Spiritual Balance (4 of 4)

How was the week? Did you walk in someone else’s shoes?

Another one of the eight steps is ‘Great Compassion’, showing our feelings towards the ones that have less than we do. Understanding or having empathy for the ones that suffer and helping them to come out of the suffering. If that is a homeless person or your child or a friend or a complete stranger, if they are in misery try to help them feeling better. And my suggestion would be to do that before you help yourself.

Maybe an example could be a rough flight in a plane and you and others get scared. Try to calm down others first and show them that you protect them before fighting your own fear. By doing so you already fighting your own fear and calm your mind automatically. This might sound selfish but helping others means you help yourself at the same time. Giving to charity makes you feel good about yourself whilst still helping others.

Samsara, the constant reborn cycle in Buddhism, does not allow for any true happiness, e.g. enlightenment. Buddha (Gyatso, 2000, page 123) compared living in samsara to sitting on top of a pin – no matter how much we try to adjust our position it is always painful, and no matter how hard we try to adjust and improve our samsaric situation it will always irritate us and give rise to pain. True happiness can be found only by attaining liberation from samsara. By developing a desire for all living beings to experience pure happiness, we attain liberation. 

Another one of the great philosophical pieces in Buddhism is about the victory and accepting defeat. What I mean by that is simple: let others win. Whether this is the argument at work or someone insisting on being right in something, just accept their opinion and let them move on and you move on. No use to actually fight over something, let them win and in your heart you can feel like the winner. I once had that with a co-worker who did not seem to be too keen on me and tried to make me feel really bad. So I let him speak and he started shouting as I did not react in the same way he expected me to react. However, when I calmly accepted some of his points he made but questions some others, he still continued trying to win a battle he already lost. He was aggravated, not happy and wanted (!) to be right. I did not. I agreed and moved on to more important things, and he walked away feeling proud to have won an argument but being empty inside. I was smiling all day long for him being so foolish. Besides I saw his true face, something worth more than trying to claim victory.

All this comes down to giving rather than receiving things, arguments or energy. I am prepared to give to others in order to help them. I get satisfaction from doing so.

Bodhichitta is the word for the mind striving for enlightenment. For me it is an open mind that lets thoughts of others in, gives others and put others above themselves. A good human being you could argue based on a Buddhist philosophy. I do not mind what you call it, for me this is a way of living and dying and imagining that we are only a small part in the greater game of the universe, being reborn into new lives. A fascinating thought, an endless circle of suffering.

Whilst most examples I used were from Buddhism, a lot of cultural similarities can be found in other religions. I grew up to be a Lutheran Protestant (Christian) and never really understood the differences in Christianity, including Catholicism, when fighting for the same cause. Religion has always had a bad taste with wars being fought over which religion is right. This is not my discussion to have, but I see Buddhism as a philosophy rather than a religion with the same ethical principles as most other religions, however yet somewhat deeper inside, more neutral and more helpful in regards to personal development.

I hope you found this chapter useful. I could probably write a whole book on it…maybe later in life.

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