We analyzed the cause of selfishness, and now we also need to talk about concept of freedom, because selfishness relates to freedom. Why do selfishness and freedom usually go along together?
Freedom means that people can do what they want to do. It’s a basic definition.
However, doing what we want to do usually annoys people, and this freedom can’t be accepted. In living life, people should always control themselves, so they can’t do what they really want to do. It’s said that “what that we don’t want never do for others.” The simple sentence is really meaningful. “Don’t do” means limit freedom, means not to annoy people. This is a very basic concept.
Western philosophy praises freedom, encourages people to enjoy their freedom and protect their freedom. Wondering if that is good? Sometimes people might be annoyed if they don’t have freedom to do right things. When people have freedom to do right things, then that is moral freedom. On the contrary, if people have freedom to do wrong things that harms themselves and others, then it is freedom of selfishness. The division between moral freedom and selfish freedom is as thin as a hair, over which people can easily across. Some of the freedoms we want turns out to hurt people and ourselves, because we cross over morality to take that freedom.
Therefore, we should be careful about freedom.
There is a movie called People Against Larry Flynt, who is a publisher of a sexual magazine. The “moral majority” and churches sued him, because his magazine harms people’s morality, especial children’s minds. However, he won against the moral people, because he had a smart lawyer who could quote the First Amendment from the United State Constitution. The very moral people were defeated by him. It showed that there is still weak spot in the law which heightens that freedom too much. The people were conscious of the damage of that magazine, but they could do nothing to save morality.
People should not have that much freedom. Freedom should go along with morality, so that it can’t harm people or communities, and then the freedom can be accepted.
There is some depraved pleasure that people maintain and develop in the name of freedom. This is developing selfishness. The more selfishness develops the more people suffer. We hope one day, people in the world would change their point of view of freedom, rethink it and fix it, since freedom and selfishness are as close as the twins.
Most of Western countries excessively allow children to enjoy freedom. As a result, parents can’t teach their children. Recently, newspapers have warned that a number of young criminals have increased. They no longer follow a moral life, but live and do what they want. The law gives them freedom, while religions only bring up unbelievable theories, so they don’t believe in God. Only if countries have basic moral as well as spiritual education, in which people are conscious of controlling themselves, and keep people from their immoral freedoms, can these countries and people be happy.
We hope Buddhism will be developing in our country, that every Buddhist can profoundly grasp Dharma, so that our country can become a high standard of morality in the world. There is no selfishness or freedom to harm people and destroy morality in our country. We hope one day the Western people will change their minds to think of Eastern moral philosophy, when they see their freedom destroying their societies and increasing their selfishness. Eastern moral Philosophy always prevents people from depraved pleasures and excessive freedom. Besides, this philosophy can create valuable joy and bring true happiness to people. This is the happiness of the moral and peaceful mind.
***There are four kinds of happiness.
First, happiness is pleasure. This kind of happiness is excited yet makes people selfish and disordered.
Second, happiness helps people live selflessly. They do good for others. When others feel happy, they feel happy, too. Even though this kind of happiness makes people a little excited, it still helps people live more generously.
Third, this kind of happiness is happiness of wisdom. If we can fully grasp Dharma, we really feel happy. This kind of happiness is very little disorder.
Fourth, this happiness is happy with meditation in a peaceful and tranquil mind. This happiness is admirable without exciting. This is the noblest and purified happiness that our Buddhists should always try to find.
Even though we know very well selfishness is the cause of suffering, we still find it too hard to overcome. To conquer it, we must diligently and durably practice the Eight-Fold Path. If anyone shows up a simple method of practice and supposes it to be sufficient, we must be careful about that. The simple practice can’t be profound enough. We are aware that the key of practice is wisdom of distinguishing between the good and the bad. And we know the way of practice the Eight-Fold Path is very much complicated. Chanting Buddha’s name, or thinking of good deed, or having a kind heart with no thought of greed can never destroy selfishness. The root of selfishness is deep in people’s subconscious. We analyzed that selfishness is the cause of suffering so that we can take it over.
However, to defeat selfishness we need a long process to practice the Eight-Fold Path with hard labor.
We always hope all human beings can defeat their selfishness by practicing the Eight-Fold Path, so that suffering will not exist in the world.