This is a part of a series going line by line from the Metta Sutta. It starts here.
Let them not do the slightest thing that the wise would later reprove
This is a very high standard. Lying less, drinking less, stealing less are all good steps in the right direction. But the aim is perfection of conduct. After all, the slightest stain on one’s conduct is a hindrance to the path, a hindrance to meditation. It’s also unnecessary.
But is such an impossible standard really useful? After all, it isn’t a standard that I ever come close to meeting. Here’s what I think: in a world of guilt, such a standard would unleash a torrent of guilt and misery. But in a world where guilt is useless and unnecessary, high standards are actually useful.
What about the idea that a little sinfulness is useful? That we can use indulgence in these behaviors as a way to overcome our ego? It’s a powerful idea, but not one endorsed by the Buddha. He never taught that we could use breaking the precepts as a positive spiritual practice. Habits are powerful things, and the best way to get on the right path, is to BE on the right path.
The next article in this series is here.