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November 26, 2019


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To edit my previous comment, I think the important thing to understand is that holding precepts is what straightens the path down the road, that's the first thing. The second is, if misfortune crops up despite living a broadly ethical life (which I have, and which it did, leading to some perplexity at why evil people seem to do well in this world and good people are tread upon), this should be understood as being due to past karma and should not induce anyone to give up their precepts. I only referred to myself because it is not theoretical but practical, but I can see where it went awry, because what Jung points out is both correct and appropriate to mention.

And though it be a futile gesture here in this last redoubt of the dying tradition of the Zen Beating, the flickering ghost of my evil past still wants to point out I refuse to feel guilty for choosing a path that did not lead to feeling guilty about my choices.


Thank you for saying so. It's always worthy of reflection when you chime in.

Interesting comment, Yeti.

Any presentation of oneself is always fictitious. This is based on the inherent conditionality of any given phenomenon at hand. The presentation you give to the world, denies your own true reality.

Bad conscience is the result of sins. It is just one result. I can say I am not too weighted down with conscience even in my advancing age, because (although I have made many mistakes) I have always lived in a very disciplined and ethical way when it comes to how I conduct myself in this world. It comes naturally to me the way doing evil comes naturally to others. My life has been not without great suffering and I often wondered at this because my conduct has been quite ethical, and as most are aware, the best protection against evil is to hold moral precepts. I am now aware of the sins of past lives, to some degree, and can resolutely accept my karma without abandoning the moral precepts I live by. But even so, I have some regrets from this life and there are two lessons from Zen which help me.

First is to use the will to subdue mood. Will is like the master of the house, mood is like the servant. When we are too moved by moods, it is like everything in the house in inverted and the servants are running the household. Every catastrophe in the world is due to the movement of evil moods and false cognition. What remedy then? Will is another way of saying concentration. Without concentration, without improving one's power of concentration through one-pointed focus, I think it would be very difficult to enter into the dhyana stages. So that's the first thing.

Another is not to stick to anything. It is natural for people who have not mastered their own minds to have doubts but doubts are the product of confusion. Once one touches the ground of mind there is no longer any confusion. There may still be learning but it is not the accumulation of knowledge. The teachings are accepted and leave behind little trace, like the small ripples behind a canoe that fade back into the river, and not like footsteps in the mud that last for ten thousand years. The old things we cling to are dull, lifeless things, and this means our false self. The true self is not like this but actual and abundantly bright with potential. This is more than optimism but such a term will have to suffice. This faith or optimism has the power to cure many sicknesses, even bodily ones, but I mean spiritual sickness. Knowledge will be of little use and those who seek to accumulate a library of concepts in their mind might not be able to remember a single one of them while the birth mind is ripped apart and feels like exploding out into the universe as the body is dying and the skandhas are collapsing. I once nearly died from stupid things in my stupid youth, so this is not a theoretical thing for me. Spiritual knowledge is not like retaining information one reads. It leaves no trace, only purifies the spirit so that the transformation of death can be mastered. Is that not central to many schools of Buddhism?

Well, for the sentient, the starting point is to cultivate wisely, to empty the mind rather than fill it with useless rubbish like worrying about every little mistake we made. Karma will run itself out eventually, and there is no avoiding it anyway so why bear the weight of a troubled conscience? Better to live wisely and let the bitter medicine of karma remedy our future conduct, with better future results.

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