For most of my time living in the United States, I’ve had trouble figuring out what seemed off about this place. No matter where I’d go, from coast to coast, there always seemed to be something lacking. An adaptive person skilled at learning new customs and languages, fitting in wherever I find himself, I learned, also, to fit into the American modus operandi, copying the acts, actions, and thinking patterns of the people living around me.
Since I frequently choose to move my body around atop a bicycle instead of inside a motorized battering-ram / cocoon of glass, plastic, and steel, this, among other actions, meant yelling or fuming at other people who were committing what I considered to be errors. These perceived errors include poor lane maintenance (i.e. straying), texting or status-updating while driving, not paying attention to the road, following other vehicles too closely, speeding, running stop signs and red lights, failing to use blinkers when turning, and not yielding to pedestrians in their crosswalks. No matter how long I’d bang my head against the wall and bemoan the recklessly aggressive state of motor-vehicle operation in many parts of America, however, I only ended up making myself more upset - without effecting positive change in the world. Then, I discovered texts talking about the ten non-virtuous actions of Buddhism. At which point everything changed.
After studying the short list of non-virtues found in the Buddhist teachings, it suddenly became clear to me why I’ve felt inherently bad during these many years of living in America, and strangely hollow, and fundamentally cut off from an eternal and powerful force with which in my younger days I once felt connected. One explanation for why I’ve felt poorly is due to bad karma and shoddy virtue brought about by my persistent and frequent violation of the aforementioned rules. After reading them, most living persons who view this post are likely to find that these rules transcend background, heritage, nationality, and religion - that they embody Truth.
As with similarly powerful teachings, these rules cannot be unlearned; the mere knowledge of their existence is transformative. For persons living today, hope is not lost: avoidance of the ten non-virtues and adoption of the ten virtues (even tentative, or sporadic) will bring about a shift in thought and act profound and wide-reaching. There’s nothing to lose, and Everything to gain. Please start today.
‘A journey of a thousand miles starts with a single step.’ Laozi, Daodejing, ch. 64
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I bicycle, write, surf, and strive.