right and wrong

right and wrong

Right and wrong. Last night I was somewhere, discussing about this. And I think it is quite important. In Buddhism, it is really important, that you place wisdom above all. Wisdom is the most important. Like Shantideva said, just beginning of the ninth chapter, he said: “All the other branches of the bodhisattva activities are taught so that the bodhisattva can apply the wisdom.” Wisdom is the most important. And I tell you this because at times, when we talk about the religion, immediately our human mind talks about ethics. I have been asked many times, you know sometimes I am flying in the plane, and they know that I am kind of a religious person. So they ask: “What are you? Are you a Muslim or a Buddhist or what?” Then I say that I am Buddhist. Then the immediate question is: “So as a Buddhist you can’t eat meat isn’t it.” You understand. That is how they define a religion. Immediately a religion is measured by what you can do, what is wrong to do, and what is right to do and all that. I think it is true with many other religion but it is not true with Buddhism. In Buddhism you cannot define Buddhism because of its ethic. Not at all. I will tell you one thing. Why? Because if you define Buddhism based on ethic, then Buddhism will contradict itself too much. In the Vinaya Sutra for instance Buddha said: “Whatever is offered must eat.” The monks they must eat this. So meat is offered they eat meat. In the Mahayana, Buddha said: “The bodhisattva should never eat meat.” Mahayana should never eat meat. He emphasized this. See it is a contradiction. There is many like that. Many many contradictions like that. In the Vinaya, a person must hold the pratimoksha vow – pratimoksha vow such as bikshu or bikshuni – a vow as you protect your life. You must really, the vow is the most important. Where as in the Mahayana, if it is going to benefit the sentient beings, you can kill, you can lie, you can slender, you can say bad things. Basically you can do except the three non virtues action of mind, a bodhisattva can do anything. See it is a contradiction. So right and wrong is a very ethical term. Ethic. It is a very ethic and morality oriented question. Okay. So now when we talk about snang sum the triple perception or the triple vision, we use word like impure perception. Now this judgment of impure is not moral or ethical. The impure is nothing to do with because Buddha said this is impure. You understand. So now the question is how do we judge what is wrong and what is right. Or what is impure and what is pure. We judge with the object’s, the manifestation of the object. Okay. We look, we experience something. We have a perception. This perception, when we experience, first of all it doesn’t last. It’s impermanent. It’s impermanent. Secondly, it’s interdependent. Thirdly it has no truly existing nature, truly existing entity. So what you see is like a mirage. It has no essence, it does not last. It is no permanent. And this is what is defined as impure. It is not a moral thing.

The Three Levels of Perception, Singapore 2003

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