The moment I read B’s comment that she too had been disturbed by the US Supreme Court’s decision (see yesterday’s post), I realized that I’d made a mistake. Looking back, I wrote to express anger and sadness; and I did so from a posture of superiority, as in: look at those Americans and their guns; at least we don’t have similar attitudes where I live; no wonder they … bla bla.
Two things are not right about that. One: by expressing my self-centered views I may have contributed to readers’ sense of unease about living in a world where abundant handguns lead to deaths and injuries — thus acting contrary to my vow to “cause no harm.” Two: by speaking about others in ways that implied their moral inferiority, I acted against two of the guidelines (precepts in Buddhist practice) which I want to live by. They are:
Not to speak of others’ faults but to speak out of loving-kindness.
Not to praise self at the expense of others but to be modest.
[Norman Fischer’s versions NB: this link has now been fixed]
Lest you think I’m beating myself over this, I assure that I’m not. Making mistakes is essential to living an ethical life. Becoming aware of potential harm done to others (and self) directly leads to the resolve to act more skilfully in the future. No guilt — only awareness and intention.
Does that make sense to you?