How do I begin training in morality?

How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 9:09 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Sha-Man! Geoffrey 11/29/23 9:57 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 10:10 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Chris M 11/29/23 10:24 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 10:48 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? finding oneself 12/1/23 10:03 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Sha-Man! Geoffrey 12/2/23 6:11 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Finding-Oneself (Backup Account) 12/2/23 11:01 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Sha-Man! Geoffrey 11/29/23 10:53 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Eudoxos . 11/29/23 10:55 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Eric Abrahamsen 11/29/23 12:50 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 1:40 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 1:22 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Papa Che Dusko 12/2/23 1:43 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Chris M 11/29/23 6:40 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 6:54 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Chris M 11/30/23 7:40 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 11/29/23 7:08 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Jim Smith 11/29/23 8:55 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? finding oneself 12/1/23 10:17 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? shargrol 12/2/23 8:59 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Sha-Man! Geoffrey 12/2/23 9:23 AM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Chris M 12/2/23 12:11 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Bahiya Baby 12/2/23 6:35 PM
RE: How do I begin training in morality? Papa Che Dusko 12/3/23 11:54 AM
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 9:09 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 9:09 AM

How do I begin training in morality?

Posts: 371 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
Hey,

Does anyone have any recommendations on where to begin and things to explore regarding training in morality?

I think I'm a better person than I used to be, but that's not saying a lot, and I find I'm specifically very good to a couple select people in my life and can still very casually be a total prick to others. 

I also have spent years in semi-retreat, keeping to myself and meditating and I think it's high time I start giving back to the world. 

Open to suggestions on meditation practices, activities, books, literally whatever. 
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 9:57 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 9:57 AM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

Posts: 328 Join Date: 10/30/23 Recent Posts
Well, a few things to say. For starters, you do seem nice enough on DhO, so is it possible you're being hard on yourself? In terms of practice, the people I've met who do metta as a main practice for like 6 months or w/e are generally super-duper nice. Conventional therapy might be worth a shot (explicitly with the goal of being more pro-social). Personally the thing that helped for me a lot was I started off meditating with bad PTSD and I'd overuse substances to cope, and as I meditated more and more the flashbacks stopped, the anxiety went away, etc - and just really reflecting on how a lot of the bad things I've done were from emotional pain and being driven by aversion and greed, and then just realizing this is true for other people as well (and most people don't even really know it...), and coming to the realization that if we're just kinda these meat robots, well those poor meat robots over there are confused and hurting themselves and others (and this one too!). Also the Mormons are nice, so you could become Mormon?
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:10 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:09 AM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

Posts: 371 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
It's always possible I'm being hard on myself, but I'm easier on myself than I used to be. I guess I've been doing insight pretty intensively for awhile and it feels like time to focus a little more on morality. 

I think doing very consistent metta is a great idea. I don't do enough of it in general.
 
Personally the thing that helped for me a lot was I started off meditating with bad PTSD and I'd overuse substances to cope
I relate to that, I had what in recent years I found out was cptsd and also come from a very heavy substance use kind of background. A lot of my anxiety and depression has fallen away. I'm pretty happy and cheerful with people I meet. I just have this compulsion to give back to the world and I haven't really figured out what that looks like. 

I think I understand how to gain insight, I get how to cultivate deeper concentration but morality is a bit more nebulous emoticon

Mormonism could be good for me. 
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Chris M, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:24 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:24 AM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

Posts: 5091 Join Date: 1/26/13 Recent Posts
Mormonism could be good for me. 

If you want or need your own planet when you die, or baptize your dead ancestors, then that's the group for you.

​​​​​​​emoticon
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:48 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:48 AM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

Posts: 371 Join Date: 5/26/23 Recent Posts
-> Do metta
-> Join Cult
= Infinite merit !!
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:53 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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For what it’s worth, I definitely spent most of my 20s trying to get my life together with bad mental health in the hopes that somehow if I just fixed X, Y, or even Z I’d be happy. So I think in a lot of ways I got my morality together before meditation. For me the hard part of everything was ultimately I didn’t know how to treat myself or other people (and I think this is true for a lot of traumatized people, so I’ll expand a bit on what’s helped, but I don’t want to sound presumptuous or anything so feel free to ignore it if it’s not relevant).

As background I came from a pretty bad family, and was fairly nerdy in high school (and kinda falling into the proto alt right pipeline online). Lucky for me I went to college and got off of that, but basically super isolated myself studying. So you can imagine I had very few people skills after college.

The things that really helped me integrate into the world were

- improv. This really helped me with social anxiety, learning social rules, and basically it freed me from the idea of following a scripted social role 
- Burning man. It turns out having a group of friends you spend a lot of time with, build projects with your hands, and who are all spiritual along different dimensions, open to new experiences, good at communicating boundaries, etc is a nice group of people to be around 
- therapy (honestly this is probably the best training directly in morality imho, but you need a good therapist)
- dating helped me figure out the romantic side of morality 
- Group medicine work. (Basically group therapy plus some medicine)


If you look at the common factor of all these things, they are ultimately spaces with people who are fairly open, you can make mistakes and talk/grow from them, and are generally fine with you however you show up (within broad limits). Lastly I’d say, just as it takes a lot of looking directly at experience to reprogram your perception, it’s going to to take lots of hanging around good people to reprogram trauma responses. Just do your best, know that’s good enough, and know it will take time to heal.
Eudoxos , modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 10:55 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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On the more traditional side, generosity might be a good pointer. Sharing resources (time, energy, money, attention, skills, ....) depending on your particular situation. Shinzes says "spirit of service" is one of the fruits of the practice. Don't forget your family (it was not just Ram Dass who found it triggering). Conventional examples might be: walking shelter dogs, running meditation group for stressed moms in your neighborhood, helping refugees, orphans, homeless, addicted, disabled, dying (there are usually NPOs that are eager to hear from volunteers), donating to charities. It helps in realizing (conventional and non-conventional) inter-dependence and commonality, having more compassion, less judgement.

Many soft-skills would also, IMO, fall into the first training; I am a big fan of Non-Violent Communication (which in fact balances nicely solitary practice, and makes use of the skill of mindfulness).
Eric Abrahamsen, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 12:50 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 12:50 PM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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A recent post linked to an essay by Bhikkhu Anīgha, which re-defined jhana as a practice in which we reflect on morality, and our moral failures (this is an unkind synopsis). DhO posters dumped on the essay, I think rightly, for trotting out the puritan definition of morality which is laser focused on sexual desire and how bad bad bad it is.

I thought it was a missed opportunity by the author, because the argument made in the essay is actually a very interesting one, and holds up equally well (actually better) with a wider understanding of sila. A less-unkind synopsis of the argument (the essay is worth reading) is that jhana is a practice of “concrete thinking” in which we make ourselves aware of the self-generated hangups that are preventing us from being fully present, and preventing us from turning our vipassana-eye outward, to the three characteristics of reality around us.

(I realize the previous sentence is problematic in many ways, it’s just a synopsis! Also, you can obviously argue about whether this should be called jhana or not.)

As an aside: it’s strange that an author who’s very focused on returning to a close reading of scripture doesn’t consider the cultural/historical context of that scripture: my understanding (which I got from somewhere else) is that much of the original teachings were addressed to young men from wealthy Indian families, and the moral failings that these gentlemen were prone to were, naturally, horniness and indolence. Being a householder was contrasted to the spiritual life mostly because being a “householder”, for these people, meant being waited on – these dudes were not doing their own laundry.

Anyway, I think all this points to an interesting adjusted understanding of sila. Morality means being able to sit down to meditate, and not having your concentration interrupted by stuff gnawing at you. Having a guilty conscience about something you’ve done is one important and obvious hindrance, but it could just as easily be something that someone has done to you, that you haven’t dealt with. Niggling doubts, skeletons in the closet, things left incomplete, things left unsaid. Regrets that could still be rectified. Things you don’t want to face. Half-truths you’re still telling yourself.

I think what Bhikkhu Anīgha is saying is that jhana (why this needs to be a re-definition of jhana I don’t know) is the practice of allowing these things to come up. It’s acknowledging what has been done, or what is yet to be done. And sila is the practice of putting your house in order, so you can get down to the “real work” of meditation.

This understanding of sila is very pragmatic, and actually selfish in a way. It’s a negative statement: immorality is anything that might disturb your concentration. But I think it’s an effective place to start.

Learning to be nicer to people is a wonderful pursuit. But I think it’s unsuitable as a goal, or a subject of training. It’s more of a diagnostic: at some point you realize that you’re not as much of an asshole as you used to be, and that’s a sign that the rest of your practice is going well.

Metta is also a wonderful pursuit, but I’d almost categorize that separately from sila – it’s more of a very pleasant way to learn surrender.

Ultimately none of these things can be cleanly distinguished from one another, of course, but for a while it can be helpful.

Anyway, thank you for bringing this subject up and giving me a chance to, er, dump. I hope it’s relevant in a way.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 1:22 PM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 1:22 PM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Geoffrey, thanks for sharing, that's really insightful. These are great suggestions. I also spent most of my 20's dealing with mental health issues. I was always compensating for it until I found meditation. Gaining a little insight really began to shift things for me. 

This is an odd thing to say, for someone whose lived fairly isolated for 4-5 years, but I used to be very socially savvy. It's something clients and friends often point out but when the paths showed up I really checked out of the world. It felt as though people and culture became too gamey for my taste and I didn't have the bandwidth to deal with all the schemes and strategies. It's only recently that I started feeling ready to return to the world and returning to the world means getting embroiled in "situations".

I suspect that putting myself in lots of "open social spaces" might naturally bring about the kind of moral activity I'm after. That's a very insightful recomendation. I've been travelling for awhile and only recently in countries where I can somewhat speak the language. Been living as a fly on the wall. ( Also I'm Irish and it's currently impossible to find a place to live their and next to impossible in a lot of Europe, so I've certainly been a bit cut off from my home/culture/roots etc which doesn't help )

I have always wanted to do improv. I've played some very improv heavy DND. 

Burning man is a bit far from me, but I used to do a lot of permaculture and ecological work and found similar comraderie there. I'm about to move to a city where I can do a lot of that.  

Therapy is a really interesting suggestion. I'm not sure what the right therapist would be but definitely a direction I can gently flail in. 

I've also been super checked out of dating but it's becoming time to check back in. I really lost interest for awhile. I guess I saw the ways in which I suffered and caused suffering to others and didn't want to put that on anyone.

I have a very complicated relationship with the medicine these days. Though I've made time on occassion for more therapeutic approaches to it as I have friends that explore that type of stuff. 


Eudoxos. Really appreciate your take. Volunteering is a great idea. I think I'm much more capable or ready to help people. I think there was a few years where I wasn't able for it. Or at least that was my excuse. Now that I feel a lot better and a lot more normal it seems right to find ways to be generous.

I have friends who do humanitarian work and I have often wanted to do that. I did some permaculture in the dead sea valley where a lot of palestinian refugees live. 

I also would love to work with some people with disabilities. It can be difficult to do in Ireland. You have to jump through a lot of hoops and anyone I met who did it said the system was a bit soul crushing. But where I'm moving I think there are better opportunities to generally help out. 

Some places I've lived just really didn't have great resources for this stuff. A city I spent a lot of my life in, post covid, just had absolutely nothing going on and it used to be a very bohemian place with lots of cool things to do. These days a lot of the best community, volunteering type activites are happening in squats and done entirely illegally. The rent some places is just too high to get any of those kinds of projects off the ground, not to mention the beauracracy involved. 

I recently had a conversation with a good friend of mine that concluded: At this point in history some moral actions may be illegal. 


Eric. Both interesting and synchronous. I appreciate the dump !! Going to read this essay and report back.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 1:40 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Another really interesting point on Jhanas that the TWIM guys make. Is that what we might call absorption or concentration jhanas were actually rejected by the Buddha, in that he learnt them before and found they didn't lead to insight. And so the jhanas being referred to in the suttas may be, in mctb terms, more akin to vipassana jhanas.

... but that is perhaps another thread ... I've had a lot of jhana stuff come up lately. It has sort of changed my thoughts on them. Will do some reading and if anything interesting comes out of it I'll post something. 

*** Interesting because when I became less attached to feeling good, I stopped seeing jhanas as ways to vibe out and started seeing them as like core structural components of the mind.. or something. 
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Chris M, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 6:40 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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I suggest you put a stake in the ground right now and commit to a daily review of your interactions with others. Do this for as long as it takes in the evening. Introspection is a great way to explore what's going on and it's really not hard to do if you've been meditating properly for a while.

We make these things complicated as a way to escape doing them at all.

​​​​​​​
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 6:54 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Yeah, I could do that. 
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Chris M, modified 3 Months ago at 11/30/23 7:40 AM
Created 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 7:02 PM

RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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The ability to see our motivations, strategies of self-preservation, and the habitual tendencies of our ego is a natural product of our ongoing practice. Practice leads us to seeing ourselves clearly, leading to better social interaction and better relationships with everything around us. If we pay attention and explore this, that is. Some don't.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 7:08 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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motivations, strategies of self-preservation, and the habitual tendencies of our ego

This is exclusively what's coming up in meditation lately. I don't really have any ways to avoid it anymore, if that makes sense, it's just right there. 

Yet, even though I can see it, it still influences me...

I understand that this is kind of a stage/path specific layer of BS that I'm integrating but nonetheless it has made me aware of ways I've been slack in morality and I'd like to remedy that.

->Metta
->Join cult
​​​​​​​->Review my social stuff
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Jim Smith, modified 3 Months ago at 11/29/23 8:55 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Bahiya Baby
Hey,

Does anyone have any recommendations on where to begin and things to explore regarding training in morality?

 


Contemplate karma and rebirth.

Even if you don't believe in them, think about how you would act if they were true.

They are the foundation on which Buddhist morality is built. You will experience the consequences of your actions, good actions have good consequences, bad actions have bad consequences. You can define good and bad roughly by the golden rule, do unto others as you would have others do unto you. You can work out some exceptions -people from different cultures or subcultures might have different ideas about what is nice - but it gives the general idea.

Buddhist morality is not about a list of rules defined by an authority, it is about not doing harm. The five precepts are about helping you to avoid harming other beings so you can have a tranquil mind, avoid suffering, experience nirvana, meditate well, they're not about punching a ticket to get into heaven.

It can be helpful to get involved in some type of volunteer work but try to be aware if you are sincerely interested in helping others or you are doing it just to help yourself or make yourself feel good. I'm not saying to necessarily avoid it if you are not sincere, just be aware of your own motivation for you own understanding. You feelings might change over time.

You can tell when you are making progress because you will care more and more about other beings and less and less about yourself.

One of the best things you can do about karma is to forgive. (Forgiveness doesn't mean you ignore problems, it means you can respond with compassion and reason rather than out of control selfish emotions.) Bad karma bounces around from one person to the next as people are hurt and react in ways the hurt others. When you let go of the hurt without passing it on to anyone else, you make the world a better place. You can atone for your past bad karma this way. Any meditation that increases your equanimity can help you to forgive - to let go of the hurt. Metta and other forms of meditation that elevate the mood can also help.
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finding oneself, modified 2 Months ago at 12/1/23 10:03 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Chris M
If you want or need your own planet when you die...
​​​​​​​emoticon


That sounds awesome
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finding oneself, modified 2 Months ago at 12/1/23 10:17 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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I appreciated you interacting in my meditation log. It's helpful having people kicking around in there. I think that's definitely already training in morality. I don't really have any dharma friends in real life, so it's pretty darn impactful talking to folks here.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 1:43 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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emoticon Ah my dear Irish fellow! I lived in Dublin for about 5 years! Loved it!

First year I worked for the Irish Wheelchair Association and it was not the easiest of works. Days or nights can be long. But back then I was not familiar with practice and seeing stuff arise-pass. 

Then after a year I became a bartender in Cafe en Saine and the social life improved tenfold emoticon emoticon emoticon Of course this socialising included vast amounts of Guinness and slippery nipples! emoticon 

I will suggest Tonglen as described by Shargrol! You only use the matter of fact experience of yours that's happening for this way of practicing Tonglen. You dont just take all the suffering of others (which creates a sense of a martyr (ego) who sacrifices him/her self for the sake of all beings). 
Safest is to use the actual matter of fact experience. 

If I remember well you are post 2nd right? In that case maybe do some radical allowing practice. Shargrol suggested I do a Structured Practice. 10-15 minutes concentration (I chose White Tara Mantra), 20 minutes Noting (I do noting aloud) , then 10 minutes radical allowing of all and anything that arises and at the end 5 minutes just allowing to return to the life gently. 

I finish by giving away all merits accumulated to all beings above bellow and all around. May all beings benefit from this practice May all awaken , May all be free from suffering, may all be happy.

Ay the beginning of the session I say "I will practice structured meditation for 40-45 minutes to awaken as fast as humanly possible for the benefit of all beings above bellow and all around"! 

Ignore if it doesn't resonate! 

​​​​​​​Best wishes and slainte! 
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 6:11 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Okay but the catch is you have to believe some weird historical fanfics about Jesus coming to preach to the Jews that sailed to North America 
shargrol, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 8:59 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Here's my favorite teaching ever . Everything in the dharma/morality world boils down to this. It comes from Krishnamurti:

He was asked, "How does a crude man become sensitive?" and answered,

"If I say the mind is crude and I try to become sensitive, the very effort is to become sensitive is crudity. Please see this. Don't be intrigued, but watch it. Whereas, if I recognize that I am crude without wanting to change, without trying to become sensitive, if I begin to understand what crudeness is, observe it in my life from day to day -- the greedy way I eat, the roughness with which I treat people, the pride, the arrogance, the coarseness of my habits and thoughts --- then that very observation transforms what is. [...] You do not have to become sensitive. The man who is trying to become something is ugly, insensitive, he is a crude person."

This is basically giving the same advice as Chris upthread. Devote yourself to being aware of how things actually occur and don't make excuses for yourself. Your own conscience will basically do the rest, you won't want to be immoral if you see things clearly.  

Sometimes our "strategies for change" are actually clever ways to delay/avoid. 
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Sha-Man! Geoffrey, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 9:23 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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I do love Krishnamurti myself. He has spiritual teachings that you can really only come up with if you were kidnapped on a beach and forced to be spiritual by a weird group of Enlish aristocracy types.

That being said though, to counterbalance the advice of straight choiceless awareness, from a DO perspective, the things you're interested in are all downstream of the six senses bases and contact. Meaning for the experiences you want to examine to arise, you will need to be in situations where they can arise. This means leaving isolation and being in the world. So go play some DnD or something.

To throw another quote in the mix - "you miss 100% of shots you don't take"
Finding-Oneself (Backup Account), modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 11:01 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Geoffrey B
Okay but the catch is you have to believe some weird historical fanfics about Jesus coming to preach to the Jews that sailed to North America 
No way that happened
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Chris M, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 12:11 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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It would be a mistake to think dependent origin is a linear, time dependent, stepwise process.
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Bahiya Baby, modified 2 Months ago at 12/2/23 6:35 PM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Hows's the craic Che. I'm a Galway man myself!! I appreciate the advice. I'll dial some of that in.

"If I say the mind is crude..." There's a lot of fingers pointing at this particular lesson. I haven't learnt it yet but it's being learned. Bit by bit. I'm constantly face to face with the dukkha from which the strategizing is born. Often i see it, sometimes it throws me. Spins me into activity. 

Geoffrey. My life in retreat is officially over. About to catch a flight and go get embroiled in the big city with some old friends. I'm going to take some shots. I used to throw a decent 3-pointer.
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Papa Che Dusko, modified 2 Months ago at 12/3/23 11:54 AM
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RE: How do I begin training in morality?

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Divil a bit emoticon ya know! Same old same old just different!

Ah, Galway! I was there only once and even then just for a few hours! I woke up one day in Dublin and was on my own just walking the city on a sunny morning. Passing the bus station I got the idea to just go somewhere. I asked what the next bus was and she said "Galway". "One return ticket please". And I was off. Arrived and went to the Galway city center into a restaurant, ate, and went back to the station. Back to Dublin, down the rocky road! emoticon 

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XHF4kcMod8w

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