Religion must affirm, in the clearest terms, that morality and ethical values are not mere decorative frills of personal opinion.
They are not a subjective superstructure, but intrinsic laws of the cosmos built into the heart of reality.
If we want to be loved,
we are looking for a support system.
If we want to love,
we are looking for spiritual growth.
Liberation is not a place, another realm, or a destination.
It is an uprooting of the emotional afflictions in my mind,
so that they never arise in the future
and are purified within the expanse of suchness.
“Once the seeds are scorched, the fruit cannot arise.”
The final result of the exhaustion of the afflictive emotions
of the three realms of cyclic existence
is simply stainless awareness . This is liberation.
Our society has progressively exiled the four defining moments of our life experience: birth, disease, aging, and death.
We are born, are ill, and die mostly in hospitals, and the old live in institutional ‘homes’ or artificial aging communities, separated from their families due to geography or the dominant culture of age segregation.
We value youth and the appearance of health above all else, and attempt to avoid at all costs all contact with whatever reminds us of the precariousness of our lives. Specifically, the fear of illness and death has led us to separate ourselves from these experiences, as if ignoring them will postpone them indefinitely, or prevent them altogether.
The Dharma, however, invites us to contemplate these four moments and integrate them in our experience, because without them our view of life is narrow and shallow. Maintaining close contact with sick friends and family members, and cultivating a relationship of gratitude with our dead, are essential practices on the Buddhist path.
When you are sick and in pain,
when your possessions are stolen,
when you are scolded, defamed, or abused,
when you experience misfortune or are hungry,
don’t let your head hang low,
don’t let your complexion pale or your tears drop.
Rather, remain calm, smiling, and in good spirits.
Some well-intentioned persons believe that rage and outrage are necessary for beneficial activism.
However, all variations of anger, while making us feel “sharp”, actually dull the mind and make us ineffective. Anger narrows our focus, and makes us blind to context. Anger exhausts and demoralizes. Anger destroys. Anger saps power.
Peace and radical compassion are the essential components of effective activism.
To manifest any given emotional state, we develop a pattern:
- we focus our attention on a specific feeling (pleasant or unpleasant) and magnify it
- we generate a supporting discursive thought process and identify with it
- we assume a compatible breath pattern and physical posture
If you want to change your emotional state, change your focus, your self-talk, your breath, and your posture.