It is no longer a surprise that people of faith could be a superficial follower in name in today’s world. Talk to any one of your contacts, and you will probably hear statements like, “I’m not sure, I’m just following these practices because my parents say so”, or “I don’t know why we have to perform such practices but many Buddhists do the same too!”.
But do you know exactly what it takes to be a good Buddhist? Is merely believing, merely following good enough?
Let’s discuss this topic in detail.
Believing Doesn’t Mean You’re Practising
Anyone who professes to believe in Buddhism is regarded as a Buddhist. However being a Buddhist does not imply one is pious, good and true towards Buddhism.
In many instances where a Buddhist is rigid, naïve, impractical, foolish and selfish in characters, simply believing in a religion does not automatically grant a person as being a refined and respectable person. One needs to witness the exemplary behavior of good manners, obedience to law and order, respect to senior people and being humble in outlook.
At one glance, many Buddhists are believing superficially in the Lord Buddha’s (also revered as the Blessed One) teachings as well The Great Amitabha’s path. Having a superficial belief means you are believing anything for the sake of following what others do and blindly practising any favorable trends without a second thought.
No doubt, it always seems as though the majority is always right. If many Buddhists do this, it must be the right path, yes? Unfortunately, no.
Truth is, merely following without truly understanding the real reason behind such practice is unbeneficial and only brings demerit in our actions. Many are following the trend of certain latest beliefs as being popular and rewarding, when in actual fact these beliefs are just illusions and have no real values in practice.
Differentiating Between The Right & Wrong Things to Do
Given any emergency situations of accidents, thefts or robberies, many Buddhists would simply avoid such scenarios to prevent unnecessary inconvenience of involvement or helping hands as such incidents do not directly benefit anyone. By helping these unfortunate people, we know we will have lots of time and energy wasted just to attend to these victims of circumstances.
However, a true good Buddhist would have no doubt and thought of helping these misfortunate victims. This is because the first thing in their mind would be offering help to lessen someone’s sufferings is meritorious in action. That said, a true good Buddhist will always rush to offer any help to those who are in need of aids regardless of status, creed or race.
Of course, we don’t deny that offering our services of help to others will probably incur some losses – there is no doubt we will naturally suffer as well due to our physical involvement, with time and even money spent during the aid. But if it’s worth your time, energy and money, why not?
To know what makes a good Buddhist, here are some common characteristics or traits found in a true, practising Buddhist:
- A true Buddhist will always sacrifice time, energy and effort over all others without any thought for oneself only. Whenever there is any sight of help needed or financial crisis, a true Buddhist would never hesitate to offer any assistance to overcome anyone such predicament.
- A good Buddhist is one who is never afraid of losing his precious time and money on reducing anyone’s suffering. Of course, a good Buddhist must also safeguard himself from all misfortunes and personal crises by uplifting his mind through proper cultivations and training. This can only be done by initiating correct thought and view through constant pondering, contemplation and meditation.
- A good Buddhist must adhere to all these regular practice of reflections on our actions and thoughts. This way we will surely comprehend that the more we give our services and help to others, the more we will feel at ease as well as light and easy in our daily life.
Managing Your Way of Life
Being a good Buddhist is rather demanding – you will need strict discipline, able to manage your time well as well as fortifying your body to the best of health. Otherwise, we tend to easily become sick, poor, unenergetic, selfish and narrow minded.
Oftentimes, many Buddhist have little time for themselves let alone helping others because of bad time management. Remember, the golden rule in life is that in everything we do, there is always a limit. Everything in this world that we want to do must abide by a certain time to do it.
By observing these two simple rules, we will have sufficient time to do anything that needs to be done.
Everything has a limit, and there is always time for Everything.
Exercising the Right Judgment
Many Buddhists lay their wrong path in cultivation through exhausting themselves attending all kind of functions and celebrations or festivals.
Some will patron all existing Buddhist temples without aim in direction. Others keep on looking for new techniques, new beliefs, new famous teachers and latest developments in spiritual training.
The thing is, all these unwise actions are never fruitful and they are totally unbeneficial to our spiritual development. After decades of rushing and attending to all existing Buddhist temples, many Buddhists become advanced in age and grow too feeble to attend and hear the good golden sermons any longer. This has become a sad, common repercussion of today’s Buddhist followers.
We should always bear in mind that good teachings are hard to find, good spiritual teachers are difficult to locate and excellent temples are rare gems to be discovered. One needs to have patience, endurance and perseverance to search until eventually discovering the true teachings, the true teachers and lastly the genuine, divine temples.
Sometimes, it is deplorable to see a lot of Buddhists being lost in direction due to the vast available sources of Dharma teachings in this world. Remember, good Dharma books are those written by people who have gone through all the hardships of practice and gained blissful liberation of attachment from this world. As a matter of fact, only a handful of such people exist in this world.
It’s A Trap, It’s A Trap!
Many Buddhist fall into the trap of looking at titles, rank and physical features of a Buddhist writer. In Buddhism much the same as in all other religions, the wise and qualified writers are those who are humble and knowledgeable in nature. No one can easily identify such people unless one has also attained successful cultivation.
Again, many Buddhists like to refer to orthodox Buddhism when this form of ancient knowledge could be obsolete in practice or needs to be filtered on the practicality of its application in the modern world before accepting such information into the mind. Knowledge is only useful and beneficial when such information can be applied into our daily life. Otherwise, any knowledge that is theoretical and beyond our scope of application is nothing but useless knowledge.
Heard of the phrase, “To err is human, to forgive is divine”? This statement is a very deep undertaking where an ordinary Buddhist would treat as theoretical in nature beyond one’s ability to perform such divine action. We need to filter this undertaking by pondering and contemplating until we have found a true version of this statement.
An ordinary Buddhist will never able to understand and practice such highly divine action because such nobler character is beyond the scope of a common Buddhist. Only a true and well cultivated Buddhist could really understand and has the ability to perform such a divine action through realising the importance of forgivings and misgivings.
“But he has done evil things to me!”
Any sinful person who has committed act of lying, cheating, adultery, killing and drunk driving can only be forgiven via repentance over his sins. Rather than joining others to simply condemn such people without any substance of care and remedial tasks to neutralize all these bad actions, we should show the sinful person the way to repent his sinful actions instead on our part.
We should enlighten these sinful people on the path of repentance as well as the readiness to undergo and withstand all sorts of misgiving retaliations by the victims without hatred or anger.
It may sound easier said than done, but if you give this some thought, you’ll realise that it makes sense to guide the wrongdoers towards a path of redemption and repentance. After all, someone has to break the chain of anger and hatred and continuous misdeeds, so why not the someone be you?
Gradually, through the years of receiving ends of retaliations while radiating feeling of compassion, kindness and empathy towards those affected victims will eventually subside the victims’ hatred and anger. This is truly the meaning of to err is human while to forgive is divine.
There is always an avenue for a sinful person to repent and given the chance to be forgiven. Meanwhile, we should also show mercy and empathy towards these sinful people who has acted hastily in bad taste by showing them the proper steps to rectify their sins.
So Are You A Good Buddhist?
In truth, Buddhism is abstract but touching in comprehension of its true belief. Many ordinary Buddhists would find such way of life too beyond understanding and awed in belief to require a good critical thinking to realise the significance of all these golden sermons of the Blessed One teachings.
Always think, ponder and analyse prior to following what people say or practising new beliefs blindly.
Stay generous in helping the needy.
Manage your time and priorities well.
When you have these basic understanding of what constitutes a good Buddhist, you will by then be able to evaluate yourself and hopefully, gather enough motivation to become a true Buddhist you should be.
If you have questions about how to be a good Buddhist, share with us in the comments!