Listen to the World with Love
Listen to the World with Love
By Grandmaster JinBodhi
Translation by Xuemei Li
Communicate with Everything
Many years ago I wrote an article in which I said that a person should live in a state that is constantly open to love. I still say the same today. Walking out of the house, you breathe in the fresh air, and the air fills you with joy; your heart says hello to the sky, to the air, and to everything the air holds. A tree comes into your sight and so you say hello, as naturally as if to a human friend. Do plants have feelings? Do they feel hurt if harmed? There is a plant called mimosa: if you touch its leaf, the leaf will curl up, like a shy maiden. How should we interpret this? Do plants have feelings and emotions? Yes. Perhaps they have different ways of expressing feelings, so different from ours that we don’t recognize them. Even though plants don’t have feelings in the same way that we do, we should treat them with respect and love. Humans possess the intelligence to recognize our own feelings as well as the sentience of other beings.
In our life, we often need to look at things from a new perspective. Suppose you don’t like the bowl in your hand and you simply throw it away after a meal – what would you use to contain your meal next time? Suppose you don’t like your dining table and so you simply kick one of the legs until it’s broken – then what would you rest your dishes on? And haven’t you noticed that when you don’t like a table, you bang into it often and end up bruised? So that’s why I say: Treat everything with respect and love.
Yes, respect and love everything as it is – even those things that appear to be “lifeless,” such as rocks. Some people don’t perceive a simple rock’s perfection and wouldn’t hesitate to smash one rock against another until both are chipped. Such action is indicative of a destructive mentality. For everyone, it’s necessary to love everything in the world. We can start with loving the clothes we wear, loving the meals we eat and loving the pets we keep. We then can expand this love to include everyone and everything on Earth. You’ll benefit tremendously from this expansive, all-inclusive love.
Some people would ask: Is love useful? Yes, I think it is. I often take a handful of sand or soil, or pick a stone up off the ground, and then I put it close to a nearby person. In my heart, I tell the stone: “Hi, friend, please help this person to release his pain.” That stone shakes its head: “I can’t help.” So I say: “Yes, you can – this person needs your help.” And the stone says: “His disease is too stinky.” “So what?” I say. “Just put up with it. After all, you’re not going to be harmed by bad smells – you’re a stone.” After some persuasion, as a favor to me, the stone draws the illness out of that person’s body. He feels better instantly. Believe it or not, that’s what I do to help people sometimes. Aside from life-threatening diseases, common ailments such as headaches, toothaches and insomnia bring a lot of discomfort to the person who suffers from them. Yet if we treat everything with respect and love, then all things can help you release such discomfort and even assist you in avoiding catastrophes.
I like to drink tea and I use an ordinary cup. Every time I drink tea, I have loving feelings toward both the cup and the beverage inside it. This feeling of love is not expressed in appreciative words, but rather in a natural attitude of affection. I’m thinking: “What a good cup of tea!” If someone drinks his tea with disgust – “What kind of tea is this? Smells terrible!” – then the tea acts like poison in the body. The person might choke on it. Be loving toward the utensils we use to eat and drink. In fact, if we hold love and compassion in our hearts for everything we encounter in Nature, we can interact with all of it, and secrets will be revealed to us.
Listen with Heart
An experienced gold miner knows to grab a handful of dirt to smell, or pick up a seemingly ordinary stone to study and feel, and to let the dirt or the stone tell him if there’s gold in the area, enough to make it worth his while to mine. His body has become a bio-instrument, enabling that sort of communication. It’s true that when we communicate with Nature, we become full of energy and wisdom – our senses become finer, sharper, expanded. If you love stones and study them, they’ll tell you many things, including how the weather is going to be. You need to pay attention. Pay attention and you’ll receive the information. Stones are formed by Nature, which gives them their power. Any man-made wares constructed of natural materials can transmit information to us in the same way. Use an object made of clay, and you will find it can tell you a lot.
We need to feel the world, to listen to the world and to make use of the world out of love. It’s important to put the world to use when conditions permit. If you’ve followed me so far and you can feel the truth in my words, then your whole being is changing. You’ll perceive many more things from now on, things that you’ve never seen before. I’m not saying that you’ll become a fortune-teller, but you will be more inspired. We need inspiration even in our daily life, don’t we? With a little inspiration, you’ll turn the ordinary into the extraordinary, and potential troubles into blessings.
Your total being is undergoing a transformation now that you are learning to see and listen to the world with an open heart. Improvements in your relationships are a natural consequence of this. For example, you might stop fighting with your spouse. If he or she continues to try to initiate arguments, you’ll be able to remain calm and compassionate, to look at them as if watching a child venting their frustration. If your spouse comes home after work and complains about the dinner you’ve cooked, you’ll pay attention and listen with an open heart. Listening with an open heart causes you to see beyond the surface of things – perhaps his or her complaints have nothing to do with you, but rather are the product of fatigue and stress. Maybe you wonder why your spouse takes their stress out on you, instead of on other people. Well, from now on you’ll know it’s because he or she doesn’t mask their real feelings in front of the person they truly trust. Your husband or wife’s negative behavior is actually a show of their trust in you. If you see this, would you still want to defend and attack? Instead, you’ll have compassion for their stress and tiredness, and comfort them. Complimenting him or her is another good way to demonstrate your care. Listen, validate, comfort and compliment. Fighting doesn’t help. Surely your relationship will go from good to great.
If you learn to listen to your children with your heart, you can give timely and adequate guidance at each developmental stage. You’ll share your own life experiences with them, knowing that children respond well to true stories. By listening with an open, loving heart, you’ll hear what they truly need.
“Listening with one’s heart” is a principle that can be applied to all areas of life, from relationships to careers. In business, you’ll consider your colleagues’ needs carefully, taking care to conduct yourself in a conscientious manner. Regardless of the kind of work you do, you will display a commitment to serving with excellence. When you do business according to your conscience, your business will flourish. Compassion for others is essential to succeeding in every facet of life.
Some people misunderstand Buddhism, worrying that following a Buddhist path means that poverty or divorce is inevitable. Quite the contrary, following Buddhism helps us to live a better life, a life guided by wisdom. And wisdom arises out of compassion. Compassion facilitates a perfect family, healthy children, a successful career and a happy romantic relationship.
The Principles for Life
Using compassion as our guiding principle, we’ll play our roles in life well, both in the family sphere and that of career. A great leader is a compassionate leader. Years ago I watched an old film in China titled The County Official. In it, the character after whom the film was named spoke a classic maxim: “If an official cannot stand up for his people, he’d better go home and sell sweet potato.” That line encapsulates a high level of consciousness, a heart filled with compassion. It means: “Today I’m the leader of my people, but if I don’t strive for a better life for them, what’s the point of having me here? I cannot use my position to gain private benefits that hurt the interest of the public. I will be the guardian of my people’s basic rights at the cost of my own life.” People who are protected and guided by a compassionate leader are blessed. Such a leader won’t sacrifice the interests of the common people to create superficial prosperity or progress. He or she would never impose unreasonable taxes that only benefit the upper echelon of society. Excessive taxes exist in many countries, especially when the economy is depressed, which hurts people financially and emotionally.
Everyone must have a set of principles by which they live. Different principles arise out of different levels of consciousness and lead to different destinies. Today at the Bodhi Meditation Retreat, each person has a unique purpose. Some want to improve their health, some want to be more successful in their career, and so forth. No matter what, I hope everyone understands that they should live by one basic principle at all times: compassion. Out of compassion comes a better way of listening to and understanding the world. If you use compassion as a guiding principle when dealing with various life situations, including negative ones, you will meet with positive outcomes.
Once compassion is awakened, the heart that previously was mired in self-interest begins to open, and an open heart is like an open country – it interacts with the world and mingles with everything. An open heart receives limitless knowledge, energy and assistance from Nature. Those who are ready, who listen to these teachings with an open heart, will start to transform immediately. In three years, remarkable growth will be evident. Those who continue to live an uninspired life will see no change in three years, but rather will continue to wear themselves out. A compassionate heart makes a big difference. In three to six years, some will experience transcendence while some will suffer decline. Once you awaken compassion and open your heart, physical diseases will be expelled. The mental knots that caused pain and distress will unravel, and you’ll become happy and healthy.
This speech was given by Grandmaster JinBodhi at the Second Level Bodhi Meditation Retreat held in Vancouver, Canada in August, 2011