Saturday
Oct282017

Don’t judge others. 

First, we don’t understand enough.

Fairly judging someone would require us to know the karmic trail the individual had laid down over countless lifetimes to establish why she acted as she just did.

We’d also need to know the karmic sequence of all those involved to ascertain the causes and consequences that contributed to the event we are attempting to judge.

All this is beyond our abilities at this point in our practice. Which is okay because it’s rarely our place, or responsibility, to judge others, a fact we tend to overlook most of the time. Unless the pronouncement were to arise naturally from our innate prajna wisdom, from our ability to simply know and understand all that has transpired, we’d have to use discriminatory thoughts to reach it. But we’re supposed to eliminate, not wantonly increase, our discriminatory thoughts.

So, fortunately, we can restrict our judging inclinations to our own actions.

Tuesday
Oct242017

Do not envy others for what they have. 

Get busy planting more good seeds. 

It’s very tempting when looking at those who have much good fortune to feel envious or deem it unfair in light of so many other people having so little. It doesn’t help when the fortunate ones are obnoxious and egotistical. Seriously, why should they get to enjoy such wealth! They get to because they planted the relevant seeds.

In other words, they earned their good fortune.

In previous lifetimes, they were generous and thoughtful not puffed-up and pompous. Whether they had much or little, they gave their resources, time, and energy. Perhaps, they publicly gave when they thought it would inspire others also to give. Maybe they gave anonymously to not embarrass the recipient. However they gave, they did so with sincerity and respect. And look at them now. Selfish and arrogant, they are planting seeds for a harrowing future downfall.

Learn from their example: Humbly open your heart and your hands to help others.

And don’t ever close them. 

Friday
Oct202017

Don’t agitate the water.

Or your mind.

Think of the mind as a pool of water.

When the water is calm, we can see all the way to the bottom. We thus view everything clearly without obstruction in its sparkling perfection.

But when the water is disturbed, the mud rises from the bottom, and the water becomes cloudy, contaminated by all the dirt swirling around. When we need to decide how to respond to or resolve a situation, we need a clear mind.

Chanting “Amituofo” allows us to calm our agitated mind just as we would enable the water in the pond to clarify by allowing all the mud and other contaminants to settle to the bottom.

But if we become frenzied in our attempts to figure out what to do, trying one method then another, it will be as if we reached into that pond and started wildly roiling the water, frantically poking here, grasping there.

Instead, sit quietly and allow the water—your thoughts—to settle.

Doing so, your solution will shine forth. 

Monday
Oct162017

The three lifetimes:

striving, indulging, paying the price.

Buddhism speaks of a cycle of three lifetimes.

In the first, a person strives to be good. Having little, he gives whatever he can, soothes others’ fears and worries, and remains ever vigilant for ways to help. He thus amasses good fortune.

In the second lifetime, due to all this good fortune, he becomes arrogant. After all, he has status, wealth, power. There’s much to be proud of. Caught up in personal indulgence, he ignores others’ suffering. Now, instead of watching for opportunities to help, he pursues opportunities to wield his power, to awe others, to control, and create fear. To dominate. The more power he has, the more lives are affected. And destroyed. One with great power, for example the leader of a country, can affect the lives of millions, even billions, of beings.

In the third lifetime, having blown his good fortune and created untold suffering, he plummets into the deepest of the hells.

Such is the terrible fate of misusing our second lifetime.  

Thursday
Oct122017

Please don’t give me frustration. 

I have enough already, thank you.

When you suggest something to a person, pay heed to her response. Does she accept happily? Or unhappily? Perhaps she offers an alternative or declines with an explanation? If, upon having perceived a less than enthusiastic response you discuss other options with the person, any frustration that could have arisen will be amicably avoided. But what if you aren’t listening carefully? What if you’re so focused on your proposed plan that upon having heard a reasoned “No thank you,” you forge ahead with a minor change to your original suggestion. The person again demurs, further clarifying why she cannot accept. But, yet again, you once more tweak the plan and persevere in obtaining acceptance. The person, recognizing the railroad car of destiny barreling down the track, decides to accord with conditions and accepts. Gracefully, I might add. Maxim: Just as there is merit in offering, there is wisdom in accepting “No thank you.”