One of the things that makes Eastern thought different than Western is rules, commandments, and so forth. Westerners tend to believe in a concept of failure/redemption:   “If I break the rules of my group, in order to be accepted again I must make things right according to their standards and earn re-acceptance — if I ever can.”

Eastern thought tends to encompass the idea of goals and effort.  “This is a good thing to do. I will sincerely try. If I fail, I will recover with the understanding that I am human, and I will commence trying again. If you fail, I will not condemn you, but will try to understand.”

To put it another way, one has the idea that you fail and must beg forgiveness, do penance, and earn your way back into the fold. The other involves recognizing the error, forgiving yourself, striving to get it right the next time, and being slow about judging others or acting on the judgment.

Or not…

Without taking a position about the values of these two ways of thinking, I would like to point out that they have different underlying ideas: that we are bad people trying to become good, or good people trying to learn how to be better.

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