Wednesday
Sep062017

Letting go doesn’t mean we don’t care

but that we’re at ease with our life.

Imagine you’re in a quiet meadow on a lazy summer day with sunlight filtering through the trees, birds singing, a breeze gently rustling the leaves overhead, worries forgotten, fears discarded, nothing to do save be at peace, at ease. To be at ease is to attain freedom from mental constraints, to be composed yet flexible, content yet happy, still yet aware, relaxed yet secure. We achieve ease when we cease avoiding anything we deem unpleasant and grasping everything we are convinced will make us happy. It is the state we attain when we let go of wanting the world and everything in it to conform to our preferences and expectations. No longer struggling, moaning, railing and whinging, we settle into quiet, contented happiness. All this is just a taste of what we will permanently experience when we attain the supreme and perfect enlightenment of Buddhahood: “Great Ease.”

Saturday
Sep022017

If others ask for your opinion, 

respectfully give it. 

If they do not ask, 

respectfully keep it to yourself.

Voicing our opinions isn’t difficult. Doing it all the time, we’ve mastered that skill. Voicing them at the right time is what we have pretty much failed to get a handle on. The right time occurs when others have either asked us to do so or indicated in some way how our views would be welcomed. But if we voice our thoughts in a disrespectful, overwhelming manner, our invitation to speak freely may be quickly rescinded. Offering a viewpoint should be just that—an offering. We should extend our idea as respectfully as we proffer water and flowers to a Buddha. We don’t thrust flowers at a Buddha image or plunk them down and leave. We offer with appreciation, grateful for the opportunity. We should offer our viewpoints in the same way, for the truth is that someone wanting our opinion is rare. Very few people do.

Tuesday
Aug292017

Notice from 

The Good Fortune Bank:

Statements will no longer be issued.

Not knowing how much good fortune we have makes it difficult to determine whether we’re accumulating or depleting it. Our financial institutions update us monthly; with many providing phone apps so we can check how much money we have 24/7/365. We can even request to be notified the instant anything changes. Wouldn’t it be convenient if the Good Fortune Bank also notified us? Alert: you just helped someone; you now have X. Or, Alert: You bought something you didn’t need; your balance has decreased to Y. Not receiving such updates, we have no idea how much good fortune we have left! If our bank stopped updating us, we would start keeping a mental tally. We can do the same with our good fortune. Not knowing our balance, we can keep a daily score secure in the knowledge that at the end of the day as long as we achieve more selfless acts than selfish ones, our balance will have increased.

 

Friday
Aug252017

Circumstances

—favorable and unfavorable—

provide practice opportunities.

When life is going well, our complacency often emerges. We’re too busy enjoying our good fortune to think of increasing it, too happy to think of ending others’ suffering. When things are not going well, we can feel so overwhelmed by events that cultivating to attain a future goal seems irrelevant compared to surviving the day unscathed. But all circumstances are suitable for practice. For example, when in danger, we cultivate a calm mind. In fearful times, we practice giving others courage as well as letting go of our attachment to ego. When others are enraged, we strive to engender patience to help diffuse the anger. When everything is going well, we exercise humility and gratitude. While enjoying happy occasions, we compassionately strive to help others find joy as well. And always, whether times are good or bad, we chant “Amituofo.”

Monday
Aug212017

Those with great authority

need great wisdom.

Those of us who do not wield much influence over others should be grateful. And immensely relieved. Saying or doing something inept, any harm we do is limited in scope. And so at least the damage we could do is minimized. But consider those who, due to position and wealth, do affect the lives of untold numbers of people. Terrifying! Unless they act from empathy and wisdom, from the heart of selflessness, they will act from arrogance. And intolerance. And fear. These are not the qualities of greatness; they are the instruments of discord. The more far-reaching the authority, the more extensive the harm, the more intense the pain. At such times, and indeed at all times, we each need to blink, step back, and then examine what lies at the heart of our own actions. Discerning the possibilities that lie within our own small sphere of influence, we can then join the ranks of those who alleviate, not inflict, pain.