Life-giving principles good to live by
Buddhism teachings warn against greed, hatred and delusion
According to the teachings of Buddhism, there are three poisons: greed, hatred and delusion. When we study history and examine the world around us, we can see that most of our problems are rooted in these misaligned principles. It is also interesting to note how they build off of each other.
Believing that satisfying greed is good for anyone is delusional. Unchecked laissez-faire capitalism is actually bad for long-term economic development.
The American organization Patriotic Millionaires, for example, states, “We believe that the trend of growing economic inequality is bad for society and bad for business… We believe that a national ‘living wage’ law will ensure a stable level of aggregate demand, which will fuel our economy more broadly, ushering a new era of prosperity for all Americans, including rich ones.”
These concepts apply on the global scale as well. When human beings are allowed to thrive, so do economies. They apply to the environment as well. Invest- ing in renewable energy, for example, makes economic and environmental sense. One needs only look at Germany’s thriving economy, or the success of the Tesla Corporation.
Hatred is also delusional, as is racism. We can indeed ask ourselves if race really exists. According to Statistics Canada, for example, I am a visible minority because I am half Syrian. I am also half German. People who meet me would never guess my ethnicity. Other than as part of our own personal ethnic identity, humanity is indeed growing to a point where race no longer exists.
Hatred for other groups often fades as we get to know each other. South Korean journalist Euna Lee, after being captured and imprisoned in North Korea, for example, points out that many of her so called enemies treated her with kindness.
Though she had learned most of her life to fear and hate the North Koreans, she states, “I was able to see humanity over hatred in my enemy’s eyes.”
What then is the antidote to these poisons?
It is quite astounding how all life-giving philosophies and religions come to the same conclusions, regardless of distances in time and space. Many North American Indigenous peoples, for example, refer to the Seven Grandfather Teachings, but regardless of our origins, we can all relate to these universal principles.
The first of these is humility, which ultimately means to embrace our gifts and to use them for the good of all.
The second principle is honesty. We need to not only speak truthfully to others, we need to be honest with ourselves.
The third principle is respect. When we respect there is no waste, we use things wisely and there is always enough. The respect that we give is also returned to us.
The fourth principle is courage. There will be times when we face challenges and struggles. This is simply part of our human condition. When we face them with courage, we become better and stronger, and we find meaning in life.
The fifth principle is wisdom. We are unique, as is every other person. When we observe and listen, we learn a great deal. As we live our lives this way, we grow in wisdom.
Living according to these teachings leads us to discover the sixth principle, truth. This is the antidote to all forms of delusion.
The greatest and final principle is love. In order to love another, we must first love ourselves. In order to love, we need to live the other six principles.
As we look at the world around us, we can see the folly of hatred and greed; they always fail. As we embrace the life giving principles, which are in essence the celebration of our common humanity, we manifest a world in which everyone is able to thrive.