Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Santideva Says . . .

The news is preoccupied with suffering.  Today’s post is a change of pace from all that.

I’ve been viewing a series of lectures called “The Meaning of Life.”  Professor Jay Garfield is the lecturer and his focus is on Great Intellectual Traditions from around the world.  The other day his subject was Santideva, a Buddhist teacher who lived in the 8th century, who wrote “How to Lead an Awakened Life.”  Here are a few thoughts from Santideva:

We are often overcome by greed, fear and selfishness, which make our lives sordid and meaningless.  A concern for others would make our lives more meaningful.

Our lives are conditioned by a fear of death.  Only by embarking on a path of virtue can we overcome this fear and the suffering it causes.

Santideva’s virtuous path consists of generosity, mindfulness and patience.

Generosity enables us to reduce our attachment to things and to the self, which view places us at the center of the universe and is an obstacle to altruism.

Unmindfulness is like a mad elephant, stampeding and causing destruction wherever it goes.  Our mind creates this mad elephant.  So we can lead better lives not be transforming the world around us, but by transforming our minds.

Patience is the answer to anger.  A single moment of anger can devastate lifelong relationships or commitments.  Respond to those who make us angry with compassion.  If we are going to benefit others we must help them overcome irrationality, not pile our own irrational anger on top of theirs.

The wisdom to know that anger is bad and patience is good allows for the manifestation of compassionate action.

Have a nice day.


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