Saturday
May262007

The Four Integrative Methods

When we try to help others, we can keep in mind and try to practice the Four Integrative Methods that Bodhisattvas use to approach and help people.

The first method is giving what others like, which is a way to establish a good affinity and amicability with others. Once we have earned the confidence of others with our sincere wish to be of help, then what we say or do will create a positive effect on them and they will be open to our suggestions.

The second method is affectionate speech. This does not mean we use glib or flattering speech to sway others. Affectionate speech means to act with flexibility with others and to help them to be comfortable.

The third method is conduct benefiting others. This means that our words and actions must be truly beneficial to others.

The fourth and last method is co-operation with and adaptation of oneself to others. This is to participate in the same activities as others and to be a good example to guide them.

 

Friday
May252007

Practice, Practice, Practice

956849-772156-thumbnail.jpgIf we ask ourselves whether we are happier when we are angry or when we are calm, the answer is very clear. Knowing the answer, why do we so often end up becoming angry?

Unfortunately, while we know the principle, we have not yet learned to consistently control our thoughts and the ensuing emotions. So there is a gap between our knowing and our acting accordingly. Usually, a big gap.

Just like the man who stopped someone on a street in New York and asked how to get to Carnegie Hall and was told "practice, practice, practice," we too need to practice. Not just when conditions are good; but more importantly, when we feel all the bad habits arising within us. 

Our mental afflictions and bad habits do not go away on their own, as most of us have probably noticed by now. It takes hard work and sustained effort to weaken, lessen, and eventually eliminate them over time.

To accomplish this, we need to listen to the teachings so we will have regular reminders of the importance of this work and of how to proceed. We also need to remember to not get hooked by those situations and people that consistently elicit our repetitive, harmful reactions. Then we need to practice the teachings by incorporating what we hear into how we act. With time, this incorporation will occur more frequently and last longer.

And gradually, with "practice, practice, practice," we remain calm in the face of situations that would have angered us in the past.

 
 
Thursday
May242007

Moderation

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If the strings of a musical instrument are strung too tightly, they will break. Strung too loosely, the instrument will not play. Only when the strings are properly balanced will the instrument play well. Moderation is likewise vital to how well we function. If we give in to excess: such as indulging or depriving ourselves physically, or if we focus too much on one aspect of our lives while neglecting another, our lives, like that instrument, will not play out well. With moderation balance will be more attainable.

 

Wednesday
May232007

Circle of Compassion

Until he extends his circle of compassion

to include all living things,

man will not himself

find peace.

~ Albert Schweitzer (1875-1965)

 

Tuesday
May222007

An Eye for an Eye

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Instead of wandering heedlessly through our lives, we need to focus on what we are doing right now. If we are mindful and focus on what we are doing, we will not carelessly say something that will hurt another, because in our speaking with that person we will not be looking around the room or be wondering what we are going to say as soon as they stop talking.

We will be listening and observing. If we say something upsetting, we will notice their reaction. We will be able to go back and find out what we said that was upsetting and correct it. If we just carefully listen to other people, we can alleviate so much pain. Most of the time when people have a problem, all they want is someone to listen to them, somebody who will not judge them, somebody they can feel safe with. We can become that somebody for others. We can be the caring person that they are looking for and that we wish to be.

Everything arises from the mind: anger, hatred, and vengeance. We can also give rise to loving-kindness, gentleness, and caring for others. We have free will. We can decide what we will do, who we wish to be. We created who we are today. We can recreate who we will be tomorrow. Our world is a reflection of all of our thoughts, the thoughts of a collective consciousness. We can influence others for the good by what we are thinking.

We may not stop the bombs that will be ignited tomorrow, but if we are sincerely thinking of helping others, of peace, of acceptance, then as our thoughts are perceived throughout the universe we may be able to stop those bombs from being dropped ten years from now. All we need to do is to resolve to stop that bitterness and hatred, that seeking of revenge, that believing that an eye for an eye is correct. It must all end now. If we fail to do this, then the world will become blind to reality, to reason, and to what is right. And we will be lost.

Excerpt from Let Us Not be Blinded by ‘An Eye for an Eye’