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Mindfulness and Ethical Living

Morals or Ethics? Depending on the field of study we sometimes see morality and ethics being used interchangeably. They are distinct though certainly related. Morals are more environmentally based often supported by society, religion or individual conscience in a given era. Morals are rules for what is right or wrong.

Ethics is based on individual character, discipline and is more subjective. The dilemma here is a personal decision of right or wrong, good or bad.

The moral edict, "Thou shall not kill,” seems very clear, yet we do not see an agreement on what it actually means. Is it a written as an absolute? Killing in never condoned but there are times when it is necessary and may even be the right thing to do. So does this mean the moral statement is allowing for exceptions? So those who follow this commandment will act out in different ways. These edicts are not as clear as they are often portrayed. So how do we deal with important but ambiguous questions? Sometimes we act out emotionally resulting in a decision based on immediate feelings without regard to its consequences. We look at the problem and all of its components trying to understand what was intended, the value and need for the rule. We must also consider the consequences of taking a given action.

To answer a question we must clearly understand the question. If we are full of rage, possess poor information or cling tightly to bias and prejudice, a decision would be undermined by these emotions and internal dialog. The answer may not result in the conclusion we had envisioned. This could have negative results impacting confidence in making future decisions. To be mindful is to see the moment clearly or as clearly as one is able. To respond and not react to a situation requires we dedicate ourselves to mindfulness, to seeing clearly. We must also be fair when considering the opinions of others and respond ethically even if it is uncomfortable or unappreciated. Mindfulness meditation is indeed a great way to calm your mind and body. It is also the basis to living an ethical life. Only by seeing things as they are can we respond with equanimity and compassion. Only then can we set our minds to think clearly and with proper intention. Mindfulness is the base upon which we build.

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