Forming Dharma affinities 

one smile at a time. 

Unless we’re absorbed in our thoughts, we tend to mirror others’ reactions. Say someone looks at us and smiles. Normally, we would return the smile. Normally.

Last week in a restaurant, a person in my line of sight looked at me. No smiles. Glared is a harsh word, so let’s just say he stared. While I usually would have smiled, it had been a tiring morning, and my energy was running low. So I just looked back. No smile from me either. We both resumed eating our own lunches, and I thought “Well darn. I just blew my chance to form a Dharma affinity.”

Fortunately, on the way out, his companion stopped by our table and asked what I was having (it was a vegan burger). She then explained that she was newly vegan. We ended up talking, and even her friend became friendly. So the opportunity wasn’t lost after all.

But because I had allowed myself to be affected by another person, I came perilously close to losing the opportunity to form a Dharma affinity.



Cultivation entails giving up whatever has little value . . . (Click image for video)


Are we asking “Can I?” 

Or “Should I?” 

Being able to do something does not necessarily mean we should.

Walking down the street, do I heedlessly drop a piece of paper on the ground? Carry it to the nearest trash bin? Take it home to add to the recycling bag?

Dining with friends, do I order the meat like everyone else? Do I order a vegetarian option? A vegan one? Do I say I just feel like tofu tonight? Say it’s for health reasons? Do I explain that I don’t need, or want, to take another’s life to support my own?

Sure, I can toss the paper aside. Yes, I can order whatever I want on the menu. But does being able to do something mean that I should? That I don’t need to care about small things like a piece of paper or one serving of meat?

Or do I have a responsibility to those my decisions impact? And also, not coincidentally, my own future karma? When with others, do I act the same way they do? Or do I decide to take the more arduous path of making conscious decisions on increasing subtle levels?


When praised for an accomplishment, remember . . . (Click image for video)