Embracing and Sustaining All Beings in the Midst of Climate Crisis

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A Dharma talk by Tenshin Roshi for a gathering of the No Abode community on the bodhisattva precept of not killing .


AI Summary: 

The discussion emphasizes the Bodhisattva Precept of not killing, illustrating its application through practical examples, such as dealing with rodents without killing. It explores the distinction between the precept of not killing and the act of stopping killing, suggesting that the former is about awakening and liberation while the latter often fails. The talk elaborates on the inability of even great Buddhas to prevent killing entirely, instead focusing on awakening individuals to live peacefully in a world where killing exists. Practical applications involve loving and respecting beings without attempting to control or change them, supporting them in becoming their true selves.

- **Mahayana scriptures** are cited as key theological texts supporting the discussed concepts.
- A group sing-along of **"What a Wonderful World"** concludes the recording, symbolizing a hopeful, collective response to the discussed challenges.

AI Suggested Title: "Living the Non-Killing Precept: Insights and Applications"


(Lightly Edited by Km)

On the precept of not killing and on mice.  

I’d like to talk about the Bodhisattva Precept called not killing. Some of our precious sangha members have been trying for some time to stop killing, to stopp their own killing, lilling by their own body and mind.  And also to stop other kinds of killing. And some of the efforts that have been made in relationship to this wish to stop killing have been really wonderful.

So for example, I don't know if we ever had mouse traps here. But we did have a Have-A-Heart traps for a while. But Have-A-Heart traps aren't also not that nice, soo there was an attempt to not even have Have-A-Heart traps, or poison. And to attempt to relate to the rodents in a way that they would maybe not come into the house anymore and poop all over the place. Because they tended to do that in the past, to come in and drop lots of excrement around the temple. And there was another way,  there was an attempt to treat them kindly, but not necessarily invite them to come and live here. We love you, but actually we're not really inviting you to come. And we're not telling you to get out either. But it's OK if you don't come back.  The way of doing that was to make this place really clean, to make this place not a restaurant for rodents. And they got the message and they pretty much are not coming anymore into the building.  We're pretty much not finding rodent excrement or rodents in the building fecause the place is kept so clean.  I've got no complaints from the rodents or from any rodent activists about this method.  This could be understood as cleaning the temple rather than trying to stop killing. This could be understood as the practice the precept of not killing, which is to be compassionate, but not necessarily with the agenda to stop killing.  

For a long time in the Buddhist world there has been this precept of not killing., among others. However. This precept even though it's been practiced by the ancestors of this tradition and these ancestors seem to have developed great awakening while they practiced the precept of not killing, t great teachers and Buddhas and ancestors have not been successful of stopping killing. Have you noticed? It's going on. They couldn't stop it. The Buddha couldn't stop killing. However, there was a case where somebody tried to kill the Buddha and the Buddha didn't really stop the person from killing him. Not really. He. Just walked. The person could still try to kill him. But the person was not successful. The Buddha did not stop him from killing the Buddha. He just walked and woke the person up. The Buddha practiced the precept of not killing with the person who was wanting to kill him, and the Buddha was not trying to stop this person from killing anybody including Buddha. He just used skillful means to wake this person up, and he was successful in waking people up.

Buddhas have not yet established a major stoppage of murder in this world. However, they're in the world giving teachings to people in the world where there is murder, and the teaching they give is primarily the teaching of not killing, which is the teaching of reality. They give this teaching to wake people up so they'll be free in a world where there's murder going on, in order to have people who are free in the world where killing has not been stopped.

Some people, and they're very dear people and I love them, are trying to stop killing. And if they're really into it, they often tell me that they're really unsuccessful. They even say I'm a total failure at stopping killing. But such a person might be ready to study the bodhisattva precept and realize what not killing is. Stopping killing is not the same as the precept of not killing.

The precept of not killing is awakening, and awakening sets people free right now, before we arrive at a world where there's no killing. It not only sets them free, but it helps them free other people in this current world right now with the current environmentalcrisis  and other human and environmental disasters that are going on right now. This precept does not stop global warming. It does not stop the planet in crisis. This precept is in the planet which is in crisis and is bestowing blessingsand teachings in this world so that people may be free and at peace with each other.

That doesn't mean that we don't try to save the mice at No Abode. We try to protect the mice from most traps and to help the mice be happy by knowing that we love them. I want to protect them. But that's not going stop other people from killing mice. We cannot control those people. We can't stop them. However, we can take care of them and we can love them and help them wake up. And when they wake up, they will almost never harm anything, including mice. They would just be spending all their time blessing beings in a world of crisis.

I think we're going be in crisis, looks like w have been in crisis all along, before we even knew it. And we will. I think continue to be in crisis. But we can do good every day. We can bless the world. Every day. We can love beings and by loving them we can save them. But loving them is not the same as controlling them. So some people are doing things and we cannot control them, but we can love them. Just like we cannot control teenage children who we love so much. We cannot control them, But we can love them. We can love them. And love them. And love them.

What comes to mind is one of our sangha members. went to prisons to teach poetry. And she met a man in prison and she developed a very deep friendship with him and they eventually got married. He got out of prison and they got married. And he was in there not for being a murderer, but for being an accessory to murder. And he also did other things prior to that. And she said to him something like, “Did you know that the things you were doing were going to lead you to prison?” And he said, “I knew they might.” And she said, “Is there anything anybody could have done to stop you from doing these things that you knew were going to maybe send you to prison.  He said. “No, I had to do them. I had to find out for myself that they do lead to prison, And I did find out and that they did.” She said, “Even though nothing could have stopped you from this path. Could anybody have helped you in any way other than stopping you? They couldn't stop you.” “No, they could not stop me. You cannot stop me from being a criminal. If you try, I may do a criminal act in response. Is there anything they could have done to help me?” He said, “Yes, they could have loved me. They could have loved me knowing that I was doing things which was were evil and would lead me to great catastrophe. That would help me now and in the situation which I have to be in because I had to do these things. That love would help me. And it also will help me when I get out. They couldn't stop me, but they could have loved me”.

I didn't hear him say that some people did love him, but I think maybe some people did. And other people could have loved them (ed. others who did bad things) too. And everybody loves them and loves them, and they still keep doing this really bad stuff. And then they will reap the consequences. And when the consequences come, if they've been loved they can deal with this stuff and respond with love to the consequences of their not-love. So again, the Bodhisattva precept of not killing is for the sake of liberating beings. Liberating me and helping me liberate others. It's for liberation and peace. It's not for the. program of trying to stop killing which, in general, has not been very successful.In particular examples we can practice not stopping killing by love and compassion, really. To work it, work it, work it, work it, work it, work it. Respect.

I'm not controlling you. I'm respecting you. I'm respecting you into becoming the Buddha you are going to become, not the one I want you to become. I might want you to be this kind of a Buddha. But you may not be that kind of Buddha. You may be another kind. So I have to be free of my want for you to be that type of Buddha and help you become the Buddha you're going to become. And part of the way I can help you is by not forcing you to be the Buddha I want you to be, even though I do want you to be that kind of Buddha. I could have a want for you to be that type of Buddha and if I attach to that, I want to confess that  I tried to get you to be that kind of Buddha. I'm really sorry. And that will protect you from my evil plan to make you into that type of Buddha, my plan o control you into being just the kind of Buddha I want you to be. If I am aware of that, you will be protected from my evil plan to make you into a 16 foot tall golden Buddha. I might have that plan, but I will notice it. I will confess and repent it, and then you will be protected from my plans for your buddhahood, even though I still may have plans. But I know although they are nice plans, it's not good for me to try to make you follow my plan. I know that. I've learned that it's not good. And then you're protected. Isn't that nice? But this is just a planting a seed for hopefully a few more years of discussing this bodhisattva precepts with the aid of great Mahayana scriptures. 

(What follows on the recording is an attempt at a group sing-along of “What s Wonderful World”)