Lotus Blooms In the Blog

August 19, 2006

Soldiers just have to do and die, not to ask the reason why

Filed under: General — by palaniappan @ 2:43 pm

Standing Guard http://www.flickr.com/photos/spiffhappens/218797313/  

The past few weeks have reminded us that the value of life is relative and depends on who sees it.  2 Israeli soldiers kidnapped = thousands of civilians dead and 1 million homeless.  I am not supporting either side.  I am looking at this and wondering how is it possible to start the incident off by kidnapping the soldiers, knowing full well the retaliation it is likely to bring.  I am also wondering how so many dying can justify the fight for the release of the 2 soldiers. 

Leaving the politics aside, I am looking at the role of the soldier. Coming from a country where we have to do national Service of 2.5 years in the armed forces, I know what it means to leave no soldier behind. So what is the Dharma role of a soldier in a war? 

  • Can he shoot to kill? Or holding a rifle would be meaningless. 
  • Worse, if he doesn’t then what happens to his citizens back home who are depending on him to defend them and their homes?
  • Can a soldier choose not to be a soldier in a country where it is compulsory to be one? Then how does he fulfill his social responsibilities to the society and nation that protected him when he was too young or defenceless to protect himself?
  • Can Buddhists claim to follow the path of non-violence and not be soldiers?
  • Is being a soldier not a Rightful Living? In today’s world, then who can have a Rightful Living if there was no soldier to defend them?

There are many more questions.  But I stop here for your comments, before I soldier on 😉


August 6, 2006

Identifying the optimum human rebirth

Filed under: lamrim — by Sugatagarbha @ 12:15 pm

“Suppose a man threw into the sea a yoke with one hole in it, and the east wind carried it to the west, and the west wind carried it to the east, and the north wind carried it to the south, and the south wind carried it to the north. Suppose there were a blind turtle that came up once at the end of each century. What do you think, bhikkhus? Would that blind turtle put his neck into that yoke with one hole in it?

“He might, venerable sir, sometime or other at the end of a long period.

“Bhikkhus, the blind turtle would take less time to put his neck into that yoke with a single hole in it than a fool, once gone to perdition, would take to regain the human state, I say. Why is that? Because there is no practising of the Dhamma there, no practising of what is righteous, no doing of what is wholesome, no performance of merit. There mutual devouring prevails, and the slaughter of the weak.”

Majjhima Nikaya 129.24 ( Balapandita Sutta)

This preciousness and difficulty in attaining a human rebirth that the Buddha talks about in this sutra is the second lamrim meditation. It reminds us that we should engage ourselves in meaningful dharma pursuits rather than waste this life chasing pointless worldly pleasures.

While we may have a attained a human rebirth many a times, attaining a precious human rebirth with all its freedoms and endowments is very rare, and this is what the Buddha stresses upon when using the metaphor of the blind turtle.

What does it mean to have all the freedoms and endowments of a precious human rebirth?

Lets begin with the freedoms. There are basically eight states that we are free of. These are mentioned in Nagarjuna’s letter to friend.

“Upholding wrong views, being an animal, Hungry ghost, or being born in hell, being without a Victor’s teachings, Being born in remote place, or as a barbarian, As an idiot or mute, as a long-lived god; Any of these rebirths in one of the eight faulty and unfavorable states. Because you have gained favorable state free of these, strive to prevent yourself from being born in these ever again.”

Apart from these eight freedoms mentioned in the letter, there are ten endowments. They are further classified into five personal endowments and five endowments in realation to others.

The five personal endowments are found in the Shravaka Levels, and are explained as:

Being a human being and born in a central land; Having all one’s organs; not being perverted by the heinous crimes; and having enduring faith.

The five endowments in relation to others are:

  • A Buddha has come to this land
  • The Buddha has taught the Dharma
  • The teachings remain in this world
  • The teachings are followed
  • Other people generally have love in their hearts

If you meditate on all these eight freedoms and ten endowments and truly realize the preciousness and rarity of our existence, you will be driven to practice the Dharma.

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