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Category Archives: ethics

An Unresolved Question: To what extent do I need to try to eradicate craving, and to what extent do I need to just carry on practicing, thus letting it fall away naturally? Bacon Sandwich

This issue remains unresolved for me. Maybe because some cravings are deeply held – e.g. for approval, or affection – that I don’t even know where to begin in tackling them and want to believe that they will fall away naturally as I mature spiritually. Maybe also because some ‘cravings’ have seemed easy to give up – meat, for example, is something that I still do crave from time to time but I can sit with that and, mostly, manage to keep away. Sometimes I don’t, and I ‘m quite relaxed about that – again because I feel I can trust my practice to do the work for me. So there needs to be willpower about practicing, to keep that persistent – but if practice is solid then is there any need to really work hard on specific areas? Surely they will just cease to be an issue at the time when they cease to be an issue. Like alcohol, which is no longer something I crave, because my entire reaction to it has changed, from seeing it as a pleasurable and probably harmless activity to something which is not enjoyable and interferes with my mindfulness.
I sense myself going around and about the topic so I will stop, but this remains unresolved.

A lot of people get stuck when it comes to the idea of change. Particularly when it comes to making a difference in the world. “What difference can I make? I’m only one person. Why bother if no-one else does?” is often heard. But with ethical actions, the only way that we can make a difference is one action at a time.

It’s like the story of the guy that wanted to make New York City happy. He would work through the taxi drivers – praising them for their ability to cope with such awful traffic, or somesuch – in the hope that they would pass on some of that happiness to their next fare, and then maybe that person would be a little happier at work, or home… You see how it goes, a single action rippling out to affect a wider world.

I also like the story of the finnish governement (disclaimer: i’m not sure if this is true), who apparently sent one low-energy lightbulb to every household. The endeavour cost the same as one new power station, but saved more energy than that station could have produced. Just imagine if we all changed all of our lightbulbs…

In that spirit, may I reccommend We Are What We Do. They’ve published books with titles like ‘Change The World for a Fiver’ that are full of ideas for simple everyday actions that can make a difference if only one person does them, but will probably cause a revolution if we all get on board. I especially like action #77 (which is kind of like the brahma viharas in a nutshell).

There’s something else to say about this – the effectiveness of any action is bound to increase if others know about it. That might be inherent in the act itself (showing empathy, introducing yourself to your neighbours), but it might not be if you do something more personal. For example I recently gave up meat, and that’s great, but it can inspire others to do the same if they know. Be out about your ethical practice, and hey, maybe we can make the world a better place.