In his book “The Heart of Buddha’s Teachings” Thich Nhat Hanh talks about watering seeds as a metaphor for discouraging bad habits and encouraging good habits. You don’t water the seeds in your mind which create bad habits, such as anger, aggression, hatred, or violence, and slowly they will wither and disappear. You water the seeds in your mind which create good habits, such a love, compassion, empathy, and wisdom so that they grow and bloom. Part of this process is refraining from taking in things which are unhealthy for you. This applies to what we eat, drink, see, hear, and even the company we keep. (Which isn’t to say we should go out and ditch our friends because they aren’t perfect little Buddhists like us.)
I think about this a lot when contemplating my taste in entertainment. The last movie I saw in theaters was Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest. It was funny and I enjoyed it, but it was full of violence. It was full of people trying to selfishly save themselves (and those they loved) at the expense of others. Is this really healthy?
Some of my favorite movies include vast amounts of violence and suffering. One of my favorites is Black Hawk Down. We Were Soldiers is another. Is it odd that a pacifist is so drawn to war movies? I enjoy The Count of Monte Cristo (revenge) and The Matrix (war & slavery) and The Borne Identity (assassination). I do also love a good comedy, but even comedies have things which are unhealthy – attachment, greed, selfishness, etc.
My taste in books is even darker. I have read books with scenes which would probably be NC-Nobody if they were ever made into movies. Ironically, I get most of them from my father’s library, with his recommendation. Sometimes I think either he forgets what is in them or forgets who he’s giving them too. Either that or he is very mature minded about the stuff his little girl reads. I am reading a series now by Elizabeth Haydon, beginning with the book Rhapsody. I am on the third book now. They are fantasy novels filled with war, death, hate, and deception. They are also very, very good.
At the same time, all the movies and books I love are filled with triumph over war, hate, violence, and greed. They have love (with attachment), generosity, trust, and compassion. Those forces win out, or it wouldn’t be a very good story. I guess it comes back to intention. Even though the heroes act with virtue (some of the time), their intentions are not always (sometimes not even usually) pure. Even their good actions are filled with attachment, which is perhaps the most pervasive and tenacious weed in our mind. *sigh*
Which reminds me – I have to water my plants when I get home today.