Friday, December 24, 2004

Will virtue lead to enlightenment?

Virtue is not enlightening. Concentration is not enlightening. Wisdom is not even enlightening. Again with the enlightening. You are still on the Hinayana track here (what is in it for me to be virtuous?), but even so there is an answer.

There is nothing you can do that is enlightening. There are only things you can do that are enlightenment.

Once you drop the idea that there is a you that is separate and not dependent on all things, that there is a you that is unchanged by the conditions under which it exists, then to be selfish and take care of you is to take care of all the things around the bag of bones your intellect resides in. This is virtuous behavior. There is nothing you can gain by stealing, stealing hurts you as much or more than it hurts the person stolen from. Disharmony at home is disharmony where you and all the things you depend on exist. It is your disharmony even if it is your wife or child that is screaming. The way to make things better for yourself is to make things better for the screaming child. You are not something that exists without the screaming child, you exist only in relation to the screaming child in that moment. Virtue then becomes not a rule that you follow, it becomes a way to take care of yourself. Compassion is not something you cultivate it becomes a description of the way you are in the world. Virtue is not something that causes you to be awake to your life, it is the result of being awake.

The precepts are not rules you follow in order to get enlightenment, they are descriptions of enlightened behavior. The 10 powers of a bodhisattva are not something you practice in order to become a bodhisattva they are a description of the results of acting like a bodhisattva.

You can meditate forever and not awaken to the realization that there is no you that exists without the support of your environment and all things in it, there is no you that does not change as all the things around you change, you are only a whirlpool that results from a rock in a steam, dependent on both rock and moving water for your existence. It would be a good idea for you to take care of both rock and the moving water as much as you can.

You can meditate forever and get up and steal as well. There is no particular virtue in meditation. There is really nothing for you to gain from meditation. It is not something you do to gain something.

A person who understands would not steal. He would offer the thief the moon if he could, because the more the thief understands, the better off the person who had something stolen will be. The more satisfied the thief is, the less that is stolen and the the more satisfied the person stolen from will be and he will have helped all the other victims as well. Sitting down to meditate when something is stolen to gain some calmness does not really help the situation, unless and until you get up and go and take away the thief's motivation for stealing. This virtuous behavior makes your existence better. If you need to sit for a few moments in order to become clear enough to act, by all means do so, but do not pretend that sitting down to meditate all by itself makes one bit of difference to the thief, and if it is all you do, it really will not solve anything even for you the next time the thief returns either. (how many times have I heard "I have sat for years and nothing is any better. I think I have some stability then wham something knocks me off it again and I am back to square one...where is the improvement?...why has it not worked to make me calm, more stable?, after fifteen years I still am just as unsettled as I was when I started" ?) All the understanding in the world will not make it better the next time the thief returns. It is only acting on that understanding in a virtuous way that makes the thief stop stealing. This will make it better for you and all beings the next time he or she returns. This thief or another will return. It is not a matter of "if" it is only a matter of "when". When the thief returns what will you do?...better yet, before the thief returns what will you have done?

Be Well