It is said that if we were to sum up the teachings of Buddhism in one sentence it would be, “Quit doing bad deeds and do good deeds.” This is also the essence of the law of cause and effect, which is the core of Buddhist teachings. A three year old kid may know very well that we should do good deeds, but a man of 80 will find it hard to put into practice. But what is a good deed? We may come up of an endless list of things we consider good deeds, but the Buddha has summarized this into 6. They are the following with a short description of each:
- Kindness or Giving
There are 2 kinds of Kindness or giving, they are:
Non-material giving: Dharma giving or sharing the teachings of Buddhism to others is the best form of non-material giving. There is also what we call the 7 charities (click here to read more about the 7 Charities); warm gaze, smile, kind words, sincere gratitude, physical assistance, yielding, and sharing a meal or shelter. These are also kinds of non-material giving
Material giving: This is giving resources of money. In Buddhism there are 3 fields to to consider in in giving material support, these are called the 3 Fields of Fortune, they are:
Field of Respect:Giving resources or money for those you respect
Field of Gratitude: Giving resources or money for those you owe
Field of Compassion: Giving resources or money to those in need
Good judgement should be cultivated with material giving, as giving resources for the wrong cause or bad cause will result to bad effects.
2. Keeping Promise or Discipline
Don’t break promises as this waste other people’s time and ruin other people’s trust. If you find yourself not being able to carry out a promise you already made, inform the other party so they won’t expect. Also give them the reason why you can’t do what you promised. Nobody likes to be kept hanging in the dark.
3. Patience or Forbearance
Patience is doing something with the situation while we wait for the result. Don’t confuse neglect with patience.
4. Making Effort or Diligence
Making effort is deliberate practice, like doing good deeds even when no one is looking. It is the diligence and consistency of doing things. Small consistencies are better over time.
5. Self-Evaluation or Self-Reflection
Sakyamuni Buddha said we must reflect on our actions 3 times a day. How many of us do that? How many of us even reflect once a day? Self-reflection is focus; the opposite of this is a scattered mind. Self-reflection is looking into ourselves, learning from our mistakes, and promising a changed behaviour.
6. Self-Improvement or Self-Cultivation
This last Paramita is improving of oneself, and this is wisdom. This sums up the other 5 Paramitas.
Choose one good deed you think you can do well and do it the best that you can, eventually you’ll see that you are already also doing the 5 others. Remember to “always do good deeds and quit doing bad deeds,” this is the Buddhist teaching in a nut shell.