Friday, June 12, 2015

Let No Corrupt Communication Proceed Out Of Your Mouth

by Jon Dunnemann

Ephesians 4

29  Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. 30   And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. 31   Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: 32  and be ye kind one to another, tender-hearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Col. 3.13

    One day, my wife asked me to open three cans of tuna before lunch to save her time and assist in the preparation of the lunch hour meal that day for our son, herself and I.

    Simple right? Should be a no brainer. Well, rather than reply with an accommodating response like, "yes dear" I remarked, that I am planning on being outside this morning working in the yard and that I am not sure if I will be finished by lunch time. However, if I am not done before you return home for lunch then I will try my best to remember to come back inside to take care of your request.

    Now you may be thinking to yourself, well that's not a particularly bad response. The truth is, that there was much more going on in my mind at the time. In fact, my thought process was centered on how busy I would be and how the request that my wife made represented an inconvenience for me.

    Boy, I sure hope that my wife doesn't read this note. After all, each day of the week she is at work practicing medicine and is still gracious enough to travel home on her lunch hour, when she could be addressing other matters, rather than on this day making the most delicious tuna melts for the three of us. Add to that the fact that she has to go back to her job for the afternoon while at this time I have the luxury of choosing how I want to spend the rest of my day.  Furthermore, when she made her request of me, she had already prepared southern fried pork chops for the dinner meal before going off to work.

Right Thought

    Does my thinking reflect the "right thought" process?  Absolutely not and I really need to do more to develop a "right mental conceptualization."  One that "has three characteristics selfless renunciation or detachment, loving kindness or the wish for happiness, and compassion or the wish to remove suffering. All of these thoughts are totally committed to liberation, i.e. they are neither negative nor wasteful. With Right Thought, one generates working concepts and favorable attitudes and establishes correct motivation. In the Mahayana school [of Buddhism], these are developed for the benefit of sentient beings equally. In this way, Right Thought can be seen as that which seeks to bring understanding to others."

    My motivation in the situation that I outlined above is clearly not 'others-oriented' nor does it contribute to the happiness of my partner as a wife, mother, and 'sentient being'. 

     Let's again look at the readings in Theravada Buddhism and use the following article to possibly gain further insight:

Buddhist Culture, The Cultured Buddhist

by Robert Bogoda

    "For over twenty-five centuries, Buddhist ideas and ideals have guided and influenced the lives and thoughts of countless human beings in many parts of the world. As lay Buddhists, our own experiences and discoveries in life are not enough to give a true perspective on life. To bring ourselves closer to the ideal of a well-balanced man or woman, we need to acquire, at least in outline, what is called a cultural grounding in the Buddha-Dhamma.

    Culture reveals to ourselves and others what we are. It gives expression to our nature in our manner of living and of thinking, in art, religion, ethical aspirations, and knowledge. Broadly speaking, it represents our ends in contrast to means.

     A cultured man has grown, for culture comes from a word meaning "to grow." In Buddhism the arahant is the perfect embodiment of culture. He has grown to the apex, to the highest possible limit, of human evolution. He has emptied himself of all selfishness — all greed, hatred, and delusion — and embodies flawless purity and selfless compassionate service. Things of the world do not tempt him, for he is free from the bondage of selfishness and passions. He makes no compromises for the sake of power, individual or collective.

    In this world some are born great while others have greatness thrust on them. But in the Buddha-Dhamma one becomes great only to the extent that one has progressed in ethical discipline and mental culture, and thereby freed the mind of self and all that it implies. True greatness, then, is proportional to one's success in unfolding the perfection dormant in human nature.

    We should therefore think of culture in this way: Beginning with the regular observance of the Five Precepts, positively and negatively, we gradually reduce our greed and hatred. Simultaneously, we develop good habits of kindness and compassion, honesty and truthfulness, chastity and heedfulness. Steady, wholesome habits are the basis of good character, without which no culture is possible. Then, little by little, we become great and cultured Buddhists. Such a person is rightly trained in body, speech, and mind — a disciplined, well-bred, refined, humane human being, able to live in peace and harmony with himself and others. And this indeed is Dhamma.

     In order to grow we also have to be active and energetic, diligent in wholesome conduct. There is no place for laziness and lethargy in Buddhism. We must be diligent in cultivating all aspects of the Dhamma in ourselves at all times. If we develop as good individuals, we automatically become cultured members of our society, mindful both of rights and duties. Buddhism addresses itself only to the individual thinking person. It has nothing to do with mass movements, for "masses" are just collections of individual men and women. Any true social development must therefore begin with the transformation of each individual person.

    In this way the ethical dilemmas of an economically developing country like Sri Lanka, with a background of Buddhist culture, are resolved, for a true lay Buddhist will aim at personal progress in worldly matters only on the foundation of the Noble Eightfold Path. Progress by way of adhamma — unrighteousness — will inevitably bring in its trail disaster, pain, and suffering to individual, community, and nation.

    Such a misguided policy implies disbelief in kamma and its effects. Reject kamma and one is rootless. Rejection is the result of blinding greed for quick material gain and sensual pleasures, conjoined with delusion about the true nature and destiny of man and life. It also signifies acceptance of the philosophy of expediency — that one should "get the most that one can" out of this single fleeting life on earth guided largely by one's instincts, subject to the laws of society, which the affluent and powerful often circumvent with impunity. Such a short-sighted and mistaken view ultimately leads to individual and social tensions, to restlessness and conflict, and to the spread of indiscipline, lawlessness, and crime.

    Buddhism distinguishes between emotions that are constructive, such as metta and karuna, and those that are destructive: anger and jealousy, for instance. It encourages the cultivation of the former to eliminate the latter. Human beings can both think and feel. When the Buddha taught the Dhamma, sometimes he appealed to reason, sometimes to the emotions, and sometimes to the imagination, using such means of instruction as fables, stories, and poetry. Buddhist culture, too, manifests in other forms than that of a fine character, such as in the field of literature — the Jatakas, the Theragatha and Therigatha, for examples — philosophy, art, architecture, and sculpture."