Both secular and spiritual practitioners face very similar questions: “Why? How? … ” Especially, in the very beginning of the journey: be it a pursuit of happiness, discovering the meaning of life, improving “Emotional Intelligence”, or attaining “enlightenment”. His Holiness the Dalai Lama is an embodiment of wisdom and compassion. His words provide answers to the hardest questions, a guide to effective practice, actual personal change.
1. The motivation is more important than the action
“The distinction between violence and nonviolence lies less in the nature of a particular action and more in the motivation behind the action,” HBR.
2. Meditation alone is not enough
“Merely doing thoughtlessness meditation cannot help… we need to use our intelligence.. with mere single-pointed concentration you may not be able to overcome the negative emotions… just withdrawing your mind in meditation without doing much thinking you will not be able to counter these mental afflictions,” Youtube (50:55).
3. Active emotions are unique opportunities for change
“Attachment, anger, hatred, when they are very strong — they can be countered more easily. But when they are in a dormant state, or not active, it is more difficult to work against that,“ Youtube (1:08:11).
4. Learn from those who embody the solution (not mere theory)
“…Regarding a spiritual master, a spiritual friend… “Without taming oneself you cannot tame others. Those who wish to tame others must tame themselves first. So a spiritual teacher must be someone who can lead his/her disciples along the Path… Which means to discipline them. So for that, the teacher himself or herself must be disciplined, or subdued first,” Youtube (37:29).
5. Blaming the external world/other people instead of tackling our internal issues
“In truth, it is always and only the mental afflictions that agitate our minds, yet we tend to blame our agitation on external conditions, imagining that encountering unpleasant people or adverse circumstances makes us unhappy,” Essence of the Heart Sutra.
6. “Maintaining one’s own tradition”
“I encourage people to maintain their spiritual tradition, even if they choose to learn from others, like Buddhism, as well. Changing one’s religion is a serious matter and it should not be taken lightly. Given that different religious traditions evolved in accordance with specific historical, cultural, and social contexts, a particular tradition may be more suitable to a particular person in a particular environment,” Essence of the Heart Sutra. “I always recommend that it’s best to keep the religion you were born into,” Dalailama.com.
Photo: His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s 12-day teachings on the 18 Great Stages of the Path (Lam Rim), Mundgod, India, November 2012.