Others choose how to act towards me. 

I, in turn, also have a choice: 

how to act towards them. 

How others act towards me is their choice, a karmic decision that entails results. I too have a choice. I can react automatically without considering the consequences. And yes, even though this doesn’t feel like a choice, it is.

We reacted from habit. Habits are formed first by opting to do something, and by then doing it repeatedly. At any point, we can choose to change our behavior. For the most part we don’t, so we end up reacting automatically without considering the consequences. Instead of choosing to act from habits, a saner choice would be to consciously discern the likely future consequences of my actions.

Sound too complicated?

That it will take too much time when action needs to be immediate?

The time we take carefully considering how to react is nothing compared to the time in which we will suffer the results of our having acted rashly. 



When realizing we failed to react compassionately,

imagine how a role model would have reacted, 

 can help us improve. 

If we have been cultivating for a while, when something predictable happens we would expect to react better than we would have previously. But what of the times when we’re so surprised it’s as if we never learned Buddhism?

Or good manners, apparently.

For example, shocked by a person’s unexpected decline in health, we fail to adapt to his new condition quickly enough to bring him a chair.

Relieved and elated that a dreaded visit went well, we fail to offer to help the person get to her next destination.

Imagining how a bodhisattva would have reacted in the circumstances is one option, but trying to emulate an awakened being can be daunting. Much less intimidating is envisioning how someone we know and admire would have acted. Repeatedly doing this when we fail to measure up should prepare us to react more thoughtfully in the future regardless of the circumstances.   



When entering a Buddhist center, 

we need to leave more than our shoes at the door. 

Upon first entering the cultivation hall in a Buddhist center, most of us look around with a mixture of curiosity and respect, and try to follow what everyone else is doing. Hopefully, after attending for some time, we settle in and contentedly follow the established rules and procedures, focusing on our practice, not the established form.

But other people may find that, instead of according with the proceedings, they begin wondering why things are done in a certain way. Another center does things differently. Why can’t things here be done like that?

With such thinking, we will have entered the hall with excess baggage—our attachments. A vital part of self-cultivation is letting go of personal preferences and remembering that when things work, just not the way you’d like them to, is fine.

So when leaving your shoes at the door, remember to also leave your attachments.