Meditation & Health #20-Understanding Fundamental Truths for a Happy Life
for a Happy Life
A DHARMA TEACHING BY MASTER JINBODHI
Emotions play a significant role in our daily life. Therefore, managing our emotions is no doubt important. Meditation practices such as sitting meditation and full prostration are very effective methodologies. Spiritual endeavors such as performing kind deeds, virtuous giving, and learning to forgive are also excellent approaches to cultivating a pleasant disposition.
Be Ready to Forgive: Understand the Reason
How do we bring ourselves to forgive? It’s difficult because when we are in a fit of anger, we tend to be deluded by our own view instead of making an effort to understand the other party. Achieving forgiveness when angry is virtually impossible.
Let us recollect some of our childhood behaviors or observe how children conduct themselves. A young child may create a fuss over a perceived minor injustice, wailing, “He used my eraser without my permission!” Even when the eraser is returned, the shrieking continues. On some occasions, children cry their eyes out in envy and anger while watching other kids chomping on candies.
However, as adults, we don’t emulate such behaviors, considering them childish. This is because we understand the concepts or principles behind acceptable behavior, and have sound reasoning.
In other situations, parents need to examine their own behavior. For example, a child’s test scores dip by five points, and this sends his parents into a rage. Parental ignorance and anxiety are to blame. Other parents lament their child’s hyper behavior. Frustrated, some parents respond with punishment, unknowingly causing lasting harm to their son or daughter.
Such parents fail to recognize that a bright-eyed and boisterous child brimming with energy should be regarded as a blessing. A vivacious personality is a representation of the youngster’s dynamism, which will serve the child well in future. When parents realize this, they will exercise patience.
Open Your Heart to All
Extend your compassion and cultivate loving-kindness for all circumstances and sentient beings beyond family members. The love you shower on your son, daughter and spouse is a form of small love. This limited love is unable to generate equanimity. Anger, not composure, is typical with this sort of conditional affection.
For instance, if you came to know your child was being bullied in class, you would, without hesitation, seek justice from the school. This is protective parental love; it’s small love that prevents you from seeing the broader truth. The recent incident of bullying could have been a result of your child striking the other party a few days prior. The point is that whenever you are faced with a situation, do not act rashly and blindly. First, widen your perspective. Open your heart, and act from the perspective of expansive love.
Gratitude to Employers:
A Responsible and Competent Employee
The relationship between employees and employers is subject to all kinds of stresses. Things generally start out on a pleasant footing. But when the employer begins meting out criticism, employees’ resentment arises. At times, the criticism is justified. Some employees underperform; they take shortcuts, are careless about their work, and give little of themselves, simply biding their time waiting for a paycheck. In such a case, the employee should not blame their employer when they are dismissed. If the shoe were on the other foot, they would sack such a lazy, unproductive worker. It is not difficult to understand this reasoning. However, if you were the one laid off or demoted, would you accept fault or would you harbor a grudge against your boss?
Conversely, some bosses are petty, corrupt bullies who take advantage of their employees. If you work for such a boss, you would be wise to consider the impact the stress has on you and make the appropriate decision.
When you land a job, be a responsible, competent worker with a sense of gratitude toward your boss and the company as a whole for the opportunity to do your best. If you visualize yourself “losing your rice bowl,” unable to afford a meal, you will fully appreciate being employed. If you embody the fundamental principle of gratitude, it is difficult to lose your job. Even if you do become unemployed, you will quickly find another job. Career satisfaction begins with your attitude.
Liberation: Letting Go and Accepting
I once knew a couple who worked in a government factory. At that time, many state-owned enterprises and factories started converting to private enterprises. Both husband and wife lost their jobs. They were so distraught that they contemplated suicide. A concerned friend suggested that they meet with me. I asked them, “Why do you want to end your lives?” Apparently, the husband used to be the deputy factory director. He and his wife were deeply mourning the loss of their high-profile and glamorous lifestyle.
I pitied this couple and suggested to them to open a greengrocer stall in the market. The work would provide a decent income without being too strenuous. Vegetables would be delivered to their stall and the couple would be responsible for selling them. Upon hearing my proposal, the wife turned up her nose and declared, “I would rather die than do such degrading work!” I turned to the husband and asked, “What about you?” The husband hesitated before replying, “I have to consider this.”
There are people who only want to belong to an elite group and refuse to see themselves in any other position. This is a failure to understand the basic principle of responsibility. As a husband or wife, if you truly love your children and spouse, you will be willing to sacrifice to provide for them. Selling vegetables is honorable work. This couple was obsessed with status, and preferred to let their entire family suffer. Unable to face the realities of life, they eventually took their own lives.
Sakyamuni Buddha taught that the purpose of self-cultivation is the attainment of bliss and liberation from suffering. To achieve these, we must learn to accept and then transform ourselves. Constant practice is required to achieve a state of non-self, to let go of status, ego and fame. Getting to the point of non-self presents a major obstacle to most people. However, true love will guide a noble person to provide for their family, even if that means relinquishing attachment to status, letting go, and accepting reality.
One’s Natural Self
When we are ignorant of the fundamental truths, our thoughts and actions become obstructed by the notion of “I.”
Many years ago while in Los Angeles. two practitioners and I were walking when one of them pointed to a home: “Master, this is our fellow practitioner’s house, let’s visit her.” Since we were already there, we decided to drop by without giving advance notice. The woman answered the doorbell, but the instant she caught sight of me, she slammed the door shut. We waited for half an hour before the door opened again. A well-groomed lady welcomed us: “Master, please come in.” Her makeup was immaculately done and she was beautifully dressed. We were unable to recognize her as the woman we’d seen earlier.
Learn to accept your true self — just relax in your natural state. We are usually more genuine at home. While cooking a meal or doing the laundry, you are comfortable and low-key. You will not wear a ball gown to prepare a meal or do household chores.
After gradually attaining realization, many practitioners will relinquish some of their spectacular jewelry and gorgeous clothing. Dressed simply and with a soft expression, they are able to meet anyone comfortably, even without makeup. This is a form of self-assured beauty. Being serene and at ease in one’s natural state is achieved through self-cultivation.
No matter how intelligent a person is, there are times when he may be unable to overcome troubles, unaware that all the worldly delusions are the causes of torment in his life. If he were to encounter a wise teacher who could impart to him words of wisdom, he would realize that attachment to ego is indeed self-sabotaging. Happiness depends on understanding the fundamental truths of life that lead to wisdom and unobstructed action. A broadminded, egoless state provides the clearest view of reality.