Walking the Bodhisattva Walk. Talking the Bodhisattva Talk.

May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness;
May all be free from sorrow and the causes of sorrow;
May all never be separated from the sacred happiness which is sorrowless;
And may all live in equanimity, without too much attachment and too much aversion,
And live believing in the equality of all that lives.

traditional buddhist prayer courtesy of
The conventional wisdom is that the world is a dangerous place. We know there are people in it who would do us harm. These thoughts naturally bring up fear and anger. They may also generate a wish for vengeance. When we embrace vengeance we are in a state of hatred. At the moment when we have become hateful, the world has become a little less peaceful, a little less safe. The chain of anger, fear, and hatred has added another link.
If we wish ill upon our enemy and our wish comes true, are we truly satisfied knowing that more suffering has come into the world? Wouldn’t it be better if we wished greater wisdom and compassion upon our enemy? Which, by the way, would remove them from the category of enemy. If our compassionate wish came true, the world would enjoy the kindness of the person formerly considered our enemy, and it would enjoy a kinder us as well.

In the Buddhist Tradition, a Bodhisattva is one who postpones his or her own entry into Nirvana out of compassion for the suffering of others. Such an individual has vowed to help all sentient beings achieve Nirvana, or enlightenment, before he or she achieves it.

We too can choose to remove the energy of the base emotions from our hearts and replace it with loving kindness. We can set aside anger, hatred, jealousy, and vengeance and wish happiness on all beings, even those who have harmed us or have harmed those we love.

How can we lose? If we hate someone, we typically wish bad things to happen to him or her. We imagine the scales of justice will be balanced if the evildoer is punished. But wouldn’t it be even better if the evildoer had a change of heart and became a kind and compassionate person? What could be a better outcome than that?

We may be tempted to make exceptions to our wish of happiness for all beings. Some people have done such bad things that we feel they need to be punished by our anger. Who is our anger hurting? People who live in hate and cruelty aren’t likely to be too disturbed by our willingness to join them in their cruel and hateful state. By nurturing our hate, we must carry the burden of that emotion. We tie ourselves emotionally to the object of our disfavor.

Why not recognize that people do cruel things out of ignorance of love and a misunderstanding of the nature of life. Cruel people deserve pity and they need more wisdom and compassion in order to change their ways. Will our wishing goodwill to troublemakers change them? Maybe not, but at least we will be serving ourselves by releasing emotional defilements and we will be serving the world by reducing its load of hate.

Think about your intentions with regard to others and make up your mind to cultivate loving kindness. Punctuate your day with frequent repetitions of the Bodhisattva’s wish:

May all beings be happy.
May all beings be at peace.

Metta Sutra of the Buddha

May all beings be happy and at their ease. May they be joyous and live in safety. All beings, omitting none, whether weak or strong; small or great; in high, middle or low realms of existence; near or far away; visible or invisible; born or to-be born. May all beings be happy and at their ease. Let none deceive another, or despise any being in any state. Let none wish harm to another. But even as a mother loves, watches over, and protects her child, her only child; so may all with a boundless mind cherish all living beings, radiating friendliness over the entire world without limit. May we cultivate a boundless goodwill, free from ill will or enmity, and maintain the sublime abiding of this recollection.

Courtesy of katinkahesselink.net

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© 2003 Tom Barrett