(B) Responsibility in the Buddhist Sense
A sense of responsibility is the first requisite for doing services to others and society. What is responsibility? The general conception of responsibility is this: at work, one is obligated to do his best, otherwise he would be subjected to reproach consequently. If one assumes responsibility under compulsion, it seems, he would be no different from horses and cows driven to work unsparingly by their cruel masters. Refuting this criticism, someone may say, “It is not fear of censure but the dictate of a guilty conscience that is the incentive of hard-working.” In reply, the writer would say, “you should admit, the so-called conscience is a tricky thing which, as explained in the previous chapter, may direct you to go wrong, and if you disobey, you would be obsessed with fear of punishment. Now, granted that conscience has power over you, in that case, what do you think you are, and what are you made up of?; or would it be possible for you to have double conscience, one good and one bad?” Ironically, nowadays in every society, people are used to say that because they have a clear conscience, they are men of responsibility. However, it is so easy for them to fall into evil ways and to become irresponsible. Why? From the standpoint of Buddhism, it is because of their misconception of conscience that their conception of responsibility is ambiguous and erroneous. On the other hand, if the true sense of responsibility is realized, there is no question that they would carry out their responsibilities without fail. In order to facilitate our understanding of true responsibility, for expediency, Buddhism calls it “truthful responsibility.” To carry out one’s responsibility truthfully, it call for an integration of four fundamental prerequisites: Universal Mind, Compassionate Mind, Grateful Mind, and an Understanding Mind to apprehend the cause-and-effect relationships of everything in life. Buddhism tells us that at work we should not look upon our superior with fear nor should we treat our subordinates with arrogance, and this is called the Universal Mind. Next, if our subordinates are in difficulty, we should go a long way to help them, and this is called a Compassionate Mind. Indebted to the guidance of our superior and the assistance of our subordinates, we are under obligation to repay both benefactors, and this is called a Grateful Mind. The fundamental Law of Causality, symbolized by the “reap as you sow” slogan, e.g., good seeds bring good fruit and bad seeds bring bad fruit, operates automatically like shadow following the substance: corruption breaks up the precept “not to steal”; indolence leads to idleness; losing temper breeds anger; rudeness spells arrogance; in short, if in discharging one’s responsibility, one breaks any of those precepts, he is bound to get the retribution in due time, and to be able to realize the cause-and-effect relationships in daily affairs and activities is called an Understanding Mind. If he does his work in keeping with these requisites, certainly he would carry out his responsibility with these requisites, certainly he would carry out his responsibility with every satisfaction. And this is called truthful-to-responsibility, or for short, truthful responsibility. On the other hand, in his dealing with other people, if he does not understand this principle of Buddhism, he would run counter to it; to the superior he would be obsequious and to the inferior, arrogant; to those who he thinks may be useful to serve his interests, he is all humbleness, but to those with whom he bears grudege, he would revenge with double effort; being egoistic and self-centred, he knows no gratitude to others; to him, wealth, power and fame are the substantial practical things in life, and the Law of Cause and Effect, Fruit and Retribution is false and incredulous. Unfortunately, this misconception of life is commonly upheld by a vast majority of the people of the world, owing to their ignorance of this fundamental truth that whereas man-made punishments, whatever they are, may be averted, the fundamental Law of Cause and Effect is inviolable, therefore the inexorable wrong-doer not only inflicts harm on others but also on himself eventually.