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Lions Roar : January 2010
SHAMBHALA SUN JANUARY 2010 52 GenerOsity If those aspiring to enlightenment give even their body away, What need is there to mention outer objects? Therefore, without hope of return or a good result, To be generous is the practice of a bodhisattva. the first of the six perfections is generosity. Many religions and spiritual paths agree on the importance of giving, because we can all see that this benefits others directly. for Buddhism, in particular, being generous is important because it directly coun- teracts our attachments. When we help others, we should do so with an intelligence that is able to analyze the situation. true generosity requires some wisdom—a clear understanding of ourselves who are giv- ing, what we are giving, and to whom we are giving. if we give using our intelligence, then generosity benefits both ourselves and others. We should not give just for the sake of giving or from an old habit. further, in the process of giving, we should not become distracted, for losing our focus diminishes the scope and effect of our activity. When we are generous and wise, our giving benefits others and also helps us to deepen our practice as we move along the path. disCiPLine If lacking discipline, we can’t even help ourselves, Wishing to benefit others is just a joke. Therefore, to maintain a discipline Free of desire for samsara is the practice of a bodhisattva. the downside of the perfection of discipline is called “the de- mon of austerity”—taking on discipline as a hardship and mak- ing it into a struggle. done right, discipline is taken on joyfully and with a clear understanding of why engaging in it is good. for example, many people nowadays have given up eating meat. Why would we do that? We should not become vegetarian just because someone says we should, or because the Buddha taught that we should not eat meat, or because it is the custom where we live, or because giving up meat would give us a good reputation. if we give up eating meat for these reasons, it might be better not to do it at all, because our decision is not sincerely motivated. in the beginning, we have a certain feeling about not eating meat. then we can ask ourselves questions, such as what are the real benefits? after careful consideration, we become certain that this is the right thing to do. Our answer has to come from within, inspired by real conviction, so that when we do give up eating meat, it does not become a hardship or a struggle but something we do with joy and intelligence. it is the same with any discipline in spiritual practice. Whatever we give up or whatever we do, we should first feel a connection to the practice and then be very clear why we are doing this and not something else. When we act this way, our discipline becomes very inspiring. PatienCe For bodhisattvas aspiring to a wealth of virtue, anything that harms is a treasury of jewels. Therefore, never turning aggressive or angry, To be patient is the practice of a bodhisattva. the third perfection is patience, which also has an obstacle, called “the demon of too much struggling” or “too much for- bearance.” Patience, like generosity and discipline, should not be too extreme, but should arise freely through our understanding. When we have love and compassion, we naturally understand why the afflictions occur and do not struggle to be patient. for example, when sick, some people keep on struggling with the illness and refuse to take any treatment. that is excessive for- bearance. in general, we should not put up with everything or do everything that anyone asks us to do. enduring too much has the drawback of giving others the opportunity to do negative things. We could also be too patient with our own afflictions. exces- sive forbearance is also a problem because we must clearly know the reasons for what we are doing and not just blindly continue without reflection, especially if it concerns something we find objectionable. Otherwise, if without reason a person told us to PhOtO©tsurPuLaBranG