Friday, February 10, 2006

The Meaning of Samaya

Samaya means "commitments". This wonderful article by HH Kunzig Shamarpa Rinpoche explains the 14 ways in which samaya can be broken.

What I love about these recommendations is that they don't relieve the practitioner of using reasoning and spiritual insight to determine what is the best course of action in a situation. For example, I think that most of the attacks on evangelical Christianity these days fall under the category of "Abusing Other Traditions with the Motivation of Gaining More Respect for Oneself." I don't think the same way, however, about radical Islam, which has as one of its goals the violent destruction of practitioners of other paths.

As with all actions on the Mahayana and Vajrayana paths, the right course of action in all situations is the action that would benefit ALL sentient beings. It's a teleological ethic, not a deontological one.

I also liked the point about using forceful means when necessary. I can count a number of times recently when I've shied away from forceful means because I wanted to remain "spiritual" and "peaceful". In reality, I was using my spirituality as a front for my own fear.

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