Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ethical Judgments, Actions and Mistakes

When facing an ethical decision (one that involves right and wrong conduct or consequences), the Buddha says you must ask yourself these three questions:
  1. Does this choice benefit my welfare?
  2. Does this choice benefit the welfare of others?
  3. Does this choice lead to peace?
  • You must be able to say ‘yes’ to all three for it to be a wholesome and right (ethical) decision or action. Only then will it not result in karmic consequences for your mind and body.
However, most of the decisions we that face on a daily basis are not ethical ones. Instead of deciding right and wrong, we are actually deciding between “pleasant” and “unpleasant” feelings -- for example: should I select the chocolate or the vanilla ice cream?
  • In situations like this, we are actually caught in the delusions of “attachment” (to pleasantness) and “aversion” (to unpleasantness). Such attachments and aversions are always impermanent. As such, they always lead to some level of disappointment and suffering. 
    • "It is important to understand that anything that can be lost is never truly ours. Anything that we deeply cling to only imprisons us." [Jack Cornfield] -- and that includes ice cream...
On making mistakes (such as an unethical decision or action), the Buddha says that recognizing that a mistake has been made, making amends to make it right, and setting a clear intention to do it different in the future are he three steps to turning that action into a wholesome learning experience, and making progress on one's path to awakening and freedom.

Except for the quote from Jack Cornfield, I think I got the rest of these ideas from Thanissaro Bhikkhu, but I am not 100% sure about that.

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