Buddhist social ethics include the paramitas, literally 'the ultimate infinities'. They are sometimes called the 'Godly-virtues' or how to live like a God in a world of finite beings in the grip of the Three Poisons, Ignorance, Hatred and Greed.
The term was Brahmavihara, Brahma being the highest god conceived of at that time, remembering that the Buddha Dharma of Shakyamuni was started 500 years before Christianity and about 1400 years before Islam. These two religions are no left out intentionally, but it is simply impossible to mention something that hasn't come into existence as yet. Modern Buddhists do include our Christian and Moslem brothers and sisters in our reckoning, however. Thus the Godly virtues mentioned below are currently thought to include the 'godly' of these two great faiths as well.
As will be seen, the great religions of the world are much in agreement about 'Godly virtues'. They give us a way to live in the mundane world while maintaining our ties to an ultimate 'other' and even giving expression to that connection both personally and socially. The 'Godly virtues' are 6, 8 or 10 in number, traditionally. Today we will list 8.
1. Metta - boundless good will towards all living beings
2. Karuna - selfless compassion, motivation to free other beings both human and animal from burdens and difficulties.
3. Mudita=sympathetic joy, enjoy the successes of others without envy or remorse.
4. Upekkha - impartiality and fairness, also 'lovingly not interfering while others learn to take responsibility for themselves and their attitudes so that they learn about karma in their own way.' With the Basis of the four mental qualities, benefit can be generated for the welfare of society:
5. Dana - donation or selfless giving, giving without any expectation of personal gain. This may involve money, but also time, energy, learning and knowledge.
6. Piyavaca - kindly speech, speech conducive to harmony and understanding
7. Atthacariya - helpful actions, good works, helping with social problems and promoting moral behaviour.
8. Samanattata - working for the common good, literally 'togetherness selflessness'.
This is the basis of Sangha and the Buddhist concept of democracy and healthy community.
December 30, 1999
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