The Dalai Lama On Guilt And A Seperate Discussion On Intoxicants And Sex

I have been feeling a bit guilty of late for enjoying a glass of wine now and then as well as a few other vices. In this thinking I found the following comment on guilt by the Dalai Lama to be very insightful:

Q: If we have committed a serious negative act, how can we let go of the feeling of guilt that may follow?

A: In such situations, where there is a danger of feeling guilty and therefore depressed, the Buddhist point of view advises adopting certain ways of thinking and behaving which will enable you to recover your self-confidence. A Buddhist may reflect on the nature of the mind of. a Buddha, on its essential purity, and in what way disturbing thoughts and their subsequent emotions are of an entirely different nature. Because such disturbing emotions are adventitious, they can be eliminated. To think of the immense well of potential hidden deep within our being, to understand that the nature of the mind is fundamental purity and kindness and to meditate on its luminosity, will enable you to develop self-confidence and courage.

The Buddha says in the Sutras that fully enlightened and omniscient beings, whom we consider to be superior, did not spring from the bowels of the earth, nor did they fall from the sky; they are the result of spiritual purification. Such beings were once as troubled as we are now, with the same weaknesses and flaws of ordinary beings. Shakyamuni Buddha himself, prior to his enlightenment, lived in other incarnations that were far more difficult than our present lives. To recognize, in all its majesty, our own potential for spiritual perfection is an antidote to guilt, disgust, and hopelessness. Nagarjuna says in "The Precious Garland of Advice for the King" that pessimism and depression never help in finding a good solution to any problem. On the other hand, arrogance is just as negative. But to present as an antidote to it a posture of extreme humility may tend to foster a lack of self-confidence and open the door to depression and discouragement. We would only go from one extreme to the other.

I would like to point out that to set out on a retreat for three years full of hope and expectations, thinking that without the slightest difficulty you will come Out of it fully enlightened, can turn into a disaster, unless you undertake it with the most serious intentions. If you overestimate your expectations and have too much self-confidence, you will be headed for dissatisfaction and disillusionment. When you think of what the Buddha said--that perfect enlightenment is the result of spiritual purification and an accumulation of virtues and wisdom for eons and eons--it is certain that courage and perseverance will arise to accompany you on the path.

Commentary on the 5 Precepts and Alcohol:

5) To undertake the training to abstain from substances which cause intoxication and heedlessness. This precept is in a special category as it does not infer any intrinsic evil in, say, alcohol itself but indulgence in such a substance could be the cause of breaking the other four precepts.

James's comment: I think that (with regard to say drinking alcohol) that balance is the main thing if you choose to indulge. I will say, however, that not drinking is the best choice.

Commentary on the 5 precepts and sexuality:

Buddhism does have a strong sexual ethic, but not a repressive one. The main point of this ethic is non-harming in an area of life where we can do a lot of damage by acting violently, manipulatively or deceitfully. These and breaches of the other precepts - ill will, taking the non-given, lying and stupefaction - are the Buddhist no-no's in sexual practice.

Are the Five Precepts hard to observe?:

The Five Precepts are never meant to restrict as they protect oneself and others when observed well. Breaking a precept is not considered a sin - it is seen as an unskillful act due to the lack of Wisdom. A lay Buddhist may find the Five Precepts difficult to observe completely and constantly in the beginning, but one should not be disheartened. Even if one is able to observe only one or two precepts successfully, one is already laying the foundation for happiness now and in the future. One may make a daily renewal of one’s determination to observe the precepts to remind oneself of the ideal way of life one should lead.
roots2life roots2life
46-50, M
1 Response May 10, 2012

And always important to me: to abstain from taking the not-given. This is also at the heart of the best sexual relations. It is a gift, a mutual gift. Alcohol certainly doesn't help that clarity.