Monthly Archives: April 2013

Unmindful consumption always makes things worse

“We are what we consume. If we look deeply into the items that we consume every day, we will come to know our own nature very well. We have to eat, drink, consume, but if we do it unmindfully, we may destroy our bodies and our consciousness, showing ingratitude toward our ancestors, our parents, and future generations,” (66).

“Sometimes we don’t need to eat or drink as much as we do, but it has become a kind of addiction. We feel so lonely. Loneliness is one of the afflictions of modern life. It is similar to the Third and Fourth Precepts–we feel lonely, so we engage in conversation, or even in a sexual relationship, hoping that the feeling of loneliness will go away. Drinking and eating can also be the result of loneliness. You want to drink or overeat in order to forget your loneliness, but what you eat may bring toxins into your body. When you are lonely, you open the refrigerator, watch TV, read magazines or novels, or pick up the telephone to talk. But unmindful consumption always makes things worse,” (68).

“I vow to ingest only items that preserve well-being, peace, and joy in my body and my consciousness… Practicing a diet is the essence of this precept. Wars and bombs are the products of our consciousness individually and collectively. Our collective consciousness has so much violence, fear, craving, and hatred in it, it can manifest in wars and bombs. The bombs are the product of our fear… Removing the bombs is not enough. Even if we could transport all the bombs to a distant planet, we would still not be safe, because the roots of the wars and the bombs are still intact in our collective consciousness. Transforming the toxins in our collective consciousness is the true way to uproot war,” (72-73).

“To stop the drug traffic is not the best way to prevent people from using drugs. The best way is to practice the Fifth Precept and to help others practice. Consuming mindfully is the intelligent way to stop ingesting toxins into our consciousness and prevent the malaise from becoming overwhelming. Learning the art of touching and ingesting refreshing, nourishing, and healing elements is the way to restore our balance and transform the pain and loneliness that are already in us. To do this, we have to practice together. The practice of mindful consuming should become a national policy. It should be considered true peace education… Those who are destroying themselves, their families, and their society by intoxicating themselves are not doing it intentionally. Their pain and loneliness are overwhelming, and they want to escape. They need to be helped, not punished. Only understanding and compassion on a collective level can liberate us,” (78-79).

—Thich Nhat Hanh, For a Future to Be Possible

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“We have to balance the need in society for a strong functioning ego with the tendency for it to become selfish and narrow. The basic practice of uncorrected mind in zazen sitting meditation does not mean we do not have responsibility to tame the ego. We need ways to remind ourselves that short-range, immediate desires and gratifications are not, in the long run, in our real self-interest—practically, materially, psychologically, or spiritually. We need some strictness with ourselves, otherwise we’ll eat too may cookies or something worse!”

—Richard Baker in For a Future to Be Possible: Commentaries on the Five Wonderful Precepts, p. 155

“We have to bal…