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Discipline (Keeping Promises) Is the Basis of Trust

Buddhism teaches many good deeds that bring us happiness.

Shakyamuni Buddha summarized them into six, called

the “Six Paramitas.” So far we have learned about the first one, “giving.” This month, let’s learn about the next one, “discipline.”

In Japanese, the word translated as "discipline" (jikai) is written with Chinese characters meaning "keep the precepts." Precepts are rules that forbid Buddhists from doing certain things in their daily lives. Buddhist priests have to observe many precepts.

Discipline” is observing such precepts.

However, “discipline” is recommended not only to Buddhist priests but also to us ordinary people. For us, it means that we must make sure our deeds match our words. In other words, we should keep promises no matter what. Let us read a fable on this from the Old Sutra of Various Fables.

The King Who Fulfilled a Promise to an Ogre One day, just as a king was about to set off from his castle to go hunting, an ascetic came along, presenting him with the opportunity to do the good deed of giving. The king wanted to make a donation, but he had no time. He asked the ascetic to wait in the castle until he came back. However, while hunting, the king became so absorbed in chasing his prey that he lost sight of his retainers. While wandering alone, he suddenly encountered a hungry ogre. The ogre looked as if it was going to eat him up right away. The king pleaded, “Wait a minute! This morning I made a promise to an ascetic to give him a donation. I told him to wait for me. If you eat me now, I can’t fulfill the promise. I’ll definitely come back, so would you give me some time?”

The ogre laughed and said, “You smooth talker! You're just trying to run away.” With that, the ogre leaped right at him. But the king stopped the ogre again and pointed out,

“If I were dishonest enough to deceive even a scary ogre, I should have already broken my promise to the ascetic.”

Seeing reason in the king's words, the ogre let him go. The king went back to the castle in a hurry and gave some treasure as the donation he had promised. After entrusting the country's political affairs to his son, he returned to meet with the ogre. Such honesty was enough to move even an ogre. He decided not to kill the king and bowed before him instead.

The king pleaded with the ogre, “I have a promise to fulfill.” Through his actions, he showed his sincerity.

“Keep Your Promises No Matter What,” Says Shakyamuni Buddha After telling this anecdote, Shakyamuni Buddha said,

“Even a worldly king put everything on the line to keep his promise; how much more so must people who practice Buddhism keep up discipline.” A person who keeps promises will be trusted by other people. Such a person will also be blessed with fortune.

The Chinese character for "profit" is written with elements meaning "trust"

and "person". This expresses that fortune comes to those who are trusted. Trust is the most valuable fortune of all.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------ Six Paramitas:

Giving (Kindness),

Discipline (Keeping promises),

Forbearance (Patience),

Diligence (Effort),

Contemplation (Self-reflection)

Wisdom (Self-cultivation) ------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Buddha’s wisdom is the light which brightens our life. If we practice the teachings, our daily life will dramatically change.


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