Zoom Meeting Sermon December 4 2022

 

Topic: Situational Morality and its Applications

The Path teaches us to practice what I call situational morality: the individual freedom to choose the path of least harm in every situation. This means that certain actions can be either right or wrong, depending on the circumstances. As defined by Path doctrine, situational morality is all about doing your best to be a good person, no matter what life throws at you. It means letting your conscience guide and inform your behavior, and doing the right thing even if you end up standing alone. It also means being willing to grow as a person and accepting the consequences of your actions. Always be willing to own up to the choices you make, knowing that you did the best you could with what Ka put in your path. Situational morality also affords the practitioner the luxury of a personal list of “nevers:” Things we will never do, lines we will never cross. This list always varies from person to person, and a lot of us add qualifiers. For instance, I will never instigate physical violence against another human being unless that human being is a clown and I cannot get away from it.

My favorite example is that stealing is wrong, unless your only alternative is starving to death. Another good example is the qualifier in the first Core Tenet of the Path, that doing some small harm may sometimes be necessary to protect yourself from even greater harm, like punching a clown to give yourself a chance to run away. We actually see a kind of situational morality portrayed in zombie movies. There is always a loved one who has been bitten and has to be killed to save the rest of the survivors, so our hero must make the hard choice to put a bullet in their head so they will not endanger everyone else. While it is obviously highly unlikely that any of us will ever be put in such an extreme situation, we may be faced with other, less life-threatening moral gray areas, and we are encouraged to practice situational morality in those circumstances. The idea behind situational morality is that you are empowered to evaluate your situation and make the best choices you can, given your options.

Sometimes it is hard to know what to do. Followers of the Path are encouraged to practice the Eight Virtues and keep the Core Tenets in mind when faced with morally challenging situations. The single most important factor to consider when faced with a moral dilemma is how much harm or good will be done with each option. The Path also teaches that you are accountable only to your own conscience. Although Ka has a way of reciprocating you for whatever energy you release into the world, there is no celestial moral authority passing judgment on you, now or later. We choose the path of least harm not for heavenly reward, but for our own peace of mind; Compassion and Patience are part of the Path to Enlightenment. Thus the motivation for our actions can come from a place of true benevolence rather than fear of damnation.

I think a lot of people practice their own version of situational morality. Do you? Do you have your own list of “nevers?”

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