Author Topic: But I'm a good person....  (Read 24269 times)

beggar

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But I'm a good person....
« on: November 05, 2010, 09:28:16 AM »
I've always been quite intrigued by this: that many, many people go around saying, "I'm a good person, I don't harm anyone" and believe that that is enough.

When you study Dharma and are shown the many opportunities for doing something more meaningful and beneficial for others, simply being a good person is not enough. Yes, you may be not be harming anyone. If you lie in bed all day doing nothing or just sit in front of your television, of course you are not harming anyone... or so you think.

There are hundreds of people out there who are suffering at the exact moment that we are lying in bed or sitting in front of the television. What could we be doing to alleviate the suffering of some people out there, instead of just watching TV? In fact, our inaction alone is actually harming someone because we allow someone out there to continue suffering. An interesting way of looking at things isn't it?

My question is: how do you get this point across to people? I have met with a lot of apathy from people who remain content in simply doing nothing, citing over and over, "but I'm a good person". How do we get people off the couch and into action?

hope rainbow

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #1 on: November 05, 2010, 10:14:50 AM »
BEING A GOOD GUY
I heard on Gelug lama say this that I never forgot:
"Being spiritual is not about being the "good guy", it is about doing "the right thing!""
Those that have kids will know what this means, the worse parents aften are the "good guys" kindda parents.

I DO ENOUGH
One could not possibly do enough if one understand the suffering going on and how we all are involved in this mess.
And on that basis, one should logically develop the wish to become more efficient, more skillful, to become a Buddha so as to be of effective help.

The "I am a good guy" and "I do enough" language are expressions of a deluded mind.
« Last Edit: November 05, 2010, 10:40:11 AM by hope rainbow »

DSFriend

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #2 on: November 05, 2010, 11:47:59 AM »

My question is: how do you get this point across to people? I have met with a lot of apathy from people who remain content in simply doing nothing, citing over and over, "but I'm a good person". How do we get people off the couch and into action?

So how do we kick off the Good Guy Syndrome?
Let's be honest,...we are all not free of the 8 worldly concerns, constantly seeking for pleasure and avoiding displeasure. On that basis, work with that person in terms of understanding what makes the person tick. It does take a lot of listening and observation before we know what to even share in hopes of helping someone change their ways.

It took hell-of-alot for me to change even the slightest...so being patient and consistent with others is a way of repaying kindness..

Helena

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #3 on: November 05, 2010, 06:10:38 PM »
In the world of samsara, the words "being good" are limited to not actually killing anyone or causing one real harm and danger. They are mostly equated with physical things/acts.

And as long as they have not done any real physical damage to anyone - they would classify themselves as good.

But if we ask them further if they have done anything right by anyone or have done anything more than NOT doing anything wrong, their answer would probably be silence.

Many people think that by abstaining from causing harm is enough.

They simply do not understand that DOING ACTUAL GOOD and MORE would actually make them really good people.

They do not understand the words "to benefit others".

Yes, many may not have done anything wrong to others, but can they start benefiting others as well?

There is a huge difference being a good person and a person who benefits others. I guess that is the difference between good and GREAT.
Helena

WisdomBeing

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #4 on: November 06, 2010, 07:29:55 AM »
This is a great topic - love it! Some of my friends do charity work and think that they are 'good' but i have a few questions.

I wanted to ask your opinions -  if we do good but it's stained by the 8 worldly concerns, do we still get good karma?

If we have good motivation and do good without the 8 worldly concerns, do we gain merits if we are not Buddhist?

I understand that merits help our Dharma path so if we are not Buddhist, does merits make us be closer to Buddhism in future? How do merits work for non-Buddhists?

Sorry for so many questions and thank you Admin for this board to address the broader buddhist questions!

*eagerly awaiting answers*
Kate Walker - a wannabe wisdom Being

kurava

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2010, 12:15:06 AM »
This is a great topic - love it! Some of my friends do charity work and think that they are 'good' but i have a few questions.

I wanted to ask your opinions -  if we do good but it's stained by the 8 worldly concerns, do we still get good karma?

If we have good motivation and do good without the 8 worldly concerns, do we gain merits if we are not Buddhist?

I understand that merits help our Dharma path so if we are not Buddhist, does merits make us be closer to Buddhism in future? How do merits work for non-Buddhists?

Sorry for so many questions and thank you Admin for this board to address the broader buddhist questions!

*eagerly awaiting answers*

Dear WB,
Yes, good deeds are the causes for good karma even though mixed with the 8 worldly concerns. They will be causes for us to experience good results either in this life or future lives.

Doing good with good motivation and without the 8 worldly concerns would definitely gain merits even if done by non Buddhist. As the law of karma is universal irregardless of religions or faith. There are many Buddhists acting non Buddhisticly, similarly there are also many non Buddhists in name act in accordance to the teachings of Buddha eg. Gandhi, Mother Theresa.

I would think the true merits collected by non Buddhists would help them to be closer to Buddhism in their future lives because with merits they would be able to understand Buddha's teachings easier and they also create the good karma to meet a qualified Guru in the future.





Helena

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2010, 10:16:02 AM »
It is easy to be good and do the good deeds that we like and enjoy to do - especially if it is within our preferences.

Fo example, if an animal lover saves animals - it is really within the realms of his or her comfort zones. It is something beyond this individual.

Where as, if we ask a non-animal lover to save animals, it might be a lot more challenging to this individual. Because it is not within this person's comfort zone.

So, if we are doing whatever good deeds within our comfort zones, then it is really not much of an effort. It would not amount to much of a MIND TRANSFORMATION now would it?

Mind transformation attacks what we are so accustomed to and what we prefer or like.

It pushes us out of our comfort zones in order for us to achieve a higher state of consciousness.

So, if we doing a lot of good deeds yet we remain within our comfort zones - how would that truly benefit our own spiritual development?

Just wondering out loud.

Sorry, I seem to have added my own set of questions onto WB's?

My thoughts on WB's questions - I think a good person can be of any race, culture, religion and name.

No matter who we are, Karma is still working and moving. No one can escape Karma, even if you say you don't believe in it.

So, if Karma does not discriminate against anyone - then, my guess is that merits would not as well.

The only real difference is whether one's religion would actually teach one the way out of samsara.

Now, that is a different story altogether.

As I am not familiar with any other religion, I cannot comment further.

But just knowing the Lamrim and having the Lamrim - one does have certain benefits, especially if one practises Dharma well and hold their vows very well.

Just my 2 cents worth, if we can even call it that.
Helena

vajrastorm

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #7 on: February 14, 2011, 07:21:41 AM »
A lot of my friends fit into this category – people who profess they are good and do no overt harm to others. They spend their time looking after their own interests and welfare. When they read in the newspaper about a great catastrophe like an earthquake, they just cluck in sympathy and then get on with their own lives without any further thought of the beings whose lives have been devastated by  the earthquake.

When they see stray animals hanging around their homes, they can’t wait to get rid of them.

I guess it takes tremendous merits for people to meet with the Dharma and, through studying it, reflecting upon it and putting it into practice, develop an awareness that we beings are not just separate entities, but are inextricably linked together interdependently as parts of a whole. Hence our wellbeing is dependent on others’ wellbeing. Hence we must reach out to help and care for others. Buddhist ethics is an ethics of care and love.   


iloveds

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2011, 10:39:52 PM »
Karma is non-sectarian, non-religious whether you believe it or not.
by the same token...
Merits is non-sectarian, non-religious also.

Think about it. The results of merits can throw you into a good rebirth of having all the necessities to practice dharma, ie. good family, good upbringing, immense wealth, no health worries whatsoever, maybe even sexy to boot.

But what would cause you not to come across the Dharma, our karma of course.

Having said that, it doesn't mean that we would stop doing virtuous actions that would acrue towards merit. What of those people in history that created soo much good for the world that weren't buddhist, like the guy who created penicillin, or the guy who created electricity.

That must be meritorious actions to spend your lifetime to research and create something for mankind to benefit.

Big Uncle

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #9 on: March 04, 2011, 12:10:42 AM »
I guess it is the perennial excuse for most people when they are presented with a spiritual path. Some even think being the average good person is spiritual practice. If only doing that would ensure everything would alright. For now, being a good person seem to help for some people because everything is deceptively alright but that too is impermanent. Everything can change for the worse and then what? We become bad?

When situations change for the worse, can we always be sure that we will be a good person? Are we even ready to face difficult situations? That is when our spirituality is tested. Hence, following a real spiritual path like Buddhism that has all the guidelines would be much better than just making our own path. It will also prepare us for difficult situations and of course, the most inevitably difficult situation of all - death.

Helena

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #10 on: March 04, 2011, 05:10:20 PM »
I had a very good conversation with my Dharma sister about this.

I am sure most people would like to think that they are good people. But whether they are good people in the Dharma sense, that is really another story altogether.

We concluded that the majority of the planet would equate being good as someone who did not harm anyone, or hurt anyone intentionally. But this does not mean that it would include doing good and helping others.

Doing good, sacrificing oneself for others and giving more to others - all these seem to fall into another category in the samsaric world. That would most probably be tagged with social heroic deeds, community work and charity.

At the end of the conversation, I realised that these people are essentially self-grasping at the core because they will only do something which they like and it is at their convenience. Or if doing that deed brings them pleasure, gains, joy or a boost to their reputation.

It is about them and not others.

When our thoughts and motivation naturally arise for others, and we will have no hesitation in wanting to do more for others, then I think we have progressed from a self-serving individual to one who just wants others to be happy.
Helena

dondrup

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #11 on: March 06, 2011, 07:33:15 PM »
I've always been quite intrigued by this: that many, many people go around saying, "I'm a good person, I don't harm anyone" and believe that that is enough.
...
My question is: how do you get this point across to people? I have met with a lot of apathy from people who remain content in simply doing nothing, citing over and over, "but I'm a good person". How do we get people off the couch and into action?

What appears to be good may not be good. What appears to be bad may be good!  If a person whose motivation is for the benefit of others, without a single trace of selfishness then we can call him a good person.  Even if we claim that we dont harm others, it does not mean we are a good person. For example, knowing that someone is wrong and continue to do wrong but we don't do anything to rectify the situation is actually harming that person who is wrong. 

Why is this so?  Vajrastorm raised an important point on interdependency.  Our every single action performed through our thought, speech or body or combination thereof will have an impact on others.  In this exampe, our inaction has caused harm to others!

Hence, there is the need to educate those who think they are good persons and don't harm anyone on Dharma.  Unless they understand and practise the teachings of Dharma, they will remain couch potatoes!

Helena

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #12 on: March 07, 2011, 03:51:49 PM »
Well said, Dondrup!

I love these words especially -

Unless they understand and practise the teachings of Dharma, they will remain couch potatoes!

Many a times, we may seem some people go through a tough time. This could even apply to our own Dharma community of brothers and sisters. And because of our own dislike for that person, we may not be as eager to help or even notice this person's "fall from grace", so-to-speak. Hence, we do nothing.

In doing nothing, we have attributed to this person's fall in one way or another.

And we may not even think we are in any way guilty or we may not even realise that we have anything to do with it.

Which brings us back to the point of interdependency.

If we truly understand and practice Dharma, we will always do something and keep trying for anyone or everyone.

After all, a Bodhisattva will never leave anyone behind.

And if someone is left behind, a Bodhisattva still has to return to samsara and help this person. Even if this person is the last sentient being in samsara.

That is the whole point of Dharma - to put into practice and not be "couch potatoes".

We do not wait for others to do something, we do it.

We take it as our responsibility to do it.

Helena

Big Uncle

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #13 on: March 08, 2011, 01:50:39 AM »
I've always been quite intrigued by this: that many, many people go around saying, "I'm a good person, I don't harm anyone" and believe that that is enough.
...
My question is: how do you get this point across to people? I have met with a lot of apathy from people who remain content in simply doing nothing, citing over and over, "but I'm a good person". How do we get people off the couch and into action?

What appears to be good may not be good. What appears to be bad may be good!  If a person whose motivation is for the benefit of others, without a single trace of selfishness then we can call him a good person.  Even if we claim that we dont harm others, it does not mean we are a good person. For example, knowing that someone is wrong and continue to do wrong but we don't do anything to rectify the situation is actually harming that person who is wrong. 

Why is this so?  Vajrastorm raised an important point on interdependency.  Our every single action performed through our thought, speech or body or combination thereof will have an impact on others.  In this exampe, our inaction has caused harm to others!

Hence, there is the need to educate those who think they are good persons and don't harm anyone on Dharma.  Unless they understand and practise the teachings of Dharma, they will remain couch potatoes!


For couch potatoes and loafers in the Dharma (this label makes for a good self-reflection), I don't think beautiful explanations like these will make them stand up from their comfortable position. I think it is a lot of hard work for us to exemplify the teachings, walk the talk and have a lot of compassion plus skillful means to put what you just said in a manner and language that will inspire them and not scare them or even make them defensive. Nobody likes to be told they are useless bums, even the couch potatoes. Different people have different aspects that move them and makes them who they are. Sometimes, it may not even be the Dharma or beautiful Dharma words that will make the cut. However, whatever we say must be backed up by our actions and attitude towards the Dharma otherwise couch potatoes remain couch potatoes.

dondrup

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Re: But I'm a good person....
« Reply #14 on: March 11, 2011, 08:50:11 PM »
Helena and Big Uncle,

I agree.

It is so so so hard to tame all sentient beings' monkey minds!  Evan Buddha Avalokiteshvara's body had broken into thousand pieces in utter despair in the past due to this ... We must change first if we want others to change. We hope our transformations will inspire others into taking the right actions!

Dharma practice had become a choice instead of necessity in the current degenerate times.  One viable solution is to educate the sentient beings when they are still very young e.g. in the first three years after birth or even during the 9 months period of pregnancy of a mother.  Through proper system of education, the minds of the said sentient bengs can be re-conditioned and re-habituated into purer minds.