The Noble Eightfold Path
-By Bhikshu Heng K'ung
Continued from issue #120
The Buddha spoke of five benefits of virtue.
1) One never lacks anything.
This benefit is due to diligence. Diligence is being thorough and fearless no matter what the task. One does not fear adverse conditions but accomplishes his purpose calmly and decisively, unconcerned about what others may think. This person doesn't fear that others might not understand what he is doing and gossip about him or slander him. Being thorough is not stopping when almost complete.
2) One has a good name among people. This is acquired by following one simple rule. What is this rule? It is never doing by yourself what you wouldn't do in front of everybody else.
3) One is able to enter the assembly without fear or hesitation. A person who remains true to himself and does not interfere with himself, who is satisfied with his position in life regardless of it being high or low, who strives hard to accomplish to completion all the projects he begins, is at ease among an assembly of kings and noble people or among beggars and sinners. The man who hesitates is lost. We hesitate because of false thinking. False thinking arises when we are not clear about what we are doing. If we have a clear idea of exactly what we are doing before beginning a task, then we will find no need to hesitate. We must be very clear about what we are doing every moment of our lives.
4) One is able to die unconfused. Within every thought there is birth and death. Our thoughts cause us to act. Our actions produce results. The results are death of a thought. If we are not pleaded with the results of our actions, we will be confused at the time of death. This is why we must treat all our pursuits as if our life depended on our success. We must be positive in all our undertakings and pay particular attention that all is seen through to completion.
One is reborn in the heavens. Rebirth in the heavens is recognizing that
heaven and hell do not exist apart from our present environment and that
it is according to our actions that we perceive it. A virtuous person does
not act when he has doubts about acting. A virtuous person is able to
recognize the proper time to act and is cautious not to act too soon in
order to have the deed
done away with and off his mind, nor does he act too late and find that
the deed he should have done was done by another. A virtuous person
aggressively repents of his faults. I say aggressively because he does not
wait to be asked nor does he cover up his mistakes. He deliberately makes
known his mistakes. In this way he is ever at ease. A virtuous person does
not wish to know of his good deeds but only wishes to be aware of his
mistakes. One endowed with virtue does not concern himself with the
affairs of others, but only strives to be mindful of his own deeds, and
does so responsibly. This is not due to selfishness, but only because he
realizes that solely by single minded attention can his own deeds be
carried out in the proper fashion. Because his actions are for the benefit
of other people, he does not feel the need to pay attention to what others
virtuous person, whether he be a wealthy landlord or an unsightly beggar,
is not easily recognized. Why is this? A virtuous person is virtuous
because he has the unique ability to conceal his uplifting and vitalizing
influence on those about him. He does not compromise his integrity and act
in a way that feels unnatural to him in hopes of impressing those he comes
in contact with. This is not to be confused with the help common people
offer to one another That kind of help is not truly genuine because the
one giving aid or charity has a view of attaining personal satisfaction. A
virtuous person is willing to help others at the cost of his own personal
comfort. Because he is able to bear what others cannot bear and is
unwilling to yield where others do yield, he can be a great ascetic with
few desires and still appear a common person. When he speaks, his words
are like arrows shot by a skilled archeródirect and to the point. He
never speaks in a crooked manner that carries a hidden meaning he cannot
-Continued next issue