A Reader Asks, What Is Morality?

words & photo by Brian Thompson.

A reader asks, What exactly is Morality?

Morality is a concept of human creation, it is not a thing that exists outside of our minds; it does not exist in the forest amongst the animals, nor is it something considered by the creatures in the sea.

So if a thing cannot exist independent of thought, outside of mind, then it has no real substance—therefore, morality is entirely unreal, and that which is unreal cannot be defined.

Ok, now that we have that out of the way, let’s get back to the dreamlike, illusory world of concepts within which we humans prefer to concern ourselves.

Morality is not a system of beliefs that judges good actions from evil, nor right from wrong, but rather, it is an intuitive sense of selfless action that chooses the path of least harm with any given decision. It is a personal standard of conduct, one whose underlying ethic is to limit the suffering that co-arises alongside every choice that a person makes, regardless of situation—no matter if it’s a person, place, or a thing—regardless of the form of suffering; physical, emotional, or environmental.

Suffering is suffering—morality is the sense of human decency that decides to do something about it, wherever and whenever it possibly can.

Morality is the intention behind how you spend your money; it includes the food you eat, the clothes you wear, and all of the stuff you consume; it includes how you treat your friends and family, how you deal with strangers on the street, and how you interact with pets, animals, and all of nature itself.

Morality is having a mutual respect for all of life and for every single thing—with no eye for greed, no ear for egotism, no tongue for deceit, and no mind for corruption.

Morality reaches far beyond what happens to be in your immediate area of influence, rather, it looks instead at all of the karma (effects) that could possibly result from every single one of your actions (causes).

This is what true morality is—a life-affirming mindfulness that makes ever decision a conscious one, to nurture all beings as best as you can, and to care for the entirety of the Earth, including all of its mountains, rivers, lakes, forests, prairies, deserts, and all of its precious ecosystems—without any preferential treatment for any single one.

Morality is not an absolute set of beliefs or rules, as it cannot be bound within a book, spoken as the final word, or claimed as law. It is the intention upon which all compassionate actions sit. It is a fluid movement of being—it bends, flows, and adapts within every situation.

It is independent of reason and impartial to any religious doctrine (or lack thereof). And while it has nothing to do with a person’s view of their God, it does have everything to do with their goodness of heart.

Having a sense of morality is the living embodiment of selfless compassion.

And so, not having a sense of morality, or rather, being ignorant to suffering, therefore means that a person acts in opposition to the flow of life; it means ignoring the whole, for the benefit of the one.

At least, that’s how I view it.

But again, none of this is Zen, as Zen goes beyond the human dreamlike habit of distinguishing one thing from the other as good or bad. Morality only exists within the dreamworld where we play our amusing little human mind-games—the Universe meanwhile, cares not about such silly human conceptual drama.

The truth of our human predicament is simply; Stuff happens. Things are as they are. This is because of that, and all is absolute perfection.