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Wisdom Spotlight - Issue #15 - Societal Human Values

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Wisdom Spotlight

August 16 · Issue #15 · View online

A monthly spotlight on Dharma education and practice resources from Samye Institute.


Societal Human Values

Dear Student,
People who attend Buddhist teachings or meditation retreats often ask the lamas what they should practice after they return home. We may be keen to jump immediately into meditation practice and we wish to receive profound teachings. And many people ask Phakchok Rinpoche and his lamas how they can check for signs that their practice is unfolding properly. But Rinpoche often reminds us that when Buddhism first went to the West, the teachers did not always begin with Dharma teachings. Normally, great teachers start by teaching simple but crucial core points. And this is not only true for western audiences. Classically trained teachers lead their students in a gradual progression beginning with self-reflection. Thus we develop qualities by first learning the way to become good human beings. Once we have embraced these qualities, we will be confident that we have prepared our minds and hearts for more advanced topics. And then we can progress rapidly along the path.
Ashokan Edicts in Delhi
Ashokan Edicts in Delhi
Traditional texts offer several different lists of instructions and advice for ethical behavior. We know that the Indian Mauryan emperor Ashoka erected pillars with royal edicts throughout his kingdom during the 3rd century BCE. In these, he encouraged what he termed “universal dharma” or moral codes. And when Buddhism came to Tibet, Emperor Songtsen Gampo (Srong-brtsan-sgam-po), who reigned 629-650 C.E., promoted a moral code known as the Sixteen Principles of Societal Human Values (Tib.: mi chos gtsang ma bcu drug). The Emperor also established new legal codes based on Buddha’s ten virtuous actions as a benchmark for societal health. Like Ashoka, he urged his countrymen to measure their behavior by adhering to these practices. 
Songsten Gampo
Songsten Gampo
The current Dalai Lama often reminds large audiences of these shared values for human society. He refers to them as secular ethics or universal values and he makes it part of his mission to share these with all those he meets. 
Samye Institute offers a series of reflections on these 16 societal values. As we begin, we first study the principles and see if they make sense to us. Then we can put them into practice and engage in self-reflection. We often ask Rinpoche how to share our Buddhist path with friends and family. If we begin with these principles, we can be sure that we are bringing benefit. Rinpoche says this is very important. When we wish to transform ourselves, we can remember core ethics. And because ethical behavior is fundamental for all human beings, we can discuss these principles with others and begin meaningful conversations about how we can live most happily with our fellow beings.
We encourage you to browse these topics and discuss them with your family and friends. We can build a better world together if we commit ourselves to respecting each other and adopt these universal principles!
Wisdom Spotlight
Here are the latest posts from the series Societal Human Values:
Being Patient and Farsighted and Enduring Hardship
Speaking Moderately and in a Gentle Way
Not Being Influenced by Evil Companions
Latest Wisdom Blogs
Samye Institute posts regular wisdom blogs, covering various aspects of Buddhist practice, ritual and education. Here’s what we posted in the last month.
Multiplying Effects: Five Ways of Multiplying Merit
Educational Resources on Samye Institute
For those of you who want to learn in more detail, we have the following courses available on our platform. Each course is presented in a structured way and also has access to forums and instructor support.
About Samye Institute
Do you know that we’ve published over 500 pieces of content since our inception? On SamyeInstitute.org we offer a large archive of audio, video, and written teachings including many teachings directly from Phakchok Rinpoche.
All of these articles include key points and many offer reflection exercises or contemplations. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to or watch these teachings before, we hope that you will take the time to explore them.
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