Mature Member of the Human Family
A large percentage of the 108 volumes of Buddhist Scriptures are given over to practical advice about daily living. These sections have been ignored in the West in favour of the theoretical and philosophical commentaries.
This section of our webpage will be devoted to social commentary including some of the work of the Buddhist Peace Fellowship. This organization has been devoted to Buddhism in action for decades and publishes a monthly magazine. BUDDHIST PEACE FELLOWSHIP, box 4650, Berkeley, CA, 94704, USA.
According to Shakyamuni's teachings a mature member of the human family strives to develop at least the following 7 virtues:
1. Develops an understanding of the general laws underlying social life including duties to the family, the state, employers and successful performance. This does not mean that they are naive and blindly obedient. It means careful reflection on the laws of life that may transcend both their individual existence and the society or culture in which they live. This means that Buddhists have a broad spectrum field of reference which they then apply to their individual and social lives.
2. Clearly understands the cause and effects of actions and can relate them to objectives. The 'real' is never sacrificed to the 'ideal' nor the 'ideal' to the 'real.' We stand at the crossroads of the ideal and the real and it is our character and minds that bring the two into social reality. The Eightfold Path shows us how to relate the two to create a better reality for ourselves. Thus we are co-creators of our own realities. That is why a clear understanding of the world of cause and effect and a clear understanding of the way to nirvana are important. We then bring these two seemingly different spheres into reality through our faith, our character and the nature of our minds. The pathways of speech, bodily action and mental action are the means by which this synthesis takes place.
3. Knows and understands themselves. Buddhism is largely a psychology, or do-it-yourself therapy. Knowing yourself means a thorough realistic understanding of strengths and abilities and limitation. This is to be done without remorse, guilt or inferiority. It is simply the givens of our physical, social and personal lives seen in the light of objective observation. These are then the tools with which we bring virtue into the confused modern world. Buddhism empowers us to be common beings doing uncommon things.
4. Understands moderation. There is nothing wrong with enjoying the good things of life, providing we ourselves are part of the process in deciding what those things are. We should never be mindless robots leading unexamined lives. Over consumption, over eating, over indulgence in entertainment are finally destructive because they rob us of our own input into the future. We help create the future in front of us by our karmic actions, thoughts and words. Taking must be balanced by giving and sharing with privacy. If we lived by the laws of moderation it would change the whole economy. Much of our modern economic life and social life is based on glutting, overuse and over consumption. We need to focus on quality time and relationships. This requires that we refocus our energies. Moderation is the key in this process.
5. Time management. Too often this means a day timer and PC calendar so that we can get two days work in one. The perpetual super mom or super boss or super employee. A society full of over worked, stressed people who require diets and therapists is simply not good for business. Nor is it good for our individual development as human beings. How can there be good economic life when the population is physically, psychologically and spiritually ill. Time management means time for the total human being. We can observe what happens to animals who are caged without physical activity, fed improperly and who lack personal nurturing. The same conditions apply to humans. Time management is managing the flow of our lives so that the total human being and the relationships are taken into account.
6. Understanding social networks and using them for higher purposes. Some of the most evil politicians in history were social geniuses in some way. Imagine if their talents had been turned for the benefit of others. We need social geniuses that causes the karmic drift of society to move in the direction of freedom and liberation balanced with social responsibility. This can only be done by individuals who form a self-conscious group (sangha) dedicated to nirvana. This is proper networking. We are not enforcing an ideal of a perfect society, which may not be attainable. We are rather trying to develop beneficial on-going processes driven by a spiritual energy that never quits.
7. Understanding individual people and utilizing strengths and limitations for mutual benefit. This includes knowing how to make friends with the right people, who to trust and who to avoid. Employment, team membership, marriage, friendship, all should be based on a clear understanding of individuals and a focus on their abilities to maximum benefit. This may sound obvious, but when racism, greed, nepotism, faith prejudice, gender prejudice prevail there is a loss of talents available to any process. Anything that keeps talents and abilities from entering a network will eventually disrupt the network, be it a family, a business or a society or even a community club. Any filtering process will eventually filter out that which may be needed in the future. This is why a filtering process like the dharma that counters the bad karma of ignorance, hatred and greed is needed even in the hard knocks daily world.
October 16, 1999
READ MORE OF SENSEI ULRICH'S DHARMA TALKS..