On Being a Member of a Civilized Society
Karma can be good, bad or neutral. Karma is generated by actions, speech and mentality. The follower of the Buddha Dharma does not undertake the disciplines discussed below to please a deity, or to gain merit, or to gain some utilitarian advantage. Once ones mind has been rooted in the path to nirvana, this kind of behaviour proceeds naturally out of that state of mind. It transcends culture, ethnic identity, language, gender, and conditioning.

The Buddhist lives in a broad frame of reference. At the same time the Buddhist does not reject the world in a negative way but relates to it with compassion and insight as a free agent. This relationship is of benefit to family and society, but based on individual liberty with responsibility.

1) Act with kindness and compassion whenever possible.

2) Abstain from stealing and cheating. Respect the property and rights of others.

3) Behave in a way that respects the humanity of others. Do not take advantage, dishonour others or belittle their family lineage.

With regards to the karma of speech and word:

1) Abstain from speech that intentionally misleads others and misuses facts.

2) avoid gossip and speak in such a way that harmony is preserved.

3) avoid vulgar speech,

4) be aware of levels of usage and use speech appropriate to the social and familial setting.

As for the mind:

1) Work to overcome the Three Poisons of Life--ignorance, hatred and greed.

2) Work to understand the laws of cause, condition and effect.

3) Abstain from drugs and chemicals that pollute the mind and body.

Of course these are open to interpretation and cultural setting, but the guidelines themselves transcend culture and society. The individual takes responsibility for putting them into action and accepts the results. They require examination and re-examination, in a process of growth and feedback in a community of like-minded people, the Sangha. These guidelines are not designed to make one a naive dupe, either. Maximum liberty demands maximum responsibility, but the individual puts these guidelines into action out of compassion for a confused world, but rooted in the path of Nirvana. This is very similar to V. Frankl's logotherapy. Something the modern world really needs.

Sensei Ulrich

November 1, 1999