Sila and Brad

Posted: 06/06/2016 in ONE planet, Zen

Brad recently wrote a blog “Can meditation make you morally perfect?”, I was amused to read this after my recent blog on Kohlberg – put up today written a week ago. I used the word sila as moral integrity, and it can be seen as moral perfection. The similarity with what I describe comes with this quote from Dogen “Trying to obey the precepts is a hopeless task …. They found they could not obey the precepts by their conscious efforts so they worked on the problem from another angle. They found that when they practiced zazen every day their lives became simple and clear. They found in fact that they could not disobey the precepts.

In our life we must make our decisions moment by moment …. When we are `right’, our actions will also be right. When we practice zazen we resume our original nature—our Buddha-nature …. We find ourselves in harmony with the Universe at every moment. In such a state it is impossible for us to break the precepts.”

I like this.

However I want to look at this in a different way, and it is something that has become clearer to me since moving from Theravada. What prevents the harmony, what prevents “acting with sila”? And the answer is khandas, normally we are preoccupied with dealing with the problems caused by the daily mind. When we are consciously trying to follow the precepts, we are using this daily mind – we are using that which prevents us from acting with sila in the first place. If we do not use the daily mind, if we use what I have recently been calling zen mind then it is natural for that zen mind to act with sila.

There are intellectual objections to this approach. This comes in what I think of as the intellectual ego or intellectual clinging. The intellect is part of the daily mind. When we meditate what causes all the chatter? The intellectual mind arguing with itself. The intellectual mind believes it has the answers so therefore it believes it can chase the precepts. As with Kohlberg it is as if moral man is a consequence of rational man. There is another maxim (my own?) that the totality of something is more than the sum of its parts, total morality is more than the sum of the reasons.

Similar to this last is the culprit of miseducation (as exemplified by Brad’s contrarian). Kohlberg’s model describes a development of morality based on the increasing use of reason. I personally dispute this using what I called the mature model. In maturity we develop a harmony with Gaia, and living in this harmony has an inbuilt sila. Yet our miseducation (as with the Kohlberg model) requires morality based on reason. When sila is not based on reason we have the moral objections and justifications such as cults etc. But the contrarian does not raise the objection that there are so many people with supposedly highly-developed reason in academia and some in government who do not act morally. I still feel as stated in myKohlberg blog that reason is used to justify morality as opposed to creating morality through rational criteria. In defence of Brad’s approach of zazen being sila, his actions that were not associated with his “jerk” could easily be justified morally after the act – if required to do so.

Living as sila does not require reason it requires being in harmony through zazen.

Books:- Treatise, Wai Zandtao Scifi, Matriellez Education.

Blogs:- Ginsukapaapdee, Matriellez.


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