The Value of the “Three Good Practices”

Fo Guang Shan advocates the “Three Good Practices” of saying good words, doing good deeds, and having good thoughts. Buddhism teaches that the source of unwholesome karma comes from our body, speech, and mind. To cultivate ourselves, we should start from these three areas.

To do good deeds is to generate good physical karma. One should refraining from killing, stealing, engaging in sexual misconduct, and committing any illicit acts. Instead, one should help others with kind and beneficial deeds. To say good words is to cultivate good speech karma. One should refrain form lying, or engaging in duplicitous, harsh, or trivial speech. When one speaks, one’s words should be kind, rational, wise, and truthful. Bearing good thoughts refers to cultivation of the mind. A mind should be free of doubt, jealousy, greed, anger, and hatred. Instead, it should harbor compassion, kindness, benevolence, motivation, and vows. Cultivating these qualities is the practice of bearing good thoughts.

In Buddhism, the three karmas of body, speech, and mind can be practiced both positively and negatively. When we use these three karmas to do good, then we can be reborn in heaven. If we use them to commit wrongdoings, we may find ourselves in hell.

We can see that following the three good practices affects our futures immensely. It even affects the whole community and nation, for the morality of a society depends on the three karmas of body, speech, and mind of its citizens. If we all say good words, then every word we hear will be music to our ears. If we all do good deeds, then we can establish valuable friendships by helping one another. If we all bear good thoughts, then we will find respect, peace, and harmony wherever we go. The “Three Good Practices” is a movement that will purify and improve society. Therefore, if one cultivates the three good practices, then they will find peace and freedom. When a country follows the three good practices, then the whole country will attain liberation.

In Humble Table, Wise Fare, there is the following verse:

Say good words of compassion and kindness, for they are like the winter sun—

Encouragement and praise profuse like the scent of a hundred flowers everywhere.

Do good deeds, for simple acts of kindness beget wondrous merits—

Service and contribution shine like the full moon high above.

Have good thoughts, for honesty and benevolence bring good fortune—

With sages and saints in mind, it is like reaping a good harvest.

Let us all come together and pursue the “Three Good Practices,” always striving to say good words, do good deeds, and have good thoughts.