Excerpt from the Mangala Sutta
To loathe more evil and abstain from it, to refrain from intoxicants, and to be steadfast in virtue — this is the greatest blessing.
In buddhism we know that hatred and aversion is a cause of sufferings.
But in this stanza we see the usage of the word loathe. It means being adverse. Then we realise that the aversion is directed towards evil.
Not only must we be adverse to evil, we must abstain from it.
Evil can be committed through action, speech and thought. One of the easiest guideline to help us identify evil is by referencing the 10 unwholesome deeds. Such deeds harm others and oneself.
The 10 unwholesome deeds are
1. Killing sentient beings
3. Sexual misconduct
4. False speech
5. Malicious speech
6. Harsh speech
10. Wrong views
On an individual level, we abstain from them, at a social level we should encourage others to abstain from them too. If we witness unwholesome deeds being committed, we should not rejoice and encourage them.
This naturally can place a Buddhist at a very akward position. For example, popular media makes swearing and harsh speech to be entertaining. A practioner may find themselves being labelled “boring” by their more liberal friends and associates.
So how should we conduct ourselves in this modern world?
The Buddhist approach is to abstain from extreme. We should not be fanatics or zealots, but we can be steadfast in virtue.
We do not have to wag our finger at others but we can choose not to participate in escalating a misdeed.
For example, when fellow friends are gossipy, we can try to divert the topic. If all else fails, we can remain silent.
Jumping to the last sentence, Buddha encourages us to be steadfast in virtue. Since the ancient days, being virtuous is always a challenge. It is something that we need to put effort in.
Thus if we can abstain from evil and be steadfast in virtue, it is a great blessing. This is because such effort creates good karma for future happiness.
Why do we abstain from Intoxicant?
Simply because intoxicant inhibit our judgement. We become careless with our action, speech and thought.
May you receive blessings by following the advice of Buddha