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Buddhadharma : Summer 2018
52 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY This is a distortion of the concept of samaya. Any thorough evaluation of the larger context of Buddhist ethics reveals samaya is not unidirectional. Most teachers in the Mahayana tradition hold two fundamental sets of ethical precepts: the bodhi- sattva vow and the pratimoksha vows. The essence of these vows is a commitment to compassion and nonharm, respectively. The teacher’s most basic ethical compass should revolve around vows to enact compassion and vows to practice nonviolence. These are so fundamental as to be definitive of Buddhist ethics. If the teacher acts in a way that perpetrates violence or harm, he has contravened those fundamental commitments, even if the falling away is unconscious. In some traditions, the highest and most hidden layer of samaya unfolds only in the sphere of nondual awareness. Within that sphere, all relationships are spontaneously pure. A practice of nonduality requires dismantling the illusion of separateness and embracing all inner and outer conditions, including one’s own shadow. To suppress the conditions that allow the shadow to be witnessed and processed contravenes the spirit of openness implicit in this samaya. The essence of samaya is not blind faith. Samaya is a promise to uphold one another in mutual goodness, while recognizing our very human potential to go astray. We owe it to one another, as teachers, students, spiritual friends and sangha, to hold each other account- able, not out of malice but out of a fundamental belief in our capac- ity to navigate away from brokenness and toward greater integrity and compassion. the devil is in the details Boundary crossings can vary from careless to egregious. They can be experienced as welcome or unwelcome, extend from mildly awk- ward to very traumatic. Without hearing first-person reports from all those who knew something, a community cannot get a complete picture of who was hurt and how. If that community does not know exactly what happened, and to how many people, it’s very difficult to know how to proceed.