02 December 2012

Not an Instant's Truce

So I guess there's been another established Zen teacher accused of sexual impropriety, and, as these things go, there's a buzz on the net and elsewhere.  Once again, (rhetorical?) questions to the effect of "How could someone who has practiced so long fall so low?" are popping up.

I don't get that kind of question.  At all.

When it comes to practice, you and I and everyone else are never ever anything but rank beginners.  Moreover – and this is very important – no one, not you, not me, not anyone else, is ever but a breath, a thought or an action away from doing something profoundly unskillful, deeply immoral, or catastrophically damaging.  Ever.

Thoreau remarked, "Our whole life is startlingly moral. There is never an instant's truce between virtue and vice."  Every instant can be a dharma-gate leading to great peace and joy.  Every instant can be a maelstrom that leads straight to depths of the most grotesque evils imaginable.  It may be that with practice one is increasingly unlikely to head quite so quickly in the directions indicated by greed, anger, and ignorance, but this doesn't mean that it is impossible to do so.  And since in this game a misstep can lead to kalpas of consequences with a lot of collateral damage, it's best to keep on guard and not bet on not slipping up.

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