According to Buddhism, discipline applies not only to conduct but also to the mind, this is to say, not only we should refrain from doing evils but should also be free from every perverted thought; the way to rectify our wrong is to begin with sincere repentance. To be sincere and respectful is streesed by Confucianism, and to be obedient is the fundamental discipline in the army, but in both cases, discipline is hardly as strict and well-defined as that of Buddhism. Whereas the guiding principles of Confucianism governing the five kinds of interelationships are predominantly abstract and too demanding, the five Prohibition Rules of Buddhism are simple, concrete and practicable by everyone. In fact, Buddhism and Confucianism have some moral principles in common: not to kill is Benevolence; not to steal is Righteousness; not to have illegal sexual relations is Propriety; not to lie is Truthfulness; and not to take alcoholic drink is wisdom. Nevertheless, on both the principle and practice of discipline, Buddhism lays its stress equally; in other words, whenever a thing is done, we should know why it is done. Though discipline in the army is very strict, however, obedience is merely nominal, because its imposition is compulsory and its acceptance is blind. On the contrary, according to Buddhism, in everything or every act, there is always a cause or reason to show why it should come about. In view of this, should we still conceive Buddhism to be something of superstition? Surely, there is not even a dose of it.
On analysis, the Buddhist concept of utmost sincerity consists of the integration of four psychological elements: 1) Faith, 2) An impartial mind, 3) Sense of sympathy and 4) Sense of respect. IN the belief that all sentient beings are equally to one another, and all things and dharmas are also equal with one another, one should deal with other people with neither love nor hate, neither envy nor disgust, neither obsequence not arrogance. This is faith integrated with sincerity. By impartial mind, it is meant that in discussion with others, one would not deviate from facts, not would he lie and distort truth, nor would he hold biased, egoistic and perverted view at all. One would lend a hand to those in need of help, enlighten the perplexed and comfort those in fear and trouble sincerely with kind words, and this is sympathy embodied in sincerity. If one regards others with respect as one does towards ones parents, brothers, sisters, or teachers, and in doing so, one has no consideration of any personal advantages at all, this is respect embodied in sincerity. If one shows these four elements towards others, an attitude of utmost sincerity would be completely manifested. As a result of this, consequently, the following benefits would be attained: 1) One would gain confidence from others; 2) One would be congenial and agreeable to everyone; 3) One would enhance friendly ties with others; 4) One would be held in esteem by others. If sincerity applies to politics, those malpractices of irresponsibility and inefficiency would be done away with sweepingly, and there would be no obsequence to the superior nor bullying the inferior, to be seen; if sincerity is practised in business dealings, there would be no intrigue, monopoly, or exploitation, etc.; if sincerity is cultivated at home, all the family would be in harmony; if sincerity is extended to friends, friendship would be firmly cemented like rock. In short, where sincerity prevails, the outcome is bound to be good in the long run. Again, if sincerity is practised by the personnel of an organization, there would be orderliness cooperation and good success. The principle of sincerity was stressed by Chinese scholars in the Way of Heaven and cultivation of sincerity is the Way of man; Sincerity in the superlative degree may move Heaven and Earth; Where superb sincerity prevails, nothing can stand in its way. Such is the tremendous impact of sincerity in life. The fact that among the diverse and numerous Dharmas of Buddhism, sincerity is stressed by every Buddhist Sect, points out that there is no cultivating of Buddhism without cultivating sincerity. No sermon, no matter how well-spoken, would be of any benefit to the audience, if it lacks sincerity.
Buddhism is profound, superb and wonderful. However, it is very much distorted and misinterpreted. The common misconception is held by a great many people (Group A) that in the wake of advanced development of science today, Buddhism, which promotes superstition, would become obsolete. On the other hand, some other people (Group B) cherish the notion that insofar as Buddhism is established on theological basis, with a view of spreading its moral teaching, it is not without a good measure of spiritual value to humanity. Whereas the criticism of Group A show sheer ignorance of Buddhism, apparently, the remark of Group B is paradoxical. In view of these misconceptions, the writer therefore presented his understanding of Buddhism based on direct perception from the scientific point of view. To Group A he would like to say that Buddhism is not only devoid of superstition, but on the contrary, is the best cure for every superstition in our world, because its Teaching is absolutely logical, impartial and rational. For the understanding of Group B, he would say that Buddhism is neither a theological religion nor a neurothesia for mental ills, but a Subject of Study, similar to science, to probe into the truths of life and the universe; apart from its extraordinary functions and extensive application, it is a wholesome, practical Way of Living to be realized by self-experiencing only.
From the preceding chapters, it may summed up that as a religion, Buddhism is based on absolute freedom and true equality; it is rational, liberal, objective, concrete, complete, positive, pragmatic and applicable at all levels. As a token of the writer' profound gratitude, this page is most sincerely and respectfully presented; may it gladden all those who have read it, enhance their faith and fortify their resolution to live up to the Buddhist Way of Life.
Blessings to All.
By Wang Chi Biu
By P. H. Wei