Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).
- Having respect for ourselves and our spiritual path
- The root of keeping good ethical conduct
- Thinking about the values and principals we want to live by
41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 40-6 (download)
“May all beings attain the seven jewels of an exalted being (faith, ethics, learning, generosity, integrity, consideration for others and discriminating wisdom).”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone engaged in business.
Yesterday I spoke about generosity. Today I’m going to talk about, in the seven jewels of the arya, the next two which are integrity and consideration for others. Sometimes people translate integrity as shame, but shame is a really loaded word in our culture. If you translate it as shame, there’s a good kind of shame where you feel “I shouldn’t have done that.” We usually associate shame with the bad kind of shame, where you feel awful about yourself. That’s why I don’t like to translate it that way.
It’s more like a sense of integrity or self-respect, whereby because we have respect for ourselves and our spiritual path, therefore we don’t engage in non-virtuous actions. Consideration for others is a similar thing, but the reason for not engaging in detrimental actions is because we realize that our behavior influences others. Out of consideration for them, we don’t do something harmful.
These two are said to be the root of keeping good ethical conduct because without them, and having the opposite (non-integrity and non-consideration of others), then we just do whatever and we don’t care what we do. Thus, we damage others and we damage ourselves.
The thing about integrity that I think is so important is we really have to respect ourselves and feel good about ourselves. Have this sense of: “I am a Dharma practitioner or I am somebody who is really trying to do something good in this world. I am somebody who is trying to control my mind and that’s something valuable and so because I treasure that, because that’s a principle for me, I don’t want to act contrary to it”. It comes from really thinking about what our values are and what principles we want to live by in our life. If you want to increase it, then you really need to think about those kinds of things. You have that in your mind. Then if some situation comes up in which our habitual tendency is to act in a detrimental way, we hold ourselves back from it because we have that sense of our own integrity and we don’t want to behave like that. The thing is, if we don’t have this integrity then we do whatever, then afterwards how do we feel? Guilty. That’s when the negative sense of shame comes, doesn’t it? Then we get all full of remorse and we’re sitting there going around in circles about how terrible we are and we beat ourselves up and that doesn’t do anybody any good. Whereas if you prevent that by having that sense of integrity and knowing what our principles and values are, it’s quite good.
Let’s stop and tomorrow we will do more on consideration for others.