Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Benjamin Franklin's13 Virtues vs. the Buddhist Precepts

Inspired by Franklin Covey, I borrowed from the library and listened to Benjamin Franklin's autobiography.  I felt inspired to compre Franklin's 13 virtues with my community's version of the classic Buddhist precepts.  (See links for detailed versions) 

Buddhist Precepts (Zen Peacemaker version)
Benjamin Franklin's Virtues
1. non-killing 8. Justice
2. non-stealing: be satisfied, give, ask for and accept ??
3. chaste conduct: dignity, give and accept friendship and love without clinging 12. Chastity
4. non-lying: listen and speak from heart 2. Silence, 7. Sincerity
5. not being deluded by use of intoxicants 1. Temperance
6. not talking of others faults ??
7. not elevating self and blaming 13. Humility
8. not being stingy: use all ingredients 5. Frugality
9. non-anger, suffering-> wisdom 11. Tranquility
10. Honor my life as instrument of peacemaking ??

Franklin Virtues with no clear Buddhist pair
3. Order
4. Resolution
6. Industry
9. Moderation
10. Cleanliness

Franklin's virtues with no clear Buddhist pair seem to me to exemplify the "Protestant Work Ethic" that Max Weber believed made American culture so unique.  While the Dharmic tradition includes karma yoga in the Bhagavad Gita and the Bodhisattva ideal in Mahayana Buddhism, I am not familiar with any strains within the Dharma traditions that place as much emphasis on the nitty gritty of daily self-management and work as do Franklin and his heirs.  Instructions to the Cook comes close, though it focuses more on a Dharmic perspective on organizational life than on personal work.    Perhaps because I was born American, I find the American tradition of pragmatic wisdom very refreshing and inspiring.  It certainly compliments the Eastern tradition which I hold so dear.