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Packaging Morality.

1 Heart it! Richard Josephson 25
October 11, 2018
Richard Josephson
1 Heart it! 25

Packaging Morality


Morality is presented as an injunction, particularly amongst religious traditions, where it is the foundation of spiritual growth. Ahimsa is harmlessness, a Sanskrit word which became a household word through Mahatma Gandhi, who, through ahimsa conquered the British and drove them out of India. If morality were packaged from the viewpoint of harming others, it would certainly be embraced better than it is, but it isn’t.

While the fact may be that morality is an essential support for religious understanding and attaining clarity and insight, I believe practicing morality motivated by fear cannot provide the desired result. A more enlightened perspective came my way during an interaction with a Tibetan Lama, Trulshik Rinpoche.

Rinpoche linked morality with ahimsa and which helped me to gain a better, more viable perspective on a moral issue I discussed with him. He encouraged morality without condemning certain behavior as immoral per se, but as actions that were likely to harm another person. I needed moral guidance, but Rinpoche didn’t stress being moral, instead opting for ahimsa

Rinpoche’s words worked, perhaps because they were spoken by someone compassionate and unmoved by personal desires, but, though this may be true, his words struck me as logical, as well. Rules of any kind almost beg to be tested, and may be one of the reasons our laws don’t work very well.

Whether an action will hurt another person is a much better common denominator than wondering about the moral issues involved. . The moral perspective doesn’t have a logic. It is a box that we are asked to step inside. Rinpoche didn’t present a box, but a door leading to a better way of viewing my moral dilemma, The dilemma was that my wife encouraged a relationship with another women, as long as our own relationship was primary.

Tempting though it was, I decided that if I took the liberty I was being offered, it would harm my relationship with my wife, and certainly distract how much of myself I could offer my young children. Because my selfish desires were so strong, and a relatively easy pathway to fulfilling them were there, the morality of my potential actions didn’t seem worth considering. However, from the point of view of practicing ahimsa, restraint made lots of sense, and this was the course of action I took.

All this happened many years ago, but the lesson guided me for decades, and in a variety of situations. Morality sucks, not because it points us in the wrong directions, but because it doesn’t foster understanding. We are naturally social beings and do not wish to harm others, but desire is also strong, and to do battle with opposing desires, we must approach problems in a manner likely to develop understanding, which ahimsa does, and morality doesn’t.

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1 Heart it! Richard Josephson 25
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Patty Elliott Oct 11, 2018 3:59pm

Very interesting! Morality does lead towards judgement. I am just starting my journey into Buddhist studies.

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