Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #16

Calls to Kindness…

In this time of political wrangling, manipulation, and hyperbole, we have gotten use to attitudes and a demeanor that detract from allowing civility to facilitate the kind of change and resulting harmony that at the end of the day, we would prefer to live in.

Here are some of The Rules of Civility George Washington saw as important, even in highly charged situations.

  • “Show Nothing to your Friend that might affright him.”

Commentary: Fright or shock of this nature has its place in the spectrum of communication.  “Shock value” can have its place in marketing or stopping a transaction, or moving it in a new direction.  But, it has no place in civility, especially with those who you are either friends or want to cultivate as such.  Whereas civility is a process of smoothing a continuum of communication, shock or fright is disruptive and will, in fact, create greater uncertainty in the transactions that may follow.

  • “Shake not the head, or Legs, Roll not the Eyes, Lift not one eyebrow higher than the other, Wry not the mouth, and Bedew no mans face with your Spittle, by approaching too near when you Speak.”

Commentary:  With the exception to spitting on someone (unless it is intended!), all the other mannerisms described usually show or convey a judgment on what is being conveyed in a transaction and these judgments are usually negative or come with a conflicting emotion.  Yet, these responses are usually habitual and/or reflexive.  One does not go out of one’s way to display such.  Thus, one could say that young George was taking a lesson from British aristocracy in being trained and/or disciplined to keep a “stiff upper lip” and all of the repressive mannerisms of British high society.  Displaying a “poker face” or one that does not display any of the mannerisms above is useful in many social and political environs.  However in the extreme and as an expected norm, they can also be detrimental to sound mental health, both for the person inhibiting and those before them who remain more in the dark as to what one may be thinking. 

In modern times, with the increased use of Botox to eliminate wrinkles, it has been noted that many reflexive facial responses are being overly inhibited via this toxin.    The result is that people looking at the botoxed face are flummoxed by what they can and cannot see.  And, as a result the person with the botoxed face cannot read the other person’s response either.  Thus, the ability to judge what is going on in the mind and emotions of another is said to be impaired by about fifty present; an actual decrease in emotional intelligence.

 As regards unintended spittle, especially in most civil discourse, respecting another individual’s personal space will usually ensure that such “bedewing” is less likely.

  • “Show not yourself glad at the Misfortune of another, though he were your enemy.”

Commentary: If we truly believe that we are all basically good and that we are all doing the best based on what we know, we must understand that as misguided as we may think others are in what they say and do, they think the same as us.  This is the predicament of conditioned existence.  And in whatever conflict we face, whether it is a personal conflict or an all-out conflagration consuming continent, to rejoice in the pain and suffering of others shows a shallow understanding of humanity and life in general.

In the tradition of honorable warfare, the Ven. Chogyam Trungpa said that on the battlefield, after striking down a foe, a noble soldier would sit with his defeated adversary and pray with him, as he would drift into death.

Thus civility holds no quarter for those who seek revenge or take pleasure in the demise of others.  Such an attitude can only diminish us as individuals and in the end, leave us prey to the same.  As the Welsh saying goes, “:If you plan revenge, dig two graves.”

  • “When you see a Crime punished, you may be inwardly pleased, but always show Pity to the Suffering Offender.”

Commentary: Following on from Rule 22, by “inwardly pleased,” it would seem in the spirit of what is said that this does not mean to be happy.  When justice is served, when a punishment fits the crime, we acknowledge that that which was done will hopefully serve two criteria.  First, that such was done for a greater good and second, that the punishment is instructive, informative, and met out with a recognition of our shared human birthright.  And if it be that the punishment is punitive in nature even to the point of death, that such acts are performed with a forgiving heart and sense of remorse for the need to act thus.

To hear more perspectives based on these Rules, watch this podcast…

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #15

Where it seems we are going…

“Stand back and stand by…”

Recent words heard during a Presidential debate.

In a time where civil dialogue and respecting both the letter and spirit of the law would have been given due and proper consideration, what actually came across as a threat to invoke a known domestic terrorist group may have set off alarm bells to consider that a threat was being made against the American people.

But, when there is an onslaught of similar attacks, threats, and toxic opinions used daily to steal yet another news cycle, the weight of this phrase barely grabs the attention, derision, and concern it rightly deserves.

In The Path of Civility, I emphasize that an on-the-level perspective and respect yields the greatest possibility of ensuring that civil dialogue yields productive results. Furthermore, that there needs to be an acknowledgement if not application of moral law and ethics to make civility more weighty as a force in transactions.

But, what happens when that is not there and is either disregarded or ignored altogether? What tone do you take when you see that even the lowest and most Neanderthal language to elicit shame yields nothing or worst still, mockery?

This is where Civil Disobedience properly and strategically employed may be the only way to gain attention, both from the parties being addressed and those who look on.

Civil disobedience will never be seen as civil by those whom the actions are being directed. In this situation the Five Steps of Wise Action need to be deployed and actions and words used with an altruistic intention or, as Geoffrey Bullington puts it, “For the goodness of all concerned.”

Here is my podcast spelling out more clearly what I have presented in this and the previous blog.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #14

Still Here and A Lot More to Do

I hope many of you enjoyed my booksigning on September 6th. For those who missed it, it will be on YouTube very shortly. And, if you want a signed copy of my book, it can be purchased anytime at http://w.ivenue.com/diamondwayayurveda3/ecommerce/books-and-home-study-programs-class/the-path-of-civility.html

In the meantime, I had said that the next blogpost would focus on civil disobedience. This is the piece from my book that follows my discussion on wrathful compassion and how civility expresses itself when an adversarial environment exists.

“In the tempestuous climate of personal attack politics, xenophobia, and the global resurgence of tribalism under the moniker of “nationalism,” civility has been maligned in books and articles, social media, and so forth.  Seen only within the context of the first level of compassion, “pacifying or peaceful,” to those who overtly protest or act in indignant response to the forces which seem oblivious or non-responsive to sickness, poverty, and warfare, civility is seen as a form of social control; a way of keeping the masses in line, compliant. 

That civility can be expanded to include the expressions I have thus described is, therefore, unthinkable, revolutionary – not really in keeping with the way in which the conventional mind wishes to keep civility in the “ play nice” box.  In a recent Facebook tet-a-tet, I was called to defend my expanded view of civility and its place in social and cultural change and transformation.  For civility to be only defined as an affect, a benign response clearly does not do the term justice or reveal the power it has when applying the Five Steps of Wise Action and a more appropriate, dynamic form of compassionate speech or action.  This brings us to the topic of civil disobedience.

Civil Disobedience falls under the last category of compassion – wrathful.  To explain this more fully, let us break this phrase down, first.

Obedience involves the following of rules, laws, someone, or something because they are expected to be followed, by those creating the rules, the laws, the pecking order or such, sometimes by those who think they should or feel compelled to do so, or both. 

In this respect, there are three levels of obedience.  First and the form where there is the greatest power disparity is that of submission; where following the rule, the law, the ideology, the lord of the manner is not only expected, but there are proscribed consequences for not doing so.  Then there is an obedience where the rational or justification for following such or being under the banner of an ideology, or leader is that one sees merit or something of value in obedience to such.  In this there is a subtle line between and sometimes a combination of submission with a willful abdication of personal responsibility.  Although this may create social harmony and a general sense of pacifying-type civility, whenever there is a power differential or a deference based on social or cultural norms, things do change.  Furthermore, rarely do those whose power or mandates, which have been legitimated by fitting the times, give up their advantage when change is needed for the general good.  Thus abdication of personal responsibility can slide into unwilling submission.  Finally, there is obedience that comes from a mutual, “on the level” understanding.  Thus, like the paramita or perfection of discipline, there is actual joy and benefit that comes from adherence to such.

 If the time and circumstance we find ourselves in is no longer one of mutual benefit, where obedience becomes coerced or demanding of submission, then the civil approach that which speaks to our basic goodness, must lead us to distance ourselves from such adherence.  As stated previously in different ways, civility is dependent upon being on the level, where there is mutuality – or at least respect  – even when there is a social, cultural, or spiritual disparity to which people subscribe.

What is the consequence when your position is “I regret to inform you that…” when you do not comply with the norms or legitimated laws, edicts, or rulers of which or to whom you have been – up to this point – obedient?  Consider Nelson Mandala; imprisoned. An Sang Suchi – imprisoned.  Martin Luther King -assassinated.  Mohandas Gandhi – assassinated.  In the disparity of power, denial or disregard of the civil rights or benefits that create for a more just society, it becomes inevitable that those challenging to these structures or rules become vilified, become seen as dissidents, malcontents, even terrorists, regardless of whether their actions and words are peaceful or confrontational.  Then again, when coercion and force are used to suppress these malcontents, at what point can we say that reciprocal force is not unwarranted?  In this, I am reminded of the words of the late Tibetan Buddhist Master, the Thirteenth Kunzig Shamar Rinpoche, who spoke of the necessity to sometimes wage what he called a “white war.” (Footnote 2)

Does this mean, therefore, that if the underdog or the righteous side of a “white war” proves victorious over the short or long term, that there will not be consequences? After all, we see that in the working of relative reality situations, there is always a variation of hell to pay.  The champions we have highlighted above were eloquent, charismatic, and demonstrative of propriety in a straightforward way.  Their actions and words did catalyze or at least contributed to significant cultural and societal change.  But other than their own trials and tribulations, there were many in their ranks that likewise suffered similar fates.  And the results sought remain works in progress.  Consider “Black lives matter,” the “Me Too” movement, the time it takes to root out greed, corruption, and power mongering.  That is why, for the changes sought to become more real and lasting, there needs to be an awareness of those qualities or traits that can undermine, slow down, even subvert the course of basic goodness envisioned in the world; greed, self-righteousness, revenge, and so forth.

In the case of America, we know that George Washington was an ardent believer in and aspiring practitioner of civility.  And, yet, he was also a soldier, a general, and eventually the President of a country he supported in disobedience to what he and other defined as a tyrannical regime. As we reference President George Washington, with all the flaws, omissions, and unintended consequences of the American Revolution, and acknowledging that the very formation of this country had its own bloody history of conquest and slavery, many contend as do I that there was a genuine attempt to envision a different future.  The men and women, the Founding Mothers and Fathers of America, were striving for a “more perfect union.”  Otherwise, the provisions of the First and Second Amendments of the American Constitution would not have been the first and second principles upon which to form the United States; a nation that to this day is still aspiring to be a true democracy.

Amendment ONE: “Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and

to petition the government for a redress of grievances.”

This Amendment embodies a civil way of engaging in promoting truth and seeking to express grievances to elicit dialogue and change.  And, our first three forms of compassion, Peaceful, Enrichment, and Magnetizing are the methodologies that can help in the processes of maintaining civility in the change process.  It is important to note that Enriching Compassion, dependent on education was a major feature of what the formers of America felt to be needed for “true” democracy to prevail and be sustainable.  Thus we see Washington being a champion for primary school education and a general agreement that there needs to be an availability of classical education in order to build an informed, civil electorate.

     Amendment TWO: “A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.”

This Amendment is more in line with the final form of compassion – wrathful.

Thomas Jefferson once commented that any country that wished to promote freedom and democracy needed to have a periodic revolution in order to avoid the resurgence and the inevitable slide back into tyranny.  For civil society to be maintained, there need to be watchdogs, the soldiers of wrathful compassion, to ensure that the principles and practices “of the people, for the people, and by the people,” be safeguarded.  Hence, a separation between church and state and the independent functioning of branches of government are fundamental.  But, just in case those of legitimated authority or in ruling positions in representative government get too full of themselves, there are always the people – and their guns. 

This aforementioned option is a last and regrettable resort.  For civil disobedience in both normal or extraordinary forms (i.e. revolutions) to be carried out in the most civil way possible, due diligence should be made to temper the heat of rising passions by employing the Five Steps of Wise Action, the civility as exemplified in the first three forms of compassion, and then step forward into this wrathful expression with a clarity of mind and heart that especially guards itself against self-righteousness.  For this latter expression, self-righteousness is the poison that makes one anesthetized to vengeful actions, which, inevitably, spawn the most heinous reactions.  In the chapter on “Mind Training” there will be a further explication on this point.

*  *  *      There are many aspects of wisdom and levels of compassion, so civility demonstrates itself effectively in different guises, all rooted in the same basic goodness, all intended from the same altruistic outlook.  A “one size fits all” civility cannot meet the challenges of all the different ways in which people act as individuals or groups when the Three Poisons fuel reactivity and division.  The goal of this chapter has been to point to action steps and approaches that will make civility dynamic and effective.  Civility thus demonstrates itself as an essential rather than merely affective tool for change.”

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #13

Charismatic and Wrathful Civility

Two blogs ago, I spoke of pacifying or peaceful compassion and how they influence civility. Here, I want to address those situations where people are not on the same page, even adversarial.

Magnetizing Compassion – Here, one meets with resistance, indifference, views more rooted in the Three Poisons.  To influence this situation, the power of persuasion, the use of charisma, a more emotional/feeling-based approach becomes necessary to rally support for the desired direction/action/outcome.  How can we attract those we need for successful action away from the “dark side?” The focus of the conversation should be contrasting the consequences of unskillful action versus the rewards of skillful actions.  To do this, while the presentation is more at an emotional or feeling level, the tone needs to be one of rationality; that one has carefully assessed the situation and wants to be informative for everyone’s benefit. The tone of civility here is that of the Statesman or Evocateur.  TheREACTIVE PATTERN to safeguard against Manipulation (especially through inappropriate flattery, etc.)  A useful phrase: “What are the pros and cons…?”

Wrathful Compassion – Here, you are dealing with intractable people or a very difficult circumstance. Thus, confrontation or action to prevent action/decisions that are deemed harmful is considered necessary.  This is always truly difficult to know if this is, in fact, the case.  Hence, the three internal wisdoms need to be fully practiced.  The Wisdom of Equanimity may be hard to practice in engagement as there is obvious conflict.  Thus, one needs to be sure that no advantage is being taken or power employed just simply because you can do so.  While the words or actions used may need to be stronger than you would normally use, perhaps even harsh, the use of this form of compassion must be rooted in love and humility.   That this is the basis of the action taken will be seen in feelings of remorse or regret that actions of this nature needed to be enacted. If possible, to express this remorse or regret can be a necessary salve of civility in order for the party on the receiving end not to feel that you are merely acting in the REACTIVE PATTERN of Vengeance or Revenge.  The tone of civility here is that of the Protector.  Because this form of compassion and its civility has the potential of bearing the most heat of passion, staying focused on the issues rather than going after the personality or character of the person or persons can be more challenging.  If one were to be rating civil discourse, probably any discourse that involves the degradation of another’s character would be the lowest and most regrettable.  But, then again sometimes in social and political arenas, humiliation may be a necessary component in confrontation and/or stopping harmful action.  But, I would argue, that it would at some point, yield backlash that has to be addressed with a deeper sense of remorse.  A useful phrase: “I regret to inform you…”

For more, watch “Civility Speaks, Podcast #8”

Categories
Uncategorized

Civility in Hunkertown #12

Civility with Compassion – Part One

Buddhist Dharma delineates four forms of compassion – (1) peaceful or pacifying, (2) enriching or educational, (3) magnetizing or charismatic, and (4) fierce or wrathful compassion.

Being in the state of “Hunkertown,” one would prefer to employ numbers 1 or 2 as the preferred modes to civilly communicate and accomplish what needs to get done. Thus it is these first two that I shall focus on in this blog.

Pacifying or PeacefulCompassion – In this situation, there is harmonious, empathic resonance amongst all proponents of a given direction/action.  Conversations and actions feel like everyone is on the same page, or at least able to work with each other with the minimal of friction.  The image is one of a team and regardless of the part you play on that team, everyone is valued equally for their contribution. This is “the ideal” and often people want to project that this is actually the case.  The language and actions taken are done all so pleasantly, thus the ideal of what it means to be civil.  But, such civility is very conditional, perhaps fragile.  Thus, there can be undermining shock or dismay when it is discovered that somewhere down the line, unexpected or unanticipated subconscious agendas begin to surface. The larger picture or issue may seem to be seen by all as if in agreement.  But, we must remember that “the devil is in the details,” always. Because of the seeming simpatico, people become lazy and don’t necessarily really engage the first three wisdoms thoroughly. This actually makes this form of compassion the hardest to practice skillfully because discernment seems unnecessary.  Hence, the REACTIVE PATTERN to safeguard against: Smugness (in-crowding).  This reactive pattern is especially prevalent in organizations that feel they have a calling or mission – such as religious, political, or humanitarian enterprises.  The tone of civility here is that of the Peacekeeper and Peace supporter.

Enrichment Compassion – To get to a state of harmony in action, there needs to be further education.  Thus, civility here is instructional, needing more reasoning, explanation, and a sense of empowering others – enriching them at various levels in order for them to get on board or be in alignment with what you want to achieve or express. The role teacher, mentor, or “a reliable source” is the civil tone you need to express and direct action from. The tone of civility here is that of the Educator or Mentor.  The challenge and the REACTIVE PATTERN to safeguard against: Condescension.  A useful phrase when this form of compassion is warranted: “Have you considered…?”

If you would like more information on what is laid out in this blog, watch the following podcast…

Categories
Uncategorized

Civility in Hunkertown #11

The Price of Shock

When one looks at The Rules of Civility that George Washington so closely abided by, many of the more general and universal guidelines are at the beginning. Thus we find the third rule addressing what seems so prevalent in our news media – shock and the capitalizing on it.

3. “Show Nothing to your Friend that might affright him.”

Commentary: Fright or shock of this nature has its place in the spectrum of communication.  “Shock value” can have its place in marketing or stopping a transaction, or moving it in a new direction.  But, it has no place in civility, especially with those who you are either friends or want to cultivate as such.  Whereas civility is a process of smoothing a continuum of communication, shock or fright is disruptive and will, in fact, create greater uncertainty in the transactions that may follow.

So much of our news media has the attitude, “If it bleeds, it leads.” Hearing or being shown images of a gory incident has the initial impact of immobilizing us temporarily. For those distressed, the next habitual instinct is to turn away, close one’s eyes or ears, or both. And there are some who become mesmerized and need to see it again and again or wait for the next chapter in the story. An idea can have similar effects, especially if the idea or what is expressed offends our basic sense of morality. Some will thus actually feel physically sick in just hearing what is said. But there are others who, having similar views, may become emboldened to do what is shocking because what has been a buried negative tendency has become sanctioned. Thus, the alpha dog may go for the kill, but soon after, the other emboldened ones in the pack will join in the carnage.

Because so much of what we are contending with these days is shocking, whether it be at the environmental, biological, social, or political levels, fear and the exhaustion of the ongoingness of such trials, creates reactivity which in turn, keeps the embers from the shock burning. Thus it may be that the advice of Dr. Andrew Weil to limit our daily news intake is one antidote in order to slow down and smooth the way for more civil responses.

With respect to being in Hunkertown, strive to not shock children and loved ones with too much “reality.” For it may be that what you are presenting is still tainted with your own reactions to shock unresolved. Remember the first 3 steps of wise action: Step Back, Assess, and Reflect. Take a couple calming breaths. Focus on LOVE and the intention to benefit all. THEN, speak.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #10

Civility and the Three Poisons

The working definition of Civility in my book, The Path of Civility is..

Civility is rooted in an altruistic spirit, founded on an understanding that we are basically good and that we best grow and succeed through cooperation.

CIVILITY, as a concept IS social.  What would be the point of being civil unless it was in relation to another?  Spiritual literature will speak of being kind, caring, or loving to oneself. But, I have never heard a teacher say to be civil to yourself.

So, civility implies relationship with others and the pinnacle of our relationship with others is if we hold to an altruistic spirit that views each and every other as being “on-the-level” with us. Furthermore, when we have such a relationship with others, cooperation is innate and the results of our actions in that state of harmony more beneficial for all.

And yet, it is the consensus of thinking people that we are in a time of Incivility as evidenced by social and economic disparities and political divides.  If, according to the teachings of the Buddha, we are basically good, how did we get here?

The long and short answer is that we are mesmerized by an illusion of separation, fueled by Three Poisons of Ignorance, Attachment, Aggression. Under the influence of these, civil discourse is more challenging, as are sensible solutions.

The transformation of these Poisons needs to be both at a socio-political level, but more importantly, on a personal level. With this more in hand individually, the greater the possibility of reaching out to assist in the changes we seek for peace, justice, and harmony.

BREATHING EXERCISE

 for developing awareness of and cleansing the subtle channels…

     The subtle channels called the 2 NADIS and central channel (Shushumna) begin about 4 finger widths below the navel.  The right or RED channel, representative of the female energy (i.e. menstrual blood) starts here, moves at a distance of one “tsun” from the right side of the spine (neither to the front or back, but deep within).  It passes through the neck, over the brain, but underneath the skull bones, drops down from the right side of the crown point, ending at the outside tip of the right nostril.  The WHITE channel, representative of male energy (i.e. semen) mirrors the RED channel pathway on the left side.  Although these two channels wrap and bind the central channel at various points to form what we call the chakras, in this exercise we visualize them as straight, tinted, but transparent hollow tubes, the thickness of our little finger.  The Central (also called spiritual, neither male, nor female) channel is visualized as a straight tube that is two little finger widths in diameter.  It is often visualized as of a yellow tint, but in this exercise we see it as a transparent blue tube that starts 4 finger widths below the navel and goes up through the body anteriorly to the spine.  It goes through the neck and head to the crown point where it makes a tight turn downwards to the area of the “third eye” and hooks inwards (or posteriorly) towards the pineal gland.

     In Buddhist Tantric and yoga traditions, the RED and WHITE channels are wrapped around the Central Channel forming constrictive knot, known as chakras.  But here we are simply visualizing these channels as being straight, as described above.

The practice:

1. Visualize that the beginning of the WHITE channel inserts into the beginning of the RED channel below the navel.  (The RED tube opening is seen as larger and capable of accepting the smaller WHITE tube end.)

2. Block your right nostril with your right index finger and inhale through your left nostril.  Imagine that the air you are breathing in to your left nostril is pure and fresh and that this pure and fresh air is being carried through the WHITE channel to where the WHITE channel is inserted into the RED channel below the navel.

3. At the point where you are visualizing that the pure, fresh air is at the beginning of the RED, let go of the right nostril and with your left index finger, block the left nostril.  As you exhale, visualize that the pure, fresh air is pushing out what is unclean, contaminated, polluted, like wind that blows away dust.  Especially see that as you breathe out you are releasing the defilement or poison of ATTACHMENT or clinging.  These negativities are seen as smoke leaving the right nostril.

4.  Repeat this two more times.  After this, allow yourself to breathe through both nostrils and visualize the right, RED, channel as being luminous and purified of all negativities.

5.  Now repeat 1 through 4 for the cleansing of the WHITE channel.  See the RED channel end fitting inside the end of the WHITE tube end.  Start with blocking the left nostril.  As  the fresh, pure air goes from the RED channel into the WHITE channel, you breathe out the impurities and the defilement of AGGRESSION.   Do this three times and then breath in and out normally a few times,  seeing the WHITE channel now as luminous and pure.

6. Now visualize Shushumna, the Central, spiritual, Channel.  It is blue and the thickness of 2 small finger widths.  Visualize that both the end of the WHITE and RED channels are inserted into the end of the Central Channel.  Once you see this in your mind’s eye, place your hands in your lap.  Allow the back of the right hand to rest in the palm of the upturned left hand.  The thumbs then touch to form a triangle.  With your hands in this configuration, raise them enough to make it so that your navel is in the center of this triangle.

7. Breath in through both nostrils so that the pure, fresh air goes up through the nostrils, down through the RED and WHITE channels to the bottom entrance to the Central Channel.

8. As you exhale, feel this pure air cleansing the Central Channel and with it the defilement of IGNORANCE.  You visualize that IGNORANCE and all of the impurities are pouring out of the region of your third eye.

9.  Repeat this two more times.  Then lower the hands into the lap and breath normally, experiencing the Central Channel as luminously blue, supple, and purified.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #9

Food, Eating, and Civility

CIVILITY is more than just conversing or acting more harmoniously with our fellow humans.

CIVILITY demonstrates our understanding of our world and how to best interact as conscious human beings with our environment and all its inhabitants.

We cannot denigrate, ignore, or blithely take from the world around us and then expect the miracle of mindfulness to suddenly give us silver tongues and harmonious cooperative thinking processes.

We are in integral part of nature and nature is an integral part of us.
When we destroy or create eco-imbalances through poorly considered and greed-driven mining, resource extraction, agri-business and so on, we  demonstrate an uncivil relationship with that which sustains us.

When we inhumanely raise and mass slaughter entire species for food and various animal by-product chemicals, pharmaceuticals, and luxuries, we demonstrate an uncivil relationship with fellow species.

I am not, here, advocating vegan or vegetarianism. Neither Washington or the Buddha were vegetarian. There is a common mis-conception about Buddhism that it espouses vegetarianism. The Buddha saw the place and use for a vegetarian diet. But, he did not advocate for the Sangha, the Buddhist communities, to embrace this as a doctrine.

But, let us focus here on The Rules of Civility in which there were 17 rules about food and etiquette. From the book…

In general, Rules 90 through 107 are about propriety in eating and dining etiquette.  In times when the day began at sunrise and ended at nightfall, dining together was a central feature of instilling harmony in the family and meeting of others outside the functions of work or religious activity.  It was clearly understood that the raising and harvesting of one’s food was a core feature of a civilized community. Understanding this very basic fact of life and appreciating it for the nurturing it offers on may levels was more commonplace than it is today. 

     With respect to etiquette in particular, one could see the upbringing, demeanor, and civil disposition in how one approached food and showed consideration for those around the dining table. If meal times and getting together to eat as families became commonplace, again, how would that affect family life and relations – especially if no one could bring their cell phone or other personal device to the table?!

*******

91. “Make no Show of taking great Delight in your Victuals, Feed not with Greediness; cut your Bread with a Knife, lean not on then Table, neither find fault with what you Eat.”

Commentary: In these modern times when many people eat out, snack, or graze more frequently than actually sit down with others to “break bread” in any formal or familial way, the social graces of healthy, respectable, and gracious dining are all but lost.  And yet, business luncheons and lunches are not infrequent as apart of commerce, conversing over deals, etc.…Thus the manners and mindfulness of eating bear paying attention to as one more avenue in which one demonstrates a civil approach to an important human function and venue of social discourse.

92. “Take no Salt or cut Bread with your Knife Greasy.”

Commentary: More than likely this Rule has less to do with hygiene than it does about using implements that are definitely yours by their use and applying them to what is commonly shared.  It may be considered not unlike an animal “tagging” something for themselves.

93. “Entertaining any one at the Table, it is decent to present them with meat; undertake not to help others undesired by the Master.”

Commentary:  In this case the “Master” may be a father or whoever is deemed head of the table.  In the perspective of such a hierarchy, Hawkins advises one not to invite someone to the table if you know that he or she are not acceptable to the head of the table.  And, if they are, be sure that they are served like anyone and everyone else who is at the table.

******

In the world of Hunkertown, perhaps such rules will help your dining experience with your loved ones. Bon Appetit!

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #8

The Buddha and George Washington?

Recently, a reviewer questioned why it would be that I bring these 2 historical figures together in addressing CIVILITY.

It is not uncommon that history gets “air-brushed.” In the case of spiritual or religious figures, this is particularly true. In Tibet, there is “nam thar” or sacred biography – where only the transcendent stories an qualities are presented without the messiness of the human life they lead before, even during their elevated status was icon-ized.

So, for those who need a “why” for me bringing these 2 historical figures together in one volume side by side, here are some comparisons…

Family Heritage

Washington’s were landed gentry – significant landowners in Colonial Times in 1700’s  Raised in an environment where many daily tasks were tended to by servants and slaves.

The Buddha, originally Siddhartha Gautama, was of an aristocratic ruling family close to 500 BC.. He was raised in an environment where ALL daily tasks were tended to by servants.

Education

Washington received only 8 years of formal education

As the son of a king, Siddhartha received the finest education that was available

Learning about the Fragileness of Life in their 20’s

Washington saw the rugged life of being on and tending to the needs of a farm.  He then joined the army and saw many armed conflicts.

Siddhartha was prevented from seeing these realities of life until he snuck out of the palace and saw (1) a a sick person  (2) an old person  and (3) a corpse.

KINGS

After the Revolutionary War, some wanted Washington to be crowned King

After returning from his retreat and victory in attaining Enlightenment, he chose not to assume the title and station of King, even though it was his birthright.

3 poisons

As you may or may not know, George Washington, like many founding fathers were Freemasons.  And in the literature and legacy of Freemasonry, particular that of the Scottish Rite, it is said that at its core, one of Freemasonry’s tasks is to uproot Ignorance, Fanaticism, and Tyranny.

The prime directive of the mind science of the teachings of all those who become Buddhas is to transform Ignorance, Attachment, and Aggression. 

Many are under the impression that the Buddha only spoke lofty, transcendent – thus hard for the average person to understand – truths. But the Dharma (trans. the way things are) that he taught was quite pithy and relevant. In terms of civility and speech, consider this…

In a series of stanzas from the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha provide general guidelines of “Well-Spoken Speech” with respect to speeches, discussions, debates, and so forth which encapsulate the points regarding conversing in “The Rules of Civility” as written down by George Washington.  As translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

I repeat this blog entry here because it bears repeating – particularly in the polarized realm of politics and public life that infest and infect even our homes…

“Those who speak with quarrelsome intent,

settled in their opinions, swollen with pride,

ignoble, having assailed virtues,

look for openings to attack one another.

They mutually delight when their opponent

speaks badly and makes a mistake,

they rejoice in his bewilderment and defeat;

but noble ones don’t engage in such talk.

If a wise person wants to talk,

having known the time is right,

without quarrelsomeness or pride,

the sagely person should utter

the speech that the noble ones practice,

which is connected with the Dhamma and meaning.

Not being insolent or aggressive,

with a mind not elated,

on the basis of right knowledge.

He should approve of what is well expressed

but should not attack what is badly stated.

He should not train in fault finding

nor seize on the other’s mistakes;

he should not overwhelm and crush his opponent,

nor speak mendacious words.

Truly, a discussion among the good

Is for the sake of knowledge and confidence.

Such is the way the noble discuss things;

this is the discussion of the noble ones.

Having understood this, the wise person

should not swell up but should discuss things.”

(AN 3:67) (Footnote 3)

Perhaps I’ll send this out again in the future. After all, it is a very Asian tradition to repeat again and again so that habitual patterns get bombarded with positive impressions.

Categories
Uncategorized

Hunkertown #7

A Time for Deeper Reflection and Stronger Commitment

The first of the Buddha’s points on speech that Bhikkhu Bodhi references in his The Buddha’s Teaching on Social and Communal Harmony is “Well-Spoken Speech.”  This is not about enunciation per se (something that George Washington’s “The Rules of Civility” emphasize to demonstrate how a young man of good breeding should speak), but rather that “well” here almost implies healthy speech; speech that is clearly said, is truthful, and essentially pleasant.  Even in the fourth level of compassion, where wrathfulness is required, it is still possible to fulfill these prerequisites.

In a series of stanzas from the Anguttara Nikaya, the Buddha provide general guidelines of “Well-Spoken Speech” with respect to speeches, discussions, debates, and so forth which encapsulate the points regarding conversing in “The Rules of Civility” as written down by George Washington.  As translated by Bhikkhu Bodhi:

“Those who speak with quarrelsome intent,

settled in their opinions, swollen with pride,

ignoble, having assailed virtues,

look for openings to attack one another.

They mutually delight when their opponent

speaks badly and makes a mistake,

they rejoice in his bewilderment and defeat;

but noble ones don’t engage in such talk.

If a wise person wants to talk,

having known the time is right,

without quarrelsomeness or pride,

the sagely person should utter

the speech that the noble ones practice,

which is connected with the Dhamma and meaning.

Not being insolent or aggressive,

with a mind not elated,

on the basis of right knowledge.

He should approve of what is well expressed

but should not attack what is badly stated.

He should not train in fault finding

nor seize on the other’s mistakes;

he should not overwhelm and crush his opponent,

nor speak mendacious words.

Truly, a discussion among the good

Is for the sake of knowledge and confidence.

Such is the way the noble discuss things;

this is the discussion of the noble ones.

Having understood this, the wise person

should not swell up but should discuss things.”

(AN 3:67) (Footnote 3)

The notion of “nobles” in the context of the Buddha’s words refers to recognized spiritual teachers.  However, within the spiritual or secular worlds, the implications are not only meant to indicate class, caste (as in India), or social ranking, but also standard to aspire to by all who value and wish to propagate civility, peace, and harmony.

……………………………………………………..

In connection with these references from The Path of Civility, I am launching a podcast, entitled “Civility Speaks, with Robert Sachs.” In it I shall explore more implications from what I present in this blog. I also plan on speaking with notable guests. Stay tuned.