Life of Blessings
The Personal Blessings
To be charitable
To abstain from evil
The elements of this group reveal the steps for further personal development which should be taken when we have established ourselves in family and work. Once we have attained these Personal Blessings, the transition towards higher spiritual ideals becomes very smooth.
Greed, craving and excessive attachment are causes of misery and suffering. By practicing charity, we weaken these negative traits and instead cultivate compassion, generosity and selflessness. We can help others materially through our efforts or donations, or spiritually by sharing the Dhamma. Charity should be practiced without regret, discrimination or ulterior motives. Genuine kindness to others brings much love and goodwill for ourselves and also for our family. It is a great blessing to be in the fortunate position of being able to help others. And by doing so we ensure ourselves of more blessings in the future too.
Instead of just
following a code of discipline and avoiding negative actions, we can go on
to a higher level of practice. A
good way of doing this is to observe the positive aspects of the Five
Precepts. This will lead to even greater spiritual progress.
Five Positive Precepts
Beyond providing for our immediate family, we should also help our relatives and friends if they are in need. As we provide assistance to one another when the need arises, we create goodwill among the people around us, and this further supports our spiritual progress.
An even higher expression of generosity would be to assist the community in general. This can be done by helping to build, or making donations towards the building of schools, hospitals, shelters, roads, etc. which are of benefit to everyone. Even the planting of gardens and trees can improve our environment and the ecology of our planet. Just as important is extending our help to the needy, sick and old. If we have the inclination and the means for any kind of social services, we are indeed blessed as we have already developed much generosity and compassion.
Evil in the Buddhist
context means any act which harms ourselves, others, or both.
We should always abstain from all such negative actions.
19. To have no desire
When we have become firm in observing the Five Precepts and abstaining from the Ten Unwholesome Actions, we will find that we no longer have the desire to commit any of these harmful actions. We begin to truly realize that as we ourselves do not wish to be victims of such harmful actions, we should thus avoid doing such actions to others. It is a great blessing to naturally shy away from doing any harm to others.
The Buddha emphasized this point in many teachings, and as one of the Five Precepts, it is the one that 'protects' the other four Precepts. He strongly advised against taking intoxicants because once we come under their influence, we become capable of committing any harmful acts that we would otherwise not have done. It would be a great waste to have come this far in our personal development only to have it all go to ruin because of drinking or drugs. Avoiding intoxicants is another great blessing.
We have understood and now follow what is required for our personal development. The next step is to consolidate our practice and not let it deteriorate because of carelesness, or slip away because of complacency. We should continue to be mindful of keeping up and enhancing our wholesome practices even more. By practicing the Ten Wholesome Actions, we will then find it much easier to go on to the Higher Blessings.