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This Week’s Sacred Space: Moral Forthrightness

By Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan
Stetson University Chaplain

The Buddha had a son named Rahula. When he was 7 years old, the Buddha asked the boy, “Rahula, do you know what a mirror is?”

“Yes, sir. It’s for reflection,” Rahula said.

“In the same way, we should reflect on our actions,” the Buddha said. He went on to explain that we can use our mind to reflect on our thoughts, words and deeds and see their effects: Does an action of body, speech and mind lead to harm or other difficulty for myself? For others? If we reflect that way, then we create less trouble for ourselves and for the society in which we live.

Every major religion includes a moral and ethical system of one form or another — the Ten Commandments is one such system. As the Buddha points out in his instruction to Rahula, if we use a system like that to guide and as a way to reflect upon our own behavior, we become spiritually more developed people.

Notice the Buddha didn’t tell Rahula to use his mirror to reflect on the actions of others. While our laws may be based in common ideas about morality, judging another won’t contribute to our own spiritual development. If we want to be morally forthright, we should avoid moralizing — judging others — and instead reflect on how well we measure up to our own principles of right and wrong.

There’s an old saw: Character is what you do when you think no one else is watching. You can develop character by watching — by reflecting on what you do. Here’s a straightforward approach to this kind of self-reflection: Just ask yourself, “What have I given to others? What troubles have I caused others?” The balance between the answers to those two questions will give you a pretty good idea of how well your actions reflect your internal values.

Call to Action:

This week, set aside some time one evening to reflect. Look back over the day, and ask yourself these three questions: (1) What help did I receive from others today? (2) What did I give others today? (3) What troubles did I cause others today?


Stetson's three chaplains stand in front of the CUB on deland campus.

Stetson’s three Chaplains are, left to right, Rev. Willie Barnes, Jr., an African Methodist Episcopal pastor; Rev. Christy Correll-Hughes, an ordained Baptist minister; and Sensei Morris Sekiyo Sullivan, spiritual head of Volusia Buddhist Fellowship.

Note: Because the chaplains’ office is moving this week, there will be no Sacred Space service on Monday, Oct. 23. There will be a special event on Monday, Oct. 30, at 6:30 p.m., in Sage Science Center, Room 222, in acknowledgement of the 500th Anniversary of the Protestant Reformation. Details will be forthcoming. For more information, contact the Office of the Chaplains at stetsonchaplain@stetson.edu or 386-822-7523.