Dealing With Desire

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:12 pm

Indrajala wrote:
Malcolm wrote:Right, most monastics are religious professional providing ecclesiastical services, which is not what Buddha intended for bhikṣus, etc. There were already brahmins for that.


History decided otherwise, especially when the traditional mendicant lifestyle became infeasible in some territories. You have Brahmanical literature which talks about what a bad omen it is when yellow robed monks show up. The long conflict between Buddhists and Brahmins, which the former lost, saw a need for landed monasticism.



There were and are all kinds of mendicants in yellow robes in India, not just Buddhists.


...

Later on full bhikṣu ordinations were restricted by the state. Until fairly recently there were not so many full bhikṣu-s in Chinese Buddhism. Modern authors sometimes lamented how earlier a lot of monks just had the tonsure and that's it.


Yes, my point precisely.

In the case of Zen, a Zen monk in Kamakura Japan was a monk. He lived in a monastery, shaved his head and was expected to maintain celibacy. That's what we call a monk in English. They weren't legally defined as bhikṣu-s, but then in Japanese "bhikṣu" became a humble first person pronoun. Their own forms of monasticism developed based on environmental and social circumstances.


As you know from the E-sangha debacle, for me a Buddhist "monk" is a bhikṣu. So called Buddhist "monks" who are not bhikṣus, etc., are just celibate/non-celibate lay people.

My position on this has not changed one iota. The fact that there are so called Buddhist "monks" who do not have vows, and generally behave like ordinary people just illustrates my point even more.




The fact that money carries value is sufficient. There is no intrinsic value to gold, its value is also determined by fiat.


There ain't no precepts against having fiat currency through a plastic card connected to a global banking network.


Yes, and there is no precept against smoking tobacco, despite the fact that Buddha would have disapproved of it.

Christian monks, yes, not Buddhist monks.


You should visit Taiwan. They got full bhikṣu-s growing food.


Well, then they are breaking their precepts, and that is a pity.

The Vinaya[s] is/are the only basis upon which someone can be considered a bhiḳsu or not.


Bhikṣu just means beggar. There's a legal definition of the term, but you fail to recognize that the Buddha's first disciples and some other eminent followers were technically bhikṣu-s without having received any precepts at all (this is called a svagata bhikṣu in Vinaya jargon). The first disciples had no precepts because precepts only came to exist, at least as the story goes, because of incidents occurring that caused problems for the community.


Yes, this is true. But when you ordain you receive all of these accreted vows, and are expected to maintain them. For example, when you receive Bodhisattva vows, you don't decide which ones you are going to follow based on whether it is convenient for you. You try your best to follow all.

The first disciples of the Buddha were generally stream entrants very quickly. Later as more common foolish people ordained, Buddha needed to elaborate rules for their conduct. Buddha also was able to merely declare someone a Bhiksu, without any other rite. But this is not how it is for us today. In order to become any kind of ordained person up to bhikṣu, you must become ordained through a rite. Or are you suggesting we can just dispense with ordination rites as well, since after all, Buddha did not use them in the beginning?

The Vinaya system nevertheless is a later development and the fundamentalist interpretation of it, which you are pushing here to justify your lack of generosity towards monastics, was not the Buddha's intent at all. Even according to the orthodox story, he told Ananda to drop the minor rules. He's also on record starting that things could be adapted to foreign environments.


Yes, when monks live in cold climates, they can have leather sandals and fur cloaks; when they are sick they can drink alcohol, and so forth. Ananda, as we know, forgot to ask what "minor" meant and no one so far as had the arrogance to decide what that meant.

There's nothing wrong with ignoring or simply cutting away rules and regulations...


Statements like this merely prove that this age is not a suitable age for monasticism. Pretty soon we will see Buddhist "monks" "inventing" rules that allow one to be married, non-celibate, and wealthy (Oh wait, we already have that in Japan).

...which make no sense anymore (like having to smear your room with cow dung after having eaten garlic).


Cow dung mixed with cow urine and spread on the wall of a clay house smells quite sweet. But granted, it would be hard to do anywhere in the West. But the intent is obvious-- if you eat garlic you need to deodorize yourself.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:41 pm

Astus wrote:
Do you mean that they teach one thing but practise another?



Yes, Astus -- this is the function of the two truths.

In truth, this statement by Nāgārjuna illustrates how to practice according to Mahāyāna:

Hold your mind tightly when it (starts to) rove, as though it were
Like your learning, similar to your child, resembling a treasure,
or comparable to your life.
Recoil from the pleasures of sensory objects, as though they were like
Venom, poison, a weapon, an enemy, or fire.
Sensory objects bring ruination! The Lord of the Triumphant
Has said that they're like the kimpaka fruit -
(sweet on the outside, bitter within).
Abandon them! By their iron chains,
Worldly people are bound in the prison of recurring samsara.
Of those who triumph over the objects
Of the ever-inconstant, roving six senses,
And those over a host of foes in battle,
The wise favor the first to be the best heroes.


http://www.rigdzindharma.org/uploads/6/ ... friend.pdf




You change the view from attachment to objects to non-attachment to objects. This is no different from what Ajahn Chah said, or what you find in Mahayana...


But in former, you do so without ever giving up such objects, and in the latter, one must give up objects. This is the essential difference between the path of renunciation and the path of transformation.



It means that affliction (klesa) is empty, therefore there is nothing to reject or transform.


Yes, in ultimate truth -- but ultimate truth is not a practice, it is a realization. So when you realize emptiness completely, then for you afflictions are singed and no longer give forth fruit. Teachings like these are very characteristic of Chan, which I recognize and accept as a definitive understanding of the purport of Mahāyāna sutras. But Chan is still a path of renunciation, even if its view is beyond accepting and rejecting objects, there is still subtle and not so subtle accepting and rejecting concerning relative and ultimate truth.

...No, only the attachment to them, otherwise arhats would be blind and deaf. The sensation stays, only grasping goes.


Yes, this is why it is not part of the path of transformation because "...those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside." And it is not teaching a path of self-liberation either because the refrain in each verse is "...those evil, unskillful thoughts are abandoned and subside."

But it is a nice sutta and it does present the path of renunciation most perfectly.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:46 pm

Karma Dorje wrote:Isn't there something a bit foolish and self-defeating about girding for war with oneself? Shakyamuni didn't take up arms against Mara.

The only "weapon" one needs is profound relaxation.
Hmmmm...

40. Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fight out Mara with the sword of wisdom. Then, guarding the conquest, remain unattached.
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .budd.html
..."Then there is the warrior who — taking his sword & shield, strapping on his bow & quiver — goes down into the thick of battle. On winning the battle, victorious in battle, he comes out at the very head of the battle. Some warriors are like this. This is the fifth type of warrior who can be found existing in the world.

"These are the five types of warriors who can be found existing in the world.

"In the same way, monks, there are these five warrior-like individuals who can be found existing among the monks. Which five?
...
"This individual, I tell you, is like the warrior who — taking his sword & shield, strapping on his bow & quiver — goes down into the thick of battle. On winning the battle, victorious in battle, he comes out at the very head of the battle. Some individuals are like this. This is the fifth type of warrior-like individual who can be found existing among the monks.

"These are the five warrior-like individuals who can be found existing among the monks."
http://www.accesstoinsight.org/tipitaka ... .than.html

I did not at any point suggest one should abandon wholesome actions or perform harmful actions, nor have I said that cause and effect do not exist in the least.
It is true that you did not suggest it, but when you said this on page 2:
Applying antidotes is just housekeeping in a dream.
It seems to imply that... Or maybe I just misinterpreted what you were trying to say?
"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: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:49 pm

JKhedrup wrote:Sometimes it is more pragmatic for Centres to have monastics in certain roles, we are not always necessarily a burden!

For example, because I am a monk translator, I live in the centre and only have to take a small stipend. I know centres where the translators are laypeople and they have husbands/wives and children to support- so they need a bigger salary. If they live outside they need money for rent, if they live in the centre their partner needs a room too.

Even single translators in most cases need a bit of money to go on a date once in awhile, or buy some decent clothes.

Because I'm a monk I can live on a pittance, I am waaay cheaper than a layperson translator would be.


Yes, but supporting a community of bhikṣus becomes quickly problematical, don't you agree?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby 5heaps » Fri Jun 07, 2013 6:53 pm

Malcolm wrote: I have met four people who I am certain are/were genuinely realized people on the bhumis

how do you tell that it is not merely something like coarse selflessness ie. that persons are btags-yod rather than substantially knowable as they appear now
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:02 pm

5heaps wrote:
Malcolm wrote: I have met four people who I am certain are/were genuinely realized people on the bhumis

how do you tell that it is not merely something like coarse selflessness ie. that persons are btags-yod rather than substantially knowable as they appear now



Can you rephrase the question in English?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:20 pm

Yes, but supporting a community of bhikṣus becomes quickly problematical, don't you agree?


Pragmatically, yes. The Netherlands is a secular Western society, with Protestant roots where I live. I perform a service, making the teachings accessible to our audience and serving our teachers with small tasks during the work day when other people cannot.

Perhaps one more monk or nun as a program co-ordinator would be helpful for the running of the centre, but the amount of support necessary to sustain a community (even a quorum community of 4-5 bhikhshus depending on which text you read) would not be that realistic. This saddens me, but it is the reality. I don't necessarily think it is a bias towards Tibetans either, as some argue. If there were younger Tibetan monks who were not teaching or serving an obvious role people would probably rather have them return to India (and understandably so) to continue their monastic life.

I may be damned to hell for saying this, but I think it is an uphill battle to drum up support to establish a strong and vibrant monastic Sangha in the West. I chose this way of life personally because it suits my temperament and life goals. But I don't see enough reasonably sane Westerners taking it up and keeping their ordination for significant periods of time.

Due to the sad reality of the situation, my first question to would-be Western ordinands has to be "how will you support yourself?". And if the answer is by working a regular job in a non-dharma environment, I advise them it isn't a good idea to ordain.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
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A straw floats on the surface of water,
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:23 pm

JKhedrup wrote:...But I don't see enough reasonably sane Westerners taking it up and keeping their ordination for significant periods of time.

Due to the sad reality of the situation, my first question to would-be Western ordinands has to be "how will you support yourself?". And if the answer is by working a regular job in a non-dharma environment, I advise them it isn't a good idea to ordain.


Thank you. That is my basic point.

M
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འ༔ ཨ༔ ཧ༔ ཤ༔ ས༔ མ༔

Though there are infinite liberating gateways of Dharma,
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-- Buddha Samantabhadri
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Karma Dorje » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:25 pm

gregkavarnos wrote:Hmmmm...

40. Realizing that this body is as fragile as a clay pot, and fortifying this mind like a well-fortified city, fight out Mara with the sword of wisdom. Then, guarding the conquest, remain unattached.


I don't really see any difference in what I was saying and the metaphor here. What does it mean to fight with the sword of wisdom? It means to discriminate properly and remain unattached. It doesn't mean to treat Mara as some sort of enemy that one needs to deal aggressively with.

gregkavarnos wrote:
I did not at any point suggest one should abandon wholesome actions or perform harmful actions, nor have I said that cause and effect do not exist in the least.
It is true that you did not suggest it, but when you said this on page 2:
Applying antidotes is just housekeeping in a dream.
It seems to imply that... Or maybe I just misinterpreted what you were trying to say?


What I mean is that applying antidotes is part of the same narrative as the afflictive emotion. It has nothing to do with the natural state. By all means apply an antidote, if otherwise one would follow the afflictive emotion and act to cause harm. As the sublime Harry Callahan says,

A man's got to know his limitations.


However, more than merely accepting and rejecting, one can apply the pith instructions.

Just as in the example of which [part of] space is supporting which,
Your own mind, Mahamudra, lacks any supporting ground.
Let go and rest in the uncontrived, fundamental state.
if you loosen up your tightness, there is no doubt that you are liberated.
"As God is my witness, I thought turkeys could fly."
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Sherab Dorje » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:39 pm

Ever practice martial arts? Sometimes all you have to do is step out of the way of the attack, other times you directly counter the attack and other times it requires a combination of both. It depends on the strength, speed, method of attack, etc... of the foe.

The positions we are describing are not antagonistic/exclusive, they are complementary.

I thoroughly recommend checking out Mahamudra - The Ocean of True Meaning (if you have not already received instructions on the text).
"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: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jun 07, 2013 7:40 pm

Thank you. That is my basic point.


We're basically on the same page in terms of monasticism ever become a widespread success in the West, but there are a few examples of viable monastic communities from Buddhist and non-Buddhist traditions. It is just that I believe they will always be so painfully few and far between that a true monastic Sangha will not be established.
I am listing places where you don't have to pay to stay and get real training as a Westerner.

It isn't just a problem in our Buddhist tradition, but all the contemplative traditions in general.

In the USA (Buddhist)
http://www.sravastiabbey.org
http://www.cttbusa.org
http://www.amaravati.org

Hindu
Kauai Aadheenam - Himalayan Academy https://www.himalayanacademy.com/monastery

Christian
http://www.carmelsandiego.com/
http://www.catholiclinks.org/monasterio ... unidos.htm

But these places are so few and far between that I never see a "Sangha" in the vibrant sense of the word manifesting.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Jikan » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:21 pm

I'm enjoying this conversation as it pertains to the viability of traditional monastic culture and institutions globally. I'd like to shift the emphasis a bit back to the immediate question of desire. Let's say, hypothetically, that a student of Dharma is experiencing very strong desire or attachment or undiluted sexual desire. How ought that student to be advised in terms of practice? What are some different ways in which a serious student of Dharma might work with desire in practical terms?
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:25 pm

Jikan wrote:I'm enjoying this conversation as it pertains to the viability of traditional monastic culture and institutions globally. I'd like to shift the emphasis a bit back to the immediate question of desire. Let's say, hypothetically, that a student of Dharma is experiencing very strong desire or attachment or undiluted sexual desire. How ought that student to be advised in terms of practice? What are some different ways in which a serious student of Dharma might work with desire in practical terms?



If they are not a Vajrayāna practitioner, they should follow the advice given in the Bodhicaryāvatara concerning attachment and sexual desire.

If they are a Vajrayāna practitioner, they should work with their sadhana practice and understand that Vajrayāna practice tends to heighten afflictions.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Pero » Fri Jun 07, 2013 9:37 pm

Jikan wrote:I'm enjoying this conversation as it pertains to the viability of traditional monastic culture and institutions globally. I'd like to shift the emphasis a bit back to the immediate question of desire. Let's say, hypothetically, that a student of Dharma is experiencing very strong desire or attachment or undiluted sexual desire.

What's that?

Malcolm wrote:... understand that Vajrayāna practice tends to heighten afflictions.

Why is that?
Although many individuals in this age appear to be merely indulging their worldly desires, one does not have the capacity to judge them, so it is best to train in pure vision.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:29 pm

I agree with Jikan..i'm learning alot by watching you guys go at it, but i'd actually like to hear a bit about the nuts and bolts, everyday reality of transformation vs. renunciation from the experts.

I do my Sadhana practice, and of course talk to my teacher...but I wonder if it can be talked about a bit more here, one can learn about pure vision, do deity yoga and all and still struggle with (for instance) an over abundance of sexual desire, and since i'm nowhere near HYT that really is not so much an option.

I know some of the official answers on transformation of desire, or i'm at least familiar with the basics...still though, occasionally I feel that with the standard Vajrayana answer I am at loss as to what to do when I can't stop thinking about certain things, in a practical, day to day sense.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 07, 2013 10:43 pm

JKhedrup wrote:
Yes, but supporting a community of bhikṣus becomes quickly problematical, don't you agree?


Pragmatically, yes. The Netherlands is a secular Western society, with Protestant roots where I live.


As you know, The Netherlands is a post-spiritual country. I was surprised to learn that the Catholic Church is the largest religious institution in Holland (and I am no stranger to Holland).


Perhaps one more monk or nun as a program co-ordinator would be helpful for the running of the centre, but the amount of support necessary to sustain a community (even a quorum community of 4-5 bhikhshus depending on which text you read) would not be that realistic..... Due to the sad reality of the situation, my first question to would-be Western ordinands has to be "how will you support yourself?". And if the answer is by working a regular job in a non-dharma environment, I advise them it isn't a good idea to ordain.


It is not realistic today. This may change in the future due to: people organizing and supporting the sangha and mahasiddhas reviving the Dharma.

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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby JKhedrup » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:09 pm

Yes, I think in terms of numbers Catholics may be slightly bigger. It is a geographic region thing. The North is more heavily Protestant, South Catholic, and I am in the central part of the country, but in the towns I see more Protestant than Catholic churches (most of which are not so well attended).

I hope things change, I really do. It hurts me to have to discourage people from ordination because it can be such a rewarding life, but when there are no conditions for people to maintain their vows and aspirations it feels irresponsible to say ordain and think about the details later.

I don't see Westerners ever really "getting" ordination, people who come to Buddhist centres want to be professional, knowledgeable practitioners themselves. They don't usually want to fork out the money for someone else to train in-depth, whereas with Asians this comes naturally.

As for Mahasiddhas, I have yet to even meet a Westerner who I think meets the criteria of a lama in the full sense of the word. Mahasiddhas are so evolved as to be beyond ordination anyways, but true ones are rare and pretenders many. The Mahasiddha paradigm is sometimes said to be something "more doable" for Westerners than monastic life- but a Mahasiddha is a very lofty personality. In fact, ordinary beings have a better chance at success with monastic ordination IMO, but as I mentioned above there are no really good conditions for that at the present time.

I try not to get discouraged but I don't see the dharma being really well rooted in the West anytime soon.
A foolish man proclaims his qualifications,
A wise man keeps them secret within.
A straw floats on the surface of water,
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby kirtu » Fri Jun 07, 2013 11:26 pm

Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:I think one practical consideration overlooked in this discussion is that monasticism is economically efficient. ...

It can't be economically efficient.

Monastics, in Buddhadharma, by definition are dependent on others for everything....Having homeless mendicants creates a financial burden that most western communities are not interested in supporting and in reality, cannot support. ...Support of the monastic community in Buddhadharma arises from the belief that one will accumulated merit by supporting monastics. There are simply not enough western Buddhists to effectively do so in the West.


Sure they can be supported. Westerners are impoverished mostly because they don't work together and help one another. In the West it would be easy to create supportable communities specifically for monastics. 3M Western Buddhists could easily support several hundred monastics, perhaps more. As land and buildings accreted, housing becomes much less of an issue and food and other costs drop to near insignificance. In real countries with a real society (i.e. universal health care) this concern isn't an issue (depending on how the universal health care is implemented). Thus the 10-20k Buddhists in Austria may be able to support several hundred monastics on their own (should they emerge).


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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Malcolm » Sat Jun 08, 2013 12:44 am

kirtu wrote:
Malcolm wrote:
Indrajala wrote:I think one practical consideration overlooked in this discussion is that monasticism is economically efficient. ...

It can't be economically efficient.

Monastics, in Buddhadharma, by definition are dependent on others for everything....Having homeless mendicants creates a financial burden that most western communities are not interested in supporting and in reality, cannot support. ...Support of the monastic community in Buddhadharma arises from the belief that one will accumulated merit by supporting monastics. There are simply not enough western Buddhists to effectively do so in the West.


Sure they can be supported. Westerners are impoverished mostly because they don't work together and help one another. In the West it would be easy to create supportable communities specifically for monastics. 3M Western Buddhists could easily support several hundred monastics, perhaps more. As land and buildings accreted, housing becomes much less of an issue and food and other costs drop to near insignificance. In real countries with a real society (i.e. universal health care) this concern isn't an issue (depending on how the universal health care is implemented). Thus the 10-20k Buddhists in Austria may be able to support several hundred monastics on their own (should they emerge).


Kirt


Leaving aside your long-standing antipathy towards the nation in which you reside (which apparently isn't a real country :roll: ), I think you missed the point: "...that most western communities are not interested in supporting and in reality, cannot support..." because :"Support of the monastic community in Buddhadharma arises from the belief that one will accumulated merit by supporting monastics..." and there simply are not enough western Buddhists that believe supporting western monastics is sufficiently important since they are already supporting Lamas and Dharma centers, etc.

While I applaud your idealism, the reality is harsh. There simply is not enough support for Western monastics, and the large scale experiments thus far, FPMT, etc., have been marked by spectacular failure for the most part.

I really think that monasticism of virtually every kind is a fading institution because most people do not see it as relevant -- part of this has to do with the dominant Protestant-based culture of the US and northern Europe.
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Re: Dealing With Desire

Postby Nighthawk » Sat Jun 08, 2013 2:38 am

Malcolm, drinking wine is a violation of a basic Buddhist precept. Can one intentionally also break the other four and still able to gain some type of enlightenment in Vajrayana?
Nighthawk
 
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