Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Step Four on the Eightfold Path

4. Right Action
The second ethical principle, right action, involves the body as natural means of expression, as it refers to deeds that involve bodily actions. Unwholesome actions lead to unsound states of mind, while wholesome actions lead to sound states of mind. Again, the principle is explained in terms of abstinence: right action means 1. to abstain from harming sentient beings, especially to abstain from taking life (including suicide) and doing harm intentionally or delinquently, 2. to abstain from taking what is not given, which includes stealing, robbery, fraud, deceitfulness, and dishonesty, and 3. to abstain from sexual misconduct. Positively formulated, right action means to act kindly and compassionately, to be honest, to respect the belongings of others, and to keep sexual relationships harmless to others. Further details regarding the concrete meaning of right action can be found in the Precepts for Buddhism.
Basically, Right Action, means: don't kill, don't steal, don't be sexually stupid, and don't lie. And, it's way deeper and broader than this. It means living life mindfully, with careful and explicit thought about everything I do, every step I take every single day of my life. Do I do this? No. I work at it. That is my spiritual practice. I am becoming a better person. Practice, practice, practice. Pick up the spider and take it outside -- IF it is bothering me. IF it's going to bite me. Really, a few spiders can live in my house without harm. Those big garden spiders? They belong in the garden. Juicy gossip? Keep it to myself. No one needs to hear that. I try to avoid hearing it myself.
Stealing? Of course not. It also means if I find something, I do everything possible to locate the owner of the lost property. Or give it to someone who is in charge of Lost & Found. Sexual conduct? I could have done better in my past life. I won't talk about now, thank you. Suffice it to say I'm not hurting anyone. Lies? I do my best to adhere to Thich Nat Hanh's training: "Knowing that words can create happiness or suffering, I am committed to learn to speak truthfully, with words that inspire self-confidence, joy, and hope. I am determined not to spread news that I do not know to be certain and not to criticize or condemn things of which I am not sure. I will refrain from uttering words that can cause division or discord, or that can cause the family or the community to break. I will make all efforts to reconcile and resolve all conflicts, however small."
Have a great day, and please share your own dharma!

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