In a trip to Taipei last year, I had the chance to see many examples of Buddhist temples, albeit with a twist due to the incorporation of other local religions. The streets of Taipei area dotted with much smaller and similar temples and shrines, either serving a neighborhood or family. The same can be found in Taiwan’s rural areas.
Although I only spent a week in Taipei, it didn’t take me long to realize that residents of the city had a particular habit that isn’t abundant in American social or political life: they all chose their words well and said exactly what they intend to say. While this may be a gross generalization, it may be true given that Chinese culture and etiquette lends itself more towards the group, mutual respect, and harmony.
Now that I’m reflecting on this trip, I’ve realized that this aspect of mutual respect is often absent in American culture and society, particularly when engaging in political discourse or debate. Conversation is often littered with uninformed opinions, gross exaggeration, outright lies and, while understandable, inflated emotion.
While China is far from a perfect utopia, I’m left thinking that countries with a high population of Buddhists who know and apply the Noble Eightfold Path to their daily lives, whether through innate cultural etiquette or intentional adherence, more often inspire a sense of harmony and support of those around them, friends and strangers alike.
Right View compels people to see things as they really are instead of how they perceive them to be. Right Intention governs purposes behind how you relate to yourself and others. Right Speech applies moral discipline in understanding that what you say forms the world around you and compels all people to avoid harsh language. While only discussing the first three steps along the Eightfold Path, one might begin to see how our society can benefit from this wisdom.
Instead of using negative views, intentions, and speech which inevitably create more suffering in the world, attempt to see the world through others in order to determine what the nature of the world truly is when absent characteristics of attachment and suffering.
Note: Second image taken from http://www.doncokerart.com/blog . It is never my intention to steal the work of others. If you own rights to this image, please let me know and I will take it down immediately.