The Perfection of Morality - Síla is twofold



Síla is twofold: as avoidance (varitta) and as performance (caritta). Síla as

avoidance is abstaining from evil. Síla as performance is the right conduct

one should follow. We may abstain from akusala and not transgress the

precepts, but with regard to síla as performance (caritta), we should consider

the Bodhisatta’s conduct, so that we shall further develop kusala. We read

further on:

 

“Herein, at the appropriate time, a bodhisattva practises salutation, rising up,

giving respectful greetings (anjali),

and observing courteous conduct towards good friends worthy of reverence.

At the appropriate time he renders them service,

and he waits upon them when they are sick.

When he receives well-spoken advice he expresses his appreciation.

He praises the noble qualities of the virtuous

and patiently endures the abuse of antagonists.

He remembers help rendered to him by others,

rejoices in their merits,

dedicates his own merits to the supreme enlightenment,

and always abides diligently in the practice of wholesome states.

When he commits a transgression he acknowledges it as such

and confesses it to his co-religionists.

Afterwards he perfectly fulfils the right practice.

 

He is adroit and nimble in fulfilling his duties towards beings

when these are conducive to their good.

He serves as their companion.

When beings are afflicted with the suffering of disease, etc.,

he prepares the appropriate remedy.

He dispels the sorrow of those afflicted by the loss of wealth, etc.-

Of a helpful disposition, he restrains with Dhamma those who need to be restrained,

rehabilitates them from unwholesome ways,

and establishes them in wholesome courses of conduct.

He inspires with Dhamma those in need of inspiration.

And when he hears about the loftiest, most difficult,

inconceivably powerful deeds of the great bodhisattvas of the past,

issuing in the ultimate welfare and happiness of beings,

by means of which they reached perfect maturity in the requisites of enlightenment,

he does not become agitated and alarmed,

but reflects: ‘Those Great Beings were only human beings.

But by developing themselves through the orderly fulfilment of the training

they attained the loftiest spiritual power and the highest perfection in the requisites of enlightenment.

I, too, should practise the same training in virtue, etc.

In that way I, too, will gradually fulfil the training and in the end attain the same state.’

Then, with unflagging energy preceded by this faith,

he perfectly fulfils the training in virtue, etc.

 

Again, he conceals his virtues and reveals his faults.

He is few in his wishes, content, fond of solitude, aloof,

capable of enduring suffering, and free from anxiety.

He is not restless, puffed up, fickle, scurrilous or scattered in speech,

but calm in his faculties and mind.

Avoiding such wrong means of livelihood as scheming, etc.,

he is endowed with proper conduct and a suitable resort (for alms).

He sees danger in the slightest faults,

and having undertaken the rules of training,

trains himself in them, energetic and resolute,

without regard for body or life.

He does not tolerate even the slightest concern for his body or life

but abandons and dispels it;

how much more, then, excessive concern?

He abandons and dispels all the corruptions such as anger, malice, etc.,

which are the cause for moral depravity.

He does not become complacent over some minor achievement of distinction

and does not shrink away, but strives for successively higher achievements.

In this way the achievements he gains do not partake of diminution or stagnation.

 

The Great Man serves as a guide for the blind,

explaining to them the right path.

To the deaf he gives signals with gestures of his hands,

and in that way benefits them with good.

So too for the dumb.

To cripples he gives a chair,

or a vehicle, or some other means of conveyance.

He strives that the faithless may gain faith,

that the lazy may generate zeal,

that those of confused mindfulness may develop mindfulness,

that those with wandering minds may become accomplished in concentration,

and that the dull-witted may acquire wisdom.

He strives to dispel sensual desire, ill-will,

sloth and torpor, restlessness-and-worry,

and perplexity in those obsessed by these hindrances,

and to dispel wrong thoughts of sensuality, ill will,

and aggression in those subjugated by these thoughts.

Out of gratitude to those who have helped him,

he benefits and honours them with a similar or greater benefit in return,

congenial in speech and endearing in his words.

 

He is a companion in misfortune.

Understanding the nature and character of beings,

he associates with whatever beings need his presence,

in whatever way they need it;

and he practises together with whatever beings need to practise with him,

in whatever way of practice is necessary for them.

But he proceeds only by rehabilitating them from the unwholesome

and establishing them in the wholesome, not in other ways.

For in order to protect the minds of others,

bodhisattvas behave only in ways which increase the wholesome.

So too, because his inclination is to benefit others,

he should never harm them, abuse them, humiliate them,

arouse remorse in them, or incite them to act in ways which should be avoided.

Nor should he place himself in a higher position than those who are of inferior conduct.

He should be neither altogether inaccessible to others,

nor too easily accessible,

and he should not associate with others at the wrong time.

 

He associates with beings whom it is proper to associate with

at the appropriate time and place.

He does not criticize those who are dear to others in front of them,

nor praise those who are resented by them.

He is not intimate with those who are not trustworthy.

He does not refuse a proper invitation,

or engage in persuasion,

or accept excessively.”

 

Síla of performance, caritta sila, is subtle and refined, and we should consider it

at the present moment with sati. For example, when a dear friend does

something wrong, one may be off guard and blame him immediately in front of

others. But when sati arises, one will wait for the proper opportunity and speak

to him later on. This shows that defilements have to be worn off time and again,

until they eventually will be completely eradicated.

 

Topic 278



Suggest