2023-10-26-Gil-Non-Violence (4 of 5) Encouraging Ethical Behavior
12:07AM Nov 2, 2023
So I want to start this morning with two quotes from the Buddha. The first is, go forth, for the welfare and happiness of the world. So this called to benefit the world that we live in. However, he, this instructions from the Buddha is meant for people who can go into the world with enough self personal liberation, enough self and knowing that they can go into the world without causing any harm. And they know, it can recognize what harm is and the impact of harm and and they freed themselves from any tendency to act in ways that are harmful to themselves or others. They can go into the world peacefully, as promoters of peace. The so this is a tall order. But I think that the direction the Buddha is pointing us to, is to become people who can go forth for the welfare and happiness of the world. And in doing so, there's a second quote, among types of beneficent conduct beneficial conduct, among the best is promoting, settling and establishing an unethical person in ethical behavior. So that's quite a statement that the best conduct is, is not just being ethical yourself. And maybe not even going forth with the welfare of others, in a kind of way of, you know, just helping them out in a sense. But for the Buddha, the best conduct, best thing you can do is establish an unethical person in in ethics and ethical behavior. So, you know, I don't fully understand the statement and implications of it, and, and how universal we shouldn't have to understand it. But I'm inspired by this statement, and I'm inspired, that it's one thing to help another person. And another thing, too, to have someone learn to be unethical, to be ethical, so they don't go around then harming many people. It's possible that in a certain kind of way, that this is much more beneficial in the long term, is to support and develop and encourage greater ethical behavior in this life in this world of ours. And I know that when I was a young teenager, that I wasn't unethical, mostly because I maybe a lack of imagination. i It wasn't that I was an ethical person, but I just didn't. I just wasn't talent, they had no orientation that way to be unethical. And, and but, well, I thought that people are the idea of ethics to me was kind of, superficial kind of, it's being excessively sweet or, or it kind of looked down upon people who were referred to as ethical as somehow being, sometimes being hypocritical, sometimes being too, too artificially sweet or something. And one of the big changes for me in coming to Buddhism was coming to have a deep appreciation for the behavior and ways of being and discovering sources within that are the wellspring of non harming, living in an arm harming away. And that part of why I'm a Buddhist teacher is to be able to convey that to people and spread that deep sense of peace that can come from the center place, that is really as an ethical quality. They the Buddhist path of liberation is an ethical path of liberation. ethics enlightened person is an ethical person, there's no, no doubt that this is what the Buddha taught. But what does it mean to be an ethical person? The Buddha, as I said, in this statement here has talked about establishing an unethical person and ethical behavior. Elsewhere, he talks about there's what's beautiful. And then there's what's more beautiful than beautiful. And what is beautiful, is being ethical oneself. And what is more beautiful, is that, then that beauty is encouraging or inciting, or maybe that's the wrong word of being a catalyst for other people to become ethical. So here, there's this call to go forth for the benefit of the world is also, there's includes in that, the call to speak up, to act up to, to try to change the world and change how people are not to convert them to Buddhism, not to believing in religious truths of any kind, but to believe in, to understand to appreciate the value of non harming, non hostility, non greed. And, and not just to believe in it, but to really understand, be motivated from the inside out to live this way. Now, there's a reason why the buddho emphasize this. That's very different. He lived in a very different world than we live in. In that world, there were no elections, to try to get the government that you like to kind of run the show or fix things the way they should be fixed. There was no there were no economic systems, wide systems that that needed to be changed, there was no capitalism or socialism operating. And there was no way to have these huge impacts on the economic systems we live in so that they can be more equitable and more supportive. There was no you know, there were no nonprofits there were no there's, it was very simple world. The one of the main organizations back in time at the Buddha, were the kings, the monarchs, who ruled with often Iran fists, they were quite comfortable with killing people on the spot, if there was any disagreement. And so for someone to protest, back, then someone to go and say to the king, and you should stop the war. That meant was off with your head, there wasn't that you can't, you couldn't really do it back then. And there was no sense that you could do something. But the Buddha did speak up. And he spoke up in ways that were sometimes not direct. When he talked to Kings, he would not tell them directly, but you tell stories, in the form of myths of how things were in the ancient world. And, and one of them had to do with a king in the ancient world who wanted to perform a big sacrifice so they can be benefited in some way. And and, and so then, this myth that the minister who hears about this big self sacrifice, tells the king Your Majesty's country is beset by thieves, and is ravaged villages, villages and towns are destroyed the countryside is infested with robbers. If Your Majesty were to tax this region, we're going to tax it to me, I'll do a big sacrifice. That would be the wrong thing to do. Suppose your majesty were to think I will get rid of this plague of robbers by executions and imprisonments and or by confiscation threats and banishment. The plague would not be properly ended. Those who survived would later harm your Majesty's realm. So if you go around using violence to get your way, then sooner or later the people who survive will come back and harm you.
However, with with a following plan, you can completely eliminate the plague to those in the kingdom who are engaged in cultivating crops and rising cattle. Let Your Majesty distribute grain and fodder Are to those in trade, trade, gift capital, to those in government service assigned proper living wages, then those people being intent on their own occupations will not harm the kingdom, Your Majesty's revenues will be great, the land will be tranquil, and not beset by thieves. And that people with joy in their hearts will play with their children, and will dwell in open houses not locked up. It's so painful to read this ancient admonition, when we have, you know, million children or more in Gaza, who cannot go outside cannot be play in the streets now, who are hearing constant bombing all around them? Children who are dying? What are those children from grew up to be the ones that survive. They're going to be scarred. You know, in the first couple of decades in the 1990s. In the early 2000s, when I was teaching, I met people who were elderly, who, as children had gone through World War Two, in various all kinds of different capacities. Some were not just children, but also adults, and horrific things they'd seen and experienced, as in the bombings of London, the bombings of Dresden, the Holocaust, the concentration camps. And, and what struck me a few different things was the horror of it and how long it lasted for people and, and impacted them even when they were just the toddlers are couldn't even speak and babies being scared and shelters and bombing around them. It seems to have affected them for their life and they come on these retreats having to deal with these deep conditions that they were growing up with. So to to plan for a better future, to be careful. And this is a difficult work, when the Buddha says establish unethical people in being ethical. And I'll read it a little more exactly.
So what is beautiful, abstaining from killing abstaining from taking what is not giving given abstaining from sexual misconduct, abstaining from speaking falsely, abstaining from speaking divisively abstaining from speaking harshly, abstaining from speaking pointlessly abstaining from being avaricious, abstaining from hostility, abstaining, abstaining from wrong view. And what is more beautiful than beautiful, what is better than beautiful, abstaining from killing, and prompting others to abstain from killing, abstaining from taking what is not given and prompting others to abstain from taking what is not given, abstain, and so forth all of these. This is a very different world that the Buddha wants to live in, than a world where people live in opposition to each other. This takes to do what the Buddha saying is really difficult. In a sense, it's easier to be in opposition. It's harder to approach people in such a way that you prompt them to change how they live. Is it possible? Is it realistic? Is it unreasonable to do this given the level of pain and challenge and violence that we live in? Certainly the Buddha prefers advocacy, like this over oppositional behaviors. He does when he wants people to avoid divisive speech, the unhealthy unethical divisive speech. He causes a speech which divides those who are united and stirs up those who are already divided. Spoken by a person who loves factionalism, the lights factionalism, enjoys factionalism, speaks to create factions. And for people who want to abstain in order to abstain from the divisive speech, the Buddha emphasizes creating and perpetuating social unity. Uniting those who are divided, support those who are already united, and speak to create harmony. So this is an explicit call, to make a difference in the world to heal social discord and divisiveness. It's not shy away from the challenging work of uniting those who are divided.
Engaged in three actions are those acting for the welfare of many people, the happiness of many people and the benefit, welfare and happiness of many people, what three, they prompt them in physical acts of Concord, verbal acts of Concord, mental acts of conflict, Concord. So, the Buddha was not trying to change social institutions, because they were known back then in the way that we understand it. And but what the Buddha lived in was a world where people had personal connections. And that's where information travels for the most part. Because there was nothing no writing, there was no TV, there was no radio. It's all happened orally when people connected to each other. And so the world of humans connectivity, how we connect to each other, was a rich world of where social change could occur. And in a sense, we've come closer to that in our modern world, where this phenomenal degree of social and media and communication that we have that we'd never had before in spreading so far, this is a world where hostility is being promoted. This is a world where perhaps we can find a way to promote peace. I'm very happy that for this that we can use YouTube for the 7am sittings. I don't know all that goes on on YouTube. But I've heard that it's not so good, a good part of it. There's, some people have suggested we shouldn't be here that somehow unethical even be using YouTube. But for me, this is a platform in which to try to encourage all of us, myself included, to live a more ethical life a life of non harming, not just a life of being peaceful and distressed, but a life of being social change agents for the better. So we do the very difficult work of creating Concord and unity. And, and even if we might disagree with others, we are all committed to avoiding causing harm. And we want to end we encourage people do that. This is what's more beautiful than beautiful. So thank you. And so at least one more talk tomorrow for kind of bringing this this week to conclusion. And thank you very much