The Subduer said that all the unbearable suffering of the three lower realms is the fruition of wrongdoing. Therefore, never committing negative deeds, even at peril to one’s life, is the Bodhisattvas’ practice.
Refraining from Destructive Behavior
A bodhisattva’s practice is never to commit any negative actions,
Even at the cost of our lives, because the Able Sage has declared
That the extremely difficult to endure sufferings
of the worse states of rebirth
Are the results of negative actions.
– The Berzin Archives Thirty-seven Bodhisattva Practices
(Bodhisattva — In Tibetan Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is anyone who is motivated by compassion and seeks enlightenment not only for him/herself but also for everyone…)
OK, don’t mean to sound dull here, I understand refraining from destructive behavior, but the last part of the explanation lost me.
“In plain language, if we do good, good comes from it, and if we do bad, bad comes from it. It is very simple. The effect follows in the same category as the cause. It never fails and, moreover, from small causes we can experience extensive results.
In countries as well, any horrible conditions that happen come from negative forces built up from past destructive actions. In Tibet for instance, we sometimes have drought; our crops fail; sometimes there are wars, invasions, and so forth. All of these are due to our past destructive actions and our lack of positive force. If we do not have any positive force built up from our past actions, then no matter what we do, it will not bring about good conditions. Therefore, we need always to wish for others’ happiness. Like concerning the Chinese, we can only wish them well. We must not wish that bad things befall them. What they experience will be the results of their own actions.
Destructive behavior comes from our disturbing emotions and attitudes and, by acting in this way, we build up negative force, which brings us nothing but suffering. Destructive actions can be of body, speech, or mind. An example for one of the body would be, for instance, killing, which is taking the life of anything from a human down to an insect. It is very negative to kill, so we need to refrain ourselves as much as we can.
All beings have an equal right to life and cherish their lives as much as we do. If we prick our finger with a thorn, we say, “Ouch, I hurt.” Everybody feels exactly the same, all beings. It is especially terrible to sacrifice animals; they still do that in some lands. In the past, they did this in Kinnaur, Spiti, and some places in Nepal, and even in certain districts in Tibet. Superficially, the people there take refuge in me, the Dalai Lama, and then sacrifice animals. This is very bad. Saying the mantra of compassion “Om mani padme hum” and yet sacrificing, that will never, never do.
Next is stealing. This also is very negative. Inappropriate sexual behavior is to have relations with another person’s spouse, or with someone who has a relation with someone else, and not seeing anything wrong in so doing. When we look at the historical literature, most of the various discords and fights in royal families have come from sexual misconduct. It is very destructive.
Next is lying. This too is extremely negative. Of course, to lie to protect someone’s life is something else, but we need always to be honest. If we lie, it brings only unhappiness. We sit in fear that somebody is going to find us out. That always makes for a very uneasy mind, doesn’t it?
Next is divisive language, causing others to be unfriendly and apart. We hear bad things about someone and then spread it; this is very destructive. We need to try to bring other people together. When people live and work together, their harmony is based on mutual confidence and trust. When we look at the Chinese, for instance, they speak of everybody as being comrades, but this is only at the discussion table. Outside, they will not even share a bar of soap with each other. This is because they have no confidence; they do not trust one another. And this comes from causing divisiveness among others. Therefore, never use divisive language.
Next is abusive language, calling other people bad names like “beggar” and so forth. It hurts their feelings: it does not bring happiness at all. Gossip is chattering, always saying meaningless things; it is a complete waste of time.
Then there is covetous thinking. Someone else has something nice, which we would like to have, and we walk along directing all our attention at this object and wishing only to have it. If we are not careful, we will walk right into a wall!
Thinking with malice is next. This is also very negative. It just makes us unhappy. It usually does not hurt the other person; it hurts only ourselves. It is very self-destructive to hold grudges and to wish others ill. We can never solve problems by holding a grudge. Problems can only be solved through compassion, love, and patience; so never harbor ill will. Last is distorted antagonistic thinking: denying what exists or which is true, or making up something that does not exist or which is untrue.
These ten, from taking a life to distorted antagonistic thinking, are the ten destructive actions. We need to realize their disadvantages and refrain from them. The actual practice is, from seeing their drawbacks, to restrain ourselves, with conscious effort and joyful perseverance, from killing, lying and so forth. Even if we cannot refrain completely, we need to try to lessen them as much as we can. This is what follows from taking safe direction.”
— His Holiness the Fourteenth Dalai Lama
translated and condensed by Alexander Berzin, 1983
revised second edition, March 2006