Thursday
Feb222007

Trustworthiness

Trustworthiness inspires confidence and a sense of security in others, and to us it brings contentment and a sense of ease. Those who depend on us—our family, friends, and those we work with—will know that we will speak honestly and considerately, and act from an uncompromising sense of integrity. They will know that they can depend on us to fulfill our promises and to meet our responsibilities. By striving for qualities like sincerity, truthfulness, and thoughtfulness, we will find a purpose and direction for our lives.

Tuesday
Feb202007

Kindness

In life, it seems that so many of our hopes and expectations remain unfulfilled. And what of those that are? They end all too quickly. We can walk around in a perpetual gloom over our disappointments and frustrations. Or, we can look around us and realize that others are probably equally unhappy, and very likely, even more so. Seeing the sufering in someone’s eyes, or hearing the sadness or worry in their voice, how can we not care? How can we not be kind?

Monday
Feb192007

Never Alone

956849-676150-thumbnail.jpg
We are not isolated,

never alone.
What happens on one side of the world
will inevitably effect the other.

We are not separate,
never alone.
What happens in my mind, in my heart
will inevitably effect the world.

We are not individuals
functioning apart from our environment.
We are all part of one another.
We are all in this together.

Sunday
Feb182007

Easy to Anger

956849-786883-thumbnail.jpgWhy do we so easily become angry? We do so because we are attached to self-importance, our view of who we are, to the concept of “I.” When my concept of “I” is threatened, “I” very often strikes out in anger.

A good example of this is criticism. We have many faults but we generally do not appreciate others pointing them out to us. Regardless, others very often criticize us, just as we are often critical of others. When somebody points out a fault, they, like us, usually do so clumsily, and consequently, our feelings are hurt. Few people are able to correct us or criticize us without us reacting negatively.

We respond defensively with resentment, or guilt, or embarrassment, or a score of other reactions. We may well know we have done something wrong, but we do not appreciate others pointing it out to us. We resent critiques because we feel that others are in no position to criticize us: Surely, they must have, sometime in the past, done what we just did—made the same mistake as us. Or we may find it difficult to apologize—no matter how guilty we feel—and so we react with anger or just try to ignore the situation

It is very difficult when somebody criticizes us and it is the rare person who would find it easy to say, “You are absolutely right. I apologize and will not do it again.” Such humility coupled with strength of character is usually not readily found in most of us. More likely, we will act defensively, or worse. We may, in turn, criticize the other person. So, let's think before we react because there are two possible things going on here.

The first possibility is, yes, we did or said something wrong.

If we are unable to deal with this reality right away, perhaps we can go off by ourselves or with a friend. Hopefully, on our own or with our friend’s help, we can figure out how not to make the mistake again. Maybe we can try to be more aware of how others are reacting to us, or maybe we can try to think more before we speak or act.

Instead of being angry or feeling guilty or becoming embarrassed, we can try to be grateful. (And yes I know, this is very difficult to do.) But try to remember that it is not they who had done something wrong—it was us—so becoming defensive and getting upset is futile. More importantly, we must realize that we have been provided an opportunity to improve and to be a better person in the future. For this we should be appreciative, not angry. This is what can happen when we make a mistake and someone is helpful enough to bring it to our attention.

The second possibility is for someone to criticize us even if we have done nothing wrong.

Being accused of doing something when we have not is even more likely to invoke anger. As quickly as possible we need to get over our indignation. Whether the other person honestly thought we did something wrong, misunderstood what happened, or maybe exaggerated the circumstances is not the issue.

We can try to calmly clear things up, but whether or not we succeed, again, we have a choice as to how to respond. Knowing that anger will not resolve anything, if we cannot help the other person to understand our position, we can at least try to let go of our anger.


Saturday
Feb172007

He Who Craves Not

He is indeed virtuous,
wise and righteous
who neither for his own sake
nor for the sake of another
(does any wrong),
who craves not for sons, wealth or kingdom,
and does not desire success by unjust means. 

The Dhammapada
translated by Venerable Buddharakkhita