Re: Jodo Shinshu and Social Justice
- --- In email@example.com, Shak El <from_alamut@...> wrote:
>beginning been a source of many problems. Created by the Monastic
> I wrote the following a decade ago:
> A Commentary on the Five Lay Precepts
> Jim Davis
> So simple and yet so complicated, the precepts have from the very
Sangha, themselves bound to +227 regulations, to give the laity a sense
of monastic practice (especially when combined with the three other
training precepts) and opportunity to avoid creating harmful karmas. Yet
practicing the precepts would not create Nirvana; the best one could
hope for was rebirth in a Hindu-style heaven or rebirth as monk/nunk.
Most followed the precepts to avoid painful rebirths in the hell-worlds.
Given the universal nature of precepts, which are found in all
religions, precepts are not a particularly Buddhist practice.
> Historically, Pure Land Buddhism has downplayed or outright rejectedthe use of precepts based upon its concept of Other-Power. However, if
the terms of Self and Other Power are seen as ways of going into
Nirvana, then the precepts would fall outside of this dualism. The use
of precepts have nothing to do with Nirvana; the precepts do not deal
with ultimate spirituality. They are instead the way to a good life in
this world. So in place of Rennyo's [the sixth head of jodo-shinshu]
rule about obeying the laws of the land, I would advocate using the
precepts. While holding society and the State up to its standard. It is
in this light that I make this commentary.
> REFRAIN FROM KILLING: this means I will not kill human beings.yet, I am aware there are times when the killing of other beings becomes
> This means I will not engage in aggression against other people. And
necessary and unavoidable. I will protect my own life and the lives of
others of whom I find myself karmically attached. I will strive to
create a society of peace through justice and convert this society of
violence to peace.
> This means I will oppose all state violence and executions.begins before conception (life is beginningless and endless). And yet, I
> This means I do believe that abortion is killing and that life
recognize the samsaric nature of this world of birth-and-death and will
not stand in the way creating further suffering. I will struggle against
the society of death which causes many to choose abortion as the means
to avoid poverty and missed opportunities. I see the only way to do this
is to end poverty through full employment, universal healthcare,
universal daycare and education.
> This does not mean I have to give up the eating of meat. The earlyBuddhists clearly ate meat and so did Shakyamuni Buddha. Prohibitions
against the eating of meat are taboos adopted from Jainism. The logical
result of not taking life in the area of food is to choose death by
sacred starvation (which is a holy Jain practice). All eating requires
that beings die both plant and animal, that is the way of all things.
However, we should be mindful of how the food we eat is obtained and to
reduce as much as possible the suffering of those involved.
> REFRAIN FROM STEALING: this means I will not take what is not given.through the systems of exploitation, or economies, based upon greed.
> This means I will try to stop others from taking what is not given
> This means I should support the poor and not the rich. I will joinmovements to end economic injustice.
> This means I will join movements to protect the earth fromexploitation as to not allow present greed to steal from the future. I
recognize other creatures and plants have rights to existence and to
their share of the earth's bounty.
> This means I will not condemn the poor if they have to break thisprecept out of poverty.
> REFRAIN FROM SEXUAL MISCONDUCT: this means I will respect therelationships of others and will not seek out sexual relations with
those already committed to others.
> This means I will only have sexual relations with adults in asituation of love and long-term commitments.
> This does not mean celibacy or an endorsement of heterosexuality asthe "norm." Buddhism has never had a single sexual ethic which
transcended time and space. Rather it adopted whatever sexual mores of
the lands it entered and changed as the mores changed. I hold that one's
sexual orientation has no bearing on practice, as long as, my previous
statements are kept in mind and followed.
> REFRAIN FROM UNTRUTHFUL SPEECH: this means I will speak the truth.system of lies and deceits, which maintain its systems of poverty.
> This means I will speak truth to Power and struggle against its
> This does not mean I will have to speak the truth if I feel by doingso will endanger the innocent lives of other beings.
> REFRAIN FROM INTOXICATION: this means I will not use chemicals tobecome mindless.
> This means I will struggle against the system which provides thechemicals to make the poor and working classes mindless in order to
maintain their power and wealth.
> This does not mean I am against the moderate use of alcohol. Theredoes appear to be health benefits from moderate use. As always stick to
the middle path between the extremes of indulgence and abstinence.
> In conclusion, the precepts are more important as social practicethan as individual practice. They are something we try to do for the
benefit of others. So while it is true that practicing them will not
result in Nirvana, but at least we will not turn this world into Hell.
>within Jodo Shinshu. Part of my particular Catholic upbringing was
> toraginus toraginus@... wrote:
> I sometimes wonder how much concern there is about social justice
concern that all people receive a fair shake. The Church has teachings
on social justice.
>concern also. The Turning Wheel, is a Buddhist journal of engaged
> Within Buddhism, and I have been around the track, one sees some
Buddhism. Seldom do I see any article by a Shin Buddhist within its
pages. Sulak Sivaraksa is a Thai activist for a more humane and livable
world. This Theravadin Buddhist has written a number of books on the
subject, and was exiled for awhile from his native Thailand for
activism. There are Zen groups that stage sit-ins (zazen-ins) for peace
and for the environment.
>justice, peace movements, environmental action among Shin Buddhists?
> Question: Why do I detect not much activity or interest in social
>experience always in America. When they first arrived, they were
> I know that Japanese Americans have not had a very comfortable
ostracized, and, eventually laws were passed restricting their rights.
During WWII, they were interned.
>issues, and, they may feel that they have been the victims of social
> So, these experiences would make them hesitant to engage these
>accused of being other-worldly ---looking forward to the Pure Land after
> However, what worries me about Jodo Shinshu is that it is sometimes
>not be interested as much in helping to improve the actual world we live
> Once one has experienced shinjin, it's conceivable that a person would
>near a temple, to get a take on the Shin community. As an Outreach BCA
> I'd appreciate the thoughts of other Shin Buddhists. I live nowhere
member, I receive The Wheel of Dharma BCA newspaper monthly, but I never
recall seeing anything on the topics of social justice or the
environment in it.
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> Jim Davis
> Ozark Bioregion, USA