Members of Society

956849-661693-thumbnail.jpgAs caring members of society, it is our responsibility to practice the virtues of harmlessness, compassion, and equanimity. These virtues lie deep within us, within our true nature. This true nature is the same as that of all Buddhas. The true nature of Buddhas—their very essence—is loving-kindness, altruism, and tranquility. These qualities lie at the core of their being. And ours.

Although such virtues are already within each one of us, all too often they lie dormant. Why?

Because we are thoroughly engrossed in foolish attempts to satisfy our personal desires. We are convinced that our way of doing things is correct and that our happiness lies in possessions and power. And so we are intent on getting others to do things our way and on accumulating wealth and influence. Although we have the same true nature as a Buddha, we fail to experience the wonders of this true nature. We consistently fall back into our bad habits. Thus, we end up acting from our human nature, all the while burying our true nature even deeper within us.



Upon meeting others, most of us are courteous. But, as familiarity increases, we become more comfortable and, all too often, less courteous. In our fast-paced world, we no longer seem to have the time, or worse, the inclination to be considerate of others. All too often, we take for granted those closest to us: We even end up treating strangers more politely than we do those we know. How much saner the world would be if only we treated those we know and love as courteously as we treat a stranger.


Disorganization and Reorganization, Part Two

After the stages of shock, protest, and disorganization in the process of grief and healing comes the final stage—reorganization.

The numbness begins to ease and the happy memories are less frequently followed by feelings of loss or of regrets. When we come across a photograph, we can smile while remembering how happy the person was when the photo was taken. Perhaps it was when we had done something special with them, and they had always treasured that memory. Knowing the happiness of the moment, we know we gave the person a gift of love. And if sadness threatens to return, we have become much more skilled at softly saying "No."

Reorganization is a time of changing direction. The time for looking back with thoughts of "Why didn't I do better?" and of brief glimpses at the future with fears of "What now?" lessen. We are able to look at the future more optimistically. Regrets and fears have begun to recede.

Spending more time with the happy memories and the appreciation of having had the person in our lives for the time that we did, we begin to make choices of how to live with our new roles. We tell ourselves that this is what the person would have wanted. And unlike before, we no longer reject this thought because it hurts too much. Our patterns of living adjust and we are more comfortable with those adjustments.

Knowing that there will still be pain and sadness, we understand that it is time to move forward.


Disorganization and Reorganization, Part One

The stages in the grief and healing process are shock, protest, disorganization, and reorganization.

In disorganization, reality begins to settle in. The person who was such an important part of our life is gone. Leaden numbness settles into our heart. She is gone, and no matter how much it hurts, that fact is not going to change. What was not said or done will remain unsaid, undone. What we wish we had never said or done, will remain with us forever.

We did not do everything perfectly. We wanted to. But we kept getting hooked by our preoccupation with ourselves and by our habitual carelessness.

But it's okay. The person we miss also did not do everything perfectly, and yet we have brushed this aside because we understand what he or she was going through. We weren't the only one doing this.

The reality is that we are at our most relaxed when with loved ones. Our guard down because we are secure in the person's unconditional love, we become thoughtless. We forget our good intentions and get caught up in all the stuff we consider important. Most likely, the other person understood this. And with understanding, just as we did, brushed our imperfections aside.    


Doer of Good

When after a long absence,
a man safely returns home from afar,
his relatives, friends, and well-wishers
welcome him home upon arrival. 

As kinsman welcome a dear one on arrival,
even so his own good deeds
will welcome the doer of good
who has gone from this world to the next. 

The Dhammapada
translated by Venerable Buddharakkhita