Buddhism: It’s not what you do in this world; it’s what you don’t do…

IMG_0599I know it sounds like some silly game show, but it’s true. What each one of us decides to do and accomplish in this short life is largely subject to our own whims and devices, and not subject to judgment, not if there is any justice in this world. After all, the great sages and prophets don’t spend time on that, and all the great commandments, of any great religion, all begin with: “Thou shall not,” (or was it ‘shalt’?), but not “Thou shall…”

So it’s not what you do in this world; it’s what you don’t do, and that’s my epiphany for this week, that you really don’t have to do anything! Wow! Who knew? Nothing at all! Just live and breathe and have your being, as long you DON’T kill, and as long you DON’T steal, and as long you DON’T make a nuisance of yourself in any one of a hundred different ways, then you’re doing okay…

The Buddhist Five Precepts, or Eight, if you’re serious…

…are not so much different from the Christian Ten Commandments, either, these basic principles pretty much common sense on the morality meter: Don’t kill, don’t steal, don’t lie (not TOO much, anyway), don’t have improper sexual relations (outside society’s boundaries), and don’t drink alcohol (not TOO much, anyway). And if you’re a monk then add another three: finish the day’s meals before midday, no entertainments, and no soft beds (not TOO soft, anyway)…

And we all know the Christian version, so they’re obviously pretty similar (except for the entertainments). The point to be made is that nothing specific is prescribed behavior, neither implied nor intended, and that pretty much defines Buddhism, in relation to Christianity, its non-aggressive and non-prescriptive approach to morality and conversion, because Christianity has much implied, if not intended, and…

…while Jesus may have never subscribed to any of it, Christians soon resorted to violence to settle disputes and convert the heathens, the very same thing we accuse Muslims of, though admittedly they (Muslims) have kept up the practice an inordinate length of time, and long after Christians have abandoned such antics, but still: “Onward Christian Soldiers?” Yeah, right. Tell it to Mr. Trump…

Current conflicts between Burmese Buddhists and Rohingya Muslims notwithstanding, you’d be hard pressed to find a war fought in the name of Buddhism, which makes it perfect for the modern age, the lack of cultural baggage and sordid history swept under rugs for centuries past and even more to come…

…which is exactly what we need in this day and age, a slate wiped clean and ready for the future, the sea of possibilities without so much flotsam and jetsam clogging up the drains and fouling the waters. If sophomore-level humans can’t see their way to civilized behavior, then we will be both cause and effect of the Great Extinction, enough said…

There are two ways of approaching life on this planet..

There is the path of acknowledged imperfection or the path of illusory perfection. Either can work, the path of limits or the path of no limits, which is the one you want to hear, but not the one that is most honest, or most appropriate for an impending apocalypse, universally acknowledged limits far preferable…

The hypothetically unlimited world-view is Christian, of course, and capitalist, with sky supposedly the limit, but hardly the road to self-sufficiency on a blue-green planet with only so many kilometers and so many years to traverse them, and just because we don’t know the limits doesn’t mean there are none…

So ignorance is no excuse for our intransigence and our reluctance to rein in our wildest dreams and put the fix on our fantasies so that they are in line with capabilities and the futures forecasts of our limited resources. The Buddhist suffering that we are subject to in this world is not limited to poverty, illness, cruelty or fatigue, but is the pre-existing condition of our existence here, and no far-flung fantasies or vivid imaginations can change that…

Our suffering is endemic, and epidemic, but mostly metaphysical, and not necessarily painful, and there is liberation in knowing that we have nothing to prove, since the result will likely be the same. This is simply the definition of human life on an earth-like planet delicately balanced between the depths of gravity and the heights of light, just enough of the one to put the fear of God in us, with just enough of the other to instill in us the love instead, the middle path between them just right to mitigate the pain of being…