Cultivating Virtue

In the Buddhist path we are trying to make sure we are examining and understanding ourselves in all the different areas of our being. We are training to become more mindful and aware so that we suffer less.

We are also trying to cultivate virtue. We want to have basic gentleness. We want to tame our minds and learn how to manage our suffering and transcend our selfishness.

There is a list of characteristics of a Bodhisattva that we want to develop, guidelines on how to begin our journey. These are related to how we behave in interpersonal situations, how we make our livelihood, and how we try to improve society as a whole. Cultivating virtue is fundamental to the path.

Here is a list of Bodhisattva characteristics that we can cultivate. These all connect to each other, so they may seem a little repetitive.
1.Reduced Desire: This is reducing our desire to be comfortable all the time, cultivating an ability to accept things as they are. We want to notice our feelings like boredom and frustration, but to avoid attaching to them.
2.Contentment: This is also called equanimity. This is our sense of accepting things as they are. We want to be content and appreciate what we have. Simplicity is something we can be happy about.
3.Good Conduct: This is our willingness to work on ourselves and try to improve. This is rooted in an awareness of the areas that we need to work on. We should always strive to be awake and aware of the world around us and our actions.
4.Conduct Rooted in Wisdom: This our understanding of who we are and what we’re made of. When we acknowledge our relationship to the world around us, it helps us behave in more virtuous ways. Through studying and understanding the Dharma we can understand our place in the world, our fundamental goodness, our natural connection to everyone.

In cultivating these things we are striving to be one with the Dharma. We are making friends with the Buddha and his teachings. Striving to cultivate virtue is fundamental to the path of the Bodhisattva.

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About Daniel Scharpenburg

Daniel Scharpenburg lives in Kansas City with two kids and two cats. He runs the Monday Night Zen Group at the Rime Buddhist Center. Daniel has a BA in English from KU and he works for the federal government. He was once a Novice Monk in the Rinzai tradition. He wrote a book called Notes From a Buddhist Mystic . He is inspired mainly by Zen renegades and madmen like Ikkyu and Han Shan. Daniel has taken Bodhisattva Vows in both the Nagarjuna and Asanga lineages. He is a frequent guest teacher on Daily Dharma Gathering.

Find out more about Daniel on his blog and connect with him on Facebook.