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An admonition is one thing.

An aspiration, quite different. 

Fully aware of our weaknesses, bad habits, and unfavorable conditions, the Buddha enumerated many sets of teaching guidelines. The most fundamental is do nothing evil, do good, and purify the mind.

The Buddha elaborated on these three qualities in the ten virtuous karmas of no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, false speech, divisive speech, harsh speech, enticing speech, greed, anger, or ignorance. We want to cease committing harmful actions. With greater understanding and appreciation of the guidelines, we will be able to apply them more thoroughly, broadly, and, thus, more effectively. But we can do even more.

How? By viewing each one not as a prohibition but as an aspiration—as personal resolutions—to refrain from unvirtuous thoughts and behavior in order to benefit all involved.

By beginning each of the ten virtuous karmas with “I resolve not to,” we will gradually reach the level at which we benefit all beings. 

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