His Holiness of course was generous in his teaching making the Heart Sutra accessible to all those who attended the teachings this May in Indiana. His introduction included emphasis on applying ourselves and studying the Dharma. And he concluded with a reminder to study, to access Wisdom through reading and studying. He reminded us how the Buddha discouraged people to simply follow him and instead emphasized the importance of everyone generating a mind and heart of compassion and enlightenment.
“The Buddha can only show you the path but cannot do it for you. Liberation lies in your own hands,” the Dalai Lama. (This points to my previous Blog on the Zero Point Agreement where we practice the principle of living life from our side). Prayer and chanting are not enough he went on to say, it gets down to our ethical and moral practices.
His Holiness talked about our ability to differentiate right from wrong, and how our choices and actions need to come from compassionate wisdom and moral principles. Every arena of our life should be rooted in moral principles. So we have to ask ourselves, – “What are my spiritual principles?” “What ethics do I live by and apply on a daily basis?” In my upcoming book on initiation I point to how spiritual (ethical) principles are the core of an initiated life, a life that truly expresses our highest nature. Therefore, spiritual initiation is dependent upon knowing and relying on your spiritual principles. A spiritual pilgrim responds to all of life’s circumstances with a spiritual principle. These principles come out of your chosen spiritual tradition. Mine are found in the Lojong practice within Buddhism. Yours may be the within a Christian context or the 4 Agreements put out by the Toltec tradition (Don Miguel Ruiz). Whatever they may be, they are to be applied within every arena of your life – “even in business,” His Holiness reminds us.
There are certain conditions that will determine whether or not your chosen practice truly reflects ethical and moral principles. I give such a checklist in my upcoming book The Wheel of Initiation, and you can find such benchmarks by other authors and teachers. Therefore, we need to do some research, and investigate the concept of spiritual principles as well as determine what makes up a moral principle. Once we have undergone such study and investigation then we apply our principles, daily. We also need to continue studying the texts and material that sustain these principles.
His Holiness spoke about what promotes our moral ethics. — For Buddhist we are motivated to live a principled life due to our faith and understanding of Karma – the law of causality. For Christians and others it may be a faith and understanding of “ultimate truth,” or a concept of God. For those who come from a more secular tradition, they have confidence that a more ethical and compassionate person is more calm, happy and healthy and this itself is a great motivation to live a principled life.
“A disturbed mind makes mistakes and doesn’t know or see reality,” His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Indiana, 2010. In order for us to see beyond our ignorance and negative projections we need to rely on a set of moral and spiritual principles.
Depending where you are on your spiritual pilgrimage, take a look at your life and discern if you have spiritual/ethical principles available to you. And if so, how are you doing in expressing these in your daily life and relationships? Furthermore, where do you go for deeper understanding of these chosen principles?
(I will continue sharing these teachings in Indiana in several future Blogs, posted every Friday).