We should not consider a slight wrong deed as “small evil”. When the Enlightened One advised us,” Cease to do evil,” He did not mean only big mis-deeds, but also all evil. When we cease to do evil, we must try to cultivate wholesome thoughts for the benefit of ourselves and others. Then, such noble thoughts must be put into practice and thus, we naturally harbour the power of meritorious deeds and words in our hearts.
Followers of religions admit that to be born as human beings into this world, we all have been greatly fortunate. It is due to our wholesome deeds, thoughts and words during our past life-times.
Therefore, we all should strive to tread on the path as shown by the Buddha who preached the noblest doctrine through His perfect wisdom.
As Buddhists, our aim in this present life should be to assimilate the maximum amount of noble teachings of the Buddha and to put his precious teachings into practice in our day-to-day life. Then only we will become real heirs to this noble religion, or the meaningful way of life. We must always remember the great verse in Dhammapada that is given below.
Etam Buddhana sasanam
When we think of its deep meaning, we must know that it contains the whole perfect doctrine of the Buddha whose ultimate aim was to liberate the suffering beings from the never-ending process of birth and death.
“Cease to do evil, do good;
Purify the heart and mind;
This is the teaching of all
As Buddhists, we understand the difference between right and wrong. We should not commit any act if it is harmful to others. If it is unfit or disadvantageous to ourselves too, we should not perform that act. Birds and animals too should not be harmed. We have no right or privilege to harass or harm any other being that is desirous of happiness and living in peace.
We must refrain from speaking harsh and unkind words or fabricate untrue stories about anyone. We must try not to do anything wrong even by mistake or by our own carelessness. For example, we forget to fill the dog’s water-bowl and to give it food. Consequently, the poor dog suffers a lot from thirst and hunger.
There are many ways to cause suffering simply due to our carelessness. When we have caused unhappiness to others by any act or word of ours, or by failing to do what we know is right, then we are certainly guilty of doing evil.
We should not consider a slight wrong deed as “small evil”. When the Enlightened One advised us,” Cease to do evil,” He did not mean only big mis-deeds, but also all evil.
When we cease to do evil, we must try to cultivate wholesome thoughts for the benefit of ourselves and others. Then, such noble thoughts must be put into practice and thus, we naturally harbour the power of meritorious deeds and words in our hearts.
When we do good, we bring happiness to ourselves and others, Doing wrong often brings excitement or some degree of false joy, but genuine happiness never comes from doing wrong.
So, from the very inception of the time when we begin to think of ourselves, we must attempt to have the correct balance in our lives by clearing away all wrong thinking (negative thoughts), wrong speech and wrong actions. Instead, we must replace them with wholesome thoughts, pleasant speech and good actions.
Everyone wants to be joyous, but nobody can succeed in being exactly and truly happy until he ceases to do evil and attempts much to do good genuinely according to his conscience.
Purify heart and mind
This is the most important factor for which we must pay our serious attention. When the heart is pure, then there is no desire to do evil. When the mind is pure, we don’t even think of evil. This type of mental state is very essential for concentrating on committing good. In this way, we are naturally tempted in committing beneficial acts for others.
Therefore, the gist of Gauthama Buddha’s noble doctrine is contained in this very noble stanza. It is said that all the Buddhas who were born into this human world have preached this noble stanza to convince the ordinary beings with their profound teachings through boundless compassion and loving-kindness.
Long ago, there was a very famous monk who was widely known all over the country for his virtues and wisdom. This great monk was so famous that even the Emperor wished to have a chat with him.
Therefore, a special envoy was sent from the imperial palace to the forest-monastery that was situated on a distant mountain top where this wise monk lived. The envoy went and conveyed the message of the emperor respectfully to the monk. That was to asked the monk to visit the capital of the empire as the emperor was interested in seeing him in person.
After three months, the monk arrived at the emperor’s palace and was received with great honour. That particular day was the sixty-fifth birthday of the emperor. So, the emperor wished to do something holy in honour of the occasion.
Hence, he decided to see the monk in person and to listen to his sermon. The emperor and the empress and all the members of the imperial household went into a large assembly hall of the palace and invited the monk respectfully to deliver a talk. The monk asked them what was the topic on which they would like him to talk.
The emperor replied “Venerable Sir, kindly tell us about the deepest teaching of Buddhism.”
The wise old monk bowed to the emperor and answered, “Cease to do evil, do good, purify heart and mind; This is the teaching of all the Buddhas”.
The emperor was not pleased and satisfied at all with this answer. He said, “This is not a deep teaching – even a child of five years can understand it”.
Then, the wise monk replied, “Ah, yes, a child of five years can certainly understand this teaching, but even an old man of sixty-five years may find it difficult to put its meaning into practice and achieve its noble results that lead to supreme bliss of Nibbana”.