Archive for June 28, 2012

Precept 3: Saving Face

I have always had problems with Buddhist Precept #3: avoid sexual misconduct. So what does that mean … exactly?  The problem I have is that this precept was created a few centuries ago.  From my point of view, the Buddha could not have imagined the number and forms of sexual visual images available today: MPS movies, pictures, online reading material, books, magazines, cell phones and various other items. Is it possible t still retain the same intent so many years ago?

For instance, the movie ‘Mystic River,’ implies sex of young children while the very graphic ‘Gia’ focused on the horrors of AIDS. Monster, Based on the life of Aileen Wuornos, a prostitute who became a serial killer while Saving Face is a wonderful love story that addresses the pros and cons of Chinese-American family life and specifically how Wil (Michelle Krusiec) navigates her world as a lesbian.

On the other hand, the $10 – $14 billion dollar porn industry is simply making a profit versus saying much, if anything of value. One cannot tell Hustler, Playboy, Playgirl, and others really promote anything of value, although Playboy has said to have some well written, no sexual, content and hard hitting journalism.  But the image remains the same.

In the end, precept 3 has been problematic for me. I guess in my world, for good or bad, I had to simply limit the precept accordingly:

We can either treat other people and other elements of our environment as objects of our calculation, exploitation and consumption, or we can see other people as we see ourselves.

While I am heterosexual, I want to be just like the characters in the movie ‘Saving Face’ and continually move toward seeing people as I want them to see me … regardless of how darn difficult it is.

Three quotes instantly came to mind while listeening to a psychologist friend tell me how God lead people to her for healing: “All politics are local;” “It’s a recession when your neighbor loses his job; it’s a depression when you lose your own,” and the most infamous, “God will not give you more than you can handle.”

What a crock of shit, especially the last line.

Paul’s writing in Corinthians was meant to console, but try ripping those words to someone in pain and you may be in for a bad day. For instance how any of the following handle such words:

  • Any of the 8.8 million jobs lost during the downturn;
  • Homeowners of Live Oak, Florida who lost their homes during the latest tropical storm flooding;
  • 32,000 homeowners evacuated from Colorado Springs due to the monster fire;
  • A cancer patient;
  • Someone suffering from divorce.

But wait a minute, that’s not really what the Bible says. It says you won’t be tempted beyond what you can bear. When Paul writes that God will not tempt us beyond our ability, he means that we are never in a situation where we have no other choice but to sin.

So, regarding handling situations more than you can bear. Basically, all I can really say is “stuff happens.” I can’t explain it. I myself can remember being in an accident and not being able to walk for a year and I currently live with Multiple Sclerosis each and every day. But like everyone else, I get up every day and continue forward. Ultimately, when we are at our lowest, God becomes His greatest.

A coworker recently asked me how I deal with the pain of MS so well. “Well,” I explained, “I simply reflect upon the moment, and remember that I am not having a bad day. My body is, but I am not.”

Of course I have ups and downs, moments of pain intermixed with relief. I forgive myself and continue on. There’s something magically healing about spending time with others who’ve had or are having painful experiences similar to your own. Often by holding someone else’s hand, by becoming their support, you’ll find your own pain lessens just a little bit.

When you shine a light to guide others on a dark road, your own way is also lit. The very nature of guiding is both very Christian and very Buddhist.

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