Morality

The goal is Inner peace; but the foundation is Morality.

 

It should never be forgotten – and of this the Freudian school must be reminded – that morality was not brought down on tables of stone from Sinai and imposed on the people, but is a function of the human soul, as old as humanity itself.  Morality is not imposed from outside; we have it in ourselves from the start – not the law, but our moral nature without which the collective life of human society would be impossible.  That is why morality is found at all levels of society.  It is the instinctive regulator of action which also governs the collective life of the herd. 

But moral laws are valid only within a compact human group.  Beyond that, they cease.  There the old truth runs: Homo Homini lupus.  With the growth of civilization we have succeeded in subjecting ever larger human groups to the rule of the same morality, without, however, having yet brought the moral code to prevail beyond the social frontiers, that is, in the free space between mutually independent societies.  There, as of old, reign lawlessness and license and mad immorality – though of course it is only the enemy who dares to say it out loud.   

“Virtue is but the pedagogical prelude to the culminating insight, which goes beyond all pairs of opposites.  Virtue quells the self-centred ego and makes the transpersonal centeredness possible;”

Morality consists of 4 areas that a person can exercise to achieve a string of events to help create a ‘tendency’ for morality to become a natural habit.  They are[1]: 

It's not what goes into your mouth that defiles you; you are defiled by the words that come out of your mouth."  Matthew 15:11     

·  Right Speech[2] - Everything you say to both your Self and others

 

·  Right Action - Everything you do to both your Self and others

·  Right Effort[3] - The mind is naturally weak and there are 4 exercises to firm the mind;

-          removing from it any unwholesome qualities it may have

-          closing it to any unwholesome qualities it does not have,

-          preserving and multiplying those wholesome qualities that are present in the mind,

-          and opening it to any wholesome qualities that are missing. 

·  Right Occupation – Having a career that supports one’s self and others, while not harming any sentient beings.

What is it, then, that inexorably tips the scales in favour of the extra-ordinary? … It is what is commonly called vocation:  an irrational factor that destines a man to emancipate himself from the herd and from its well-worn paths.    TEJ 199

The fact that many a man who goes his own way ends in ruin means nothing to one who has a vocation.  He must obey his own law, as if it were a daemon whispering to him of new and wonderful paths.  Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner man: his is called.  This is why the legends say that he possesses a private daemon who counsels him and whose mandates he must obey.  TEJ 200

Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

                                                                                       Ephesians 5:28

Work done as a sacrifice for Vishnu has to be performed, otherwise work causes bondage in this material world. 

                                                                                        Bhagavad-Gita 3.9

In Buddhism, there are  5 precepts[4], which are the moral guidelines that Buddhists adhere to.  These are the equivalent to the Ten Commandments.

There are 5 for regular people:

1.     Harmlessness

2.     Trustworthiness

3.     Celibacy     

4.     Right speech        

5.     Sobriety[5]

For junior monks and people wishing to purify themselves further, such as anyone partaking of a 10-day Vipassana meditation course, an additional 3 precepts are required.  They are:

6.     Not eating after 12:00 noon

7.     No perfumes, jewelry, luxurious garments, entertainment, etc.

8.     Not sleeping in a luxurious bed

For monks and nuns who are committed to the monastic life there are 227[6] precepts to follow. 

 

Why Red?

 

The colour red expresses the values of morality in so many ways.   It’s the colour of passion and of anger, which so often leads to breaking the moral code of conduct.  Red is the colour of blood, which often enough can be the byproduct or consequence (whether it be yours or another’s) of not abiding with the rules of morality, as well red also symbolizes danger. 

For ease of remembering and recalling the lessons of morality though, the best value of the colour red is associating it with the word ‘Stop’.

Red – Infrared – low end of the spectrum – synonymous with Instinct

Using the analogy of the spectrum, we could compare the lowering of unconscious contents to a displacement towards the red end of the colour band, a comparison which is especially edifying in that red, the blood colour, has always signified emotion and instinct."  

In choice, you have 4 decisions. 

                                                                    .

·        To do something good

·   To do something bad

·   To not do something good, or

·   To not do something bad. 

Buddha teaches The Four Right Procedures, which are:

1.     stopping bad things before they start

2.     stopping bad things that have already started

3.     performing good deeds

4.     promoting the growth and continuance of good deeds that have already started

The most critical of these to focus on is to not do bad things, as in STOP’ doing bad things if you already are doing them.  It is good to do good things, to be charitable, to open doors for others’, etc… but the most important thing you can do in all situations, is to not do bad things.

"Do good, don’t do bad, observe your mind"

 

Understand what is the path on which you have started walking.  The Buddha described it in very simple terms:

Abstain from all sinful, unwholesome actions,

perform only pious wholesome ones,

purify the mind;

this is the teaching of enlightened ones.

ONCE REALIZED, YOU CAN'T UNDO THE REALIZATION

 Practicing morality purifies action and speech.  As we practice morality, our understanding of what is right and wrong becomes clearer, and ultimately we are able to see even more clearly the infinite other opportunities there are for improvement that exist.  Your conscience will be your guide.  You will have a new sense of peace and progress that feels good.  By following the happiness you will naturally, instinctively and perpetually continue practicing good deeds and abandon impure deeds by realizing through experience the laws of cause and effect[8].  One benefit that will actualize as a result of applied time and effort is awakening to the realization of being uncomfortable practicing impure thoughts and deeds.  It feels like putting on dirty clothes after taking a bath.  By knowing and experiencing the law of karma we experience what it is like being healthy after a life of being unhealthy.  Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.  What we once thought was enjoyable (abusing, gossiping, harming, etc.) now repulses us.

 

The Perfections

In Buddhism there are two lists of perfections (paramitas).  One has 6 perfections and a few others have 10.  The original six originate from the Lotus Sutra,[9] spoken by Buddha himself.  The lists with 10 include the original six and have 4 other perfections added, with slight variations between denominations of Buddhism.

1.     Generosity - eliminates selfishness

2.     Morality - keeps one thoughtful of others

3.     Patience - helps one control an angry mind

4.     Effort - makes one diligent and faithful, and controls laziness

5.     Concentration - develops a sharp and insightful mind

6.     Wisdom - illuminates ignorance allowing us to more easily give up bad practices while offering penetrating insight

A strong sense of morality makes a person unwavering in their actions[10].

These are the 2 lists of the 10 perfections as held by the 2 main branches of Buddhism are:[11] [12]

Therevada

1.       Dāna parami : generosity, giving of oneself

2.       Sīla parami : virtue, morality, proper conduct

3.       Nekkhamma parami : renunciation

4.       Paññā parami : transcendental wisdom, insight

5.       Viriya (also spelt vīriya) parami : energy, diligence, vigour, effort

6.       Khanti parami : patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance

7.       Sacca parami : truthfulness, honesty

8.       Adhiṭṭhāna (adhitthana) parami : strong determination, resolution

9.       Mettā parami : loving-kindness/loving kindness

10.    Upekkhā (also spelt upekhā) parami : equanimity, serenity

Mahayana

       1.       Dāna paramita: generosity, giving of oneself

       2.       Śīla paramita : virtue, morality, discipline, proper conduct

       3.       Kṣānti (kshanti) paramita : patience, tolerance, forbearance,         acceptance, endurance

       4.       Vīrya paramita : energy, diligence, vigour, effort

       5.       Dhyāna paramita : one-pointed concentration, contemplation

       6.       Prajñā paramita : wisdom, insight

       7.       Upāya paramita: skillful means

       8.       Praṇidhāna (pranidhana) paramita: vow, resolution, aspiration,        determination

       9.       Bala paramita: spiritual power

       10.    Jñāna paramita: knowledge

Generosity is the most difficult of the perfections.  By making whatever efforts you can, and trying to make generosity habitual, generosity will become easier.  Some men would rather give a pound of flesh up than a pound of gold.  Thinking of those who have less than we do in the conscious light of kindness rather than blame develops generosity.  If our motivation for giving is pure, this is good action (karma).  If the motivation is impure, then this is bad action (karma).

 "For myself, success is to leave the woodpile a little higher than I found it."

                                                             -- Paul Harvey

A householder needs money to support himself.  The danger, however, is that earning money becomes a means to inflate the ego: one seeks to amass as much as possible for oneself, and feels contempt for those who earn less.  Such an attitude harms others and also harms oneself, because the stronger the ego, the further one is from liberation.  Therefore one essential aspect of right livelihood is giving charity, sharing a portion of what one earns with others.  Then one earns not only for one’s own benefit but also for the benefit of others.”[13]

"Few men have the virtue to withstand the highest bidder"                                                  -- George Washington

Patience gives us great inner strength.  It helps us discover the real cause of problems and not to simply react by blaming temporary circumstances.  If we are patient, we are less likely to get upset quickly when things don’t go our way and less likely to act badly toward others.[14]

Effort

“Proper effort is not the effort to make something particular happen.  It is the effort to be aware and awake in each moment, the effort to overcome laziness and defilements, the effort to make each activity of our day meditation.”

“Joyful effort incorporates our attitude toward our spiritual practice.  If our attitude is only to follow a set of rules rigidly and blindly, then we are probably quite miserable!  If, however, we remind ourselves thoroughly of the great benefit to ourselves and others from practicing what Buddha taught, this helps us cultivate joyful effort.  Then we approach the Buddha’s path with great joy at having found such a wonderful way of life.  Joyful effort includes great determination to keep practicing, even when we are depressed or facing problems.  It encourages us to keep trying and helps us maintain our resolve when we feel weak.  Joyful effort is also the best antidote to laziness, not just when we are meditating, but in all activities of our daily life.”[15]

The most important indicator of morality is – Intention. 

For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are the things which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man.

Matthew 15: 19-20       

When intention is good then rules become less important.  If your intentions are pure then your actions will be pure.  This rule alone is enough to follow. 

In Buddhism, there is no place for using effort. Just be ordinary and nothing special. Eat your food, move your bowels, pass water and when you’re tired go and lie down. The ignorant will laugh at me, but the wise will understand.

How to Purify One's Morality

Morality is restraint and discipline of body and speech. On the formal level this is divided into classes of precepts for lay people and for monks and nuns. However, to speak in general terms, there is one basic characteristic -- that is INTENTION. When we are mindful or self-recollected, we have right intention. practicing self-recollection and mindfulness will generate good morality. It is only natural that when we put on dirty clothes and our bodies are dirty, that out minds too will feel uncomfortable and depressed. However, if we keep our bodies clean and wear clean, neat clothes, it makes our minds light and cheerful. So too, when morality is not kept, our bodily actions and speech are dirty, and this is a cause for making the mind unhappy, distressed and heavy. We are separated from right practice and this prevents us from penetrating in the essence of the Dhamma in our minds. The wholesome bodily actions and speech themselves depend on mind, properly trained, since mind orders body and speech. Therefore, we must continue practice by training our minds.

It is a universal path, acceptable to people of any background, race, or country.  But the problem comes in defining sin and piety.  When the essence of Dhamma is lost, it becomes a sect, and then each sect gives a different definition of piety, such as having a particular external appearance, or performing certain rituals, or holding certain beliefs.”[1]

 

 

 



[1] According to the 8-fold path of the Buddha

[2] Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

[3] The Discourse Summaries – S.N. Goenka – page 8

[4] A rule or principle prescribing a particular course of action or conduct.

[5] When you break the 5th precept the other 4 become really easy to break as well. 

[6] This is a standard number, but changes between some sects.  Also, nuns always have more rules than monks.

[7] Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom – go find it

[8] Of course except for ‘bad days’ where your progress may rescind, but for every inhalation there is an exhalation and in the stock market there is always a downtick for every uptick. 

[9] Something about the Lotus Sutra

[10] Christ like virtues page ___. James 3:17?  The mind of Christ pg. 48.

[11] This list differentiates differently among different religions, but the original 6 remain intact.

[12] These lists are lifted from Wikipedia

[13] The Discourse Summaries – page 8

[14] The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom.  Pg. 85

[15] The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Buddhist Wisdom.  Pg. 87