When one expresses good will,
one is always blameless.
When one bears ill will,
one is already blameworthy.
Some friends occasionally speak of feeling troubled when they encounter ‘some dressed as Buddhist monastics’ (as they might not be real monastics?) saying or doing what seems to be morally questionable. They express their exasperation at being ‘unable’ to do anything. My reply, is that there is no need to be unhappy, that they can simply remind them that their behaviour ‘seems inappropriate’. The usual rebuttal would be that this sounds disrespectful. However, it need not be disrespectfully done, as one can simply say something calmly but clearly along this line in private – ‘Excuse me Venerable, may I know if this is in line with the Buddha’s teachings?’ This should be asked respectfully instead of accusingly, with palms together.
This is very different from deliberate fault-finding. It is simply expressing concern on likely mistakes, before they possibly spin out of control. It is sad but true that there have been monastics pampered by unquestioning devotees, to the extent that they become seriously distracted from the path to enlightenment. So long as still imperfect, it makes perfect sense to remind one another to walk the path well. Perhaps some monastics have good reasons for their ‘unconventional’ behaviour? If the question is not received in the good spirit in which it was asked, perhaps that monastic is truly a bogus one, or one who really requires deeper reflection for better practice? On our part, ensuring that we are void of ill will and polite with our speech, there is no harm intended or done.
If right on being wrong, one might be inspired to improve. If not, at least you did your bit to help. Even if wronged on being wrong, an understanding monastic would clarify any misperceptions, thus ‘enlightening’ us. In this way, we learn too. It is exactly because we highly respect the monastic community, that we should safeguard its integrity, and not turn a blind eye to what seems glaringly ‘wrong’. The monastic community in turn respectfully safeguards the lay community with timely Dharma advice. The greater the monastic community is in integrity, the greater will it benefit the lay community. If monastic and lay Buddhists do not take care of one another with good will and understanding, who will? Every effort counts.
When we respect an ideal,
we support those upholding the ideal too,
at least by reminding them of this ideal.
Do You Protect Or Endanger The Great Lion?
How You Can Protect The Triple Gem