Is compulsive good doing acceptable?
Should good for us be bad for others?
Intention versus collateral damage.
Jataka 547, the very last of the standard collection, the very last birth of Buddha before the final life to enlightenment is deeply contradictory at several levels.
First is it acceptable to compulsively and obsessively give away one’s possessions? If giving is the basis of goodness how can those who have nothing give anything and hence be good? Can only rich people be good?
Second is it acceptable to cause the suffering of other people by giving things they consider as theirs and they deem sacred, like the sacred elephant that supposedly brings wealth to the nation?
Third is it acceptable for a ruler to follow the will of the people and hurt someone who has officially done nothing wrong? Is the vox populi respectable and acceptable in the political management of the world’s affairs?
Fourth is it acceptable to give away one’s children or one’s wife just as if they were belongings? Note the case of giving away one’s husband is not even considered. Isn’t it sexist to imagine a husband could give his wife away to a stranger and contemptible to even imagine it could be a good thing to give one’s children into slavery?
Fifth isn’t it caste-critical to imagine that the main beneficiaries of such gifts are Brahmins. Are Brahmins all and always well inspired? Is it good to give to someone who obviously is greedy? Is that a criticism of the caste system?
Sixth if tanha is something to avoid absolutely, can we consider tanha may exist for a positive action or thought. Can good doing be negative?
Seventh if dukkha has to be avoided at all cost and can only be pushed aside by being detached from the possession of anything — including mental positive orientations? — can we be detached from other human beings to the point of causing their own suffering, their own misery, their own dukkha?
Conclusion. Is there a selfish practice of Buddhism, a self-centered interest in abiding by the ethical rules of Buddhism? Why was this birth not the last one? What was missing to reach enlightenment? Is restraint essential even when doing good is considered? Why couldn’t Vessantara reach nibbana?
N.B. I will work on the English version published by the Pali Text Society under the editorship of Professor E.B. COWELL, translated by E.B. COWELL and S.H.D. ROUSE, published in 2005, as well as on the bilingual edition Pali-English of V. FausbØll for the Pali text published in 1896 and a translation adapted from E. B. Cowell and W. H. D. Rouse, originally published in 1907. I will also use Buddhist Storytelling in Thailand and Laos: The Vessantara Jataka Scroll at the Asian Civilisations Museum (Anglais) Relié — 30 janvier 2012, H. Leedom Lefferts (Author), Sandra Cate (Author), Wajuppa Tossa (Author).
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