Open Buddha

Open Source Buddhism, Technology, and Geekery
Bay Area, California

The Calculus of Souls

Some lightweight thought here before I go to bed. Is there a calculus of souls that can be done in regards to ethics and moral imperatives?

Early in life, I was taught, “No,” that there is a clear right and a clear wrong. Doing the right thing for the wrong reasons or doing the wrong thing for the right reasons was never allowable. There were rules and they were meant to be followed. The world was black and white.

Later on, when I was no longer a child, this black and white turned into the endless shade of gray that so many of us are completely mired within. There was no moral compass provided for us. At best, people could find a moral code or some form of honor and hold true to it. Then when you repeatedly failed to live up to it, you could beat yourself about the head and shoulders but think that at least you had a code of some sort and tried.

Now, I actually live with vows that I have sworn to follow. In their most literal sense, they are like the black and white rules of childhood. Tell no falsehoods and promote truth. Kill no one and promote life.

The truth is that seeing these as black and white rules does one no good. No simple rule lives up to the reality of living in the real world within which we all spend our lives. Tell no lies but when they come for the Muslims and ask you if you know where they are, what do you say? Do you weight the rules or make some have precedence over the others?

The truth of the matter is that the questions that these vows make me ask are probably more important in some regard than the vows themselves. That isn’t to say that the vows are then disregarded but they are a living thing that you must contend with, wrestle to the ground, or, if not that, bend and flow with in some manner. The contention, perhaps until there is no contention, somehow, is important.

All things to remember when someone at work asks me if I drank the last of the coffee with a gleam in their eye…