At the beginning of the new year, I try to think of how to improve my life spiritually. Some beautiful lines by James Allen come to mind.
“Good thoughts and actions can never produce bad results; bad thoughts and actions can never produce good results. This is but saying that nothing can come from corn but corn, nothing from nettles but nettles. Men understand this law in the natural world, and work with it; but few understand it in the mental and moral world (though its operation there is just as simple and undeviating), and they, therefore, do not cooperate with it.”
“A man is literally what he thinks, his character being the complete sum of all his thoughts.”James Allen, As A Man Thinketh
These words are indeed very inspiring. Mind is the control center of one’s words and actions. I want to be a better person that talk nicely, act kindly, then I should have beautiful mind.
An ancient chinese worthy, Zeng Zi said, “Everyday I examine myself many times. Do I do my best
when doing things for others? Am I honest and reliable when associating with friends? Whether do I review and practise what my teachers teach me?” In traditional Confucianism teaching: Everyday, one should brush away the faults from yesterday, not to tell lies and be humble. One should purify the heart and rectify the mind, to confront genuinely, and start afresh. Thus, one will be renewed every day and have daily renovation, this is the way to be a new man. This old wisdom is very helpful on how to examine my mind daily.
However, in this modern era, there is so much informations from everywhere all at once, and I have a lot of thoughts in my mind. I have pondered more about what are the good thoughts and actions, and what are the bad. Every civilized culture in the world has adopted similar standards for its people based on this inherent understanding of good and evil. Murder, theft, and deceit are universally understood to be wrong. I keep on searching in Religions for a better answer.
In christianity: As darkness is defined by the absence of light, sin is defined by the absence of goodness (James 4:17). Since God is the very embodiment of good (Psalm 86:5; 119:68), anything contrary to His nature is evil (Romans 3:23). We learn to distinguish good from evil by getting to know God. His Word is the foundation for understanding Him (Psalm 1:1–2; 119:160; John 17:17).The closer we draw to the holiness of God, the worse sin appears (Isaiah 6:1, 5). A t-shirt may appear white against a black wall. But when you place that shirt on newly fallen snow, it appears quite dingy. Similarly, our attempts at goodness look quite dingy when placed next to the holiness of God. As we enter His presence, we start to notice how self-centered our thoughts and actions are. We see our own greed, covetousness, lust, and deceit for the evils that they are. It is only in God’s light that we begin to see ourselves clearly.
God’s Word is filled with examples of those who did right and those who did wrong. Those examples are there for us to learn what God is like and what He desires from us (1 Corinthians 10:11). Micah 6:8 gives a brief summary of God’s desire for every person: “He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.” Malachi 3:18 makes it even clearer. God says, “And you will again see the distinction between the righteous and the wicked, between those who serve God and those who do not.” Here the Lord is equating righteousness with serving Him. If good is defined as serving God, then evil is rejecting God and refusing to serve Him. Regardless of how philanthropic a person may appear to others, his good works amount to little if they are done for selfish reasons. If we make it our goal to seek God and honor Him in everything we do (1 Corinthians 10:31), we will understand right and wrong and know that our life choices are pleasing to Him (Jeremiah 29:13; 1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 106:3).
In Buddhism, Buddha provided more precise and broad concepts on what are right. Such as the ten precepts: (1) not killing; (2) not stealing; (3) not committing adultery; (4) not lying; (5) not speaking harshly; (6) not speaking divisively; (7) not speaking idly; (8) not being greedy (9) not being angry; (10) not having wrong views.
In Learning From Buddha, Namo Dorje Chang Buddha III says：Establish great compassion as your foundation. Do not do anything that is evil. Do all things that are good. Give up self-interests and benefit others. Patiently endure humiliation and adversity. Practice humility. Purify the mind. When encountering living beings, regardless of whether they are handicapped, deficient, sick, or healthy, treat them all equally as family members. Know that all phenomena are governed by causality. With good causes, you receive good retributions. Good retributions yield good fruits. Good fruits enable you to receive the true Dharma. Relying on the Dharma, you can achieve perfect good fortune and wisdom. Then you can step into the state of accomplishment, break away from the sufferings that living beings experience, cease transmigrating in the cycle of birth and death, and accomplish the perfect enlightenment of a Buddha!
Namo Dorje Chang Buddha III further more provide a guidance on our mind cultivation — the three daily introspections :“Before I went to sleep at night, did I think of anything unbeneficial to living beings? Did I think about doing those things? Did I think of doing something not good to others for the sake of myself, my children, or my relatives? Did I think of doing something not good to my fellow brothers and sisters? Did I crave credit or merit for myself? If I did, I must repent at once, I must correct myself! By doing that every day, I will naturally and gradually become purified and will become a great holy person.”
This year I will try my best to follow his guidance diligently, eliminate all my wrong thoughts, build a beautiful garden in my mind, and be kinder in my speech and conducts. Love all beings equally, do not have discriminate against other countries and peoples in the world. Wish peace, harmony and good fortune to all.
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