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Transcribing the oral tradition...

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Buddha-s Law Among the Birds - The - Part 2

by Sangharakshita

The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
Birds - tape four.
S: ... this sort of desire that you get - craving, that you hope for something. At the same time,
you are afraid, you fear that you may not get it, or that you may lose it. So 'hopes and fears'
probably stand for all the conflicting egocentric emotions or egocentred emotions. So while
you are still chained to these things - that's a pretty strong expression - while you're still
chained to hopes and fears, chained to these conflicting emotions, it's not possible for you
to reach, to contact that centre of inner calm which you do have within you deep down. First
you must still the hopes and fears, you must get rid of the hopes and fears, you must get rid
of the five hindrances, to change the terminology or to make the terminology more technical,
before you can enter upon the dhyanas. It's a little bit like that.(pause)
Aryamitra: .. anxiety.
S: Yes, fears no doubt includes anxiety.(pause)
Ratnaketu: Could it also be seen that hopes and fears are like assumptions in themselves?
S: Yes, very often they are....
Ratnaketu: You're trying to see your inner mind, your hopes and fears...(unclear).
S: There's a verse or a line of a poem that says something like, 'Hopes are traitors, fears are
liars.' They can both be quite falsely based, be quite imaginary, your hopes can be imaginary,
your fears can be imaginary. Sometimes you find this, sometimes you discover this in the
case of fears, you discover that you've worried quite unnecessarily. You've worked yourself
perhaps into a real tizzy - it was completely unnecessary. You had, in fact, nothing to worry
about at all.
Buddhapalita: Surely ultimately that's true in every event, everything.
S: Well, some fears may be justified. But on the other hand, still, why worry? I mean, some
people worry about their health, they're worried, they think they might have cancer. Anyway,
they eventually get themselves examined and they find they don't have cancer,so they stop
worrying, well, they stop worrying about whether they have cancer and usually start
worrying about something else, because they've got into that sort of habit.
But even if you're told you have got cancer, well, in a sense, why worry? You know the
worst, just face it sort of calmly and don't worry about it. You know you've got to die one
day anyway, you know, whether you have cancer or not. Even if you don't have cancer, it
doesn't mean that you're going to live for ever, you've got to die one day, so it might just as
well be of cancer as of anything else. So even if you have cancer, even if the fear in a sense
is justified, still paradoxically, the fear is not justified. I mean, you know, death will come
71 The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
whether or not you worry about it, whether or not you're afraid of it, so you may as well not
be afraid of it.
(brief cut off in the tape) Anyway, the Golden Goose then sums up and he says: "All you
who thus prolong your bondage within this ocean of suffering, Try to grasp the meaning of
my words, for they will shorten your bondage." It's as though he's saying, 'You all do this,
you're all guilty of this, you all prolong your bondage in these various ways. But try not to
do it, try to understand what I've said, because that will shorten your bondage, that will
liberate you all the sooner.'
In a way this whole speech from the Golden Goose is a sort of diatribe against
half-heartedness. It's no use being half-hearted, there's no point in being half-hearted. There's
no point in just going through the motions of making an effort when you're not really doing
that. You might just as well not bother. If you're not prepared to put yourself into something
whole-heartedly, better to leave it alone, certainly with regard to the spiritual life.(pause)
Ratnaketu: Is it really like that, just that, you know, some people might come into the circle
of the Friends and you can sort of see that they're never going to really possibly make... you
know, just looks like they'll never make an Order member...
S: Well, well, some people look, you know, at first sight, pretty unlikely material, but then
in the space of three years, four years, five years, six years, you definitely see them become
Order members, so one has to be very careful one doesn't sort of dismiss people out of hand
however unlikely they may look. But I admit that looking at some people, you can't help
feeling a bit skeptical, especially if they've been around for quite a few years, not so much
in the case of new people. Especially people who've been around for quite a few years, you
don't really see much in the way of change. It may not altogether be their fault, they may not
have been so fortunate as to have experienced intensive Kalyana Mitrata, it may be just that,
that they need and that they lack.
Ratnaketu: I was thinking quite a bit about the situation of women actually because it seems
there's so few women get ordained, so few women actually get through to committing
S: You see, men are foolish. Women are not foolish. You can get a man, say, to the edge of
a swimming pool, the deep end and you can kid him to jump in - he' a fool, he'll jump in!
(laughter) But women aren't fooled. They just stand there and they see that water's very deep,
they can't swim very well, etc, etc, so they don't jump in, and they just stand there and they're
watching the men, you know, clambering about and playing in the water and eventually
having quite a good time. This is really what happens in a way. But anyway, you were going
to say...
72 The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
Ratnaketu: That sometimes I feel a bit, you know, a particular woman, say a friend of yours,
and you know, well sometimes I feel a bit torn whether to encourage them or not to be
involved, you know, I want them to know about what the Dharma is, but then again, I know
that the situation is that so many women just seem to be floating about neither being in nor
out really.
S: Very often they seem like, sort of, camp followers, if you know what I mean. They
belong, but they're not really in the fighting forces. They're the best part of the commissariat.
Yes, it is a bit of a problem.
Ratnaketu: Because I know that, really, satisfaction begins once you're an Order member.
You know, if you really start to ... the Dharma really starts to ........
S: Well, sometimes one can't help wondering, well, should one take a tremendous risk and
just ordain them all in the hope that ordination will have its effect, (laughter), but then one
thinks 'no',it's not as easy as that, in a way. I mean, ordination does mark a very definite step,
it is in itself a very definite step forward, just being ordained and committing oneself in that
way, but on the other hand, there's nothing magical about it, it's not a magical blessing in
itself. Anyway, let's stop there for the time being.
Amoghacitta: Bhante, there's still one more thing I'd like to ask about these two lines, 'To
try to understand one's inner mind while still chained to hopes and fears'. It just seems like
being chained to hopes and fears is just operating within a dualistic framework and it's that
that stops you, essentially that stops you experiencing your inner mind. Would you say that?
S: Yes, of course. One could also say even to distinguish inner mind from outer mind is still
dualistic, that's only involved with a fine form of dualism, but certainly, yes, in the case of
hopes and fears, you are just oscillating between various emotional extremes and that cannot
but disturb the mind, cannot but upset the tranquility of the mind or prevent one from
contacting that.
All right,let's go on then to the Raven. Who's going to be the Raven?
"Thereupon the Raven, with his great wings rose, made a few
sideways steps and said: grogs yon grogs yon, which means, help will
come, help will come.
73 The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
"When you have been true to your vows, help will come in the form of
a happy life among men.
When you have given gifts, help will come in the form of future wealth.
When you have performed the acts of worship, help will come from the
guardian angels.
When your solemn promises are made in all good faith, help will come
from the love of the fairies.
When you are alert at the sacrificial festivals, help will come from the
Guardians of the Dharma.
When in this life you learn to enter into higher meditation, help will
come from the future Buddha.
Learn therefore to gain these virtues,
for help comes through them.""
S: So help will come. It's as though in the course of the spiritual life help will come. You
don't have to do it all yourself. It isn't that no-one will ever help you. It isn't that only you can
help yourself, but help will not come unless you've done something first. This is the point
of this whole discourse. 'When you have been true to your vows, help will come in the form
of a happy life among men', 'When you have given gifts, help will come in the form of future
wealth'? etc. I mean, there is this well known, even hackneyed proverb in the West, "God
helps ...

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