Sunday Sermon



Rules

Keep off the grass. No running by the pool. You must be this tall to ride this ride. No smoking. No pets allowed. Observe posted speed limit. Do not feed the bears. Chew your food thoroughly. Wait 30 minutes before going in the water. No white after Labor Day. Keep hands and arms inside the ride.

I hate them. I want to live in the fantasy world where people get by with only "Be courteous" and "Use common sense"; and they're not really rules, just obviously good suggestions.

Alas, that dimension is closed to me (for now... but soon I shall have enough candles made from the fat of unchristened babies to open the gate!). In this world, rules are the way of it, and Buddhism is no exception. Some of the traditions have huge numbers of rules. The Theravadin Vinaya (the rules for monastics) has 227 rules for male monks and 311 for female monks - seems pretty ridiculous, but most of them have arisen out of incidents in the past that they wanted to avoid in the future. It's all about setting precedent.



Of course, for lay people, the rules are much simpler, but they are rules, nevertheless. A part of me simply balks at any sort of codified control, even when they are common sense things like, "do no harm" or "eat your veggies." My poor parents - here is an example of my inability to take instruction gracefully, even when it is in my best interest.

Mom: Your shoe is on fire! Put it out!
Me: Why don't you quit telling me what to do!?
Mom: But - it's ON FIRE!
Me: Maybe I want it on fire. Maybe I like it that way!
Mom: But it's going to burn through!
Me: (dripping with sarcasm) I'm aware of that, Mother.

In the end, I did put my shoe out, but it was when I bloody-well WANTED TO, thank you very much. And I was only slightly burned. (Incidentally, my mother and grandmother are both being considered for sainthood...) Given this example, you can imagine how difficult it is for me to follow commands set down by some Indian guy 2500 years ago.

Thankfully, the Buddha knew there would be pricks like me.

"Moral certainty is an inadequate response to an ever-changing world composed of unique moments. All we can do on the path of awakening is be open to the situation with integrity and compassion. Act from the heart, not according to a set of rules, but guided by them."
-Gill Farrer-Halls (who is, in turn, paraphrasing...)

Rules are not to be adhered to blindly. Discuss.

Go in Peace.

25 comments:

Raksha said...

Ooh, unchristened babies! That reminds me, I just found a great new stew recipe on the internet the other day....

I've found that one of the supreme ironies of life is that the people who most need rules and those who insist on them for others are those individuals who have the least amount of self-control. Those of us with self-control don't really need rules all that much.

La Petite Fleur (AKA Tessa) said...

i think that it is interesting that you ended your post with a command - so to take a page from you story... why don't you stop tellin' me what to do!

Clayton said...
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His Sinfulness said...

*I'm shocked - the Christian is in favor of rules.*

Not to pick on you Clay, but Christianity is the basis of many of the "rules" that I am so fucking sick of in this country. The hypocrisy of American Christians claiming "Thou shalt not kill" as one of their primary rules, and then supporting the death penalty while building the biggest military in the world literally makes me want to spew. The Bible tells them very clearly to worry about the timber in their own eye, but instead they spend money and time making sure that queers can't get married. We don't need more rules - we need Christians to follow the rules they've already fucking made!

In the long run, making tons of rules actually creates stupid people who can't make sound decisions. Why think when there is a rule book that you can follow? And if the stupid act you are about to perpetrate is not covered by the rule book, you can always sue someone for not protecting you from yourself.

Clayton said...
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His Sinfulness said...

Actually, the idea that they know what is best for the masses is frequently present in Christian thought. It goes hand-in-hand with the smug certainty that they alone know the truth of god...

Clayton said...
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Seamus the Cynic said...

On the subject of stupid instruction signs, my aluminium ladders tell me not to use a live electrial cable as a support! Just how stupid do you have to be to have brought about the need for this instruction?

On a similar subject, when a local radio station was talking about these instructions recently, a caller reported that the top step of his ladder said STOP! Self explanitory I would have thought.

Lets face it, religion is a set of life rules for those stupid enough to step off the top rung if they wern't told any different.

Great blog by the way.

Seamus.

Levi said...

Christianity is like Communism: looks great on paper. Then you get humans involved. It's not the system, but the people running the system for their own gain. Televangelists, Rev. Phelps, The Vatican, G.W.--these people aren't Christians, they're politicians. Maybe that's why they all argue against evolution so vehemently. Evolution is proof that no one God gives a fuck and if you're stupid enough to put hot coffee in your lap and then drive around at speeds greater than 10 miles per hour, then you deserve to have your genitals scaled useless.

Modig_Bjorn said...

I tell ya, goin' agnostic looks better and better each day!

"Yes, yes, excellent, flock to me my minions!" *Mr. Burns, Simpsons*

Nice post Linus!

P.S. Clay, do you ever tire of being so *damn* smug?

His Sinfulness said...

Clay, I have never written a blog to trap you - get over yourself. You are not your religion, just a highly predictable product of it. I dropped you an email privately, specificially to tell you that this is not about you, and yet you have somehow managed to make it about you...

As for Christians ruining all the fun, I have long held that Christianity can be shown to be one of the single most destructive forces in the history of man. As Levi pointed out, it's not Christ that I have a beef with - it's the people dragging his good name through the mud for their own ends. Christians don't need to go away; they just need to stop trying to tell everyone else how to live.

Modig_Bjorn said...

Can I get an "Amen"?

rocking in the free world said...

Rules are usually bad until you find out the wisdom in the rule the hard way. Rules are usually good until listening to other people push them on you becomes unbearable. And overall, rules are usually pretty ugly until you have had a couple of drinks.

Clayton said...
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Clayton said...
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Clayton said...
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Clayton said...
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Raksha said...

Uh oh. They might have to have a rumble.


"Yay! Now is fighty time, fighty time, blood blood blood."

His Sinfulness said...

Clay has left the building.

Excellent! Break out the 'shrooms and the hookah!

Big Gay Jim said...

Ooo...first in line! And remember kiddies...what happens at Pride (or on the Rev's Blog) stays there! Now....everyone back to their corners before round 22. I'll sell tickets. Raksha...you wanna wear the skimpy outfit and hold cards with the numbers, or just kill anyone who would objectify people in such a cheap manner? *waggles eyebrows* Blood blood blood indeed!

His Sinfulness said...

And now, Clay has deleted his comments. I suppose I should be thankful, but if you won't stand by your words, why post them in the first place?

kualashite said...

Buddha didn't know there would be pricks like you, there _were_ pricks, (like and unlike you,) around for a looooooong time. Did you somehow think a mold was broken when your particular set of genetics were given a fleshy pod in which to work their wonders?

Buddha was probably on speaking terms with at least three pricks like you.

kualashite said...

And I mean this in the nicest way possible while still poking fun at the narcissism. Cross my heart.

His Sinfulness said...

Kualashite,
I'm not sure how calling myself a prick and openly acknowledging one of my many faults is a form of narcissism, but welcome to the Ministry.

Sirus Kane said...

Hospitaller: I put no stock in religion. By the word religion I have seen the lunacy of fanatics of every denomination be called the will of god. I have seen too much religion in the eyes of too many murderers. Holiness is in right action, and courage on behalf of those who cannot defend themselves, and goodness. What god desires is here
[points to head]
Hospitaller: and here
[points to heart]
Hospitaller: -and by what you decide to do every day, you will be a good man. Or not.

-an excerpt from the movie ‘Kingdom of Heaven’

Maybe it is far to cliché to use a movie quote as your own personal philosophy for life. Then again, maybe it is no more cliché than using a religion that you don’t study or understand(beyond the book that it comes from…) as a shield, escape route, or crutch. I do believe and that Christian or not, in the end Christ would want his followers to live by these simple rules as stated above. Personal accountability and self improvement would be on the top of his list, along with self respect, and compassion for life.

Now, back to the topic at hand. Anyone that adheres to a rule with out thinking of why, is asking for conformity and submission. Anymore, people don’t bother to examine the reason why we obey the rules that we do. Rules provide a system of submission that people will willingly throw themselves into with out thinking of what the consequences will be as a whole.

Examples from contemporary society can be as small as the Laramie, Wyoming and its decision to outlaw smoking in public restaurants, up to decisions with a large scale like the USA PATRIOT Act. Humans throw themselves into rules with out thought mainly because it will be easier in the long run, it will be more convenient, or God forbid, because it is the trendy thing to do. I cannot agree more with the Dark Pontiff when he says that an idyllic society would be one where we can all abide by common sense(not so common by today’s standards…) and mutual respect for all life.

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