When we meet people who practise we notice that they do not tell lies; they do not cheat; they do not take bribes; they do not pursue simply their own advantage; they do not steal. When we meet people who practise we notice that they do not kill sentient beings; they are not cruel; they are not violent. When we meet people who practise we notice that they speak words of kindness; they rarely become angry; they are patient; they speak well of others. When we meet people who practise we notice that they are helpful and kind; they are happy to co-operate in good work; they are generous and hospitable. When we meet people who practice we notice that they are adaptable; they have few desires; they are easily pleased; they have peace and contentment irrespective of the circumstances that they find themselves in.
Why are people who practise like that? Because they have gathered their faith and centred it upon something wholly worthwhile. They have placed it upon enlightened people; upon enlightened teachings and upon real community. These are the things that they treasure and have faith in. These are the things that they believe to be worth working for.
Such people do not lie lie or steal because to them there is no point in doing so. Everybody does things and everybody has reasons for each thing that they do. The person who steals does so in order to get a personal advantage and does not see the loss to the other person as something that matters. To the person who practises, however, firstly that person has few desires and sees that gaining many things is going to be a burden rather than an advantage and secondly that person cares for the other people and so it is not a gain to him that the other person lose something. In fact, he sees that theft simply generates a more sour world that will be unpleasant to live in. He views theft as one might view dropping dirt into the water supply that one shares with everybody else.
How is it that the outlook of people who practise is like this? To practise means to establish something wholesome at the centre of one's life and to contemplate that wholesome object. In Buddhism we call the most wholesome objects the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. If we would have faith in them then we are always struggling to see them more and more clearly. To act in harmful ways, however, makes them more and more difficult to see. The person who practises wants to see the Buddha everywhere; wants to hear the Dharma all the time; wants to live in the embrace of the Sangha. This is what matters most to the person who practises. Thus it is quite natural for such a person to do what makes Buddha, Dharma and Sangha more visible and to avoid what makes them disappear.