Buddhism is considered to be a contemplative tradition. The emphasis is on respecting the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha and refraining from doing actions that will cause harm to ourselves and others. Understanding how the mind works, how actions create karma that will result in a result similar to the cause, that doing virtuous actions brings happiness and non-virtuous actions bring suffering, is a lifetime’s work in itself. It is important for Buddhists to study, debate and meditate on the teachings so that the development of wisdom and compassion are fully integrated into one’s daily actions. Yet we should not think our Buddhist practice should stop at our meditation cushion or at the altar.
We begin with the wish to not harm others. We expand this by investigating how it can be that even what we buy can indirectly lead to harm for others. What other activities do we engage in that could be a source of harm?
Refraining from harming can be turned into positive action by deliberately choosing more ethical ways of living.
To truly emulate the Buddha we must endeavour to turn all of our actions into those that not refrain from harm but actually benefit others. Can we go out of our way to help others? Can we help those who are currently in distress or need assistance? We can make our formal practice the regular ‘retreat’ where we strengthen our good qualities. We then integrate these qualities into our daily life as best we can within our capacity.