The essence of ethics is to love one another. However, since there is no absolute standard for good and bad, all ethical acts are relative. Usually, though, when one makes an effort to achieve some goal, one tends to consider one's efforts as being absolute, rather than relative. when this psychological tendency manifests itself in a self-centered way, our ethical consciousness becomes a source of strife between people that can lead to the death and destruction of others, which is quite contrary to our original intent as ethical beings.
- Rev. Kemmyo Taira Sato
most, if not all of the time we tend to discriminate between things as either being A or B, good or bad, true or false etc. and then we proceed to form opinions and make judgements based upon these absolutes we ascribe to them. Buddhadharma aims to cuts through this dualistic mode of thinking which leads us to seperate ourselves from others and place our own needs above all else. In Shantideva's Bodhicaryavatara we read - Since I and other beings both / In wanting happiness, are equal and alike / What difference is there to distinguish us / That I should strive to have my bliss alone? As there is no independently existing self, to cherish an I above Other is to seek to preserve that which has no substance in the first place.
all well and good and yes it certainly sounds worth realising. the problem as i've experienced it personally though, is that so often we seem to fall under the absurd sway of thinking that we don't carry this dualistic tendency with us on to the Dharma path. let's be honest - how often have each of us argued an understanding or aspect of Dharma from this absolute standpoint? do a quick google search and you'll find all manner of sectarian in-fighting within Buddhism, despite your cosy notion of it being all shangri-la windchimes and levitating yogis living in peace and harmony. ego is strongly rooted and habituated through years and years of practice, so much so that Buddhism will be used as just so much more grist for the mill with which to booster it. i'm Buddhist, you're not. i'm Zen, you're Nichiren. i follow Guru X, you follow Guru Y.
it's not that i believe all we need is a nice big group-hug of syncretism - of course there are differences in teaching, in interpretation, in practice and between tradition. and it is important to acknowledge them. just as it is important to acknowledge that they all share a unified purpose. but ultimately, Buddhadharma is the extinguishing of dualities. and lets not kid ourselves we're on the other shore yet before we've even set foot on the raft. a little bit of honesty, no matter how painful and ugly, can go a long way.
namu amida butsu