Vows, commitments and modern life:  Help everyone without exception

Abandoning love for any being.

We incur this downfall by wishing for someone to experience suffering, or by strongly deciding never to help someone.

In daily life, we have countless instances when we wish for others to experience suffering.  For example, we could be happy when our rival co-worker gets in trouble, we could be happy when our business’s competitor goes bankrupt, we could be happy when those who are critical of us gets criticized by somebody else.  Basically, we generally dislike many people, and when samsara’s inevitable sufferings befall them, we become happy.

Venerable Tharchin says when we rejoice in the suffering of others, we create the causes to have that same suffering befall us.  He gives the example of those rejoicing in September 11th, or those rejoicing when we bomb them back.  He said, even reading the newspaper can be a dangerous pastime if we are not careful with our mind.

Why is wishing for somebody to experience suffering so bad?  For the simple reason it is 100% opposite of our love, compassion and bodhichitta.  It moves in the exact opposite direction.  Love wishes for people to be truly happy all of the time, compassion wishes others were completely free from every trace of suffering, and bodhichitta is a mind that takes personal responsibility for fulfilling the wishes of our love and compassion.  The problem is this:  the tendencies in our mind are overwhelmingly negative.  It is very easy to generate negative thoughts and it takes considerable effort to generate virtuous ones.  Psychological studies have shown that negative opinions spread 10 times easier than positive ones.  Most political campaigns are about assassinating the character of the other candidate, as opposed to laying out a positive platform for the future.  Why?  Because negativity works.  When we allow our mind to indulge in these sorts of negative thoughts, we can say that our mind takes at least 10 steps backwards.  Then, we need 10 genuinely good and virtuous thoughts just to get back where we started.  We see how hard it is to generate virtue, it is foolish to set ourselves back in such a way.

This vow also advises us to never decide to not help somebody else.  If we are to attain enlightenment, our love and compassion need to be universal, encompassing all living beings without exception.  Every living being was once our kind mother.  Every living being shares the same wish as we do to be happy all of the time.  Every living being suffers from samsara, just like us.  There is no valid basis for treating any of them differently.  Ultimately, every living being is a wave on the ocean of our mind, part of us, and we are part of them.  We are all cells in the body of all living beings.  Understanding this, to not help somebody else is to not help part of ourself.

Life is so much simpler when we just decide we will help everyone in every way we can.  Why hold back?  Why help some and not others?  No need to calculate, no need to manipulate, no need for a quid pro quo, we just help unconditionally.

But we of course need to use our wisdom.  Sometimes the best way we can help somebody else is to not help them, but instead to let them do it on their own.  This is the helping of not helping, but it is still helping the other person.

In particular, we should make a concerted effort to love and help those who harm us.  It is easy to help those who are kind to us, but if we really want to move our mind we need to actively try help those who harm us.  If somebody criticizes us, repay them with a compliment.  If somebody harms us, help them.  Geshe-la says love is the nuclear bomb that destroys all enemies.  It does so both conventionally and ultimately.  Conventionally, when we consistently love people no matter what they do to us, we eventually win them over and they no longer view us as their enemy.  Ultimately, somebody is only an enemy if we impute “enemy” upon them, but when we love them they become an “object of love,” not an enemy.

In short, wish others only the best.


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