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How Well Did Your Morality Stretch?

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  • NamoAmituofo
    For www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com ... How Well Did Your Morality Stretch? Responses to last 2 TDE Realisation Articles (Further) Stretching Your Limits of
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 1, 2003
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      How Well Did Your Morality Stretch?

      Responses to last 2 TDE Realisation Articles "(Further) Stretching Your Limits of Morality"

      Precept Test Set A- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/187
      Precept Test Set B- http://groups.yahoo.com/group/zeph/message/187
      Precept Test Set C- http://asp.thedailyenlightenment.com/43.htm#Realization
      Intro to the 5 Precepts- http://asp.thedailyenlightenment.com/specials/lamp/precepts.asp

      Thank you for your participation in these thought experiments!

      Precept Set A

      You are on your way to attend this once in the lifetime Dharma talk by the Buddha in this famous beautiful grove. However, the only way to this grove is to walk through this unbearable desert. After walking for days, you realise you have just finished all your food and water, but there is only a few miles before you reach the grove. You desperately need to drink some water in order to survive to walk out of the desert. While in despair, you find a small oasis! When you are about to help yourself to the water, you discover lots of tiny harmless living water creatures in it. If you would go ahead to drink to survive, you will kill them, if not you will surely die in the desert and be unable to meet the Buddha, what would you do?

      1) get myself in a lotus position and meditate.  if i shud die, then i shud die peacefully.
      2) Try to filter out the creatures. If not possible, then forget the water and struggle on.
      3) I'll drink the water
      4) Will not drink as it will kill the insects.
      5) Drink and live to listen to the Dharma talk. Firstly, I am not allowed to kill myself. Secondly, I have living in my own body countless of sentient beings; if I don’t live, they die too. Thirdly, as a human being, I have a greater chance to attain enlightenment in this lifetime compared to the tiny water creatures. I drink the water to live, but before I do that,I set my motivation to achieve complete, total enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings and after drinking, I dedicate the merits of listening to and practicing the Dharma to the tiny water creatures as well as all sentient beings, and vowed to bring them all to enlightenment when I am enlightened myself.

      This story is of two monks walking through the desert to go and meet the Buddha. One of them chose to drink and preserve his life to meet the Buddha, the other one could not bear himself to do it, and thus died. When the surviving monk met the Buddha, he also saw a majestic Bodhisattva with Him. And this Bodhisattva was the monk who refused to sacrifice the living creatures in the water for his own benefit. And with this great compassion, he was reborn as a Bodhisattva and got to met the Buddha first. The Buddha said that those that see the Dharma sees the Buddha. The physical form of the Buddha 'is not' the real Buddha. See the Dharma first! This is an extreme case and what said in No.5 is not wrong either- depends on how you look at it. (Note that extremely simple cellular lifeforms are not sentient lifeforms- though it can be tricky differentiating.)

      You have finally managed to accumulate this great amount to pay your bad debts but you still lack some money. To make things worse, there is absolutely no one you can approach for help and if these bad debts are not cleared by the given time today, you will be charged in court and probably face jail and bankruptcy. Just as you are totally at your wits' end, someone walks by and dropped something while taking out his handkerchief. You pick it up and to your ultimate surprise, it is a cash cheque of the exact amount of money you lack for your debts! What would you do?

      1) run after the person who dropped the cheque. it's not my money. 
      2) Return to the owner.
      3) I know it's bad, but left with no choice,i will take the cheque
      4) Will still return the cheque. The owner may give a reward, and i may be able to make up for the shortage.
      5) Run after the person and return the money to him. If he happened to be a bodhisattva-in-disguise and was trying to help me repay my debts, he may not acknowledge the money is his, and insist that I take the money. If he takes back the money, and if I finally go to jail, I will do so with a clear conscience, knowing that I have created the karma to receive wealth in the future, keeping the three spheres of emptiness in mind.

      Sadhu! (Excellent!) Yes, karma will take care of our just deserts, but we ought to train our mind to forget doing good just for benefit in the future. Doing good should be just purely for doing good, that's the way of Bodhisattvas. In fact, this is even more "good"!

      You have always been very fond of your best friend's slightly underaged sibling, and the two of you truly care and understand each other very well. You even realise that you two get along and communicate much better than with your spouse. One day, you were told of her/his illness which has only 50% chance of survival if s/he undergoes treatment, thus leaving not much time to to live. S/he approaches you and confesses her/his feelings and you have always feel the same way. Her/his final wish before admitted to the hospital for treatment is to spend just a night with you and make love to you. What will you do?


      1) tell the sibling, we'll meet again in another lifetime. don't have sex.
      2) Reject his offer and pray for him.
      3) I'll fulfill her wish
      4) Will not agree to spending the night with her cos it may cause me and my wife to not trust each other.
      5) Tell him that we were lucky to have met one another and this is due to the fact that we have kept our morality well in the past. To meet again inour future lives and continuing our beautiful relationship, we have to keep our precepts strictly. Besides, our love for one another is far more superior than the gross act of normal human sexual intercourse. The reason why Buddha left his family to search for the Truth simply because he loved all beings as equal, He did not love His family any less by leaving them, in fact it was out of great compassion and love for them and for all sentient beings as well.

      No.5 is well said! 

      Your supervisor had made a big mistake, and s/he expect you to keep it a secret, even though no agreement was made between you and her/him. You realise s/he had pushed the blame on someone else, resulting in that person being reprimanded but let off with a severe warning from the boss. After this, your boss causally asks about your opinion on the matter. If you tell him/her what your supervisor had said, you know you will be guaranteed a promotion and increment, even though it is not what you have worked hard to deserve. If not, you know your life in the office will be a living hell and that your integrity will be at stake for not standing up in the first place. What will you do?

      1) tell the truth to the boss in a nice way without malice.  
      2) Express my opinion but not expose the supervisor directly. Let boss figure out on his own.
      3) I'll tell the boss the truth 
      4) Will still speak the truth, cos someone innocent has been framed.
      5) When the boss asks, tell the boss to investigate the matter more thoroughly before jumping into conclusion. Then talk to supervisor skillfully, see can persuade her to tell the truth. If it does not work, resign and then write a letter to the boss to tell the boss the truth. Then happily go and find a new job.To be able to let go at the right time isn't easy for many of us. At time, we unintentionally get too attached to things around us which unknowingly bring us suffering. Fame, money and status may be alluring, how long can it last? If Buddha can gave up the entire kingdom for a simple truth in life, what so great about our asset compare to His?

      If we remember to speak for the truth with good motivation at the right time in the right way, perhaps everything will turn out fine- even if in a way you never thought was possible.

      You have walked a great distance under a blazing sun. You are perspiring a lot, and finally find a convenience shop to quench your extreme thirst. To your dismay, there are only a few fruity-flavoured but alcoholic drinks and a few really awful tasting non-alcoholic drinks on the shelf. Knowing that within the next few miles there would not be any place that sell drinks, what will you do?

      1) stick to the awful non-alcoholic drinks. they won't kill you.
      2) Take the non-alcholic drinks.
      3) I'll buy a few can of fruity-flavoured but alcoholic drinks
      4) Will buy the bad tasting non-alcholic drinks.
      5) How awful can a drink get?! Better to have a bad taste lingering inthe mouth for days than a mind spinning bad thoughts all the time due to the alcohol!

      The 5th percept helps to preserve the integrity of the 5 percepts. If one is to indulge and break the 5th percept, one might lose mindfulness and consequently break the first 4 precepts. The tricky thing is knowing how much alcohol will make you drunk. The safest bet is always not to touch a single drop.

      Precept Set B

      Your farm recently invited a group of pests. They destroy your crops and your livelihood. Killing them is techically the recommended way of getting rid of them. What will you do?

      1) I will still destroyed the pest in order to safe the crop. There is no other way out.
      2) kill the pests. my produce is better for mankind.
      3) Kill the pests.
      4) Out with no choice, will kill them.
      5) I will kill them.
      6) Will kill, cos they harm the crops, and may harm other's crops.

      Why not chant out of Compassion... and sincerely hope they will leave? It might work- as there have been similar cases! When in a totally desperate situation, sincerely pray to the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas for a "miracle"! Killing is always the last option- even for non-human life.

      Your boss hands you $3000 and asks you to deposit it in an account. You need to settle your children's hospital bills, which has accumulated to about $3000. There is now $3000 in your hands, and it will stop the worries that have been bothering you for the past few months. You know your boss will not notice the amount missing for quite some time. What will you do?

      1) Just deposit the money in the bank without second thought and approached boss for help.
      2) Deposit the money in the bank like the boss says. it's not my money.
      3) Do as requested - deposit into his account.
      4) I'll deposit the $3000 into the account as per boss's instruction. I'll try to talk to boss about my problem & borrow money from him.
      5) I will refrain myself from using the money and deposit the money into the bank. Since the money did not belong to me, I shouldn't take it. Maybe if i did, I will continue the next time.
      6) Will deposit it into the boss's account. 

      Why not tell your honestly boss your problem and your temptation to steal his money? Ask him for help sincerely. It is not wise to compound problems by creating new ones unnecessarily.

      You had a quarrel with your spouse. You confided in a friend of the opposite gender. You find comfort in your friend's tender care and concern. It arouses strong sexual desires with your friend. What will you do?
      1) I will not because I still love my spouse.
      2) run. don't sleep with other people. you'll have trouble no end.
      3) Run!
      4) Try my best to run away from it before I do anything wrong. 
      5) TestAvoid him/her from then onward.
      6) Will not have sex.

      Sleep on it! Not with him/her! Why break your marital vows over a moment's emotions? If you find that you truly love him/her more and prefer a divorce with your spouse, why not wait and ask for one before making love with him/her? True love can wait, can't it? In this way, no one betrays or is betrayed, legally or emotionally.

      You searched for 6 months before landing on a job. You make a mistake and you know you can get away by telling a lie. The job means a lot, and you can't afford to lose it. Telling the truth risks losing your job. What will you do?

      1) I will still tell the truth even if i will to lose my job.
      2) tell the truth. if the boss is understanding, he'll trust you even more. if he fires you, then he's not worth working for.
      3) Lie if it doesn't cause harm to others
      4) Admit the mistake & learn from it.
      5) Keep mum about the lies.
      6) Will tell the truth

      Why not speak the truth, and at the same time, tell him you are truly sorry and that you really need the job?
      (If we remember to speak for the truth with good motivation at the right time in the right way, perhaps everything will turn out fine- even if in a way you never thought was possible.)

      You are invited to a dinner. You are seated at a table with 9 others. Drinking and smoking is a custom with them and you are constantly persuaded to drink and smoke. You know they will think it of you as impolite if you reject. What will you do?

      1) Tell them that I am on medication.
      2) continue to refuse to drink and smoke.  but don't let them feel bad.  join in the merriment and stay happily sober.
      3) Stick to not drinking and smoking. Else, make an excuse to leave. 
      4) Will drink/smoke a bit, to show politeness.
      5) TestEven though it is impolite to reject them but for our own sake, will reject them.
      6) Will not drink by finding some good excuse

      If these people you have to mingle with cannot have the courtesy to acknowlege a courteous refusal to drink and smoke, perhaps you better find new friends (or another job if this is job-related)! True friends understand your principles and respect them even if they do not stand by them or "buy" them.

      Precept Set C

      You discovered the murderer who killed all your loved ones. He is unrepentant and you have at hand the plan for his perfect murder. You can report him to the police, but he might escape. What will you do?

      1) i would kill the guy, he has already caused great suffering and without repentance he might not learn otherwise. And i view death as only transition and so there for not really bad but just another opportunity for him to change from it.
      2) Kill him, so that he won't go round harming others.
      3) He must be reported to the police as he must be punished under the human law for the crimes he made. At the same time, I must be forgiving as he will still be punished due to the karmic actions he made. What goes around comes around. A person that had killed who invariably creates hell for himself. He might still be a human but undergoing hellish experiences. Therefore, he is still pitiful in certain sense.
      4) I will call the police and then monitor the suspect.  If there is a need, I will follow the suspect as carefully as possible and will give the police updates on my whereabouts. I hope our police force is as efficient as I trust them to be.
      5) First of all, I will lock him up, bash him up and report to police.
      6) go with my perfect murder plan, to stop him to kill more people.
      7) I think if he is unrepentent and reporting to the police may let him on the loose for further killing sprees, then its better to finish him off there and then and try to tell him to repent before he dies
      8) report to the police about the murderer and not take law into my own hands. It's against buddha's teachings to kill especially a human. I believe Justice will prevail under the system of karma - or cause and effect. You will reap what you sow and there is no avoidance.
      9) I will report the murderer to the police, not because he has killed my family, but I do not want to see him sin again.

      Which is your answer? Human life is precious even for an evil person. Why not try to keep him occupied or distracted till the police come? If he tries to escape, trap him such that he will not be able to get away. No.3 is a good answer- but as he might kill more, it is important to ensure police come in time.

      You discover a bag of 1 million dollars and no one knows it. What will you do with it?

      1) the million dollars i would take and give to the world wildlife fund or something, and of course keep some for myself (because wasn't it my karma that brought that to me in the first place?)  maybe i wouldn't keep it and just give it all away, because i know that desires are endless and even with a million dollars i probably still wouldn't be happy! i would travel some with it though. besides you have to think of the source of that million and what they would do with it...weight for weight it's better that i have it than them. 
      2) Give to the police.
      3) I will take that bag of money not for myself only. I will donate a portion of that cash & keep the rest for a rainy day. I am still a human with desires thoughts. I can give a perfect answer to this precept problem but it will be fake. This is my true answer.
      4) Keep and use whenever needed for good cause- even if personal.
      5) I will keep the money and at the same time contribute to charity.
      6) if the person is very rich, i will donate  1/2 million to charity, keep the other 1/2 to myself, the rest of my life , i will just do charity works , try not to spend it.
      7) This is a very difficult question for me as I have mentioned that my greed is still quite overwhelming...  so although the model answer is obviously to handover the money so as to avoid the person who lost it from grieving over it, I really doubt if I would have the strength to hand it over... but eventually I'm certain I will, since conscience will nag me day and night... but if we find like $2 change and keep it, is it ok?
      8) it is very tempting to keep the S$1 million. But i will have to check around and see if anybody really lose the money - that will be difficult as many would claim to be theirs and money cannot be identified unlike let's say jewellery with unique characteristics. Most likely i will wait in that area for some time hopefully the owner will turn up. Much as i am tempted, i will remind myself to put myself in the person's shoes that how i would feel if it was me who lose the S$1 million! Prob the best person to consult is my mum since she is wiser and a better buddhist than me. If i keep the money, i will take a portion for my family esp my parents to make sure they have a comfortable (not luxurious) retirement nest, give my siblings, keep some for myself and use the rest to promote a charitable cause esp to champion for animal rights. Human charities and esp those well publicised human charities are many but very few pple or even the society recognizes that animals are very impt part of this world and i would like to help as many as i can. Hopefully to build an animal shelter.
      9) I will not touch the money at all, no matter how large the sum is. Serious.

      Shouldn't the owner be located best you can? The owner might have important use for his money. We should not play guessing games and assume he will be fine without it. It doesn't matter what amount it is. If it is very small and that the owner can't be found, you might want to consider donating it on the owner's behalf to help others.

      You discover the girl/guy of your desires (a stranger) trapped, blindfolded and abandoned in a deserted place. She/he had undergone torture and is "used" to it. You think of freeing her/him. But the thought arises that you can fulfill your wildest fantasy before doing so- since she/he and no one else will ever know. What will you do?

      1) would do the "right thing"
      2) Free her with no ill intentions.
      3) What's the point of indulging sexual senses when no love is present. Though sexual experiences are pleasurable but it must be done with love.If this gal is willing & she loves me, I will indulge it.
      4) Its not right to exploit a person at their most helpless period. 
      5) Never have any wild desire if he is my dream guy and first of all, get him up and help him to the police-station.
      6) Just release him. not to do anything to him. will not do anything to his body as this is not his wish.
      7) I will let him/her go straight away, the person ought to get treatment soon!
      8) i would never harm anyone i love and also take advantage of helpless people. Even if i succeed and no one knows, i can never live with the guilty consciences which will live with me forever. That mental torture is not worth the momentary pleasure!
      9) I will save him. How can one has such evil thoughts when they came upon such people in need of help?

      One's pleasure derived from another's displeasure is not only not real pleasure or love, it can scar the victim for life, and the guilty for life too. Free him/her!

      You discover that by telling one simple lie, you will be the heir to 1 million dollars. What will you do? 

      1) would do the "right thing"
      2) Won't lie to get the $1 mil.
      3) If the lie that i have told does not bring any form of harm to others. I will say it. Lies can come in good form too.
      4) it really depends on what "simple" lie means.  but one lie will lead to another who is actually more than 1 simple lie - I'm very sure I'll end up with more than 1 simple lie. Guess that 1 million is never meant to be mine otherwise I don't even need to lie to get it.
      5) What is the lie? Will it cause any injury or unpleasant mental suffer to one's being. If the white lie is good for him, I will do it.
      6) ignore it.
      7) Again, very tempting... a lie for lots of money... probably not.. will try to resist it.
      8) As far as possible i will not lie, i will only tell harmless white lies. As in 3rd precept, having to live with guilty conscience is worst than getting S$1mil. You may end up having to tell more lies to cover this first lie and in the end the worst consequence is you lose everything if the money is not meant to be yours.
      9) Just one simple lie will do? What's the lie about? Will it cause harm, reputation or someone else's image worst? If it causes harm to myself or anyone else, I will NOT do it.

      If the lie will not lead to more lies, and if it will lead to much good and no evil results, one can perhaps consider? But what if you are discovered one day? One way to live without fear and guilt is to tell no lies at all. If you choose to tell a lie, be prepared for any unforseen results of exposure- even if you did charity with all the money.

      You discover an abandoned cellar of assorted infamous drugs and liquor. What will you do?

      1) there are some drugs (pot, mushrooms, peyote) i would take and others (alchol, meth, and some other wicked ones) i would leave alone. when used in a spiritual manner they are a booster on the spiritual path as they open you up to things you couldn't have gotten to without years of practice
      2) Destroy them
      3) I will not consume it as it might be infamous but it is still unknown. I am fearful of the pain & suffering caused when consuming such things. Perhaps, I will just take it & display at my house since it is infamous.
      4) I will never drink it - don't know if it is toxic and consumable.  I never trust food and drinks from unknown sources. 
      5) I will report to the police at once!  
      6) ignore it.
      7) I don't do drinks and drugs on an abusive level ever, so I guess if its abandoned, I will test the contents and if suitable, sell it
      8) I am not interested in drugs nor liquor but will prob take some liquor for my frens or family members provided they are not drunkards. Else i will sell the liquor to raise funds if it really belongs to no one. Part of the money raised will go to charity.
      9) Sorry, I don't go to karaoke, discos, let alone drinking liquor or drugs.Sounds perfect huh? I am but a layman, still a very, very long way to go.Take care and keep smiling.

      Destroying them is a wonderful idea! Since these items are useless and potentially dangerous. (And no, drugs don't really get you spiritual highs- they only simulate them poorly with terrible side effects!)

      As I read the scenerios, all I could think of is reality TV on U.S. television. One can see many deceptions, and treachery on these programs. I think, at least for me, the problem is not the big million dollar decisions, but the little everyday events. For example, telling a little "white" lie calms everyone and makes the going much smoother. Or the flirt one may be with a person, knowing that they already are "spoken for". Or the extra penny that may be given in change. This is the test that is on the opposite end, the small stuff, that shows how fine one's morality is. -Woldcircledog

      Answers submitted by www.TheDailyEnlightenment.com readers
      Compilation & Comments by 
      shian@... & zlyrica@...
      Other comments are welcomed :-]

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