not commit any unwholesome actions,
Accumulate virtuous deeds,
Tame and train your own mind."
of us may be hesitant to read about ethics and morality, but according
to Buddhism, our lack of self-control is the very thing that leads
to our problems. Hopefully, the large amount of rules and vows
will not stop you to investigate what they are all about; they
should not just be accepted and followed, they must be understood
and then you may automatically find yourself living according
main practice in Buddhism evolves around transformation of one's
own mind. The main means to accomplish this is via meditation
as one needs to know the 'enemy' inside before one can efficiently
subdue it. However, without the causes for positive results in
terms of karma, spiritual progress is impossible. For example,
you may plan to do a meditation retreat, but you fall sick instead
because of some negative karma ripening, and no retreat will happen
at all. Hence, the practice of ethics and positive behaviour prevents
us from creating negative karma and will enable our spiritual
behaviour is said to be at the basis of any spiritual path. A
life filled with killing, stealing and lying is certainly not
very conducive to inner peace and the generation of compassion.
The Buddha explained the 8-Fold Noble Path (correct thought, speech,
actions, livelihood, understanding, effort, mindfulness and concentration)
as a guideline to proper conduct.
If you desire to achieve Buddhahood in order to help all others,
then you can also try the practices of a Bodhisattva: the 6 Perfections
( the perfection of giving, ethics, patience, effort, concentration
other pages of this website more details can be found on the various
sets of Buddhist vows (see the pages on Refuge, Sangha, Compassion,
Mahayana Precepts and Tantra ). Vows are intended to keep ones'
mind focussed on mindfulness of our mental and physical actions.
Moreover, keeping to vows creates a large store of positive energy
(karma) which allows progress on the spiritual path. For example,
if one does not kill without having taken a vow, one simply does
not create any karma. However, when one has taken a vow not to
kill, one accumulates positive karma 24 hours a day, as long as
one does not kill.
bottom line for all these practices is to control our mind and
intentions; to change our behaviour into not harming others, but
helping them instead.
the angry man by love.
Conquer the ill-natured man by goodness.
Conquer the miser with generosity.
Conquer the liar with truth."
The Buddha (The Dhammapada)
I NEVER DO TERRIBLE THINGS...
don't hurt others...
Please try to work with people and be helpful to them.
A fantastically large number of people need help.
Please try to help them, for goodness sake, for heaven and earth.
Don't just collect Oriental wisdoms one after the other.
Don't just sit on an empty zafu, an empty meditation cushion.
But go out and try to help others, if you can.
That is the main point...
Your help doesn't have to be a big deal.
To begin with, just work with your friends and work with yourself
at the same time.
It is about time we became responsible for this world."
Chogyam Trungpa, from "Great Eastern Sun: The Wisdom of
Two psychological/sociological experiments
take some time to reflect on a famous scientific experiment done
in 1963 by Stanley Milgram:
Test persons came after an advertisement: "Join a memory
experiment, one hour for 4 dollars". It was explained that
the people were the "Master" of the experiment, and
the "real" test person was in another room, connected
to electroshock equipment. The research was to verify if people
learn better when being punished. Whenever the other gave a wrong
answer to a question, the Master should push a button to give
a shock. To clarify what the other person was undergoing, the
Master was given an very unpleasant shock of 45 volts. Every time
when the other person would answer wrongly, shock must be given,
15 Volts higher than the previous one, from 15 to 450 Volts. The
other person could be heard, and would be screaming and banging
the walls at shocks over 300 volts. At the highest voltages, the
other could not be heard anymore.
The crux of the experiment: the "other person" in the
room next door was an actor, not receiving any shocks at all,
the real test persons were the masters giving the shocks and the
experiment was about how far they would be prepared to go.
The truly shocking about this experiment was that two-thirds of
the test persons would continue (though often sweating and nervous)
after some simple assurances from the test leader that they should
continue in order to make the test work, until the maximum shock
of 450 Volts was given. This means that as much as two-thirds
of people are potential torturers who merely need a little encouragement
and 4 dollars per hour! The experiment did not clarify if people
are really bad, or just easily convinced by a man in a white coat,
but it does make one think....
you think the above is not representative of normal human behaviour;
please reflect on the following equally disturbing experiment.
(Recently a German movie; 'Experiment' was made inspired by the
findings of this experiment.)
About 30 years ago, Professor Philip Zimbardo carried out this
experiment in Stanford University.
24 Students were put in a fictional prisonward (set up in the
university) and divided into two groups. The 'guards' became a
uniform, a batton, handcuffs and dark sunglasses. The 'prisoners',
merely dressed in shirts were put into cells. The professor intended
to observe them for 2 weeks via videocameras. However, already
after 6 days the experiment needed to be stopped, as the guards
treated the prisoners awful - the experiment had become dreadfully
serious. To quote from the conclusion:
had created an overwhelmingly powerful situation -- a situation
in which prisoners were withdrawing and behaving in pathological
ways, and in which some of the guards were behaving sadistically."
your best and do it according to your own inner standard - call
it conscience - not just according to society's knowledge and
judgment of your deeds."
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
EIGHT WORLDLY DHARMAS
from the above, the practice of trying to avoid the "Eight
Worldly Dharmas" is quite important. These describe the ceaseless
activities we develop towards short-term pleasures, which often
prove not even to be pleasures.
The Eight Worldly Dharmas are being concerned with:
what you want, and avoiding getting what you do not want
Wanting (instant) happiness, and not wanting unhappiness
Wanting fame, and not wanting to be unknown
Wanting praise, and not wanting blame.
the point of view of karma, we usually behave contrary to our
goals, because in order to receive what we want, we need to give
others what they want. To avoid getting what we do not want, we
should avoid giving others what they do not want and so on.
This is a very good subject for meditation; you can ask yourself
- Do I often give others happiness or unpleasant experiences?
- Do I help others who are unhappy?
- How often do I blame people instead of praising them?
- What can I do with fame, what will it really bring me?
- What will be useful when I am about to die?
practice is difficult in the beginning. You wonder how on earth
you can ever do it. But as you get used to it, the practice gradually
becomes easier. Do not be too stubborn or push yourself too hard.
If you practice in accord with your individual capacity, little
by little you will find more pleasure and joy in it. As you gain
inner strength, your positive actions will gain in profundity
His Holiness the Dalai Lama
TIME TO PRACTISE...
Holiness, it is a well known fact that you are a very busy person
with many demands on your time.Could you advise a lay person with
a home, family, and work demands on how to develope a systematic
pattern of Dharma practice."
Holiness the Dalai Lama:
Western friends often ask me for the quickest, easiest, most effective,
and cheapest way of practising Dharma! I think to find such a
way is impossible! Maybe that is a sign of failure!
We should realize that practising the Dharma is actually something
that needs to be done twenty four hours a the day.That's why we
make a distinction between actual meditation sessions and post
meditation periods , the idea being that both while you are in
the meditative session and also when you are out of it, you should
be fully within the realm of Dharma practice. In fact, one could
say that the post-meditation periods are the real test of the
strength of your practice.
Durning formal meditation, in a sense you are recharging your
batteries, so that when you come out of the session you are better
equipped to deal with the demands of your everyday life. The very
purpose to recharged batteries is to enable it to run something
isn't it? Similarly, once you have equipped yourself through whatever
practices you engage in, as a human being you can't avoid the
daily routines of life, and it is during these periods that you
should be able to live according to the principles of your Dharma
practice. Of course at the initial stage, as a beginner, you do
need periods of concentrated meditation so you have a base from
which you can begin. This is certainly crucial. But, once you
will be able to adopt a way of life where your daily activity
is at least in accord with the principles of the Dharma. So all
this points to the importance of making an effort. Without some
effort, there is no way we can integrate the principles of Dharma
in our lives. For a serious practioner, the most serious effort
is necessary. Just a few short prayers, a little chanting, and
some mantra recitation with a mala (rosary) are not sufficient.
Why not? Beceause this cannot transform your mind. Our negative
emotions are so powerful that constant effort is needed in order
to counteract them. If we practise constantly, then we can definitely
we are humble everyone is a potential best friend and our generosity
naturally grows. We want to do things, to help out. A wonderful
Zen tradition is called "inji-gyo," or secret good deeds.
The virtue gained through performing a secret good deed is believed
to be immense. So, in a monastery, if one watched closely, you
might see a monk secretly mending another's robes or taking down
someone's laundry and folding it before the rain comes. In our
temple I often find chocolate spontaneously appearing in my mailbox,
or a beautiful poem, unsigned. This year the Easter Bunny visited
our Sunday service, leaving chocolate eggs under everyone's cushions,
even the one prepared for a visiting Zen master. Sometimes the
bathrooms are miraculously cleaned overnight. And flowers spontaneously
appear in a neighbor's yard, thanks to the children in the temple.
Secret good deeds. They are so much fun. In their doing you can't
help but smile."
Geri Larkin in "Tap Dancing in Zen"