A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Living according to your beliefs

Whether or not you follow a faith or religion, most of us have core beliefs. A moral code that we claim is our center, that we use to determine which choice we make when we have a decision. Yet we all fall short of living up to our espoused ideals.

image source: wikipedia.org

Here is my three point plan for improving my living according to the teaching Buddha left, for those that follow another path, just make your own list according to your beliefs. The main point is that if we all take the time to put these beliefs at the front of our decision making, we should all become better people. Now if everyone who reads and adopts this idea, influences one other person to do the same, and they influence one other person, the world will be a better place for all of us.

1. Equality: in Buddhism all beings are equal, we are all just trying to avoid suffering. This means my family, friends, neighbors, strangers, the cat that watches as I pass it’s window, even those pesky mosquitoes all have a right to life. So before I make a purchase, I will consider if this purchase has harmed or will harm other beings. Included in this will be has the product been tested on animals.? Is the production of the product, done with minimal or no damage to the environment, or better yet does it leave the environment in better condition. Which means choosing products that do not contribute to clear cutting forests, or depleting stocks of endangered species as examples. Is there a locally made product instead of  one that saves us pennies but was transported around the world. By choosing locally made products where possible we help our neighbors, reduce our carbon footprint, and help stem the tide of driving wages worldwide to the lowest wage available anywhere else.

2. Charity: I have written before about not giving money to beggars, but rather giving them a meal bought from a nearby restaurant or street vendor. As a Buddhist I believe I will share in the  karma generated by the purchase the person makes with the money I give. So it is better I buy the a healthy meal, than give money that supports their addictive behaviors. This way I am not enabling the person to harm themselves. Alternatively to volunteer with a charity that helps those who need a hand up, not a hand out. Think back to the last time you gave money to a street person, did you bend down to their level if they were sitting, or did you just drop the money into their cup or hat. By bending down and offering them a meal you are showing them respect as a being that has value. If you live some place where winter has arrived, instead of coins in their cup, perhaps a hot chocolate or coffee would be appreciated, with a few kind words as well, you just might see the person smile. This combines our charitable action with equality. Always be aware that you are offering a hand up, not a hand out, for we are only a decision or unexpected circumstance from being where that person is. No one chooses to be a beggar on the street, as their first choice, rather it is a choice of desperation.

3. Choose one more of your core beliefs and insert here. We will all choose something, but probably not the same issue. However by making even these three changes to how we live will change the world. In the only way it has been successively done, by changing ourselves. I listed several people as teachers I respect a few months ago, and they are all people who changed the way they did things, and inspired others to do the same. By changing ourselves, we offer an example of a better way forward, as others follow us, it strengthens us to continue to improve.


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6 thoughts on “Living according to your beliefs

  1. Very thoughtful, thank you.

  2. Keith, I am a big believer in charity also. I fully endorse what you
    said about buying a meal for the person rather than giving them the
    money. In my own experience, I have found this much more satisfying,
    than wondering what the person did with your money.

    I recently did a “thanksgiving” and what it entailed was me preparing
    30 meals and distributing it to the homeless people in the downtown
    area where I worked. I cannot begin to describe just how fulfilling
    that was.

    This is but one aspect of my beliefs and my own tradition (I’m Roman
    Catholic btw) and the code that I choose to live by. Great post.

    • All religions teach us to be charitable, as I don’t know each one, I use examples of those I do know. I am glad to hear you prefer to give a hand up instead of a hand out. The Thanksgiving idea is a great one, and I’m sure those who ate a good meal appreciated it.

  3. Thougt provoking post Keith.
    Respect would be my third choice. Respect and consideration. Find it is eroding fast in most cultures that revered it.

    • Yes respect could easily be in the top three on my list as well. There really is no right or wrong list, rather my post was to cause people to pause, ponder, and perform. If we all can become a little better in how we treat others, perhaps we can start to solve some of the problems we all face, by realizing the world is about all of us, just as we are, not how we each think it should be.

  4. I assumed as much when you left the third one out for us to fill in 🙂

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