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These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
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These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Nanaimo March 7
We were speaking of altruism. It is important to have a motivation for why you are here, what you are involved with because the motivating force is very much produces what you become. As you have a motivation for coming here, you have a motivation for getting up and going to work tomorrow, and a motivation for each of the various activities that you get into. And although maybe sometimes we are not aware of how we motivate ourselves, if we can start to develop a little more consciousness of what we are doing things for, then you start to cultivate that in your personality and in your being. And as the years go by it will be more spontaneous. In regards to that then, we are talking of being altruistic which in a sense runs against the grain of our basic self concerns that we have. Awareness which is very focused and quite tightly focused on ourselves and our needs.
It is good to start to work at opening up self limiting mind because as I explained last week, if we really want to be happy, and if we really want to be free of our suffering, altruism, bodhicitta has the capacity to place us in a different perspective. Selfishness which is one of the main causes of our suffering, the main perceptions which produces suffering situations for us is started to be lessened, elevated and we start to become a little more open minded. That is the intent.
To work at it from a different approach. what we want to do is restructure our fundamental vision of ourselves in the world. Ad we want to put ourselves in a position where our perspective, where we look at the world from brings about more benefit for us. It is more fulfilling for us. This is really important. That we do have a sense of fulfillment as our years go by. In talking of that then, it is said that bodhicitta, the altruistic thought of bodhicitta is the wish to become enlightened for the benefit of others. In that, someone last week mentioned that isn't it a little arrogant or presumptuous to think that well I could possibly help anyone else? That I might be capable of doing it? And that is perfectly right. It is presumptuous to think that we could help people to any great extent. A good example for it is to say you want to become enlightened for the benefit of others is like to say you would like to become a financier of other people. To become a person who would be able to help others realize their goals in the material world, you need money. If you don't have money you are a joke. And when you have money you have the possibility of actually doing things like that. Same thing. When you are a Buddhist, the most important thing in Buddhism is self awareness. That you are realized. And so to say that you are possibly going to help people into becoming more and more focused on altruistic vision or altruistic perspective, it has to be very much based on the fact that you know where you are coming from.
That you have some realization. And that when you interact, you do it properly, you do it skillfully, that you are not sort of a blatant evangelist, or obnoxious, over bearing with your vision of this and that and how you want to help people. The best way to make everybody hate you is to start to giving your advice a little too freely. You shouldn't do this and that! And evangelizing. So, when a Buddhist says be altruistic, the most important thing to really remember is to realize yourself. Because if you become more realized, when you help other people, it's authentic. It's real. The more you realize yourself the more you understand other people. It's not in a loud way, a big sense of bravado that you go out and do something,m it's more that you understand your own sufferings. Understand how you tick. And when you see someone else dong things, you don't go out and try to lay a trip on them, you go out and try to give advice that it can be heard. In some way or another, open their mind so that they are not so caught up in their own little nest of suffering, their own up tightness or whatever.
In that way you can literally just be an example without ever saying anything to anyone. And that is being altruistic. Because you have the intention of love and kindness in your heart. And by always being in tune with yourself, going slowly, trying to do things well, all of those activities, that does have an effect on on other people. People will like you because you are a nice quiet person. They will be inspired by you if you manifest that in the sense that is very real. People will say that is a wonderful person. That really attracts them. And if nothing else, it's going to make them... like sometimes they might look at you and say well that person handled that situation well, some intensive situation or something like that. And they say;, I wish I could do something like that.
And that is what you do. You give them an idea that there is a better way to do things. Because you act it out. Like I say, the most important thing is your own realizations. And as you become more realized, you will spontaneously help other people. You don't have to premeditatedly go out and evangelize or lay a trip on people or try to give too much advice. So it is very important to understand that there is a whole different flavor to altruism from a Buddhist perspective than there is from a Christian one. From a Buddhist perspective it's just being human, which is a Buddhist way of developing.
If you hold that always as the first thing in your mind, now when I go back into the methods of being more altruistic, and right now I'm dealing more with the reasons of it, when you think of those reasons the most important thing now is perspective. All we are talking about is your personality, and we are going to try to shift it to a different perspective. And you have to do nothing different than you have done before, you don't have to go out and evangelize, rather you just practice, you meditate, you live your life as best you can, but you have a different perspective. Your vision is different.
In dealing with reasons, why is altruism a more advantageous way to enact in the world? Last week I said, for example, if y9u want to be free of your sufferings, you want to be happy, altruism is beneficial. I went went into various common things, mentioning that in your spiritual practice, if you want to develop in a way that is beneficial for yourself, altruism sets you up in a better perspective. For example, adding love and compassion. If you do it from a way that this is the way you are going to develop spiritually, the basis of it is selfish. i.e. I want to become enlightened, I want to get my act together. Whereas if you do it from an altruistic vision, your love and compassion is focussed totally on others. And how well you manifest it or not is maybe an issue, but not that you need to be having love and compassion because that is how you become spiritual. Rather the focus is how can you best help other people.
The second way of working with perspective, one's attitude is to say that in your life what is the main source of your happiness, and what are the main sources of your suffering?
It is an appraisal system you go through re evaluating. In this sense, if you think about every time you get upset. Let's say you get upset and get into a fight with someone, get a speeding ticket, or have an argument, whatever it is, all the time that your personality is uptight, what it is;, is you have a limitation. And your limitation has been reached. You have a certain sort of perimeter and that perimeter is either being infringed on or you are being asked to go beyond where you feel comfortable. The point is that is personally what you have established as being your limit. And when somebody hassles your limit, you are bugged, upset. From a selfish point of view, which are most of our limits are sets, like my personality can't handle the situation, if my kids fight too much, I can't handle the situation, I get upset, if I don't get the peace I want daily I get upset, each one of those is a limit. It's something like you have an established thing which you have set up, and if you don't get that, you are unhappy. That is all based on you self perspective, and what we term as self cherishing. And it's called a self cherishing attitude. It's said all of our aggravation and all of unhappiness and all of our fears, our anguishes are based on the self cherishing attitude which has established a limited vision, a limited way of interacting with others.
It is important for you to spend some time thinking about it. And each time you have a hassle, each time you get upset, just start to say what has happened here? And what should come to mind is my limit has been met. I can't take any more. It's fun when y0u get into it because if you start seeing it that way, what you don't see any more is an enemy outside, rather you start to see is that you have a lot of limits. And every time they are exceeded or infringed on,l you get terribly upset. For me, it's mostly my children. If they don't do what I ask, I had a limit, for example, the idea that they had to act a certain way. And when they don't, my ego explodes, my ego is broken. That's why my Lama used to say, ego's broken. My personal reality is shattered and I get upset. And for yourselves, you have to look at whatever the situation is. And it's not a question of righteousness or wrongness of whatever person you are involved with, it's just seeing your mind's fence. And every time that fence is knocked down or has to be expanded a bit, your personality shakes a little bit.
One's like personal space, I want a certain amount of freedom. I want a certain amount of sleep at night. I want my clothes in a certain way. I want this. I want. I want it this way. I don't want it that way. And each time you have that, you have suffering. And it can be said that the more you demand particular needs, the more you suffer from it. So, if you start to become aware of that, and it is a reflective process. It's like ass I say, you can't think of the outside world. You have to look at where your mind established that line, that limit. Then you should think in response to that, that an enlightened being, a Buddha or a Bodhisattva, they have bodhicitta. Their mind is altruistic. Their mind is focused on trying to be helpful and beneficial for others. In being beneficial, they are striving very hard to gain realizations, to gain better personal integration, because the more they are personally integrated the more they are realized, the more they are capable of benefitting. There is that awareness of self development working for the benefit of others. In that, every interaction they have with other people has the awareness of what is going on for this person. how can I help them.
So, when you have a personal limit, you see that as an inadequacy in being able really to help other people. You have a limited trip happening. And your limited trip makes suffering. The ultimate expression of being limitless is the Buddha. The Buddha can handle anybody. Whether it's a male or a female buddha, when every someone interacts with the Buddha, the Buddha is not hassled by that. They can handle it. They have the omniscience to understand where a person is coming from. What their personality is. What drives them. What karma they carry. But on a mundane sense, they also have the love and compassion which accepts people for who they are. It's a nice way of validating why it is nice to be a Buddhist because Buddha's don't lay trips on us. They see us from where we are coming from and they try to help us get out of our limitation, our small ego perspective. That is the only thing Buddha's do to us. They try to help us gain realizations which open our mind so we become happier, more love in our life, more compassion, more good energy with other people.
What you have to see then is, that every time you have someone hassles your limits, is to say it would be nice if I had better than this. If I could be a little more capable. It puts your reality in a different perspective. It just shifts it. And instead of being very selfishly concerned, what you start to experience is that every time your limits are touched, you start to realize this is where my capacity, my capability of being capable is hassled. I can't do it any more. That is a drag. That means I am a limited experience. I am a limited trip. I'm not as beneficial or open as I would like to be. And if you really start to see some people that have an open attitude, you start to see that they have a lot more freedom in their life. They are a lot happy. You may find particular cases where it doesn't apply. but it is true in a general sense.
The next way to get yourself interested in bodhicitta, being altruistic, and to try to do it as authentic as possible so it's not like altruism, so often you get religion will lay a trip on you that you should love your neighbors like you love yourself. And that if someone slaps your left cheek , turn you right, in Buddhism there is lots of things like that too. Now if there is no reason behind it other than that maybe the divine being will love you more, you you are going to go to heaven if you act that way, it can be a real battle. But if you sort of step back into your selfishness and let your selfishness teach you, you have a really good personal motive why you want to get beyond those.
Let your selfishness motivate you by saying hey, my selfishness is giving me a hell of a time. My selfishness set up a whole series of limits. Every time those limits are crunched by anybody, and all those limits are as personal perspective, you can't do this in my life. I need this much, I want that thing, I want. All those things are personal perspective. Each time they are crunched a bit, selfishness suffers. So I start to say my selfishness is just a big drag. Every inadequacy I have ever experienced is because of my selfishness. There is a whole series of ways to get into this. Like, for example, every time you are asked to do something and you don't know how to do it, and it might have been something that you could have learned how to do but you didn't want to spend the time, you were a bit, I didn't want to do that, it's too much of a hassle. Somewhere down the road someone says hey can you do this for me? I can't do that. And you feel inadequate. You feel like, I could if I wanted to but I didn't learn how ti do it, so you are just not capable as you could be. Again, you can see, its because of selfishness. So selfishness has been, mainly you can say the reason that you are as poor as you are right now because you have not gone and worked hard to become the rich person that you have could have. It's a silly example but it is true you know. Selfishness has limited us in a lot of ways. Rather than being, rather than sort of trying to be a super ambitious person for materialistic goals which are not really beneficial or fulfilling, it is more important to realize that my selfishness has made my personality very brittle. And by being a very brittle personality, I suffer a lot and that is a real drag. So working completely in your own environment of your own selfishness, you realize your own limitations of it. And from that point,l you say, wouldn't it be nice not to be so limited. Not be an uptight person who has very brittle reality. So that every time anyone does something out side of what I can handle, I am just shattered.
The objective is then to say, I would like to be more open minded, more capable, more adaptable. Then you can come into what is more fulfilling, I would really like to be more helpful for other people. To be a nicer person. If we really want fulfillment, this comes in love, it comes with being with other people and being able to do nice things for them which is the other side of the fence. If you think of the causes of happiness, they come from relationships with other people, being able to just experience the fundamental sense of love love and happiness. That comes from being able to interact with others. You don''t have love from just being in a room isolated. you experience love and joy and friendliness and all sorts of emotions because of other people around you. Being altruistic, being aware of others is a natural source of happiness. Like when you have the opportunity of let's say you love somebody. Which is the first thing. Then when you can give them a gift and you really see how happy they are with your gift, it makes you happy, doesn't it?
All of those emotions which are happiness in our lives are because of our relationships with others. And the emotions which are spontaneous happiness, are from relationships with other people. They have not premeditatedly set up the situation, experiencing joy love, happiness, all those, they are spontaneous and the spontaneously happens like chemistry with other people. That is from being more open, more involved with other people. It's easy to say if you have someone who is selfish sitting right there, and someone who is really nice sitting right there, you automatically know which person you are going to like easier. If you look at outside people, and you see someone who is very selfishly concerned, doesn't think of anybody else, really personally ambitious, personally just very selfish, nobody like that person. If you think of someone who is open friendly, warm, always has a moment to be able to listen to your words or just what is gong on in your life, or just to talk with you,l you like that person. It is natural.
So, seeing that thing in others, come back to yourself. My selfishness causes me all sorts of unhappiness. Secondly my relationships with others is where I really do have happiness and love and fulfillment. Thirdly if I think of two people, one selfish and the other not selfish, I automatically like the unselfish person better. So there are lots of reasons why it is better to be not so selfish. Why it is better to be altruistic.
Then you can throw in a bit of Buddhist enlightenment and such, think of like, the fully enlightened beings are capable, fully capable of knowing how to interact with others knowing how to help them. It is not like they lay a trip on anyone, but they are so attuned, and so aware that they just know how to say the right thing. Or how to be quiet. Just how to be with that person that that person starts to get out of their own little rut in life. That gives you more motivation why it is really nice to get into Buddhism, get into yourself and gain some realizations.
Another way to go at yourself and starting to align yourself in what is considered the great vehicle or the greater path which leads to full enlightenment. The reasoning is to try to be as close to what makes you tick as possible so you really feel it as years and time goes by. the results from that is that you have the possibility of becoming enlightened, two, you have a lot more opportunity of being fulfilled, a lot more reason to be happy, and a lot less reasons to suffer. Lots of sorts of thing to think about. It's worthwhile spending time thinking on these thoughts.
The most important thing is not to be going out evangelizing, rather self realization, which starts with looking at your own perspective, appraising it. The focus of these teachings are that selfish perspective is a loosing position, a limiting position. The important position is to be be involved with altruistic vision of the world and altruistic inspiration, i.e. that I would like to become enlightened to benefit all other sentient beings.
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