There are rules and regulations for everything we do. Our conduct must adhere to general, widely accepted principles. For their to be order in our lives, we must maintain these standards. What are principles? Principles are a set of rules held by many people. They are reasonable, logical conventions set by society. Without them, chaos would prevail. When handed a large sum of money, people decide whether to accept it or not due to their principles. When faced with a chance for fame and fortune, people debate whether to take it or not according to their principles. No matter what we do or do not do, we must have principles.
One is recognized as a person when one abides by principles during social affairs, taking into consideration an individuals character and ethics. One will also take into account social norms and practices, weighing the standards for right and wrong, good and bad. Because of this, we must ask ourselves, what are our principles?
“Without a compass and a ruler, we could not form perfect circles and squares.” This is because compasses and rulers provide a framework for making such circles and squares. If a train does not stay on its tracks, it will derail. If an airplane does not follow its course, it will meet with disastrous results. The tracks and the path are patterns to be followed stringently. When we build a house, we must consider the terrain, or our house might topple. When we want to climb the corporate ladder, we must abide by the rules governing interpersonal relationships or we might fall. To be successful, we must play by the rules of the game.
However, sometimes, it is neccesary for us to be flexible. Although one must be a person of principles, one should not be stubborn and unyielding. The best course of action is to be neither easily swayed nor overly persistent. We must listen to the voice of reason and common sense. The Buddha teaches us to adapt to situations without compromising our principles. If we do not show flexibile in the face of change, we will become the laughingstock of those around us. Our stubbornness will make us unimaginative and foolish. If we take measures without any regard to changes to our situation, we will be like the fool who carved a mark on the side of his moving boat to indicate the place where his sword was dropped into the river. We should be more yielding in matters to avoid harming others, but at the same time remaining true to our principles. We must not be without rules. Therefore, knowing when to be flexible and when to be steadfast requires insight, wisdom, and skillful means.
Although there are rules and principles, laws and logic, nothing is set and rigid. There should always be room for bending and adjustment. However, to ensure that there are procedures in whatever we do and regulations to govern our actions, we must have principles. “Do not do to others what you would not like others to do to you” is the fundamental standard of respect. “To have reason and principles in dealing with the public and issues of morality” is the basic rule to preserve one’s character. In roder for us to succeed, we must decide for ourselves what our principles are.