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Buddha-s Law Among the Birds - The - Part 5

by Sangharakshita

The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
tape thirteen
I do know that some people are suspected of being spies for the Americans and also for the
communists at the same time. It is as irrational, as illogical as that. (pause)
Anyway, we've illustrated this sufficiently. "'As for the mistrustful, theirs is the loss of logical
abilities. As to the defiled, theirs is the loss of the Good Law." Defiled meaning, presumably,
those who have defilements or klesas or afflictions. So theirs is the loss of the Good Law, they
are unable to practise the dharma. (very long pause)
Alright, the last of these lines. "As for the disbelievers, theirs is the loss of all miraculous
blessings." In other words, if you don't have faith and devotion how can you expect any blessings
from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? No one can change the laws of this samsaric world. The law
which is (unclear) 'as you sow, so shall you also reap'. In the words of St Paul, I'm afraid. If you
don't break the cause you cannot expect, you cannot hope to experience the effect.(very long
pause)
Anyway, anything further to consider in the Peacock's speech? Time is practically up.
Aryamitra: He just seems to be saying if you don't produce skilful actions and thoughts in one
way or another you won't gain anything.
S: And yours is the loss. Nobody else will suffer the loss, you will. (very long pause). Well, I
think we'll leave it there for today. Only two more days left now.
S: Alright, page 32. The speech of the Indian Kestrel.
Silabhadra:
"The Indian Kestrel then rose and said: Ki ki.
"Observe this king who has lived too long. He is now no more thana
common man, Ki ki.
Observe this man not content with what he has. He will surely be crushed
by his foes, Ki ki.
Observe this man who ignores the fruits of his evil deeds. He will surely
go to hell, Ki ki.
Observe this man who calculates on staying here for ever. He will surely
be ensnared by death, Ki ki.
Observe these wild men, robbers and thieves. They will surely be
punished by the judge,
Ki ki.
Observe these unrighteous men of false views. They are a disgrace to the
Three Treasures, Ki ki.
All those who see their evil thoughts and deeds accumulate before their
eyes, - let them be mindful of the consequences, Ki ki.""
S: So most of these lines deal with the inevitability of the consequences of one's own actions.
'Observe this king who has lived too long. He is now no more than a common man.' What do you
think this means? What sort of situation does this refer to? In what sense has the king lived too
long?
Silabhadra: He is getting too old to fulfil his duties, perhaps.
S: Either too old to fulfil his duties, or he's lived to see his power taken away. Maybe he's lived
only to be dethroned so that he's now no more than a common man.
241 The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
What about the next one, 'Observe this man, not content with what he has. He will surely be
crushed by his foes.' Well, how will that come about?
Aryamitra: Well, if he's not content he'll be after others'...
S: He'll be trying to increase his possessions or extend his territories, and that would surely bring
about his downfall eventually.
And what about the man who 'ignores the fruits of his evil deeds' Well that's pretty obvious. It
says, 'he will surely go to hell.' That is to say, the mere fact that you ignore the fruits of your evil
deeds doesn't prevent them from having consequences.
Really, it's as though in your eagerness for a certain situation or a certain experience, you just
ignore the inevitability of the consequences. No doubt the king wanted to go on living very long,
but he overlooked the fact that though he might go on living, he wouldn't necessarily be a king.
In the same way, the man not content with what he has goes on increasing his possessions, maybe
increasing his territory, and he overlooks the fact that that is going to get him into difficulties.
In the same way, someone commits evil deeds, ignores that fact that they're going to land him in
the state of suffering. One might say that it's the easiest thing in the world to overlook the
consequences, or at least the possible consequences of one's own action. At the time of
performing the action, you are is so immersed in it, so intent on it, so concerned with a particular
kind of result or experience that you overlook completely, you ignore completely what the
consequences of what you're doing may be, or perhaps almost certainly will be.
Aryamitra: this must be what we do most of the time. If one were not performing skilful actions.
S: Well yes, because no one willingly lands themselves in suffering, and unskilful actions almost
invariably bring about suffering. So presumably, when one performs the unskilful actions one
is forgetful of, or at least ignoring the fact that, those unpleasant consequences will ensue.
But one does find this, that most people are so completely taken up with what they're doing, so
blinded even, they just can't even think about consequences. what to speak of ignoring it, doesn't
even think of them. It's as though it doesn't even occur to them that there are such things as
consequences. (pause) As when, perhaps, for instance, you steal something, you are tempted by
something. It seems easy just to take it, maybe to shoplift. At the time it doesn't occur to you the
very heavy consequences. You've just yielded, as it were, to momentary temptation without a
thought. (pause)
And then, 'Observe this man who calculates on staying here forever. He will surely be ensnared
by death.' That was something which, no doubt, he didn't look for. Especially when it actually
happens.
And then, 'Observe these wild men, robbers and thieves. They will surely be punished by the
judge.' Very often people who live by theft, they're pretty confident that they are going to get
away with it. Sometimes, of course, they do unfortunately under the conditions of modern
society. But more often than not, they don't - they're punished, they don't escape. Even if they
escape the judge, they don't escape the Yamaraja. They don't escape judgement, so to speak, after
death or even during this lifetime in other ways.
Prasannasiddhi: And they are setting up conditions. If you thieve things and you get away with
it, you are setting up a condition so it's sort of an aspect, perhaps, of society; that people do
thieve, and if that built up, the society would revert to a, you would lose your ethical basis, I
would think. So they're sort of setting up conditions.
242 The Buddha's Law Among the Birds Seminar
S: Yes, too many people getting away with it too much of the time, and so then honest men
would be in a minority and then you wouldn't have an honest society. Society would no more be
based on law, no more be based on any ethical principle. (unclear) the law of the jungle.
And then, 'Observe these unrighteous men of false views. They are a disgrace to the Three
Treasures.' Presumably the text is referring to purely nominal Buddhists who live unrighteously
and entertain false views. They're wrong both in theory and in practice. It doesn't even say what
the consequences are. Perhaps the consequences are too awful to contemplate. They are simply
a disgrace to the Three Treasures, in which they profess to take refuge. Three treasures, of course,
means Three Jewels.
And then the text summarises; 'All those who see their evil thoughts and deeds accumulate before
their eyes - let them be mindful of the consequences.' That's a very basic point, and I've dwelt on
it before. But it's one that people very easily ignore. To say what I said yesterday in the same
words, one has to remember that actions have consequences, all actions have consequences. You
never actually get away with anything. You might think that you do (laughter) but you don't. Not
in the long run. You can even be very clever, you can outwit other people, you can outwit society,
you can outwit the law, you can outwit the police, you can outwit even your own conscience, but
you can't outwit the law of karma. That's much too clever for you.(pause)
Silaratna: Seems to be a really important thing, you know, that, say for us dealing with the people
who are coming into the Dharma, that that point you emphasise, really emphasise it; the
consequences of your actions.
S: But that's another simple point, that's the sort of third simple point that has come up in these
two study groups. What were the other two? I mentioned them the other day, what were they?
Very simple basic points that one needed to emphasise on a wide scale. What were these?
Khemananda: One was about happiness, that you're responsible for your happiness. It's a ....
S: (interrupting) You're responsible for your own mental state, yes.
Khemananda: You can't get it from out there.
S: So today we're saying, you know, actions do have consequences. But what's that third basic
simple point?
Khemananda: Was it something to do with leisure?
S: Ah, yes, that's right. yes, how to use one's leisure, the right use of leisure. These were the
things, these were the points that one needed to raise and to discuss with and clarify with as many
people as possible, ...

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