Dear Dharma Friend
This is our third newsletter in this format. Thank you for letting us know what you think of the new format. Please write to us if you wish to suggest changes or additions.
In joy and peace, Minh Tinh
One of the Noble 8 Fold Path’s steps is Right Action. While there are many forms of right action, today we’re going to talk about “good works”. In some traditions, Good Works are seen as a way to gain merit – sort of a spiritual bank in which merit deposits are accumulated to insure a better new life, atone for past deeds, or be offered towards the betterment of another or others. In other traditions, Good Works are viewed as the natural result of right thought and action.
Regardless of how you view the concept there are a few guidelines you might want to consider.
1. Does this action offer support or promote peace for another?
2. Is this action respectful towards life?
3. Does this action stay within the country’s laws?
4. Will this action be within the Noble 8 fold Path?
5. Does this action seem to be in accordance with Buddhist Practice?
(Most of the above 5 answers should be yes.)
1. Does this action harm any other being?
2. Does this action cause death?
3. Does this action violate the 4 great vows?
4. Will this action cause others to violate the precepts?
5. Is this action motivated by anger, greed, or pain?
(Most of the above 5 answers should be no.)
In doing good works we lessen suffering in the world and add the practice of loving kindness to our own lives as well as the lives of others.
The Mount Adams Zen Buddhist Temple has several Good Works Projects going on:
1. Financial only: sponsored a financial gift to help a local preschool, a woman’s shelter, and a school.
2. We are providing space, coordination, and funding for an ESL class for Hispanic women to learn English. (It seems that in many families, the husband learns English at work, the children learn it in school and the moms and wives may learn very little).
3. We’ve started an animal rescue program to help Alpacas.
4. We’re taking on coordinating the sale of fair trade organic coffee and tea for an ongoing fundraiser to ourselves and another local church.
5. We are in the exploratory phase of possibly starting a free medical service clinic that would provide low cost or free care.
6. We have grown several acres of produce and raised state licensed and inspected chickens for egg production donating hundred’s of pounds of produce and over 100 dozen eggs to the local food bank.
Good Works are not enough in and of themselves to be a complete personal practice but they are a wonderful step or component piece of one’s spiritual practice.
The 10 Precepts
Signposts for a journey of studying the self and finding the Universe. Read Dogen Zenji – “To Study The Way”
In Pirates of the Carribean, Jack Sparrow explains the pirate code by saying “They’re not so much rules, as much as guidelines…”. Like the pirate code, only better, the Precepts are a set of guidelines for our life: a path to spiritual freedom vs a list of “do’s” and “dont’s”.
Originally, each precept began as “I vow to begin the process of…”, rather than “I resolve not to…”. What this means for us is that we are human, and once we start on this path, we will end up breaking the precepts. It’s a given. But the key is to recognize that our old patterns and habits have led to suffering in the past, and the path out of our old habits is guided by the Ten Precepts.
1. I vow to take up the Way of Not Killing
2. I vow to take up the Way of Not Stealing
3. I vow to take up the Way of Not Misusing Sex
4. I vow to take up the Way of Not Speaking Falsely
5. I vow to take up the Way of Not Giving or Taking Drugs
6. I vow to take up the Way of Not Discussing the Faults of Others
7. I vow to take up the Way of Not Praising Myself while Abusing Others
8. I vow to take up the Way of Not Sparing The Dharma Assets
9. I vow to take up the Way of Not Indulging in Anger
10. I vow to take up the Way of Not Defaming the Three Treasures
What these mean to each of us will be different. To one person, “not killing” may mean not directly taking the life of another human being. To another, this may mean not even being indirectly responsible for the killing of any being, to include not eating meat or even swatting at a mosqito. Not stealing may range from not shoplifting to not using more than one’s share of global resources, or even something further. As our practice evolves, so will our understanding of each precept.
What do they mean to you?
Do Buddhists eat meat?
For many Western Buddhists, vegetarianism seems to be a basic part of Buddhism, which is NOT the case for many from traditional Buddhist countries.
The first of the five precepts, taught as the minimum of practice for laypeople, is “to refrain from destroying living creatures.” The question then becomes can we eat meat and “refrain from destroying living creatures?”
“According to the Theravada traditions, there is no specific teaching of vegetarianism for laypeople; neither is there a teaching against vegetarianism. Monastics, however, are not allowed to eat meat if they have seen or heard the animal being killed or if the animal was killed specifically for them. Other than that, monks are required to eat whatever is given to them (alms-food). The Buddha himself, since he was a monk, followed that rule, and consequently, he was not a vegetarian. In fact, his final meal (although there is some dispute about the translation) included meat.” Buddhism and Vegetarianism, Sentinel Press
It is not possible to come up with a single answer for the Mahayana traditions because so many different cultures have shaped the nature and traditions of Buddhism as it develops within each country.
The eighth chapter of the Lankavatara Sutra may be the most specific of Buddha’s teachings about eating meat. One vegetarian commentary notes, “When the Buddhist scriptures were written there was an obvious controversy (which continues to this day) about the consumption of meat.” That is probably the only statement about vegetarianism and Buddhism on which everyone can agree.
For myself – the vow to “refrain from taking life” expands to not being the reason that a life is taken or that any life is lived in suffering. Eggs and milk do not require direct killing, yet both involve suffering and both end in a man-created death in one way or another.
Poultry and eggs – Many modern poultry farms are often very abusive of chickens. The chickens live in very small spaces (crowded beyond belief), are mutilated (beaks cut off to prevent pecking each other), fed a diet rich in antibiotics and growth hormones, and when slaughtered, are sometimes still alive when they are eviscerated. Even Organic and free-range chickens are sometimes abused in the production of meat and eggs.
Milk – for a cow to produce milk she must have been pregnant. Male offspring of these milk producers are often not needed for their genetic material and so are sold off and killed for various uses.
In taking the precepts we each must live up to what we understand to be the best action that we can take. No one else can make those decisions for us, or act in our behalf. We are our deeds.
Reverend Ken McGuire has started a new woodworking company specifically for Buddhist Altars and supplies. You can view some of his wonderful work at the Trout Lake Zen Temple or online at http://zenfurnishings.net/ by Ken’s workshop. Ken Roshi made our altar and the small oriyoki tables that we now have in our Zendo. His work is reasonably priced and the quality is very good.
Free Trade coffee that goes for a good cause:
The Presbyterian Coffee Project provides free trade, sustainable, worker friendly coffee. In the greater Trout Lake area you can purchase it from our temple – starting next month. Details in our next newsletter.
Local Churches that teach and practice an embracing, kind, and loving faith.
Trout Lake Presbyterian – Sunday service at 11:15 am
Sunday Service at 10AM (Summer schedule), Trout Lake
Bethel Congregational Church (United Church of Christ)
Sunday Service at 10AM in White Salmon
Mid-Columbia Unitarian Universalist Fellowship.
Sunday Service at 10AM at the Rockford Grange, Hood River
Minh Quang Temple
14719 SE Powell Blvd.
Portland, OR 97236
We have come to respect and enjoy attending a Vietnamese Buddhist temple in Portland, Oregon. On some weekends many of the temple members do not speak English. The service is in Vietnamese. The heart and spirit there is most wonderful – a loving and kind Buddhist Practice.
Local Providers of Care
Cookie Gilpatrick LMT
Trout Lake and Hood River
cell 541.490.9077 home 509.395.2468
Karen Hoffman LMT
Trout Lake and White Salmon
Dave Martin, Acupuncture and Chinese Medicine
info coming soon
White Salmon, WA
Denise Morrison PA-C
Mid Columbia Family Health Center
Jennifer Silapie ND
251 N. Main Ave, White Salmon 509.493.3300
These individuals are recommended because of the quality of their practice, not because of any religious beliefs.