14. The Good Buddhist
The preceding sections of this essay will help the Buddhist lay follower to understand, from a practical angle, the main points of the Buddha's teachings as they bear on the conduct of daily life. Constant practice of these principles will ensure that they are built into his character, enabling him to develop into a well-rounded human being, a center of sanity in a confused world adrift in fashionable philosophies full of empty promises.
At the very minimum a lay follower of the Buddha must keep the Five Precepts, which enables him to develop virtue in regard to his bodily and verbal behavior. But one should not stop with this. One who seeks the true perfection of happiness must also attend to the cultivation of the mind. One must be mindful of the arising of unwholesome states such as greed, anger, and delusion, and know how to deal with them effectively when they threaten to throw one off balance. One should proceed even further and attempt to cultivate the mind systematically through the practice of meditation for tranquillity and insight.
The society in which we live is a reflection of the minds of the human beings who have created that society. If our society has become corrupt, rife with immorality, and destructive of the higher potentials of human nature, that is because the people who comprise that society have allowed themselves to drift into corrupt and immoral states of mind. The quality of a society inevitably rests on the quality of the lives led by the persons who make up that society. One single individual may not be able to change the whole society for the better. But each one of us can, at any rate, transform the world of our own mind.
How is this to be done? By observing the Five Precepts flawlessly, by being as mindful as possible in everyday life, by cleansing the mind of its blemishes, by cultivating the four sublime states, by meditating energetically every day, by listening to discourses on the Dhamma and clarifying one's doubts about the teaching. By following these guidelines one is sure to reap their fruits: peace of mind, contentment, the absence of inner conflicts even in the midst of our confusing and chaotic world.
A good Buddhist should ever seek the opportunity to do deeds of mercy, kindness, and charity. He should be keen on helping those less fortunate than himself. When practicing giving, however, one should give with discrimination, as the Buddha advises: viceyya danam databbam. Thus the most needy will be benefited with the things they need most.
A good Buddhist should set apart a few minutes every day to review the day's happenings, and to see whether or not he has strayed from the Master's teachings. If so, he should inquire why he has done so in order to avoid a future repetition. Methodical reading on the Dhamma will also help one to put the whole of life into the right perspective. It is a useful habit to read daily an inspiring discourse of the Buddha, such as the Maha-Mangala Sutta, or to recite some verses of the Dhammapada and reflect for a few moments on their relevance to one's own life. Doing so will help one to forget one's trifling worries and troubles, to clarify one's thinking, and to recall the ultimate values and truths upon which one should build one's life.
The Buddha's teachings consist of virtue, concentration, and wisdom. Only with their practice will the Buddha-Dhamma flourish; when they are neglected, the Buddha-Dhamma will decline. This fact should always be remembered by those who are anxious to avert the decline and disappearance of the Sasana. As religion withers the world over, more and more attention is paid to empty rites, rituals, and ceremonies, while little or no attention is paid to the actual practice of the principles of religion as they bear on real life. It is this, however, that matters most.
By following the above guidelines, a good Buddhist will grow in all aspects of the Dhamma. These guidelines will help to mold one's whole personality, to instil the true principles of the Dhamma into one's understanding, to train the emotions and to discipline the will. Doing so will conduce to the ultimate best interest of oneself, and help one to make one's life a blessing for others as well.
May you and I and all other beings
be well and happy.
-- http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/auth ... .html#ch14
CalBudd wrote:I have no vices as such except couple of cigarettes a day and a bottle of beer at times. I have meat irregularly, about once a week. Am I breaking the five precepts ? Is there any guilt in Buddhism. I understand there is no sin in Buddhism.
Basically I am trying to ask what do I have to subtract from my daily life to be a good Buddhist (what activities - I already have a grasp of the emotional, psychological state expected of me). I am a bodybuilder in spare time. I googled "Buddhism + Bodybuilding" and read in another Forum that Buddhists should not pursue such things. But to me it seems ideal. A sane mind in a healthy body (not that i should use steroids). If I do not go to gym I will grow over weight.
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