Wise Action


The Next Buddha is Sangha

Deeds are Our Vehicle

Last week, we reflected on offering the gift of fearlessness to every being by “acting in accordance with the deep aspiration toward radiant and inclusive unselfishness and integrity…”

Deeds, involving actions of the body, are our vehicle of expression in the world. Our actions also shape our minds, and our minds make the world. This is not metaphorical—it is literally true. In the Buddha’s words: “When a lay follower possesses five things, he lives with confidence in his house, and will find himself in heaven as sure as if he had been carried off and put there. What are the five? He abstains from killing living beings, from taking what is not given, from misconduct in sexual relationships, from speaking falsehood, and from indulging in liquor, wine, and fermented brews.” AN 5:172-73

These tenets of wise action ask us to: act with reverence for all forms of life, be honest, conduct relationships with integrity, speak truthfully and kindly, and consume healthily. They are not so much commandments as pointing us to reflecting on principles of ethical action. For example, take the second precept, which could point us to look at how we use the earth’s resources, or the fifth precept–in our times we can abuse or be intoxicated by drugs, Internet, TV. The nuances and subtlety of ethical practice will be revealed by reflecting before, during and after acting, as the Buddha advised his 7 year old son to do. Imagine a generous and kind world where even one of these precepts is kept by everyone, for instance, not stealing or not killing. Can you?