[Buddha-l] Re: Karma and ethics [was: angels]

Erik Hoogcarspel jehms at xs4all.nl
Sat May 28 09:00:57 MDT 2005

Richard P. Hayes schreef:

>On Fri, 2005-05-27 at 21:06 -0400, Bernie Simon wrote:
>>I think my most recent read, Karma Chagme's Mountain Dharma, sets out 
>>the traditional view on page 176:
>>"It is taught if you take a vow and break, it is better than not having 
>>taken it at all, in the sense that samsara will have an end for you.
>This is a position I have seen expressed in quite a few Buddhist texts.
>Thanks for the reference to yet another, Bernie. 
>The position stated here makes quite a lot of sense on both the
>psychological and the social level. On the psychological level, as I
>have already said, failure to adhere to a vow brings with it a heavier
>burden of failure. Smoking a cigarette is always injurious to one's
>health, but smoking a cigarette on the afternoon of January 1, just a
>few hours after one has made a resolve not to smoke, is not only
>unhealthy but feels like a defeat. Self-esteem takes a dive. The payload
>of dukkha is rich indeed.

The payload of karma even more and I don't think that makes sense. 
Indians always have been very rigourous about words and vows. Words are 
eternal things. Texts like the Giita illustrate time and again that a 
word spoken by a brahmin cannot be taken back. I think it may have 
something to do with the Mitra cult and the vedic vraatyaas. Tibetan 
lama's have told me several times that keeping up a morally good rule of 
life (like vegetarism) hardly pays off karmically unless you turn it 
into a vow. I fail to see the importance of vows, certainly not the way 
it is dealt with in Tantric circles.
When two people happily live together, getting married (a typical vow) 
is not changing their relationship, it's mainly changing relationships 
between them, their families and the state. It'doesn't even mean that a 
divorce has become less likely.
I once took part in a Kaalaacakra-initiation and the lama told proudly 
how great the power was. A yogi had reached enlightenment through the 
practice after having been drunk for seven years. But before receiving 
the initiation everybody had to take the (37) bodhisattvavows and one of 
the first was to abstain from drinking beer.
I also have the impression that Tibetan lama's are somewhat ambiguous 
towards vows, sometimes very serious, sometimes (mainly in their own 
behaviour) very sloppy.


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