What are constructive, destructive or neutral behaviors? Simply put, constructive behaviors bring positive results while negative bring unwarranted actions. Neutral actions tend be neither positive nor negative.
An unspecified, neutral action, such as proper hygiene and showering, may be mixed with the confusion that by brushing them, we can really make our bodies clean and ourselves really good-looking. But, we are merely doing what needs to be done – we are also perpetuating our samsaric human body.
Destructive actions will bring misery upon us. For instance, sharing drug needles, too much alcohol and driving at unsafe speeds can be very destructive. These destructive behaviors are rooted in our unhappiness. And rather than cease the cycle of suffering, we participate in the destructive behavior, hoping that its very participation will cease the unhappiness.
All actions have results. All actions have both long term and short term results. For a brief period of time, we may feel happy we had unprotected sex, shared a drug needle or dove excessively fast without receiving a ticket, but we may feel guilty sometime later. Long term worries include unwanted pregnancy, AIDS and other related issues. Positive actions of proper hygiene include being physically appealing.
The main factor that determines whether or not an action is destructive is the state of mind that motivates it. Destructive actions may be motivated by longing desire – similar to someone experiencing multiple partners. They may also be motivated by anger or hostility, like in the case of somebody who rapes many women because he’s angry. Or destructive behavior may be motivated by naivety – either naivety about cause and effect, or about reality, such as the example cited before of driving too fast, sharing drug needles, etc. The longing desire to repeatedly become fulfilled leads us to repeat the problem. We become attached and do not want to let go of it.
Destructive behaviors experience a lack of ethical self-dignity. Not caring about how our behavior reflects on us – and having no concern about how our behavior reflects on others, such as on our families, spiritual teachers, fellow countrymen, and so on. If we have obsessive longing for a certain foods, alcohol, drugs, money or things and we exaggerate it into the most delicious thing in the world and then stuff ourselves with it, that’s destructive. Engaging in something with the modern idea that it will solve all our problems is a good example of how we would violate our tantric (principle of being) vows. When an act becomes obsessive, then we violate our tantric vow.
Everything has to be considered relative to a context. This is because, remember, what makes an ethically neutral samsaric act such as having sex destructive is its being motivated by a disturbing emotion – dissatisfaction, obsession with sex, and so on. That’s what’s going to cause problem.
In the end, we are all connected. Our human spirit and interfaith must be the basis of dialogue, that each person must be willing to discuss our issues and be willing to change. Our capacitity to make constructive choices (those that result in positive behaviors) depend very much upon our own ability to make peace within oneself. We must accept that each of us have conflicting elements. And only by reviewing the underlying causes can we be the fruit of another’s world.