Difference Between Having & Lacking Moral Commitment
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Click here if you do not see pictures below______________________________________________________Realisation: The Difference Between Having & Lacking Moral Commitment
If one is truly not attached to a ritual of commitment, why not go through it? - stonepeace
Are there differences between making a commitment to observe the precepts (of morality) versus trying not to harm others on a case-by-case basis? Yes indeed. Formalised (or ritualised) commitment to the precepts is important because it is a solemn affirmation to oneself (and others) to never harm any beings. For example, take the case of a couple who live together versus another committed to marriage vows. Chances are, the latter are more serious about their relationship. Thus, formalities are seldom "mere formalities". Though it might seem illogical at first, resolving to observe the precepts is also seen as meritorious - even before one faces a situation where one might break any of them. In fact, making the resolution to not harm is more meritorious than simply not harming, as we shall see.
If a human doesnt kill a dinosaur, does he create any merits? If he does, and since he doesnt kill a thousand dinosaurs, would he be creating a thousandfold merits? This doesnt make any sense for it would mean that us not killing immeasurable beings everyday creates immeasurable merits. All beings then, would already have immeasurable merits and there would be absolutely no killing or suffering at all. Also, this human will never ever encounter a single dinosaur in this lifetime, because all dinosaurs are already extinct. Thus, any merits created by not killing any dinosaurs is imaginary. However, if this human has the motivation that he will never kill say, any ant, he already creates some merits in the moment for this resolution for his commitment protects all ants from being harmed by him.
The actual diligent restraint from killing when he encounters ants subsequently creates even more merits. If he doesnt have any prior commitment beforehand, but encounters an ant thereafter, and decides to refrain from killing it, he will also create merits in that moment but pertaining only to not harming that single ant. The lack of commitment to not harm all ants naturally means he doesnt deserve the merits from the resolution to refrain from killing all ants. This explains the difference between creating merits based on a universal motivation versus on a case-by-case basis. The first requires ongoing conscientious efforts while the latter doesn't. This is why the resolution to observe the precepts, whether one encounters temptations to break them or not, is already somewhat meritorious. - Shen Shi'an
Observation of the precepts is for universal protection; not for personal restriction. - stonepeace
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