So…I’ve recently started consciously re-engaging with Buddhism. My last post, Can’t change who I am, I guess. Maybe just go with it?…has brought me back around to a bit of knowledge that was likely missing 2500 years ago. This is that there are more things living than I think anyone could really have suspected, and to fully, “avoid killing living things,” is not possible, without dying oneself.
That is to say…death is part of life, and not everyone can be a Breathairian and survive without an immune system. I’m not entirely certain to what extent watching the feasting swallows outside my window, yesterday, had to do with this: but I’ve found the precept against killing anything (including insects) to be unfeasible, and the more limited directive just to kill plants, to be insulting to plants, as though plants aren’t living things (though 2500 years ago in India, maybe they weren’t considered truly alive). This is not to mention that to remain healthy, our bodies have to constantly fight microbial invaders.
This is part of who I am. I’m more about balance than abstinence.
Of course, killing unnecessarily or with malice, is off the table, as is killing people or pets. But I am making the choice, from this point on, to fight potential infestations in my home and in my body, because — I’m sure the ants would love it if I stopped defending my food.
Not to mention that when I first moved into my current dwelling two decades ago, the house was overrun with giant spiders, some of which did bite (imagine coming up the stairs, and you look up and there is a surprise spider over 4″ across, spread out on the wall in front of your face. And you have to walk past it to get to your room I’M JUST TRYING TO GET TO MY ROOM).
I’m not letting that happen again, although no, I don’t want to hurt them. If I did want to hurt them, it would be different.
It may not always be part of who I am, but today, at least…I can’t be “Buddhist” enough to take pity on every non-human living creature I find in this house and move it outside. There are PEOPLE we don’t let in this house.
The building marks the boundaries of the territory. They aren’t supposed to be inside.
And the process of life is dynamic. It’s not stagnant.
I’m thinking that when one’s lifestyle involves asking for food instead of growing it oneself, though, it’s easy to get alienated from this. (Not to say that all clergy primarily begged. I know some did not. But…it’s an interesting insight that they were at least one step removed from the business of staying alive…like when I get D to vacuum up a huge silverfish for me because just seeing it freaks me out too much, or one buys meat from a butcher because no one wants to kill a chicken.)
(No, I don’t want to kill a chicken. I have no desire to kill. I don’t think the swallows yesterday had a desire to kill. They had a desire to eat.)
Okay, now that I’ve admitted that. I’m not perfect.
But I shouldn’t let that hold me back from engaging with Buddhism at all — that is, the fact that I’m not already perfect.
Fragments of the Divine?
I came across an interesting idea today…and I’m not sure whether concentrating on my pendant today helped this. I mentioned in yesterday’s post something about the Five Dhyani Buddhas of each direction (each Buddha being related to an Element), being embodied in one of the vishva vajra pendants I have (and I’m sure you could see where I could be hesitant to wear the more official of these two, if I don’t agree with certain ensconced fundamentals of Buddhism).
The thought I came to is that we each embody something — some specific aspect — of the universe. One can see this in various different schema in various different religions, particularly the polytheistic, or poly/pantheistic ones.
I think I am the latter. Not a religion (!), but someone who thinks in a way in which a mix of “polytheism” (the status of the parts as Deities are my only hangup, here) and pantheism make sense. (Pantheism = the belief that the Universe is Divine.) I’ve found this in Tibetan Buddhism, Qabalah, Angelology, Demonology, somewhat in Hindu belief (though I know better than to say “Hinduism,” I’ve never really in-depth investigated stuff like Advaita Vedanta, Shaivism, Vaishnavism or Shaktism: it’s harder for me as someone with an East Asian diasporic background, not to mention that for some reason these beliefs haven’t been as established in my area), and some African syncretic religions…
I’m thinking…everyone is unique, because what we are, if we do have souls, is the universe, fragmented or projected. Then as we incarnate, we learn and are conditioned to be certain ways, but the conditioning is not the essence. When we die, maybe that part of us which is a fragment of the Divine goes back to being that fragment of the Divine which is, “us.” Uniquely, “us,” or maybe one who interacts in the world through generating the energy behind multiple lives, at once.
So we would remain who we are and we would have a soul, even if a group soul, but we would be cleansed of extraneous materials.
Of course…this would fly in the face of Buddhism (which does not see an essential “Self” as real), but about as much as Psychology flies in the face of Sociology (Sociology sees people as constructed [or at least heavily conditioned and sometimes warped by] relations of power)…
I’m not sure if this is making sense to anyone but me. I’m hoping it will continue to make sense, because right now I’m a little tired (?) of writing.
And yeah…right now I’m wearing the little amethyst pendant…and I think it’s happy with me. 🙂 Not to sound crazy, though I know I must…