Friday, February 09, 2007

keeping promises and the precepts

Recently I was exposed to someone preparing to take the precepts for the first their excitement
and enthusiasm of the impending event...and after a long preparation the person in an excess of
that enthusiasm chose to share their insight into the majesty of the precepts.

Now I do not know how it works in other places with other people, but when I say I have transmitted
the precepts to another person......I do not mean that I have given them a list of several instructions on
how to live their life.....I mean that the person in question has at least demonstrated a basic understanding
of the nature of the vows that they are taking.

I can understand the precepts being offered in the hope that the person in question will come to some sort of
understanding at some possible future date.......but I feel that is like asking a person in the court of law to swear
they will tell the truth and nothing but the truth someday.

In case you have not figured it out...the precepts are a koan. They are impossible to keep. Much effort is
spent in trying to rationalize all this out...but like all koans.....the effort is the time you pull the first precept
out of memory and dust it off...the moment to act according to its guidelines is already passed. "do not kill" have to
kill....if you do not kill something will kill yourself.

Chase your tail on that one for as long as you wish.....but it ends up throwing you back into life as it is...completely.
In order to keep this simple precept, you have to leap beyond it ....and just kill killing. Before I can transmit the precepts
to you, you have to kill the precepts. This has been said many ways one famous one....."if you see the Buddha walking down the
road, kill him" can you reconcile that one with do not kill?

I do not know about other teachers, but I will not transmit the precepts to anyone who thinks ....that eating vegetables is living according to
the precepts. Or that not going to war is living according to the precepts...or that it is impossible to be a butcher, or a farmer , or even a gardener
while still being living according to the precepts....or that kind speech has to be quiet or pleasing to the ears.

Every time someone tries to pull the precepts on me....I wonder who transmitted the precepts to for me?....Shoken Winecoff Roshi...and Narasaki
Tsugen Roshi. Someday I would like to find someone to transmit what I was offered is sort of an I poke about ....waving a stick....
looking for someone whom I can seal as having glimpsed the koan....or at the very least...understands that the vows are impossible to keep, and that they have just been handed
a koan that will never be completely solved.

Be Well