Which is why I stressed practicality. We make a lot of decisions on half-informed opinions and a lot of desires to believe something specifically. What's your brand of ego?

And for that matter - What IS the ego? Is it a thing? Is it a process? Where in the mind does it reside? And is its death your goal? Note, I never used that phrase or inferred the death of anything. I simply said clear yourSelf of grasping. In whatever form, Buddhist or not, we have to reduce our self-importance in some way to become 'bigger' human beings - historically, this is the archetypal Hero's Journey. Death of the Ego might be the death of You, maybe it's something to strive for, maybe it's totally wrong... And when I see people pulling other cultural practices out of context in relation to substance utilization, my question is usually why does what Peruvian shamans practice matter to you? Are you following THAT path? Are you culturally tied into the Peruvian creeds, beliefs, and entire context that composes those rites of passage? If the answer is no, and that you have no connection to that 'lineage' of practices, then the usage of other cultural contexts is paramount to spiritual materialism practiced by Westerners who like to pick and choose and adopt a mix of this and hodgepodge of that, but end up really really confused. Which is why, I again stressed practicality, not morality.

Where are YOU from, where do YOU come from, what is your cultural matrix? Those are more important questions to ask yourself. How do you become a better whatever you are already? That is the key to growing down into your own reality, Buddhist or not. I think it's important to stay within the parameters of that which most speaks to you, and to know WHY it speaks to you.

I am by all definitions a Buddhist, and I'm not "narrow" on the dharma, not on method, not on lineage, not on manifestation. Truth comes in many many forms. I've lived all over the world, grew up as a 'third culture kid' (and fourth and fifth), I grew up in the east and the west, in the diverse cultural contexts with many languages to speak the same truths. The diversity of methods in the world is extremely wide and varied. The questions I pose are not to make you uncomfortable, simply to perhaps look at underlying assumptions they pivot on that you might be taking for granted. I see grasping for a specific ideal, that of the drunken monk Ikkyu, but what was HIS cultural context and what do you share with it? Important questions, we can't take people's methods out of the contexts of their lives as a whole.

You could tweak yourself out into awakening like a Peruvian Shaman, or you could screw yourself up completely into this life beyond the point of being able to cognitively come back, who's to say, I'm certainly not going to go there, I don't know. That's neither here nor there. The point is, the real question is where and in what do you take refuge as the method that will get you from suffering to happiness? Buddhists use the dharma. Others -ists and -ians use other methods. Many paths, many answers, one goal: Happiness and freedom from suffering. Practically speaking, brain cells might help the journey move along a bit quicker... but that might be my own experiential bias speaking.. most cultures advocate health of mind and spirit, and all substances are always within a cultural context of ritual that is key to their passages from one state into another...

Westerners have only the pursuits of pleasure or self-destructiveness as their context for drugs. The primal rites of passage have been long lost, and to take them out of context is plain dangerous. I could just as soon pick up Amazonian cannibal rites of passage to support some desire to try to eat human flesh telling myself there's a notion that I would gain better insight into primeval rites of passage and how to transcend my own ego (which many cannibalistic cultures used flesh-eating to do)... BUT as the saying goes lipstick on a pig still is just lipstick on a pig. I would be no more an Amazonian cannibal or have insights into that way of life than the Pope sitting in the Vatican. I'd just be a really ignorant human trying to find something to substantiate and justify my own ill-conceived desires. NOTE: I have no cannibal interest whatsoever, that's just an EXTREME example of adopting some primal ancient practice from a far off culture remote from my own to justify how maybe doing something might give me better insight into myself. A dangerous line of thought, something too many 1st worlders are good at taking too far because of their own cultural matrix of consumerism...

a very good dharma friend told me when i asked him, what if I know eating the piece of chocolate may not be the best thing for me, but I want to anyway? His answer was, "Do it and watch yourself doing it." A profound lesson.

If you use substances, simply be present with yourself when you make your choices. That is all. Don't use or draw upon anything outside yourself to justify, validate, that is just grasping. The urge comes from within, the answer to transcending its impulse also comes from within - the discipline emerges from within. The path is noticing it and being there when it happens within. Just pay attention, and your questions on this will be answered by the most important authority on the matter - you.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby seeker242 » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:26 pm

Ikkyu wrote:
Anyhow, I'd like to maybe one day commit to the precepts but I simply don't get how never smoking pot again or refraining from "sexual misconduct" is somehow compassionate. Live and let live, I say. Ikkyu said the same thing, and yet still believed he was treading a Buddhist path. As long as you're not hurting anyone what's the problem?

I've been attending a local sangha group in a nearby town for about a year and a half now. My group is a delineation of Thich Nhat Hanh's lineage in the Lam Te (Rinzai) Thien (Vietnamese Zen) tradition. I'm still considering looking aound to find out whether or not any other certain tradition will suit me better.



I am quite fond of Thich Nhat Hanh sanghas! There is a local one here and it's a very good group, except for the fact that the monks don't speak much English! Ha! Does the local sangha have any monks or teachers? If so, what do they think about a layperson engaging in behavior similar to Ikkyu? What do you think they would say? Or perhaps you could ask them in person. :smile:
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Sherab Dorje » Mon Jun 11, 2012 10:58 pm

Okay, so you come out and say that you are concerned that your drinking/smoking (the sexual behaviour thing was easily dealt with) are a cause of concern, and when people agree that they are a cause of concern you say that they are not a cause of concern... :rolleye: Then you come up with some piss weak comments on ethnogens and Peruvian shaman and ego death, etc... Are you a practicing Peruvian shaman? Do you want to pracitce Peruvian shamanism? Do you want to practice Zen? It's not that one is good and the other is bad, but it's like pressing the brake and the accelerator at the same time. It just doesn't work. So make a choice.

Tell you how it worked for me (an ex-smoker, drinker, tripper, xtasy freak, actually anything that would reduce my brain to mush). One day I started meditating, then slowly my perceived "need" for turning my brain to mush started to wane by itself, it got to the point where my igestion was so minimal that it seemed silly not to take the precept and just stop altogether. Now maybe in the future my practice will reach the point where there is no dualistic notions of straight and bent, user and teetotaler, etc... when there will be no difference to my consciousness whether I turn my brain to mush or be completely straight edge, then I may start drinking and drugs again, but since I ain't there yet I just avoid drinking and drugs. Your friend Ikkyu was there and that's why he could get away with it. Do you reckon you are there?
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Ikkyu » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:26 am

seeker242 wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
Anyhow, I'd like to maybe one day commit to the precepts but I simply don't get how never smoking pot again or refraining from "sexual misconduct" is somehow compassionate. Live and let live, I say. Ikkyu said the same thing, and yet still believed he was treading a Buddhist path. As long as you're not hurting anyone what's the problem?

I've been attending a local sangha group in a nearby town for about a year and a half now. My group is a delineation of Thich Nhat Hanh's lineage in the Lam Te (Rinzai) Thien (Vietnamese Zen) tradition. I'm still considering looking aound to find out whether or not any other certain tradition will suit me better.



I am quite fond of Thich Nhat Hanh sanghas! There is a local one here and it's a very good group, except for the fact that the monks don't speak much English! Ha! Does the local sangha have any monks or teachers? If so, what do they think about a layperson engaging in behavior similar to Ikkyu? What do you think they would say? Or perhaps you could ask them in person. :smile:


The priest and dharmacharya at the sangha both said it was disingenuous on my part. (Practicing zazen and having a relationship with Cannabis on the side.) I don't necessarilly think they're wrong or right. I do what I feel is right in the moment. When I feel meditation is good for me I go ahead with it. When I don't I don't. I personally don't find anything "heedless" about marijuana. But that's just me I guess.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:26 am

Anders wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:And I'm not using it as a substitute for meditation or Buddhist practice. The two are entirely separate.


That may change for you later. The eventual point of meditational practise is that practise = life without compartmentalisation or segregation.

I would say rather, if you do smoke weed, by all means take the opportunity to meditate.


I have and will continue to do so.
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:28 am

LastLegend wrote:For beginners, precepts should be upheld dearly. Enlightened masters can break all the precepts but they only do so to demonstrate to their students. Monks who drink alcohol and have sex are not good examples.

The point of practice is to train the mind and train the mind to a point where it becomes completely still-then one is said to be liberated. Consuming liberal alcohol and having sexual misconducts will not help training the mind. It's merely letting the mind to do what it desires, what the body likes.


Have you ever heard of ganachakra?
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Ikkyu » Tue Jun 12, 2012 6:44 am

gregkavarnos wrote:Okay, so you come out and say that you are concerned that your drinking/smoking (the sexual behaviour thing was easily dealt with) are a cause of concern, and when people agree that they are a cause of concern you say that they are not a cause of concern... :rolleye: Then you come up with some piss weak comments on ethnogens and Peruvian shaman and ego death, etc... Are you a practicing Peruvian shaman? Do you want to pracitce Peruvian shamanism? Do you want to practice Zen? It's not that one is good and the other is bad, but it's like pressing the brake and the accelerator at the same time. It just doesn't work. So make a choice.

Tell you how it worked for me (an ex-smoker, drinker, tripper, xtasy freak, actually anything that would reduce my brain to mush). One day I started meditating, then slowly my perceived "need" for turning my brain to mush started to wane by itself, it got to the point where my igestion was so minimal that it seemed silly not to take the precept and just stop altogether. Now maybe in the future my practice will reach the point where there is no dualistic notions of straight and bent, user and teetotaler, etc... when there will be no difference to my consciousness whether I turn my brain to mush or be completely straight edge, then I may start drinking and drugs again, but since I ain't there yet I just avoid drinking and drugs. Your friend Ikkyu was there and that's why he could get away with it. Do you reckon you are there?
:namaste:


I am not concerned about it. I don't recall ever mentioning that... I have a healthy and normal relationship with consciousness-alteration and the means whereby this is achieved. At least I'd like to think so. This post was initially an introduction, although a mod/admin/whatever moved it here and renamed the thread, so this may be a source of some confusion.

I don't understand why you'd lash out and call my comments "piss weak" or sarcastically ask me if I'm a "Peruvian shaman" when I clearly have no affiliations with the Urarina or any other huasca tribe, and I frankly find such statements sort of rude.

"... like pressing the brake and the accelerator at the same time. It just doesn't work. So make a choice."

What exactly am I supposed to be "working" on? I meditate and I smoke marijuana. It's simple. That's my choice. One day I may stop one or the other.

Why is enlightenment restricted to one practice or one action or one state of consciousness when, in reality, emptiness is inherent in all states of mind... though through zazen I'm sure it is much more of a direct experience than through psychedelics. I'm not saying that I plan to become enlightened through being stoned... that seems against the grain... just that if, as the koans suggest, Chiyono attained enlightenment just by seeing a pail break, who is to say that enlightenment is restricted to such rigid circumstances?

In speaking from a cultural and historical context, the Buddha had no knowledge of -- or simply didn't mention -- psychedelics. I don't think we could know his beliefs about them, if he ever were to encounter them. This is all very speculative.

No, I am not a shaman. But this doesn't diminish the effects that psychedelics have on the mind and their capacity to allow us to venture into (ostensibly) different interior dimensions and attain a greater understanding of the universe therein.

Consider this, if you will:

In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha's precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o'clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. Whenever he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept.

One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is suppposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.

"Hello, brother," Tanzan greeted him. "Won't you have a drink?"

"I never drink!" exclaimed Unsho solemnly.

"One who does not drink is not even human," said Tanzan.

"Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!" exclaimed Unsho in anger. "Then if I am not human, what am I?"

"A Buddha," answered Tanzan.


"Your friend Ikkyu was there and that's why he could get away with it. Do you reckon you are there?"

I don't presume to know the mind of anyone else, first of all. Secondly, no, I'm not that great of a poet and I'm certainly not as versed in Zen as he was. Thirdly, where in the Buddha-dharma is anyone restricted from "getting away" with anything? Why do I need license from someone else concerning my state of mind -- or whether it is "enlightened" or not -- in order to smoke weed maybe once a month as I currently do? I don't think my brain is turning to mush. I don't want to be a teetotaler because, yeah, I believe in the middle way, and I also realize that what the Buddha taught wasn't "do this or else you'll never be enlightened like me and escape suffering, hahaha!" but rather "hey, listen, I have a really good suggestion and if you want to give it a try. You don't have to be prefect at it, but I think if you give it a shot and genuinely try it it may help you to have a happier life at the end of the day."
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Re: An Eager Noobist

Postby Ikkyu » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:20 am

Ogyen wrote:
Ikkyu wrote:
Ogyen wrote:"What do you want? To grow down into truth and clear yourSelf of all grasping and be a non-returner (and yes, you probably need as much time as life will give you for this) or to duck your head in the sand for the sake of your notions and desires to smoke a lil this and do a lil that? Like I said, ultimately, there is no one looking over your shoulder, no judge, no jury, just your choices and the consequences in your karma of how you invested cultivating your mind (and towards what)."


... Who is to say that entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self"? Ego death is a very common effect of psychotropic rituals, especially for the shamans of Peru, for instance.

My belief is that, despite my Buddhist leaning, the Dharma is not the ONLY way. (This would be exclusivistic.) It is simply one way, one path, and a very good one at that. However we know of people who have become enlightened spontaneously. While meditation and Dharma practice cultivate a mind more susceptible to enlightenment, we cannot exclude examples of individuals who achieved it when, for instance, simply washing the dishes (as a Zen priest once pointed out to me), or Pratekyabuddhas.


Nor did I ever mention Dharma was the 'only way' either. Who is to say indeed entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self" - but unless you have proof of what the effects of entheogens are on the Self, or even what the Self is, OR a cultural context within which to believe that method and process of clearing it, who's to say Santa Clause won't just give me full Buddhahood for Christmas? It's about the same magical thinking and holds about just as much water, as far as reasoning goes. Which is why I stressed practicality. We make a lot of decisions on half-informed opinions and a lot of desires to believe something specifically. What's your brand of ego?

And for that matter - What IS the ego? Is it a thing? Is it a process? Where in the mind does it reside? And is its death your goal? Note, I never used that phrase or inferred the death of anything. I simply said clear yourSelf of grasping. In whatever form, Buddhist or not, we have to reduce our self-importance in some way to become 'bigger' human beings - historically, this is the archetypal Hero's Journey. Death of the Ego might be the death of You, maybe it's something to strive for, maybe it's totally wrong... And when I see people pulling other cultural practices out of context in relation to substance utilization, my question is usually why does what Peruvian shamans practice matter to you? Are you following THAT path? Are you culturally tied into the Peruvian creeds, beliefs, and entire context that composes those rites of passage? If the answer is no, and that you have no connection to that 'lineage' of practices, then the usage of other cultural contexts is paramount to spiritual materialism practiced by Westerners who like to pick and choose and adopt a mix of this and hodgepodge of that, but end up really really confused. Which is why, I again stressed practicality, not morality.

Where are YOU from, where do YOU come from, what is your cultural matrix? Those are more important questions to ask yourself. How do you become a better whatever you are already? That is the key to growing down into your own reality, Buddhist or not. I think it's important to stay within the parameters of that which most speaks to you, and to know WHY it speaks to you.

I am by all definitions a Buddhist, and I'm not "narrow" on the dharma, not on method, not on lineage, not on manifestation. Truth comes in many many forms. I've lived all over the world, grew up as a 'third culture kid' (and fourth and fifth), I grew up in the east and the west, in the diverse cultural contexts with many languages to speak the same truths. The diversity of methods in the world is extremely wide and varied. The questions I pose are not to make you uncomfortable, simply to perhaps look at underlying assumptions they pivot on that you might be taking for granted. I see grasping for a specific ideal, that of the drunken monk Ikkyu, but what was HIS cultural context and what do you share with it? Important questions, we can't take people's methods out of the contexts of their lives as a whole.

You could tweak yourself out into awakening like a Peruvian Shaman, or you could screw yourself up completely into this life beyond the point of being able to cognitively come back, who's to say, I'm certainly not going to go there, I don't know. That's neither here nor there. The point is, the real question is where and in what do you take refuge as the method that will get you from suffering to happiness? Buddhists use the dharma. Others -ists and -ians use other methods. Many paths, many answers, one goal: Happiness and freedom from suffering. Practically speaking, brain cells might help the journey move along a bit quicker... but that might be my own experiential bias speaking.. most cultures advocate health of mind and spirit, and all substances are always within a cultural context of ritual that is key to their passages from one state into another...

Westerners have only the pursuits of pleasure or self-destructiveness as their context for drugs. The primal rites of passage have been long lost, and to take them out of context is plain dangerous. I could just as soon pick up Amazonian cannibal rites of passage to support some desire to try to eat human flesh telling myself there's a notion that I would gain better insight into primeval rites of passage and how to transcend my own ego (which many cannibalistic cultures used flesh-eating to do)... BUT as the saying goes lipstick on a pig still is just lipstick on a pig. I would be no more an Amazonian cannibal or have insights into that way of life than the Pope sitting in the Vatican. I'd just be a really ignorant human trying to find something to substantiate and justify my own ill-conceived desires. NOTE: I have no cannibal interest whatsoever, that's just an EXTREME example of adopting some primal ancient practice from a far off culture remote from my own to justify how maybe doing something might give me better insight into myself. A dangerous line of thought, something too many 1st worlders are good at taking too far because of their own cultural matrix of consumerism...

a very good dharma friend told me when i asked him, what if I know eating the piece of chocolate may not be the best thing for me, but I want to anyway? His answer was, "Do it and watch yourself doing it." A profound lesson.

If you use substances, simply be present with yourself when you make your choices. That is all. Don't use or draw upon anything outside yourself to justify, validate, that is just grasping. The urge comes from within, the answer to transcending its impulse also comes from within - the discipline emerges from within. The path is noticing it and being there when it happens within. Just pay attention, and your questions on this will be answered by the most important authority on the matter - you.
:namaste:


"Nor did I ever mention Dharma was the 'only way' either. Who is to say indeed entheogens don't accelerate the process of "clearing one's Self" - but unless you have proof of what the effects of entheogens are on the Self, or even what the Self is, OR a cultural context within which to believe that method and process of clearing it, who's to say Santa Clause won't just give me full Buddhahood for Christmas? It's about the same magical thinking and holds about just as much water, as far as reasoning goes. Which is why I stressed practicality. We make a lot of decisions on half-informed opinions and a lot of desires to believe something specifically. What's your brand of ego?"

What proof do we have that Buddhism does anything to the Self? Who's to say Buddha won't just give us full Buddhahood? Can't Buddhism, like any other religion, be reduced to magical thinking and a lack of proof regarding such issues as karma, rebirth, skandhas, etc., etc., just to name a few? This is why Buddhism is a religion. It's a good idea... not dogma set in stone. And I'm fine with that. My brand of ego is in a constant state of flux, as is everything in the fleeting universe. I am still on a journey. Who knows the destination?

"And for that matter - What IS the ego? Is it a thing? Is it a process? Where in the mind does it reside? And is its death your goal? Note, I never used that phrase or inferred the death of anything. I simply said clear yourSelf of grasping. In whatever form, Buddhist or not, we have to reduce our self-importance in some way to become 'bigger' human beings - historically, this is the archetypal Hero's Journey. Death of the Ego might be the death of You, maybe it's something to strive for, maybe it's totally wrong... And when I see people pulling other cultural practices out of context in relation to substance utilization, my question is usually why does what Peruvian shamans practice matter to you? Are you following THAT path? Are you culturally tied into the Peruvian creeds, beliefs, and entire context that composes those rites of passage? If the answer is no, and that you have no connection to that 'lineage' of practices, then the usage of other cultural contexts is paramount to spiritual materialism practiced by Westerners who like to pick and choose and adopt a mix of this and hodgepodge of that, but end up really really confused. Which is why, I again stressed practicality, not morality."

Peruvian shamans were just an example I was using. The point I was trying to make is that entheogens have their place in the spiritual heritage of mankind. I am not tied to any particular belief... and despite how derogatory and prejudiced you seem to be against everyone in the Occident -- as is evinced by such a sweeping judgement -- there are actually Westerners who are not consumerist idiots and not spiritually materialistic and who do stress living out a genuine, devout spiritual practice. There are a number of those people on this very forum I'm sure. Cherry-picking isn't limited to Westerners... what makesyou think Asian Buddhists, Muslims, Christians from Syria and others don't cherry-pick regarding their religions, their Bibles, Qur'ans, and whatnot? Is it really disingenuous to put it all together yourself in order to see what works? We don't solve a jigsaw puzzle the first time around. It takes a lot of different piecings together to get it right.

Again. I am not a shaman, but the value of the plants and the materials which effect the mind in these unique ways is certainly beneficial in some instances. I don't need to be a Peruvian shaman to know that my consciousness can be expanded and that sometimes this yields beneficial spiritual results.


"Where are YOU from, where do YOU come from, what is your cultural matrix? Those are more important questions to ask yourself. How do you become a better whatever you are already? That is the key to growing down into your own reality, Buddhist or not. I think it's important to stay within the parameters of that which most speaks to you, and to know WHY it speaks to you.

I am by all definitions a Buddhist, and I'm not "narrow" on the dharma, not on method, not on lineage, not on manifestation. Truth comes in many many forms. I've lived all over the world, grew up as a 'third culture kid' (and fourth and fifth), I grew up in the east and the west, in the diverse cultural contexts with many languages to speak the same truths. The diversity of methods in the world is extremely wide and varied. The questions I pose are not to make you uncomfortable, simply to perhaps look at underlying assumptions they pivot on that you might be taking for granted. I see grasping for a specific ideal, that of the drunken monk Ikkyu, but what was HIS cultural context and what do you share with it? Important questions, we can't take people's methods out of the contexts of their lives as a whole. "

I grew up in the US. I'm sorry if that apparently makes me "spiritually materialistic".

I don't plan to be anything like a half-drunken vagrant monk or a "tweaked out" shaman (I would hardly call the effects of Yage as "tweaked out"). My ideal is simply that of happiness. I connect with Ikkyu more than anything as a poet. I connect with his influence on the Komuso of Japan and the shakuhachi flute.

What you seems to think you can "see" in a person based on an obscure post in a forum matters little in terms of reality. It's quite judgmental actually.


"Westerners have only the pursuits of pleasure or self-destructiveness as their context for drugs. The primal rites of passage have been long lost, and to take them out of context is plain dangerous. I could just as soon pick up Amazonian cannibal rites of passage to support some desire to try to eat human flesh telling myself there's a notion that I would gain better insight into primeval rites of passage and how to transcend my own ego (which many cannibalistic cultures used flesh-eating to do)... BUT as the saying goes lipstick on a pig still is just lipstick on a pig. I would be no more an Amazonian cannibal or have insights into that way of life than the Pope sitting in the Vatican. I'd just be a really ignorant human trying to find something to substantiate and justify my own ill-conceived desires. NOTE: I have no cannibal interest whatsoever, that's just an EXTREME example of adopting some primal ancient practice from a far off culture remote from my own to justify how maybe doing something might give me better insight into myself. A dangerous line of thought, something too many 1st worlders are good at taking too far because of their own cultural matrix of consumerism..."

Again, this is painting with such a broad brush. I know many Westerners who use entheogens as a means to reach higher states of consciousness. To compare the use of sacred plants and medicines to cannibalism seems unreasonable.

"If you use substances, simply be present with yourself when you make your choices. That is all. Don't use or draw upon anything outside yourself to justify, validate, that is just grasping. The urge comes from within, the answer to transcending its impulse also comes from within - the discipline emerges from within. The path is noticing it and being there when it happens within. Just pay attention, and your questions on this will be answered by the most important authority on the matter - you."

I agree completely.
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby Sherab Dorje » Tue Jun 12, 2012 8:33 am

Before I start I should come clean and tell you that apart from a Dharma pracitioner I am also a trained drug and alcohol dependence counsellor, what that means is that I have heard every single attempt at validation that exists. Actually not every single one, because it is amazing at what people can come up with in order to defend their compulsive use of substances, but the theme is always the same. :smile:
Ikkyu wrote:I am not concerned about it. I don't recall ever mentioning that... I have a healthy and normal relationship with consciousness-alteration and the means whereby this is achieved. At least I'd like to think so. This post was initially an introduction, although a mod/admin/whatever moved it here and renamed the thread, so this may be a source of some confusion.
If you were not concerned then you would not present it as an issue, you would talk about the problems you are having with athletes foot now that it's early summer or the fact that you love the colours of the autumn sky after the rain...
I don't understand why you'd lash out and call my comments "piss weak" or sarcastically ask me if I'm a "Peruvian shaman" when I clearly have no affiliations with the Urarina or any other huasca tribe, and I frankly find such statements sort of rude.
I didn't lash out, it's just my way of expressing myself. Why would I lash out? I have nothing to win or lose in this discussion. :shrug: I was serious about the Peruvian shaman issue, I know a few people practicing South American shamanism that are not South American (I practice Tibetan Vajrayana and I am not Tibetan). Your comments though were an extremely tepid (is that better :tongue: ) and transparent attempt attempt to justify using alcohol and drugs recreationally based on the fact that Peruvian shaman use specific drugs in religious ritual contexts.
What exactly am I supposed to be "working" on? I meditate and I smoke marijuana. It's simple. That's my choice. One day I may stop one or the other.
So do it. Why bring it up though if it was not an issue for you?
Why is enlightenment restricted to one practice or one action or one state of consciousness when, in reality, emptiness is inherent in all states of mind... though through zazen I'm sure it is much more of a direct experience than through psychedelics. I'm not saying that I plan to become enlightened through being stoned... that seems against the grain... just that if, as the koans suggest, Chiyono attained enlightenment just by seeing a pail break, who is to say that enlightenment is restricted to such rigid circumstances?
Nobody. If you have realised emptiness and stabilised the experience then anything is possible. BUT, has it ever occured to you that the reason all those masters attained enlightenment as a consequence of "irrelevant" phenomena was due to their previous effort over lifetimes and the correct combination of causes and conditions? Now unless you are another one of those non-Buddhist Zennies then I imagine you would be aware of karma and dependent origination so the idea that it was just luck that lead to their enlightenment would not have crossed your mind.
In speaking from a cultural and historical context, the Buddha had no knowledge of -- or simply didn't mention -- psychedelics. I don't think we could know his beliefs about them, if he ever were to encounter them. This is all very speculative.
And yet the fifth precept exists and has also been translated/interpreted as referring to intoxicants.
No, I am not a shaman. But this doesn't diminish the effects that psychedelics have on the mind and their capacity to allow us to venture into (ostensibly) different interior dimensions and attain a greater understanding of the universe therein.
You are still trying to justify your recreational use? You don't have to you know? If you want to smoke and drink it is 100% up to you.
In Tokyo in the Meiji era there lived two prominent teachers of opposite characteristics. One, Unsho, an instructor in Shingon, kept Buddha's precepts scrupulously. He never drank intoxicants, nor did he eat after eleven o'clock in the morning. The other teacher, Tanzan, a professor of philosophy at the Imperial University, never observed the precepts. Whenever he felt like eating, he ate, and when he felt like sleeping in the daytime he slept.

One day Unsho visited Tanzan, who was drinking wine at the time, not even a drop of which is suppposed to touch the tongue of a Buddhist.

"Hello, brother," Tanzan greeted him. "Won't you have a drink?"

"I never drink!" exclaimed Unsho solemnly.

"One who does not drink is not even human," said Tanzan.

"Do you mean to call me inhuman just because I do not indulge in intoxicating liquids!" exclaimed Unsho in anger. "Then if I am not human, what am I?"

"A Buddha," answered Tanzan.
Yes, except that the "moral" of the specific story is the fact that every being possesses Tathagatagarbha, not that you need to drink to realise Tathagatagarbha.
I don't presume to know the mind of anyone else, first of all. Secondly, no, I'm not that great of a poet and I'm certainly not as versed in Zen as he was. Thirdly, where in the Buddha-dharma is anyone restricted from "getting away" with anything? Why do I need license from someone else concerning my state of mind -- or whether it is "enlightened" or not -- in order to smoke weed maybe once a month as I currently do? I don't think my brain is turning to mush. I don't want to be a teetotaler because, yeah, I believe in the middle way, and I also realize that what the Buddha taught wasn't "do this or else you'll never be enlightened like me and escape suffering, hahaha!" but rather "hey, listen, I have a really good suggestion and if you want to give it a try. You don't have to be prefect at it, but I think if you give it a shot and genuinely try it it may help you to have a happier life at the end of the day."
1. Quite obviously your friend Ikkyu was realised. Doesn't take a mind reader to see that. 2. By "getting away with it" I meant that his realisation was such that his actions no longer generated karmic residue. that's why he was just at home in mountain caves as he was in bars and brothels. I personally do not have that level of relaisation so I cannot get away with it (too stuck in dualisms). 3. No you do not need license from anybody to do anything. You, after all, will be the one that deals with the consequences of your actions. 4. Drinking and not drinking are both extremes. Middle Way means being aware of the dependent nature, lack of self nature and impermanence of phenomena and circumstances. It's not like if you kill today and not kill tomorrow you are acting according to the middle way. 5. Actually if you want complete liberation you do have to be "perfect" at it (or at least aim at perfection), otherwise there are much easier ways to temporarily deal with suffering. I am sure you are well aware of them.
:namaste:
"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."
Naropa - Summary of the View from The Eight Doha Treasures
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Re: Problem with the 5th precept

Postby GarcherLancelot » Tue Jun 12, 2012 7:37 pm

Slightly off topic,but is that a monk or nun in your vid?
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