The Fifth Training: Aware of the suffering caused by unmindful consumption, I vow to cultivate good health, both physical and mental, for myself, my family, and my society by practicing mindful eating, drinking and consuming. I vow to ingest only items that preserve peace, well being, and joy in my body, in my consciousness, and in the collective body and consciousness of my family and society. I am determined not to use alcohol or any other intoxicant or to ingest foods or other items that contain toxins, such as certain TV programs, magazines, books, films and conversations. I am aware that to damage my body and my consciousness with these poisons is to betray my ancestors, my parents, my society and future generations. I will work to transform violence, fear, anger and confusion in myself and in society by practicing a diet for myself and for society. I understand that a proper diet is crucial for self transformation and the transformation of society
He (or she, but I’ll assume he) said it was odd a Zen teacher would encourage this. I guess that means “encourage people to go look at porn.” So I thought I ought to clarify a little. But I am well aware that no matter how many times I clarify my statements you can never satisfy everybody. In any case, though, I find this interesting.
First, I’m not encouraging you guys to look at porn. I don’t really give a shit whether you do or don’t. It’s none of my fucking business. I also think maybe I put too much emphasis on the monetary side of what I do for Suicide Girls. Though I could hardly make a living off writing for them or writing books, I have another job, so I ain’t poor. Ain’t rich either. But I don’t write for SG for the cash. I do it mainly to annoy pious Buddhists!
That’s a joke. Jesus!
SG provides a forum wherein what I say can reach a tremendous number of people. I could probably make as much, if not more, by taking PayPal donations at this blog. But then I’m just preaching to the choir. I find preaching to the SG readers to be much more of a challenge. It’s like a weird little sociological experiement. I’ve always believed Buddhism was good for anybody anywhere. I’m testing to see if that’s true.
But in response to the quote above, this is something I’ve heard a few variations on. I’m not quite certain who it comes from (though I can make a guess). One thing I do want to point out, in case it’s not obvious, is that this is not from any traditional ancient Buddhist source. It is a contemporary interpretation.
I would not go so far as to say it’s wrong or to condemn this approach. But it’s not the approach in which I was trained, nor is it the approach I want to teach.
Obviously there’s a lot of stimulation available in today’s culture, which can be highly distracting to practice. When you sit on your cushion all the stuff you’ve shoved into your brain starts to bubble out. The less stuff you shove in there, the easier it is to reach a calm, nice state in Zazen. However, Dogen cautioned that reaching calm, nice, serene states of mind wasn’t really the goal of our practice. It can be a nice side benefit. But it’s not why we do it.
I don’t condemn the approach our anonymous friend suggests. I mean, eating right is very good. Not spending hours and hours and hours machine gunning virtual bad guys at the video arcade, also good. Being aware how these kinds of stimulation affect body and mind = very, very, very good indeed. Yet it does no good to try and shut reality out, covering our ears and eyes and shouting, “Na! Na! I can’t hear you!”
Dogen said, “By eliminating disturbances we redouble the disease… Intellectual excluding now adds to the disease and augments the disease. The very moment itself of eliminating is inevitably disturbance. They are simultaneous and are beyond simultaneousness. Disturbances always include the fact of [trying to] eliminate them.”
This is a key point in the teaching I’ve learned from Dogen’s lineage and that I want to try to convey. How you actually put this into action is up to the individual. I wouldn’t go as far as the writer who made up this rule as to try and list “poisonous activities.” That seems to be going a bit too far. In indiviual one-to-one talks, I’ve been known to make suggestions, some of which resemble what he’s saying. But it may be more useful to discover how to remain balanced in the face of any kind of stimulation. This is a trickier path to follow. In the end, though, I really think it’s the only way that makes sense.