Episode 118 - Right Action

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In this episode we take a deep dive into what Buddha meant by Right Action or conduct. Right Action is part of the Noble Eightfold Path, which lays out the gradual path to enlightenment. Right action means a abstains from non-virtuous actions of body, principally:

  • Killing
  • Stealing
  • Sexual misconduct

Abandoning taking life

This refers not just to killing human beings, but to refrain from intentionally killing any living, specifically sentient beings means humans, animals and insects.

The positive aspect of abandoning killing is having compassion and kindness toward all living beings. We not only avoid taking life, we have heartfelt concern for the welfare of all living beings. The highest aspect of this is the Bodhisattvas path, with a commitment to attaining enlightenment for the benefit of all living beings so you can have the greatest capacity to help others.

Abandoning stealing

(1) stealing

(2) fraudulence

(3) deceitfulness

Stealing refers to taking what is not one’s own through deceitful actions, cheating, or fraud. Honesty is the positive counterpart of this, as well as contentment. The most eminent opposite virtue is generosity, giving away one’s own wealth and possessions in order to benefit others.

Abandoning sexual misconduct

To refrain from sexual activity with:

  • Anyone who has a partner
  • Anyone other than your partner of you have one
  • Someone with a vow of celibacy like a monk, nun or priest
  • Someone who haven’t given consent
  • Someone inappropriate due to convention like a close relative
  • Someone still under the of their parents, someone too young to give consent

The essential purpose, as was said, is to prevent sexual relations which are hurtful to others.

“The holy life at its highest aims at complete purity in thought, word, and deed, and this requires turning back the tide of sexual desire.” --Bhikku Bodhi

Watchful in speech and well-restrained in mind,

Do nothing unskillful with your body.

Purify these three courses of action;

Fulfill the path taught by the sages. (281)

—Buddha, The Dhammapada

References and Links

Buddha.The Dhammapada. Translated by Gil Fronsdale. (Kindle). Shambala, Boston and London, 2011, pp. 72 (Link)

Bodhi, Bhikku. The Noble Eightfold Path. Buddhist Publication Society, 1999, pp 49-54. BuddhaNet. http://www.buddhanet.net/pdf_file/noble8path6.pdf

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