Shifu, can I do this? Shifu, can I do that? Can I kill insects? Can I drink whisky? How about beer?
Can I pay for less bus fare than I travelled? How about overtime pay? Can I dock in more hours than I worked?
The answers to the above, would be yes, yes, yes … and more Yes!
If you had asked, can I breathe through my lungs underwater unassisted, it would be a no. It would be a no to “Can I have an unassisted controlled flight?”, and by controlled flight, free-falling is not included.
Before you quote me saying that I allow you to do all the above former, think again. You may think that I’m forgetting about the Buddhist precepts that advocate non-killing, non-stealing etc, ala the five precepts (Panca-Sila in Pali). You see, what most people are mistaken about the Buddhist teachings is that it does not stipulate a “The Buddha says you cannot kill” and impose it upon you. Instead, it says, killing is harmful to others (apparently!), is in turn unwanted by ourselves, results in pain, suffering and/or stress, amongst other things, and is to be avoided, for the sake of one’s welfare and happiness and that of others.
When we observe the Buddhist precepts, we are really declaring to ourselves and others that having considered carefully, we are choosing not to kill, because doing so (killing) is not fruitful and leads to much suffering. Further, we recognise that all that are
alive and sentient, cherishes their life; so we seek to protect and care for their well being. It is not that we are unable to or cannot, it is that we actively choose not to kill.
It is also not that we choose not to kill, so that we can placate the Buddha and ask for blessings. Instead it is because we choose not to kill, that this positive wholesome karma (or energy if you will) “protects” us.
As Buddhists, we should use our intelligence and common sense to learn the precepts so that we can make well-informed choices and do the right thing on a daily basis. This can and is what blesses us! It is our actions, through our body, speech and mind, that if pure and wholesome, protects and blesses us. The Buddha blesses us through his teachings.
For that matter, even if you are not a Buddhist, does it not occur to you that having angry feeling is unpleasant? And if that anger fester, it may lead to ill-will arising in you? And if this ill-will, which is unpleasant as well, is left to nuture, you may physically harm someone. Without being a Buddhist or subscribing to its teachings, would it not make sense that the above train of thoughts and course of actions is unpleasant and leads to stress in oneself and others? Further, after harming others, would we not feel anxiety of being discovered later? These are applicable facts or truths that one can observe and see for onself without having to believe in a god or deity or declaring oneself to be a Buddhist. And seeing clearly, one avoids the path that leads to suffering, and takes that which is more conducive to happiness.
That is why the Buddha’s teachings are declared as Truth, open for enquiry and investigation; ready for us to see for ourselves. The teachings (Dharma in Sanskrit or Dhamma in Pali) can be adopted by all without going into a sectarian dispute. It is in many ways, common sense.
So, fellow humans, wake up to your common sense, and do something sensible for someone today! 🙂