Pursuing my research on Eastern and Western values for my book collection, my mind is waggering left and right, as I continue to discover more and more on the human mind, seen from the viewpoint of an Asian, and a Buddhist.
Working on my book series on Education, Cultures and Ethics in the Vietnamese context, I have started to gather a long list of “goodreads” planned for Summer, among them, the history of Buddhism. My readings of today brought me on the path of retracing the evolution of Buddhism through times and space, starting with where Buddhism took its root, then to China with the translated works of Chinese Buddhist Monk ” Ven. Huyen Trang”, Vietnamese Buddhist Monks and Nuns in Japan, Tibet, Australia, Germany, America and elsewhere. The list is long, but my memory is short, so I will just share some works of German British author Edward Conze and American author Alexander Berzin.
According to these authors, throughout the history of expansion of religions in the world, Buddhism is the only religion that has never shed any drop of blood of mankind on its road to conquest the human mind and heart. Indeed, my idea on common shared values is about finding a common ground to share our values to live peacefully with each other.
The buddhist values start with the principle “Do no harm“, that means, don’t kill (eat vegetarian), don’t steal (do not cheat or take away things without the consent of others, including plagiarism), don’t lie (do not use indulge into false interpretation or fake-news is part of it), don’t drink (do not take substances that destroy your body and mind), don’t indulge into wrong relationships (as they cause suffering to others).
In my childhood upbringing, these values are tied up with family values (respect of your ancestry, worshipping rituals, solidarity to your brothers and sisters and your parents, protect the reputation of the clan, etc) are part of the first upbringing. As a means of education, these values are often shown through movies, or sketches, that I often saw in my younger days. But with time, it seems that the younger generations are not reminded of these basic values, and the modern Vietnamese society is now showing the terrible consequences of this absence of family values.
Also in my younger days before the end of the war, social civic responsibility were taught in school, and our monday morning always started with saluting the national flag and singing the national anthem (in South Vietnam). I do not see this practice in Western countries any more, but was amazed that this practice is still maintained in some African countries before we start a conference. It’s a wonderful feeling to see young men and women feeling proud of their nation and the God who created us all.
Buddhist rituals also remind of the importance of maintaining and respecting the religious community – monks and nuns and followers – as, without a community, and the reminder of doing good, we are easily swayed away by temptation. In our religions, the rituals are not imposed but rather encouraged by a daily meditation that helps sets the peaceful framework for our daily deeds – with mindfulness.
Although we practice buddhist rituals on certain occasions of the month as eating vegan during 1, 2 or 4 days according to the lunar cycle, or on special buddhist days and on the Lunar year, my mother did pray 2 times a day, with chanting a prayer that I later learn as the “Heart Sutra” which contains the essence of the buddhist philosophy on the impermanence of Life. Only later in my fifties, had I seriously taken up my learning of Buddhism as a philosophy, although I had been practicing it throughout my whole life.
So, to me, common values are values that all of us recognize as part of the universally accepted behaviour that do no harm to any body and not even to oneself, translated into the principle of “DO NO HARM”.
I have added a short description of myself on my profile. That is “BE GOOD”.
Have a good Sunday to all.