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Lions Roar : July 2019
THERE ARE MANY DIFFERENT WAYS of undertaking the practice of dharma; these vary from individual to individual. Some people can totally renounce the worldly way of life and choose the way of a hermit, devoting their entire time and energy to meditation. Others undertake their prac- tice while maintaining a conventional life in the world. One should not have the wrong notion that the practice of dharma is to be put off for the future when one can set aside a specific time for it; rather, it should be integrated into one’s life right now. The essence is to live one’s life within the noble princi- ples of the dharma and give a direction and purpose to one’s life. If one can adopt such an outlook, the dharma will not only be beneficial to oneself as an individual but will also contribute to the betterment of the community in which one lives. Generally speaking, altruism is the genuine source of benefit and happiness in this world. Thus if we were born in a realm of existence where the development of altruism was not possible, we would be in a rather hopeless situation, which is fortu- nately not the case. As human beings we have all the faculties appropriate for spiritual development, among them the most precious of all—the human brain. It is very important that we do not waste the great opportunity afforded by our being human, because time is a phenomenon that is momentary and does not wait. It is the nature of things that they go through a process of change and disintegra- tion. Therefore, it is a matter of utmost importance that we make our human lives meaningful. Just as one has a natural right to work for one’s own happiness, so, in equal measure, do all sentient beings. What, then, is the difference between self and others? The only difference is that when one talks of one’s own affairs, no matter how important one might be, one is only concerned with a single person, whereas the affairs of others concern the welfare of numberless living beings. The difference between the two concerns lies in the quantity. Happiness Is Helping Others You aren’t separate from the rest of the world, teaches the DALAI LAMA. In being kind to others, you’re also being kind to yourself. Moreover, if one were totally unrelated to and independent of others, then one’s indifference toward their welfare would be understandable, but this is not the case. All living beings survive in dependence upon others; even one’s experiences of happiness and suffering come about in relation to one’s interaction with others. One’s dependence on others is not confined to day-to-day survival alone; all one’s spiritual development depends upon oth- ers as well. It is only in relation to others that one can cultivate such human qualities as universal compassion, love, tolerance, generosity, etc. Even the Buddha’s noble activities come about because there are other sentient beings to work for. If one thinks in such terms, one will find that working for one’s own benefit, totally neglecting the welfare of others, is very selfish and hence unfair. When one compares the welfare of oneself with that of the numberless others, one finds that the welfare of others is far more important; and therefore giving up the benefits accruing to a single person for the sake of numberless others is a just and a righteous act. On the contrary, sacrificing the well-being of many for the benefit of one is not only a most unfair act but also a foolish one. At this juncture, when we possess the intelli- gence to judge between right and wrong and also can draw inspiration from the examples of great bodhisattvas of the past, we should make every attempt to reverse our normal self-centered out- look. Our attitudes toward our own welfare should be such that we open ourselves completely to the service of others—so much so, that on our part there is not even a slight sense of possessiveness toward our belongings or our being. We have this great opportunity now. ♦ From The Complete Foundation: The Systematic Approach to Training the Mind, by the Dalai Lama (Shambhala Publications, 2018). LION’S ROAR | JULY 2019 45