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Verse 6-2: Consideration for others

Verse 6-2: Consideration for others

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • Integrity is restraining from negativities because of ourselves
  • Consideration for others is restraining from negativity by considering the effect that our negative actions will have on others
  • Two mental factors important in our practice of ethical conduct

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 6-2 (download)

We’re still on the sixth one which reads:

“May all beings wear the robes of integrity and consideration for others.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when putting on clothes.

Yesterday we talked about integrity as being one of the virtuous mental factors that helps us restrain from thinking, speaking and acting negatively. And there when we have integrity, the reason that we restrain ourselves was because of our own sense of self-respect and dignity and a sense that I’m a Dharma practitioner and that’s not in accordance with what I believe. These actions don’t accord with my values, they don’t accord with the direction I want to go with in my life. So the integrity is restraining from negativities, because of ourselves and our feeling about ourselves and our own integrity.

Consideration for others is when we restrain from negativity by considering the effect that our negative actions will have on others. When we think and speak and act in harmful ways then it affects others directly and harms them directly. If we criticize them, or lie to them, or cheat them, or take their things, it harms them directly. But in another way, it harms them spiritually, too, because when we act negatively other people (who are not the object that we directly harm) will see our negative actions and they will lose faith in the Dharma. They’ll say, “Oh, this person is practicing the Dharma but look how they’re acting, they’re acting like everybody else, so does the Dharma even work?”

Although from our side, when we see Dharma practitioners acting in unbecoming ways, we shouldn’t judge the Dharma because it is completely due to that person’s delusions. The Dharma is pure but the person’s mental afflictions cause them to act that way. However, when we’re about to act negatively, then we can’t assume that other people understand that the Dharma remains pure even though the practitioners don’t act well. So we should, out of consideration for their faith in the Dharma, and their spiritual path, then abandon negativities as well, knowing that it harms their faith in the Dharma. And if they generate negativities towards the Dharma and turn away from the Dharma, that really harms them in many, many lifetimes. So out of care and affection and consideration and an awareness of how our actions impact others. Even other people who aren’t the direct object whom we’re harming, then we restraint from negativities.

These two mental factors are quite important in our practice of ethical conduct and they also are very strong in just creating good relationships and a good ambience in our life. Because if we are a person with integrity and consideration for others, then we behave in pleasant and courteous ways to other people, we don’t harm them and as a direct result of that, it’s really clear our relationships are more harmonious, our environment is more harmonious and then karmically and spiritually, we‘re free from regret and guilt. Then when the time of death comes, we just let go, there’s nothing heavy hanging over us and we’re able to perfect the training in ethical conduct. So, these two mental factors are really quite important.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.