Not Rectifying Evil As Evil

For self-liberation,
it is a fault not to address one’s faults.
For others’ liberation,
it is a fault not to address their faults.


16. Chandragomin: Not correcting others despite their kleshas [defilements, e.g. greed, hate, delusion]: The sixteenth secondary misdeed [of the Bodhisattva vows] emphasizes our responsibility for the behaviour of others. When we have the opportunity to favourably influence people who are behaving badly and can see that treating them harshly [or gently, with good intentions] would put an end to their negative conduct, we must not hesitate to do so. If we remain silent simply because we are afraid of irritating them, it is a misdeed associated with kleshas.

This refers to  situations where we see that by dealing with people severely we could help them correct themselves but we do not want to get involved. We say nothing because we fear that they might take offence. An exception is when the people’s misbehaviour is insignificant and concerns mainly affairs of this life alone, and interfering would pain them and distress them greatly. When they would benefit only very briefly from our intervention or when it could at best bring about a short-lived change in them, it is better to remain silent. The same is true when our efforts would create great obstacles for them.

In short, this misdeed consists of letting others make serious mistakes when we could do something to prevent it. The present secondary misdeed is well as the previous one [of not appropriately rejecting misplaced disrepute] are both contrary to an aspect of the Bodhisattva ethic of helping others, which is eliminating the harmful activities of others.

The Bodhisattva Vows
(A Practical Guide to the Sublime Ethics of the Mahayana)
Venerable Dagpo Lama Rinpoche
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