Some time ago I realised that the quotes attributed to an author were a kind of condensed highlights of the books he or she had written. So today I set out to read the quotes of Bhante Henepola Gunaratana, the author of Mindfulness in Plain English, and I came across a few real gems, among them this one:
“In the same way, morality is not a ritualistic obedience to a code of behavior imposed by an external authority. It is rather a healthy habit pattern that you have consciously and voluntarily chosen to impose upon yourself because you recognize its superiority to your present behavior.”
― Bhante Henepola Gunaratana
I thought it was an interesting statement because it is something I have always felt at quite a deep level. When i reflect on the Five Precepts and the Noble Eightfold Path, the moral principles embodied there in are things that for me predate my involvement with Buddhism. It’s something that you just feel, although in one or two cases you may choose to give it your own twist.
There is a book, Humankind: A Hopeful History by Rutger Bregman which I would encourage people to read. It contends that most people are good folks, and it brings a lot of soundly based arguments to the table. If cynicism sometimes threatens to overwhelm you then this is a good counterpoint.