Seven Principles for Preventing Decline

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Dhammapada, 9/11, we are not well, cause of great peace, Huey Johnson, the soldiers will have their way, dogs of war, Dalai Lama, pinpoint causes, 'Guns, Germs, and Steel', leadership, fanaticism, family, brothers, Buddha wandering without possessions, precepts, mission statement, Maha Parinirvana Sutta, seven principles for preventing decline, nature (?) of our industry for the benefit of all, Ryokan

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the truth of the to dive into his words
the morning

what we are today comes from our thoughts of the yesterday
and are present thoughts build our life of tomorrow
our life is a creation of our mind
one year ago
i was the scheduled speaker on the sunday that followed the events of september eleventh
and quite unintentionally i am again scheduled speaker at a time when these images
and memories are quite vivid and us all
so i look back over my talk of one year ago today and i wanted to share some of those thoughts with you again this morning
along with you we here at green gulch form have been watching and listening to all of the terrible news since this most recent outbreak of that unable tragedy at the core of our human life
and we are joined here with you and with the entire world to grieve and to bear witness
to the destructive power within these miraculous human hands
and of course we are all injured immeasurably and for life and we have been injured before
depending on when you were born you carry in your own body all of the assassinations the playground slaughters the subway poisonings the melting scars of battery acid on the faces of young indian women vietnam in uganda
baghdad korea world war holocaust which hunts inquisitions on and on and on
throughout the entire span of human life on the planet earth
we are not well we humans
we suffer from a terrible illness that the buddha called ignorance we are ignoring our in separability our interdependence
it's not america that has been attacked
humankind and we even used the word kind has been attacked
these actions were not kind
and yet those are our own blind human children who carried knives onto airplanes in isolation from those around them
who mercilessly beat and tied another to a barbed wire fence in laramie wyoming
and then left their sweet gay brother to die
and what is it that we have failed to see as parents
as teachers and as just plain folks doing the best we can
i don't know but i am looking
and i am committed to understanding
no matter what it has always been too late but we have no choice
so i and all of us have come here today because we want to be with you
to share our community's commitment to the one worthy cause on this earth the cause of great piece
jesus taught this a roomy taught this shakyamuni buddha taught this so did gandhi the dalai lama martin luther king chief seattle of the northwest indian nations and all the gentle people of the earth through all time
but first they had to learn it for themselves to become the human beings who did not renounce the world but who sat upright in the very center of its pain with open arms and sacred teachings
so i i don't have anything to add
following all that's happened since september eleventh
our friend or old friend hugh johnson was here in the weeks following the events of that day
and he was on his way to the united nations to receive an award for environmental leadership
and he said to us the soldiers were will have their way
and that is so and it seems to still be so the dogs of war are not yet back in their kennels
despite all of the appeals from the world for wise restraint
but what i would like to do today is to share with you on
my study of this question that i promised to look into last year one year ago
that i would try to the best of my ability to understand the causes of hatred and violence in this human world
and possibly to find the small hope that it may come to an end
in his message to the world in september of last year the dalai lama said to us all
at this hour in this moment let us not seek to pinpoint blame but to pinpoint cause
so here are some of the pinpoints that i have found so far in my studies
her first i want to offer you a sample of the big picture through the intellectual lens of jared diamond in his pulitzer prize winning book guns germs and steel
it all sounds a little bit like a fairy tale

long long ago some seven million years or so the first human beings stepped out of the evolutionary soup that was brewing on the great plains of africa
over the next three million years
the human being achieved an upright posture
three and a half million years after that
they had sufficiently similar skulls to our own to be labeled homo sapiens
which means
wise men
these wise men were particularly wise about one very basic thing
the daily need for water food and shelter
and much of what we call human history is simply the outcome of their successes in securing for themselves their family and friends a reliable source of these basic necessities
little by little over thousands of years small bands of these humans
between five and eighty began to spread out over the earth
and as they did they collected and eight everything that they found
being omnivores they had quite a lot select from with the ever present danger of eating something that is poison
these bands were the political social and economic organization for the human species for its entire evolutionary history up until about thirteen thousand years ago
was thinking that this is the year two thousand and i went by in a snap right
thirteen thousand years is not very long

these bands were egalitarian by nature just like our nielit nearest relatives the guerrillas the chimps and bonobos i went to the zoo i played hooky with my daughter on monday and we went to the zoo and i as always had a hard time leaving that roof
lowest house where the gorillas live
there's a family down there and on it really does seem that they look at us with a verify
kind of would glare
but they carry on their daily lives and then they touch one another they hug and they throw the ball around
leadership in the band's was based on personality intelligence strength scott fighting skills and good looks
and all of the work of gathering food and making the beds was done by everyone
for quite a long time there was enough food and territory to go around
and at least this was true for the homo sapiens i think by now we've realized that many other species of animals have gone to a their extinction wants the homo sapiens arrived in their territory
so for thousands of generations these bands traveled the earth only rarely running into others of their kind maybe once or twice in the lifetimes of band
but when they did the twin passions of mating and killing or inevitably aroused and most often any stranger was killed and as frequently eaten
who is interested to read in the new yorker
story by a man who'd gone to visit various places on the earth where cannibalism still curves and what he discovered is that these are places where there are very few other sources of protein
the people in these locations are basically starving
and as one of him one of them said the reporter we'd actually prefer to eat chicken but we don't have any
so tribal organizations for the next big step in the formation of our modern world
and they were characterized by settlements and by much larger numbers people
the earliest known tribes began to appear in the fertile crescent of southwestern asia with the first successes of agriculture that we're taking place there
with the domestication of wild grains and wild animals that were abundant in this region our human ancestors secured for the first time their daily rations of milk vegetables meat and bread whole foods was well on its way
unfortunately with a success in food and in settlements me got an increase in population
i'm migrating mother can only carry one child until that child is old enough to run along with his elders
a mother with a house can have as many children as she can feed and protect

so as food production and food storage and technology continued to advance populations grew and grew in size
until they were all beyond the limits of what we call knowing your neighbors
which is about two hundred people at best
some people say that true democracy is only possible with a few hundred at best
so not knowing your neighbors meant that disputes could not be settled by the restraints of kinship friendship and mutual obligation
and for the first time in human history a mere seventy five hundred years ago people had to learn how to encounter strangers without trying to kill them
so they came up with a well known political solution to this problem
it's called el hefe hey
the chief
the difference between a chiefdom and a tribe is that the tribe has several kinship groups that live close together with no one in charge and the chiefdom one of those kinship groups is given all of the authority to exercise force as
and in exchange for that authority they get special privileges slaves multiple wives jewelry
and laborers to build
in their better moments public works and at other times monuments to their own immortality
so here's a quote to from jared diamond to kind of finish off this
by now it should be obvious that chiefdoms introduced the dilemma fundamental to all centrally governed non egalitarian societies at best they do good by providing expensive services impossible to contract for on an individual basis at worst they function on a bath
shrewdly as kleptocracies transferring net wealth from commoners to upper classes
these noble and selfish functions are inextricably linked although some governments emphasize much more of one function than of the other
the difference between a kleptocrat and a wise statesmen between a robber baron and a public benefactor is merely one of degree
it's a matter of just how large a percentage of the tribute extracted from the producers is retained by the elite and how much the commoners approve the public uses to which three distributed tribute is put

school it seems at this point we're on pretty familiar ground and the story of our our human history all the major elements of our modern life or more or less than place
and these elements have ever been repeated for multiple generations even though chiefs come and go the methods by which they relate to the people haven't changed much in thousands of years and there are basically four ways that leadership relates to people
the first is to take away the people's arms and to arm the elite that's pretty well known
the second is to make the masses happy by redistributing the tribute and ways that are generous for the common good
a third is to use their monopoly of force to promote happiness by maintaining public order and by curbing violence but the third and excuse me the fourth in the one most important to me here today is to construct an ideology or a religion justifying
or at best mitigating the abuses of their authority
all of these features of the chiefdom have been carried to the extreme over time into what we now call our modern nation states
so my interest as a priest as a buddhist as a human being is really in this fourth method
the role that's played by ideology of by religion with regard to the current global abuses of such empowerment and authority
none of us has to look past the morning papers to see examples of the patriotic rhetoric from both the churches and from the statesman
and it comes in all stripes israeli american british palestinian iraqi in
japanese chinese you know we the people
and i think it's important for us to know that among tribal people
very rare for an individual to sacrifice themselves for the sake of their village
they do everything to minimize harm they run away they hide they sneak up
but with the advent of the state there has appeared on the earth a new and more lethal form of human being called the patriotic or religious fanatic
mr diamond again fanaticism in war of the type that drove recorded christian and islamic conquests was probably unknown on the earth until chiefdoms and especially states emerged within the last six thousand years
a willingness to find and to die for the state for one's country has been programmed into every human child by its church it's school and its government world round throughout recent human history
and of course every nation state has its own flag and its own marching tunes
this inscription is from a sixteenth century address to the young aztec warriors who were preparing for battle there is nothing like death and war nothing like the flowery deaths so precious to him capital age who gives life
far off i see it my heart yearns for it
the him in this case was the aztec national god and i can't pronounce his name
having formulated here for myself but kind of small version of the big picture of the causes of violence and hatred in the human world not only within each person as the buddha has taught
but within the assemblage of persons that we now call the state
i was drawn to turn my own curiosity toward the state to which i have been a member since my birth and like all of you i imagine most to as i would say i am a citizen of the united states of america
so i was very grateful to find yet another book by another pulitzer prize winning author carl called joseph ellis
cause it's the name of the book is founding brothers
and it's a wonderfully compassionate and intelligent review of american history that i wasn't taught as a kid
he looks at the ideas at the people and the events that shaped what we experienced to get today as our nation and our government
the one thing that got my attention so far is the early and deadly debate between those who favored a strong local autonomy the know your neighbors form of government as opposed to those who aspired to a strong centralized powerful and and
non-us authority
regrettably those who promoted the know your neighbors approach to democracy and the early days of this republic where the very same people who was in their neighborhoods
harbor the immoral and unconscionable fact of human slavery
and so thereby the federalists on the high moral ground and through the fanaticism of a bitter and protracted warfare seize the day one nation under god
had the founding brothers taken it upon themselves to address and redeem the infant nation from its inextricable dependence on wealth gained by human slavery the outcome for those of us living today black and white fourth himself would have been unimaginably altered
but they didn't they chose instead to maintain an ignoble silence
for the sake of the union for the sake of the state for the sake of the nation
and for the uncountable lives that were lost as a result
i don't know when or if mice own studies of human society and politics will ever end i was you may have guessed to political science major in college
but i do despair of membership and a process that we call democracy
but that leaves me with no access to another human face
and maybe some of you have fared better in this regard and i would be deeply grateful to hear how that so
when i first studied the buddhist teaching and heard about his renunciation of his own birthright to the privileges and responsibilities of chieftain
it turned my own aspirations as a human being towards a less material purpose
i had always wanted to know everything but i also wanted to own everything that kinds of stuff that a young girl might gain through marriage so i thought when i was the kid
the buddha on the other hand walked from place to place and war no special insignia to mark his rank or the qualities of his character
he shared what he knew with everyone who came to the clearing where he sat down to speak
he received his food as a gift not as tribute and the at a risk that no one would offer to feed him
and like the nomads his only possessions were what he carried from place to place on his back one robe and one bowl
and he lived in this way and then safety for over sixty years among the warring tribes of humans and what is now called india
the ideas and the ideology method number for by that this teacher of humans taught over twenty five and one hundred years ago included a very high standard of personal integrity called the buddhist precepts
and i was imagining if we all decided that the future of human history would based they'd be based on a game that we would play and at that game the rules of that game would be the buddhist precepts
just try thinking what it might be like for all of us when the referee says okay guys here's the rules no killing no stealing know sexualizing no line no intoxicating or slandering know praising yourself that anyone else's expense
no hoarding know regime and know refiling the teachers the teaching or the students of the game
might be a great joy for us all
these precepts are part of the mission statement of this community and in my own utopian dreams of the mission statement of the entire world
the buddha also taught along with personal integrity a standard of conduct for the wellbeing of the state which i think as much less well known and i thought it's not a very long passage i thought i would share it with you this morning assists from the discourses of the buddha the digha nikaya it is the old so
the pali canon and this particular ceuta is called the maha party nirvana sutra the great passing and these teachings were given as the buddha was preparing to die he was an old man
thus have i heard once lord was staying at rancho gras hop on the mountain called vultures peak now just then king of judah sought to that he he put her of magadha wanted to attack the v john's he said i will strike the by jonas for so powerful and stuff
wrong i will cut them off and destroy them i will bring them to ruin and destruction
and king algirdas or to said to his chief minister the brahmin of us okara prom and go to the blessed lord worship him with your head to his feet in my name ask if he is free from sickness or disease if he is living at ease vigorously comfortably and then say lord
rd king of judah start to he he put up magadha wishes to attack the by jonas and says i will strike the by johns i will bring them to ruin and destruction and whatever the lord declares to you report that faithfully back to me for to target has never lie
very good sire said vasa car and having had the state carriages harnessed he mounted one of them and drove in state from roger got to vultures peak riding as far as the ground would allow than continuing on foot toward the lord was he exchanged courtesies with the lord and then sit down to one so
side and delivered the king's message now the venerable nanda was standing behind the lord fanning him and the lord said and under have you heard the bhajans hold regular and frequent assemblies i have heard lord that they do ananda as long as the bud john's hold regular and
expected to prosper not decline have you heard that the bar john's meet in harmony break up and harmony and carry on their business in harmony
i have heard lord that they do and under as long as the bud john's meet in harmony break up and harmony and carry on their business in harmony they may be expected to prosper it knocked decline
have you heard that the bar john's do not authorize what has not been authorized already and do not abolish what has been authorized but proceed according to what has been authorized by their ancient traditions i have lord have you heard that they honor respect revere and salute the elders among them and consider them worthy of listening
to that they do not forcibly abducted other's wives and daughters and compel them to live with them that they honor respect revere and salute the budge and shrines at home and abroad not withdrawing the proper support made and given before that proper provision is made for the safety of the our hearts
so that such our huts may come in the future to live there and those already there may dwell in comfort i have lord ananda so long as such proper provision is made the bhajans may be expected to prosper and not decline then the lord said to the brahman bus sakharov once brahman
when i was at the shana data were trying by sally i taught the by john's these seven principles for preventing decline and as long as they keep to these seven principles and as long as these principles remain in force the var john's may be expected to prosper and not decline
at this a car replied reverend gautama if the bhajans keep to even one of these principles they may it be expected to prosper and not decline far less all seven certainly the jones will never be conquered by king agenda sought to by force of arms but only by means
of propaganda
here he means diplomacy
and by setting them perhaps against one another so now reverend gautama may i depart i am busy and i have much to do
brahmin do as you think fit then by soccer are rejoicing and delighted at the lord's words rose from his seat and departed

so i don't know if any nation of individuals can achieve such ideals
or a foreign nation can achieve the ideal so far professed democracy and i fear that as with the slavery among our forefathers the unrestrained capitalism among ourselves and the other developed nations of the world is the blinding dependency that forbids
lt's us true liberty and dignity for all living beings and it's certainly been suggested before and by many and yet attempts at fair systems of distribution
and writing of imbalances of so far be been dismal dismal failures
but remembering again the dalai lama's teaching of not to look how to pinpoint the blame but how to pinpoint the causes
on one such cause that is fueling the world system of trade is our very own incessant demands for more than we need
and it's the waistline and polluting of the world's soils air and water
and the blatant disregard of civil rights both home here at home and abroad and it's by the insatiable requirements for cheaper and cheaper sources of materials food and manual labor
so by the time i had finished my project of pinpointing the various causes of human hatred and violence some of those pins were embedded in my very own flesh
more deeply than i would like to admit
and maybe such privileges as you and i enjoy leave us with no alternatives but to take our hits over and over again by those like king of judah sought to whether he put her of long ago who would strike the be john's the americans
who are so powerful and strong who would cut them off and destroy them who had bring them to ruin and destruction
if you have ever wanted something that belongs to someone else or to have returned to you that which has been taken from him then you know already where these folks may be coming from and they are many
so even though it may undoubtedly be too late let's talk let's think and let's find some way to devote and to share the tribute of our industry for the welfare of all living beings
from the in poetry of the hermit monk master real com
walking along a narrow path at the foot of a mountain i came to an ancient cemetery filled with countless tombstones and thousand year old oaks and pines the day is ending with a lonely plaintive wind the names on the tombs are
completely faded and even the relatives have forgotten who they were
choked with tears unable to speak i take my staff and return home
thank you very much