If even Mara
can become a Buddha eventually,
why doubt your ability to do so?
The definitions of good and evil in Buddhism are much more subtly nuanced and realistic than the conventional versions. What is goodness? It is whatever done with the virtues (antidotes) of generosity, loving-kindness (and compassion) and wisdom. It can be a good thought, words spoken or action made. What is evil? It is whatever done with the opposite – the defilements of the Three Poisons (Three Roots of Evil) – greed, hatred and delusion. This means it is the intention behind a deed that determines it to be good or evil. This is the literal meaning of the expression, ‘It is the thought that counts’ – more so than the expressed speech or action. Just as the first two virtues of generosity and loving-kindness arise from the third virtue of wisdom, greed and hatred arise from delusion.
Sometimes, Buddhists prefer to use the terms ‘wholesome and unwholesome’ instead of ‘good and evil’. Similarly, a deed is wholesome or unwholesome when done with virtuous or non-virtuous motivations. Buddhism does not condemn any being to be downright evil, beyond redemption. And unless completely enlightened, no one is good enough to be deemed pure either. When the Buddha encounters one with much unwholesomeness in character, he is able to see beyond the evil ways, and recognise that person to simply lack the skilful nurturing of the roots of goodness, being overwhelmed by the roots of evil at the moment. As all beings have Buddha-nature, the potential to be enlightened, the capacity for repentance of evil and transformation to be good is always present.
There is also no eternal karmic damnation of anyone in terms of hellish retribution as it is impossible and unfair for limited evil done. Even the longest self-sentence to the deepest hell expires after a long time. Likewise, there is no heaven for eternal and complacent resting on one’s laurels due to limited good karma. The universe is never a battlefield of good versus evil in a clear-cut way. As long as not on the irreversible spiritual path towards perfection, the good can backslide to be evil, and the evil progress to be good. We are on a sliding scale, on the grey spectrum of good and evil, with these polar opposites less black and white or cast in stone than assumed. With this understanding, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continually, compassionately and heroically manifest in various ways, even in the hells, to guide beings towards goodness and purity!
Though greater than any heaven,
even Pure Land does not offer eternal life;
what it offers is immeasurable life though –
as much time as needed for graduation – enlightenment.
The worst schools cannot guarantee graduation,
even if one stays in them forever.
Being the best Dharma school in the universe,
graduation from Pure Land is thus guaranteed.
Are You Recycling Yourself Every Three Lifetimes?
Sympathy for ‘the Devil’
Does Thinking Something Bad Create Bad Karma?
If It’s Your Karma To Be Helped Somehow, Why Should I Help You?
The Differences Between Heaven(s) & Pure Land(s)