When taken advantage of, 

view it as a karmic repayment 

or as something put away for the future.

When someone takes advantage of us, one of two things have transpired: either we owe the person a karmic debt or we don’t. Owing the person, being taken advantage of means we have reduced or perhaps even canceled it. Having spent lifetimes creating such debts, eliminating just one seems a mere drop in the bucket. But if we can gladly repay it, we’ll do more than just settle a karmic score. Because our grasp of karma is deepening, we’ll have progressed in our cultivation. So our repayment is a good thing! Not owing someone, being taken advantage of means that since we don’t owe him, he will have incurred a future debt to us. Having a karmic credit is also a good thing. But let’s progress here too. Not wanting to incur another enmity, we will forgive the person of his future debt to us. So either way, when properly viewed, being taken advantage of is a karmic benefit. 


Why seek transitory happiness 

in phenomena,

when joy without end is within our reach?

Myriad pleasurable things available to people with a bit of good fortune—people like us—are sought for the happiness they can bring. Seeking such enjoyment seems so much more reasonable than trying to attain something referred to as “joy” or “bliss.” After all, we have already experienced happiness to various degrees, so we know what it’s like. We don’t know what joy, much less bliss, feels like. So giving up the known to seek the unknown seems risky. And yet, this giving up is precisely what the Buddha encouraged us to do. He knew if we persevered, we would realize that happiness cannot compare to the joy to be found in our Buddha-name chanting when for a sudden, unexpected moment, we transport ourselves to a state of joy. This moment—incredibly serene while at the same time gloriously joyful—is all too brief. But it holds the promise of unending joy.


When about to tell others your Dharma door

is better than theirs,

remember, “That’s their choice.”

We all have our unique combination of roots, habits, causes, and conditions. Knowing this, the Buddha compassionately taught 84,000 Dharma doors. If a person has good fortune, she will intuitively find the most suitable method for her to practice. Just as, hopefully, others too will be fortunate enough to be drawn to the method best suited to their previously developed roots and current abilities. Having made our choices, we need to respect those of others. If one method were perfect for everyone, the Buddha would have taught just that one. He didn’t. Until we uncover a lot more of our wisdom and eliminate a lot more of our ignorance, we won’t know which method is most suitable for different people. Attempting to convince them to abandon their practice for ours runs the risk of leaving them confused, frustrated, and abandoning Buddhism. Rather than instigate that, we need to accept—and respect—their choice.


Bad habits, like weeds,

should be pulled out when detected.

Left alone, 

they will rapidly grow out of control.

Any gardener with bad habits would most likely find himself hard pressed to say which grows out of control faster: the weeds or his habits. Both are sown out of sight, a threat to the future but not the present. As they first appear, both weeds and habits seem so trifling that unless we are wary, and experienced, the pesky things hardly seem worth bothering about. We can eliminate them another day. No big deal. As they develop, we tell ourselves we need to do something before they multiply. But still, we do nothing. Until one day, amazed, we realize those minor irritations have not only thrived but also taken over. And worse, they are now, like Medusa’s snakes, so intertwined that we find it almost impossible to tell where one begins and another ends. Where to begin! Note to self: When such pests are spotted, pluck them out!


If you wouldn’t want others 

to hear what you’re saying about them, 

most likely it shouldn’t be said.

Don’t gossip. Okay, that’s simple. Or is it? Is saying something nice about someone gossiping? Some people might say yes, others no. So how do we decide whether to say something about another person? One simple way is to ask ourselves if we would say it in front of the person. Aside from exceptions like not discussing what we’ll be giving a child for his birthday in front of him, this guideline works well. If we’d be mortified or regretful or upset with ourself for speaking out, then we shouldn’t. If the other person might feel hurt or defensive or angry, then we shouldn’t. If there is even a chance of upsetting the other person in any way, then we shouldn’t. Notice a pattern? It’s “We shouldn’t.” Unless the person would thank us for what we just said or with twinkling eyes, smile happily, or feel the need to demur humbly, then we shouldn’t. So yes, it was simple after all.