“From nonvirtue comes suffering; How can I truly be free of this?” It is fitting that at all times, day and night, I think only of this.
Engaging in the Bodhisattva Deeds
We should study, contemplate and meditate until we have truly understood virtuous and non virtuous karma and their effects. Study alone is not enough. This is all about practice – practicing virtue and avoiding non virtue. That is the only way to be relieved of future suffering.
And how do we practice? Being Mindful, all day and all night, of ALL our physical, mental and verbal actions. As it is said in the Questions of the Naga Kings of the Ocean:
…a single practice of the bodhisattvas correctly puts a stop to rebirth in the miserable realms (ie a rebirth with much suffering). What is this single practice? it is the discernment of what is virtuous. You must think, “Am I being true? How am I spending the day and the night?”
In other words we should give priority to understanding how karma – cause and effect – works and which are the virtuous and non virtuous actions (deeds, words and thoughts) that will give rise to positive or negative karma, and thus a future of happiness or suffering.
It is difficult to think of anything more important!
See also the 10 virtuous and 10 non virtuous actions
The issue of karma, how it is created, is relevant to all of us, Buddhist or non Buddhists alike. Additionally even in societies that do not have the philosophy of “cause and effect” (karma) ingrained in their beliefs, “ethical behaviour” is still central to how that society manages itself and seeks to provide overall welfare for it’s members.
In a western secular multicultural society it is perhaps interesting to ask and debate the following questions:
- Are the traditional Buddhist “rules” of what constitutes “virtue and non virtue” – principally included in the “10 virtuous and 10 non virtuous actions” and in the “6 perfections / paramitas” (in some schools referred to as “10 perfections) – relevant in a Western multicultural / multi faith society?
- Is it possible to find a consensus to what is “ethical behaviour” and, importantly, the consequences of behaviour that is not “ethical”?