Tuesday, 31 March 2009

What is Morality?

Morality is a fleeting thing. Thus, I will rely on trusty dictionary.com, which has, amongst other things, this to say:

–noun, plural -ties for 4–6.
1. conformity to the rules of right conduct; moral or virtuous conduct.
2. moral quality or character.
3. virtue in sexual matters; chastity.
4. a doctrine or system of morals.
5. moral instruction; a moral lesson, precept, discourse, or utterance.
6. morality play.

Note the common thread seems to have reference to something, whether set codes/rules or intention. (I have been reading The Blook, by Daniel Ingram, by the way, and highly recommend it.)

As I sit in contemplation of the nation of morality, I am considering Daniel's proposition that Morality is the first and the last training, and find that I cannot fault that position. There are different models of morality, and although I found the notion admirable in my study of enlightenment, it did not appeal to me as a potentially good place to begin enlightenment practice. But then again, I have a reputation for not entering through the front door of the paths. (Or, as my beloved teacher Jeddah Mali once put it, "Kaye, it's not true at all that you use the back door. I use the back door. You think that going through the front door puts you in with the unwashed masses, using the back door is too unflashy. Oh, no. You insist on coming down the chimney!")

However, I think morality has its place. It depends on the individual and the culture, I suppose. In a culture or society where unrestrained activity occurs, the notion of morality is certainly helpful in imposing certain "rules" on individuals, so that a basic environment for spiritual progress may be created. However, I do not particularly favour the continued pursuit of this set of rules (and I say rules because I do not see it as plausible to ask a grossly unrealised society to "live from their values" - they already are!) because in the long run, the blind following of rules creates more blocks than it dissolves.

Once the basic environment is created, I would progress as quickly as possible to the enlightenment practice. However, having come full circle, there is certainly something to be said for morality as the final frontier. Having gone into the mountains and attained some level of enlightenment, a practitioner's challenge now is to abide in his realisation, and to live and act from his highest level of realisation. Now, if that is the definition of morality, then it may certainly be considered the highest level.

Morality is, as I said, a subject I have not given much contemplation to, and so I will not blabber on. However, it is certainly an interesting notion. I still have a certain reticence towards framing actions in the colour of morality, but perhaps that is my emotional stuff around the word...

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