On "Eating and Lust"
(Clearwisdom.net) Menchius, a famous disciple of Confucius, once said, "Eating and lust, those are from one's innate nature." Confucius also made the following comments, "Drinking and eating, carrying out relationships among members of the opposite sex, those are where the major desires of human beings lie." Confucianism promotes the idea of "tempering one's desires." I think the above words by Confucius can be considered a summarization of Confucianism's position on "eating and lust."
It is true that Menchius said, "Eating and lust, those are from one's innate nature." But when looking at it a little more deeply, this "innate nature" actually is not the true "nature" of a human being's original, true self. Instead, it is a characteristic that has been infused into one's flesh body in order for a human being to stay in a human state. It is also a human attachment that we must remove in our cultivation.
Modern people tend to allow their desires to run wild. In terms of eating, Chinese people want to be as extravagant as possible in order to satisfy their desires, and they exhaust themselves in thinking about what to eat, ranging from flying birds to walking mammals, from crawling bugs to poisonous reptiles. There is nothing that they don't eat. Everyday people also take pride in eating food in large quantities and of excellent quality. In terms of lust, many people don't feel even a little bit of moral constraint. From their actions to their thoughts, from the way that they dress to their expressions, they do whatever they want without feeling any shame. Living under the influence of such degenerated social trends, as cultivators we must take the Fa as Teacher. We can't judge ourselves using the standard of ordinary people, which has slid down, and consider ourselves to be good by comparison. In reality, the current standard is much lower than the standard for normal human beings, not to mention the realm of Gods and Buddhas.
In Zhuan Falun, Master said,
"So when it comes to eating, it's not right to be attached to any kind of food, not just meat. Some people say, 'I just like to eat this.' Well, that's another desire. A cultivator doesn't have that kind of attachment when he gets to a certain point."
Master also said,
"Then if you're a practitioner, a higher person, you can't use this logic to evaluate things, and you need to break out of this stuff. So there are a lot of attachments that are derived from emotion, and we have to really care less about them, and at some point finally let go of them all. That desire and lust stuff are all just human attachments, and we should get rid of all of them." (The Sixth Talk, Zhuan Falun)
We all now know that the final stage of Fa-rectification is upon us. Then as beings that must transcend humanness, these human things such as eating and lust are examples of what we need to "let go of them all." If we can't get rid of things as small as a tiny notion, we will fall down to the level of ordinary human beings. For example, in terms of how we dress, while we need to conform to the state of ordinary human society and can't make ordinary human beings think that we are strange, we also can't conform to the degenerated human notion of what they consider to be beautiful.
Of course we also can't go to the other extreme. For example, we shouldn't ignore our appearance so that we look untidy and messy. The objective of genuine cultivation is to eliminate human attachments, while conforming to the state of everyday human society to the greatest extent possible and using the righteous principles in the human world to live a peaceful and tranquil life, and not "have that kind of attachment." Only then will we conform to the Fa.
The above is a small understanding of mine. If it contains anything inappropriate, I ask fellow practitioners to kindly point it out to me.
Published on May 20, 2009