Beyond ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, In Thought, Word And Deed

In (the movie) ‘Bohemian Rhapsody’, before Freddie Mercury made it to the big time, his father semi-admonishingly reminded him of his family’s Zoroastrian spiritual roots, by quoting their faith’s ‘motto’, ‘Good Thoughts, Good Words, Good Deeds’. Years later, when he returned with news that he will be performing pro bono with the rest of his band (Queen) in an international fund-raising charity concert (Live Aid), he replied to his father, ‘Good thoughts, good words, good deeds. Just like you taught me, Papa.’ As such, very moved, his father expressed great gladness.

Interestingly, as a ‘parallel’ in Buddhism, there are three channels through which positive or negative karma can be created – via body, mouth and mind (身口意), as expressed in deeds, speech (and other forms of communication) and thoughts. That powered by the three poisons (三毒) of greed, hatred and delusion (贪嗔痴) will plant karmic seeds for suffering. That powered by the opposites, the ‘three antidotes’ of generosity, compassion and wisdom, will plant karmic seeds for happiness. As for what defines these virtues, further learning will be needed to know their fine details.

Also related to what constitutes basic ‘good(ness)’ is observation of the Five Precepts (五戒) to [1] avoid killing, [2] stealing, [3] sexual misconduct, [4] lying and [5] intoxicants (不饮酒). As an extension, this is while practising the Ten Good Karmas (十善业) of [1] not killing (不杀生), [2] not stealing (不偷盗), [3] not having sexual misconduct (不邪淫), [4] not having false speech (or lying) (不妄语), [5] not having double-tongued (or equivocal) speech (不两舌), [6] not having harsh (and vulgar) speech (不恶口), [7] not having useless (or frivolous) speech (不绮语), [8] not having greedy desires (不贪欲), [9] not having anger (不嗔恚) and [10] not having evil (or deluded) views (不邪见).

Summing up simply on how we should conduct ourselves, as the Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng (净土宗十三祖印光大师) taught in ‘One Letter As A Common Reply’《一函遍复》, he wrote, ‘Maintain a good heart, say good words, and do good deeds. Those with the ability to do so, should earnestly do so. Those not able to do so, also should give rise to this good heart, or encourage those with the ability to do so.’ (存好心,说好话,行好事。力能为者,认真为之。不能为者,亦当发此善心,或劝有力者为之。) Regardless of our faiths (or ‘faithlessness’), may all strongly believe in the power and worth of being good and doing good, for the spiritual and material welfare of one and all!

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