Living at a Buddhist retreat center is way different than living in “the real world”. It’s not like we were in retreat all of the time, but everyone in the community was working towards the same goal. I’d say the most shocking thing about being back in society is the lack of respect for life. We don’t kill — anything — intentionally. Flies, bees, rats, deer, you name it and we didn’t kill it. Now we’re faced blatant killing all of the time. Especially being in Montana where everyone fishes and hunts. My parents have sticky paper fly traps up all over the house and nobody seems to think twice about swatting a mosquito on their arm. At Vajrapani we went to great lengths to protect life. For awhile it felt like my primary job was to keep the rats that were taking over our building alive and healthy (and the secondary mission was to get them out). The director was adamant that killing the rats would not be the cause of getting rid of them, so we decided not to kill them. Which was fine by me. Now when I see people around me swatting at flies I just do a little mantra for them both.
We’ve also run into other bizarre things... I think when you live in a community that has taken vows not to do harmful things such as steal and lie you can have a more open attitude with people. Of course there is always the possibility that someone who has taken vows will break them, but at least you know they are (mostly) not trying to deceive you or rip you off. Out in the “real world” you have to watch out for that. Even if you are dealing with friends of your family or people you’ve known a very long time.
It now makes a whole bunch of sense why the lamas always make a big deal about keeping your morals. If everyone kept them we would have a beautiful society. That’s what I miss most about Vajrapani. The beautiful society that everyone is at least trying to make.
posted @ 7:20 AM