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Sunday, November 04, 2007

Buddhism and Sin

The Buddhist challenge to conventional Western notions of spirituality illuminates the way we set flesh and spirit at war with each other. In Buddhism there is no original sin.

Although noticing how we express our sexuality can certainly lead to an awareness of right conduct, the flesh is not regarded as representing a corruption or punishment of any kind, nor as an obstacle to the attainment of enlightenment.

The root of human suffering is not sin, but our confusion about ego.
We suffer because we believe in the existence of an individual self. This belief splits the world into "I" and "other."

- Stephen Butterfield, Tricycle: The Buddhist Review, Vol. I, #4

James: This is something that really rings true for me. There is no emphasis upon guilt in Buddhism as there is no one that is going to "punish" us for "sin." I like the idea that we are our own "saviors" and "judges" so to speak. In Buddhism, If we wish to engage in actions that are less skillful, (whether sexual or others wise) then that is absolutely our choice and no personal Supreme Being is going to condemn us for it.

Yet just like smoking usually shortens ones physical life, less skillful actions will most likely prolong our future lives within samsara. It just all depends on how much progress one wants to progress toward realizing Nirvana. So in that regard rebirth is compassionate as it gives us as many chances as we need. Some believe rebirth to be cruel, that we have to redo the suffering in life over and over but that is only because we choose to stay in that cycle of rebirth and death.

In addition, not everyone has the same karma and some lessons of samsara might be easy for one person and difficult for others and vice versa.

We are the masters of our own destiny and path and sometimes we need to take side-tracks in order to be convinced that the path we were on was more direct.

PHOTO: Yab-Yum (Tibetan for "mother-father"). It is a symbol showing a male deity in sexual union with his female consort. The image of male and female united as one in intimacy is a powerful (and sometimes overtly "shocking") symbol to depict the natural transcendental unity of all things. It is also meant to be symbolic of the important and strong union between wisdom/insight (consort) and compassion (deity).

~Peace to all beings~

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7 comments:

Greenwoman said...

Thinking of you...*smiles*

They call him James Ure said...

GW: Smiling back :)

h. said...

Is the female in that picture about to stab the guy in the neck??

Just wondering... :)

Gregor said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Gregor said...

Hey James,

Nice post here.

I'm a bit on the fence about the rebirth issue, but there is a case to made for it.

In terms of the lack of guilt in Buddhism, I like the explanation of Buddhism being a religion of action -- when it comes down to it our actions are what matter, and since guilt is not an action but a thought it is ultimately worthless, instead it is much better to see our mistakes for what they are, learn form them and move towards more skillful action.



The Dharma is a very compassionate truth isn't it?

Ray said...

Hi James, thanks for the great post (and blog).

So in that regard rebirth is compassionate as it gives us as many chances as we need.

I like this interpretation of rebirth because it links to well into the ideas of free-will and self determination. It's these things that make Buddhism appealing to me.

They call him James Ure said...

H:

Ha!! It sure looks like it doesn't it? I think that she is pulling on his pony tail??

Gregor:

Well, there is a lot of room and diversity in the Buddhist tent. The beauty is advice to investigate the teachings for ourselves and if they do not respond to our reason and experience then we don't have to accept them.

and since guilt is not an action but a thought it is ultimately worthless, instead it is much better to see our mistakes for what they are, learn form them and move towards more skillful action.

Exactly. Well summed up.

Ray:

Free-will and self determination are two of the reasons that I really jumped into the Buddha-Dharma myself. It is so accepting and compassionate.

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