Lesson
10

Bringing Compassion and
Insight to Non-harming

3 of 4


Responding to others with insight

Even if we are able to to bring wisdom to our discernment and act skillfully, we will still be challenged to respond when others are acting unethically.

How do you do when you see someone acting in ways you consider "wrong"?

The Dalai Lama reminds us that we really can not know the reasons and circumstances behind someone's behavior. Except in unusual situations, we can not be certain of the virtue of another's actions.

This is why it is far more useful to be aware of a single shortcoming in ourselves than it is to be aware of a thousand in somebody else. For when the fault is our own, we are in a position to correct it. Ethics for the New Millennium

Does this mean we should never take action when we see wrong being done?

It takes discernment to determine where and when it is appropriate to try to stop someone from acting in a harmful manner, and, when we do, we must have the insight to know our motives are pure and our methods are compassionately non-harming.

Discipline and discernment are developed over time. This practice is spiritual development. As our habits and dispositions evolve, so does our ability to act spontaneously in ethically sound ways.

Motivation

Elsewhere we have discussed the importance of motivation in ethical action. Our own motivation, we have seen, is the primary factor in our bringing wisdom to discernment.

If the motivation is sincere, then every human action can be positive- including political initiatives. If our motivation is not adequate, not pure, even religion becomes smeared.

Forgiveness
  

What does forgiveness have to do with responding to others with insight?

Because our behavior with others often includes a component of responding to something they have said or done, qualities such as humility, patience and tolerance allow us to let go of any negative emotions that have arisen. When we do learn to act spontaneously in ethically sound ways, forgiveness comes naturally.

If you analyze the situation you'll realize that the past is the past, so is no use continuing to feel anger and hatred, which do not change the situation but just cause a disturbance within your mind and cause your continued unhappiness. Of course, you may still remember the events. Forgetting and forgiving are two different things.