Monk In The World

To be a monk is to have time to practice for your transformation and healing. And after that to help with the transformation and healing of other people.

Thich Nhat Hanh

Thursday, March 17, 2011

The Gym and the Eightfold Path or Right Action vs Being Good

So I finished my sixty minutes on the elliptical, grabbed my kindle, grabbed my keys and started to head out the door. About that time I thought about “right action” and got the paper towel, sprayed the machine down and wiped it off – “right action”.

As I was wiping the machine down I thought about the “why” of doing this. From my Christian heritage I would be saying that this makes me a good person, this “doing the right thing”.

Then I thought about it from a Buddhist perspective – It was being done because it just simply was “the right thing to do”, there was no good or bad person involved, only the “right action”.

The action was the same from both perspectives but the experience of the action seems totally different to me.

What a wonderful path this is!



Scruff said...

As a Christian, I would also have wiped off the seat because "it was the right thing to do," not because I thought it made me a good person. I don't think that the oldest Christian tradition (i.e., the New Testament) would teach that wiping off the seat makes you a good person either - rather, "doing the right thing" is simply one of the fruits of a life that is truly lived in the presence and awareness of grace.

I certainly don't think Jesus would say, "Those who wipe of the seat are good people." Rather, he would command, "Wipe off the seat," allowing the listener to infer, "because it's the right thing to do."

I think that often you use "Christian tradition" and "Western Church tradition" synonymously. I would encourage you to be careful in this respect - you and I both know just how different they are. Yes, the self-righteous or works-theology Christian would wipe off the seat probably to get "heaven brownie points." But let us not rebrand what Jesus intended just because so many "Christians" get it wrong.

Deep bows,

your son

Monkintheworld said...

My son makes a good point here. Thank you for pointing out how I actually pigeon holed Christianity in my statement.

I think what I am trying to say, regarding the Christian tradition, is that there are those in "some" Christian camps who are motivated to do certain things in hopes of some kind of merit from God and for other reasons beside the reason of just doing the right thing.

What I am trying to reveal in the sharing of this experinece was the experience of just doing the right thing withou a self involved...

It was a moment of awakening for me regarding what that kind of action really means.

Bows to you son,


Annotated Margins said...

Yes. Bows to you.