Monday, January 23, 2006

Clear comprehension

How do we effectively make decisions about what to do or what to say in various situations? Kevin Griffin explains a process called "clear comprehension" in his book One Breath at a Time:
The four components of Clear Comprehension are:

Question my purpose. Why do I want (or not want) to do or say this? Is my intention to help others or to further my own self-centered wants? If I can see that, at least to some extent, my motives are good, I go on to the next question.

Question my means. Do I actually have the personal ability, as well any material things I might need, to accomplish what I'm thinking about? If my motives are positive and I see that I probably have what I need to get it done, then I can go to the next question.

Question my alignment with the teachings. Is what I want to do or say in accord with the Precepts, with lovingkindness and compassion? Will it lead to less suffering? If I've answered all these questions positively, then there's a good chance things will work out. I take the leap.

Question the results. After we've done or said something, we look back at how it worked out. What can we learn? If the results were good, it's helpful to see how we got there, so maybe we can do or say something like that again. If the results aren't so good, what went wrong? What part of the first three stages did we foul up on?

These strike me as excellent discernment questions. I recommend them.

Remember, the Five Precepts are to refrain from harming, to refrain from wrongful speech, to refrain from taking what is not given, to refrain from sexual misconduct and to refrain from the use of intoxicants leading to heedlessness.

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