Greetings to all,
BEING A GOOD PERSON
People say “I’m not really into religion, all its about is being a good person”. While I would never disagree on the importance of being a good person, I would point us as Buddhists to the full teaching of the historical Buddha and centuries of our teachers. They tell us the Buddha-path is three distinct arenas - ethical living, wisdom and practice.
Ethical living is what we mean by trying to be a good person, and it is based on what we call the precepts. Some of us are familiar with our version of these through regular recitation. Wisdom or insight is the deep understanding we have, far beyond any mere conceptual knowledge. It is our penetration into the four Truths that Shakyamuni provided for our study which explain the nature of suffering and our escape. Finally, we are told that we need to engage in a practice. We may strive to be good people, but we also need to enact our insight through some structured activity. Insight is not something acquired once and then placed in a frame on the wall, like a diploma. Insight derives from our moment-by-moment practice and is re-affirmed through the continuing engagement in that practice.
Neither of these three can stand alone. They inform and extend into the others. It would be handy if we could simplify it down to "be a good person", but this begs the question - what makes a good person? That can only be answered from our insight. For Buddhists this means an appreciation of the interconnectedness of all beings, the commonality of our suffering and our awareness of the impermanence of all conditioned existence. Buddhist teaching does not posit any absolute moral principles, like "Love thy neighbour". Moral principles emerge from insight, we enact ethical behaviour from our understanding. Furthermore, we can only sustain and deepen this insight from which we derive morality out of a sustained and disciplined practice.
Yours in the Dharma,
om namo amida butsu