Excerpt from Lighting the Lamp by Alfred Woll:
Needing someone is wanting something for ourselves; loving on the other hand, is wanting the best for another.
Needing is a self oriented attitude, in which we want someone else to fill a gap, to make us feel less lonely. to make us feel safe and secure.
Genuine love, by contrast, is being alert and attentive to someone else’s needs; it is the readiness to care, give, help, and support another, with respect and an unbiased, open attitude.
Attachment arises out of a sense of personal insufficiency and limitation, which easily gives rise to dependency and ultimately we become possessive and fearful and experience many other uncomfortable mental states.
Genuine love is not holding and therefore it does not fear loss. It is being open and abiding fully in the moment and devoted to the dynamic flow and sees the richness of time’s passage.
Love neither holds to the past nor long for the future, rather, it is an unbiased, accepting appreciation for what is happening right now
However much time you have to spend with your teacher’s entourage or with your vajra brothers and sisters, never feel weary or irritated with them; be easy to be with like a comfortable belt.
Swallow your self importance and join in whatever there is to be done, mixing easily like salt in food.
When people speak harshly to you or pick quarrels, be ready to bear anything, like a pillar
Hence the say goes:
- Like a belt, be a comfortable companion
- Like salt, be easily mixed in
- Like a pillar, untiringly bear any load
- Serve thus your vajra brothers and your teacher’s attendants
is considered an even greater wrong than forsaking the Dharma and committing a crime of immediate retribution.
Even if those who disparage the perfect master, give up sleep and distracting places and make a fine attempt over a thousand aeons to accomplish the highest practice of all the tantras, they will just accomplish rebirth in hell and so on (The Fullfilment of All Hopes of Disciples)
With immediate retribution, the 5 heinous crimes are:
- killing one’s mother
- killing one’s father
- killing an arhat
- harming the body of a tathagatha
- forsaking the Dharma
Sorry, to say but it is immediately to hell, after one’s death for committing any of the above.
It is said that ‘whoever relies correctly upon the guru can ripen the positive energy generated over the past 3 aeons, and in this one short lifetime can achieve the exalted state of full enlightenment, the omniscient wisdom of Buddhahood’.
Thus, those who practice guru yoga become automatically close to Buddhahood. (Path Of The Bodhisattva Warrior)
One is a Buddhist if he/she accepts the following truths:
- All compounded things are impermanent
- All emotions are pain
- All things have no inherent existence
- Nirvana is beyond concepts
These 4 statements spoken by the Buddha himself are known as the ‘4 Seals (or Hallmark that confirms authenticity)’. This is not to be confused with Buddhism’s 4 Noble Truths which pertain solely to aspects of suffering.
The 4 Seals are believed to encompass all of Budddhism, but people don’t seem to want to hear about them. There is nothing moralistic or ritualistic about the 4 Seals. They are secular truths based on wisdom and wisdom is the primary concern of a Buddhist. Morals and ethics are secondary. A few puffs of a cigarette and a little fooling around don’t prevent someone from becoming a Buddhist and that is not to say we have license to be wicked or immoral.
Wisdom comes from a mind that has what the Buddhists called ‘right view’. But one doesn’t even have to consider oneself a Buddhist to have right view. Ultimately it is this view that determines our motivation and action and that which guides us on the path of Buddhism.
If we can adopt wholesome behaviours in addition to the 4 Seals, it makes us even better Buddhist.
But what makes us not a Buddhist?
If you cannot accept that all compounded or fabricated things are impermanent, if you believe that there is some essential substance or concept that is permanent, then you are not a Buddhist
If you cannot accept that all emotions are pain. If you believe that actually some emotions are purely pleasurable, then you are not a Buddhist
If you cannot accept that all phenomena are illusory and empty and if you believe that certain things do exist inherently, then you are not a Buddhist
And if you think enlightenment exists within the spheres of time, space and power, then you are not a Buddhist
The purpose of making offerings is to accumulate merit and in particular to develop and increase the mind of generosity and to reduce stinginess and miserliness. By making offerings you also create the causes for the future results of becoming wealthy and becoming naturally and spontaneously generous, most importantly your “spiritual wealth’ will grow within you.
If we can afford, we should offer the best to the Buddhas as if we were offering the best to our honoured guest, e.g. if our Prime Minister were to visit our home, we would naturally serve him the best food and bring out our best serving plates. What more do we need to say for Buddhas, supreme enlightened beings!
All dharma practitioners should wish to be able to offer the best to the Buddhas’ altar, gold is not too practical, so the next best thing is silver. It would be so beautiful and wonderful if we could offer silver butter lamps and silver water offering bowls. The benefits for making such an offering are that one’s material wealth will increase on the external aspect, and internal, our spiritual wealth also increases. Learning the Dharma would be easier when we have less financial or external obstacles. One may not necessary make this contribution to oneself alone but dedicate the merits to one’s kind parents, family, friends, the needy, deceased family members, etc.
Atisha commented that water is one of the best substance to use, for it does not generate attachment in the mind of the practitioner; and although to us it is merely water, the Enlightened Beings regard it as ambrosial nectar.
Whenever you do something positive, whether major or minor, it is indispensible to enhance with 3 supreme methods.
Before beginning, arouse bodhicitta as skilful means to ensure that the actions become a source of good for the future.
Whilst carrying out action, avoid getting involved in any conceptualisation (avoid materialistic or ambitious attitude to practice – in fact only true practitioners can practice with true freedom from concepts but as one’s practice matures, freedom from grasping comes progressively) so that merit cannot be destroyed by circumstances (and there are 4 which destroys one’s source of merit:- not dedicating, anger, regretting the beneficial actions done, boasting of one’s positive actions)
At the end, seal action by properly dedicating the merit which ensures it continually grows ever greater (such as a drop of water becomes part of the ocean-it will continue to exist as long as the ocean exists, hence, when the merits of one’s actions is completely dedicated to the “fruit, the Oceon of Omniscience” it will not be lost until one has attained complete Buddhahood.
More importantly than the way to listen to Dharma, is the motivation with which to listen (what makes an action good or bad and not how it looks, nor whether it is big or small, but the good or evil motivation behind it).
Do not be motivated by ordinary concerns, desires for greatness, fame or whatever. Turn inwards and change your motivation. If you correct your attitude, skilful means will permeate your positive actions and you will have set out on the path of great beings.
This is no ordinary T-Shirt. I wear this to my Tai Chi class and I already generated interests from my fellow Tai Chi brothers and sisters. Today, my Tai Chi Sifu also came ans ask me what this organisation is and he said he will google it.