Virtue

If there's no wound on the hand,
that hand can hold poison.
Poison won't penetrate
	where there's no wound.
There's no evil
	for those who don't do it.

Dhp 124

This is why the Buddha listed virtue as one of a person's greatest treasures. Kings and thieves can steal your material belongings and even take your life, but they can't take your virtue. If it's uncompromising, your virtue protects you from any true danger from now until you reach nirvana.

Even if you're not ready to accept the teaching on karma and rebirth, the Buddha still recommended an absolute standard of virtue. As he told the Kalamas, if you decide to act skillfully at all times, harming no one, then even if it turned out that there was no life after death, you'd still come out ahead, for you would have been able to live and die with a clear conscience — something that no amount of money or political influence can buy.

A man may plunder

as long as it serves his ends,
but when others are plundered,
	he who has plundered
	gets plundered in turn.

A fool thinks,
'Now's my chance,'
as long as his evil
has yet to ripen.
But when it ripens,
the fool
	falls
		into pain.

Killing, you gain
		your killer.
Conquering, you gain one
		who will conquer you;
insulting, 	insult;
harassing, 	harassment.

And so, through the cycle of action,
	he who has plundered
	gets plundered in turn.

SN 3.15

 

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