Saturday, January 09, 2010

On the Line

This is a photograph of the Sea Shepherd Conservation Society vessel "Ady Gil," headed to the bottom after being rammed by a Japanese whaler in the waters off Antarctica.

These people have risked an icy death to stop the slaughter of whales by greedy, merciless, and utterly arrogant Japanese environmental terrorists.

Anybody who is willing to risk their own life to save the life of others is, by definition, a bodhisattva.

The only question in my mind, is how to help them.

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5 reader comments:

The Barking Unicorn said...

"Anybody who is willing to risk their own life to save the life of others is, by definition, a bodhisattva."

You profane the sacred concept of "bodhisattva" to exaggerate your egoistic opinion.

A bodhisattva makes the ultimate compassionate sacrifice: foregoing Nirvana to remain in samsara helping all sentient beings attain Nirvana. One does not attain Nirvana without dying. A bodhisattva cares nothing about prolonging any being's lifetime of suffering, including his or her own lifetime.

Everything that lives is the prey of something else. No death is "premature" and death's cause is blameless.

What does it matter if a whale dies of a harpoon or fungus in its blowhole? In the first case, people are fed (and millions of nonhuman beings who eat the offal). In the second case, fungus is fed (and millions of other beings). Both are "natural causes" of death.

It does not matter if the last whale on Earth dies, except to humans who have an egoistic preference for whales.

Preferences are the source of suffering, the barrier between samsara and Nirvana. Bodhisattvas help people release their preferences.

"The Great Way is not difficult for those who have no preferences. When love and hate are both absent everything becomes clear and undisguised. Make the smallest distinction, however, and heaven and earth are set infinitely apart. If you wish to see the truth then hold no opinions for or against anything. To set up what you like against what you dislike is the disease of the mind. When the deep meaning of things are not understood the mind's essential peace is disturbed to no avail."

Verses of the Faith Mind
by Seng T’san

Rolf said...

As usual, confusion reigns with relative and absolute truth. Have you forgotten the jataka tale of the Buddha-to-be giving his body to the starving tigress? He didn't just look and say 'Oh well, everything has to die" and keep on walking. A Bodhisattva cares for all sentient beings like a mother for her only child, and helps in whatever way he/she can. Preventing the suffering and death of a sentient being, or the accumulation of negative karma by killing, etc. are the noble actions of a bodhisattva. Seeing harm being committed and taking the attitude that this is the way of Samsara and I have a more profound path and won't get my hands dirty is the behaviour of a pendant with a frozen heart.

The Barking Unicorn said...

Indeed, Hamish, a Bodhisattva helps sentient beings in any way he can. But helps sentient beings do what?

Not get rich.

Not live longer in any given body.

Not avoid pain. "Pain is inevitable."

A Bodhisattva helps all sentient beings end suffering. Suffering is not pain or death. Suffering is your opinion of such things. Suffering is the frustration of desire to not have pain or death.

Obviously, that desire will always go unfulfilled. So one cannot end suffering until one ends desire to end pain and death.

Therefore it would be contrary to a Bodhisattva's purpose for him to encourage people to desire the end of pain and death for whales, cattle, other humans, etc.

The tigress story is yet another opinion of what is virtuous, "noble"... desired. It is a source of suffering. A Bodhisattva would not tell it. That tale was made up by one still clinging to desire, to opinion, to preferences.

Rolf said...

Do you actually think the Buddha would have come upon any being suffering or in pain and sniff "pain is inevitable" and keep on walking?

To quote Santideva:
"By the virtue that I have acquired by doing all this (meritorious actions) relieve every suffering of sentient beings. (note the word 'every')
May I be the medicine and the physician for the sick. May I be their nurse until their illness never recurs.
With showers of food and drink may I overcome the afflictions of hunger and thirst. May I become food and drink during times of famine.
May I be an inexhaustible treasury for the destitute. With various forms of assistance may I remain in their presence."

To quote Padmasambhava:
"Descend with the view, ascend with the conduct." Which is generally agreed to mean that one's pure view, realization, absolute truth should be one's 'inner' reality, while one's conduct or interaction with other beings should conform to the highest moral standards and be hallmarked by overwhelming compassion, relieving suffering regardless of how inevitable or a part of samsara it is.

The essence of bodhicitta is to have an open, egoless, awake, tender heart that cannot help itself but to respond in whatever way it can to the suffering of sentient beings. It does not, indeed cannot, pick and choose which suffering to relieve based on dry, intellectual, 'rational' heartlessness.

The Barking Unicorn said...

You continue to confuse pain with suffering, Hamish.

A whale dies of a harpoon to feed whalers, their families, and sea life; you think that's terrible. A man hurls himself over a cliff to feed a tigress and her cubs, and you hold that up to me as an example of "virtue".

What is the difference? Both died; horribly, in many people's opinions. No doubt both experienced pain. Why should the whale's death be prevented and the man's celebrated?

Only the whale suffered. That is the difference. Why did the man not suffer? Why do we honor, celebrate, and hold up as an example of Right Living the man's not-suffering?