Updated: Jun 13, 2022
Ethical Conduct Is Practicing Enlightened Behavior
The Buddha’s teachings talk about how important Ethical Conduct is when trying to train the mind to be in the present moment. If our speech and action are causing harm to ourselves and others, the heart and mind will be too disturbed to be able to settle in the present moment. When the heart and mind are able to be in the present moment, then it is possible to see clearly into the nature of things. So, from this perspective, Ethical Conduct plays an important role in developing the Noble Eightfold Path, leading to greater happiness and freedom.
When the heart and mind see clearly into the nature of this world, including ourselves and others, the capacity to harm falls away. It is said that a fully enlightened person is not capable of causing harm. The heart and mind rest in natural awareness and the spontaneous expression of that in the world is compassion. So, from this perspective, practicing Ethical Conduct and non-harming is behaving like someone whose heart and mind are freed to act. When we practice non-harming, we are actually practicing enlightened behavior!
While refraining from saying something biting or nasty to someone doesn’t automatically make one an enlightened person, it definitely waters the seeds of enlightenment that are present in every human being. With non-harming we are literally creating the conditions for awakening. We don’t know how long it will take, but what we can know is that if we keep practicing and creating the conditions that are supportive for awakening, it will happen. And the practice begins and ends with non-harming.