One of our homework assignments last month in yoga teacher training was to come up with a list of ethics and personal boundries, then write a paragraph about the process. The most interesting thing for me as I was doing this was seeing how situational they all are. When I really thought about a lot of things which I would normally think of as my ethics, I realize that it all depends on the circumstances.
Non-violence is really one of the only ones I could come up with that I felt I would probably hold as an ideal no matter what (even if I can conceive of situations where I probably wouldn’t practice it – out of fear, etc. – , I would still feel like non-violence would be the better choice ultimately). For everything else, it seems to me like the situation needs to be analyzed on it’s own merits.
Which also got me thinking about dogma in general. It seems so easy to have a list of things which define how you are going to behave in the world, as it means you don’t really have to think about each situation (or at least, it has often meant that for me). It can mean that awareness of the unique circumstances of each moment is lost. And it can also mean (or again, has meant that for me in the past) that we attach to these things as somehow defining who we are.
So, how do we walk the path of integrity despite this? I think by bringing conscious attention to each decision and making sure that our motives come from a altruistic and loving place. Easier said than done, but it’s a work in progress.