Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Engaging with Society while on the Buddhist Path

Buddha said that there are things that we should be concerned about on the path to freedom, and there are things that we should not be worried about on our spiritual path to awakening.

Among those things that we should not be worried about are:
  • Love and romance relationships
  • Caring for one’s family
  • Pursuing one’s career or a passion for a good project
  • Desire to enjoy life (nice home, travel experiences, good friends, good food, nice things)
  • Working to make a living, including being engaged in trade and commerce
  • Being involved in the legal and political affairs of our society
In general, we do not need to worry about engaging with society and meeting the basic human needs that all humans have.  While it is true that all these can involve much desire and craving, they are not in themselves obstacles on the Buddhist path to awakening (enlightenment). Doing them is not an indication that our lives are not spiritual. 

On the other hand, the Buddha said that there are some things that we should be concerned about and should seek to avoid. These are greed/attachment, hatred/aversion and delusion/ignorance (known as the defilements). These can (and will) appear at any time and with any activity that we partake in. When they arise arise and acted upon without proper awareness and mindfulness, they become major obstacles to freedom and awakening. Buddha's teachings tell us how to be mindful and to live our lives in skillful and wholesome ways. 

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