last resort

last resort ( again)

A final expedient or recourse to achieve some end or settle a difficulty. For example, If you don’t improve, we’ll try this new medication as a last resort. This term originally referred to a court of law from which there was no appeal. [Late 1600s]

In sangha last night, we shared about the challenge of acting with compassion towards those who have caused harm.  Martine Batchelor’s talk given at Upaya Zen Center on compassion as an expression of ethics encouraged an open-hearted questioning of the challenges we face in families.  Sometimes a spontaneous expression of regret to someone who is suffering the consequences of their own actions can be seen by others as taking sides.  Sometimes it is just impossible to conceive of someone being worthy of compassion and feelings of hate arise.  The actual challenge we felt was in facing ourselves in our anger and vengefulness without layering on self-loathing.

Most people live by their desires or karma.  They go through their lives dragged around by desires and hindered by the consequences of previous harmful actions…. We are born into our lives with our desires and may live our whole lives just reacting or responding to them.

from Opening the Hand of Thought by Uchiyama

I suggested that perhaps the best we can sometimes do as bodhisattvas-in-training is to ensure that the potential for further damage stops with us.

In contrast to that (living by karma or desires) is the way of life of a bodhisattva who lives by vow.  The life that flows through each of us and through everything around us is actually all connected.

Then someone suggested that perhaps by living as best we can, we might develop a “herd immunity” to anger, greed, and misunderstanding.

Thank you for practicing and inoculating,


3 thoughts on “last resort

  1. Lately I’ve been looking at how I sustain my delusions (which is another way of saying how I sustain my attachments to desire and karma). One phrase continues to arise: “It’s just not that bad.”

    Actually, this phrase doesn’t arise nearly as often as it should – I rarely look hard enough to realize how I justify my attachments.

    But that’s the work of a bodhisattva – to use his or her 1,000 hands and eyes to scour the mind repeatedly, and freeing it from delusion. That’s the vow (and it’s easier to do this in a herd, I think).

  2. Barry, didn’t the sutras start with “Thus have I herd…” 😉

    I’m noticing how subtle my encouragement is of the attachment to my desires. Especially the ones about vengance… I don’t understand the concept of forgiveness. For this moment my practice is only about not reacting… as best I can.

    Kyle, that’s what I get hanging around the medical types! 😀

    We’re working on a squirrel vaccine… 😉

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