by Wayne Ren-Cheng
Being situational in thought and action isn’t how we are taught to be. We are taught THE RULES, we are governed by THE RULES, and frankly it seems easier to just follow THE RULES to the letter, or at least expect all others to. A certain amount of personal responsibility can be dodged with the words, “I was just following THE RULES.” This has been the excuse (not explanation) for many wrongdoings across times and cultures. Don’t get me wrong here . . . rules are needed in society. Some people would rather forego having to make their own moral/ethical decisions and let a higher authority decide. The danger arises when THE RULES take the place of a moral conscience and ethical behavior developed with the realization of human connectedness and personal responsibility.
Being situational in thought and action is rarely easy . . . at least in the beginning. Like any skill it takes practice, practice, practice. Siddhartha offered a guide to being situational, The Eightfold Path. He didn’t offer a teaching on how to be situational. That he knew would be a causal consequence of practicing a path that by its very nature requires a practitioner to be in the moment and respond to that moment in whatever way fits each unique circumstance. This is a practical approach to the situations in life that are never as black & white as we might want them to be; this is a pragmatic approach that will lead to choices being made with an encompassing view of an entire situation and more broadly corrective in their intent. Intent and view are the paths to wisdom that Siddhartha offers in the Eightfold Path.