Sunday, July 20, 2008

Skilful Living

Question: (unedited)
My 13 yr old daughter is doing a project on Buddhism and one of the questions is, what responsibility do Buddhists have to the environment, to each other and themselves? I have found out a lot of basic information about Buddhism, but cannot seem to find the answer to this. Would be grateful for your help.

My Comment:
The Buddha's teachings are very practical, moderate, and relevant for this day and age. His teachings are based on universal values which transcend race, nations, time and space. We first must be responsible to ourselves before we can project our values outwards. As good Buddhists we follow certain guiding principles which we call precepts, to guide our daily activities. The Buddha encouraged us to use our human intelligence and common sense to live our daily lives in a noble and dignified manner. We do not need any religion to teach us what is good and what is bad. It is up to us to come to terms with realities, that what we don't want others to do to us, we should not do to others. What we want for us should also be given to others. The Buddhist is more concerned with what we call "skilful living".

As practising Buddhists, we observe the 5 basic principles as advised by the Buddha:

1. To refrain from taking life

2. To refrain from stealing

3. To refrain from indulging in unwholesome sexual activities

4. To refrain from telling lies

5. To refrain from taking intoxicants

These 5 precepts we undertake to live by, to the best of our ability, everyday.

On our relationship with others, we are taught to practice right speech, right action, and right livelihood. Right speech means not to tell lies and waste time in useless chatter,and also not to slander others. Right action means not to hurt all live forms unnecessarily; not to steal; and not to engage in harmful sexual activities. Right livelihood means we dissociate ourselves with activities that bring miseries to others, such as dealing with weapons, slavery, killing of life, intoxicants, drugs and poisons. A Buddhist life centres on kindness and harmlessness. Being kind to others and ourselves; and being harmless to others, a Buddhist is in harmony with himself, with others, and with his environment.


A true Malaysian said...

To me, Buddhism is about nature. It is not important to find out how, who or when nature was created.

Being living creature of higher intelligence than others, we human need to know how to co-exist or blend with nature. We need to respect life of other living beings. (By the way, it is we human that 'self-acclaimed' that we are of higher intelligence than others).

But things don’t work out so perfectly in the real world where we kill animal for food, encroach into jungle and spoil their habitats, clear up forest to cater for our needs and so on.

That is why Buddha told us not to adopt his teachings blindly without understanding and self realisation. To understand Buddha’s teachings fully is not an easy task and it is near impossible.

But at least, if we can do things moderately and with clear conscience, I should say that we have contributed quite a bit to mankind. Just remember, what goes around, comes around, if you don’t believe in ‘Law of Karma’ discovered by Gautama Buddha.

There is no point if you ask for forgiveness for sins committed from God, you need to clear your sins by doing good deeds.

A true Malaysian said...

Justin Choo,

I learn about you through Dr. Hsu's Forum and I am proud for you to share your thoughts about life and Buddhism.

You are indeed a wise man. It is good to have people like you and Dr. Hsu in the blog sphere. Keep it up.

Justin Choo said...

A True Malaysian,

Thank you for visiting this Buddhist blog.

Yes, I know about you. Monsterball has just posted a comment "poking" at you in Dr Hsu's blog.

A true Malaysian said...

Yeah, lets have fun.

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