On the one hand, we have such a wonderful life, and such a wonderful mind, such a capable mind. That has no limitation for whatsoever. If any individual wants to do anything, there are no limitations, particularly in this country. It is true that it is the country of opportunity. You may be thinking normally about money making opportunities. But, it is also the opportunities for spiritually helping yourself.
Where else could you do it better? It used to be India about 2000 years ago, the source of all Eastern religion. Now it is not, it is the United States, where you can find any spiritual path, good and bad. Both are available, plenty of them. They are available everywhere. If you want the good, old Judeo-Christian tradition, that is available in the US. If you want eastern alternatives, they are available, whether it is Hindu-Buddhist or other religions. They are all there, everything, including Buddhism and everything. There is no place like this today, maybe Europe a little bit. That’s about it. In one sense we are very conservative, but still it is such a great opportunity.
Also you people have such a wonderful mind, so bright. Almost every one of you is a brilliant person. Yes, you have that mind, but you don’t utilize it enough for your own benefit. That is a little bit of a waste. As time goes by you waste your mind and your opportunity.
Why do we do that? Because we are addicted to our negative emotions. In my case, I am addicted to laziness. That’s very true. When I look at myself I am really addicted to laziness. I will wait for everything till the very last minute to prepare myself. This laziness takes over. I do have some commitments to say certain prayers, and sometimes I am able to say them earlier and then I am happy, but sometimes I don’t say anything until it is almost very late.
For example, day before yesterday, I had not done anything by 10.30 – 11 pm. Then, my niece and family came visiting from Toronto. They arrived at that time and I spent a little time talking with them, and it became 12.30 – 1 am. Then I began to say my practice and I did the quickest possible way and was able to hit the pillow by 3.30 am or 4 am. Then yesterday, we had this all day workshop here, and I had to get up a 7 am to get ready. My laziness does that to me. That’s my personal experience. This happened to me only yesterday. While I was teaching here yesterday, I hope nobody noticed, but I was dozing off. That’s how this addiction to laziness takes my time.
In the same way, our negative addictions to hatred, anger, jealousy and idle gossip take our precious time, and by the time it is after midnight, you are still left to do everything. By the time we have to go, we have to go. You can’t say, “Wait, I have to prepare myself.” They are not going to wait. There is no waiting time for this. So take the opportunity now, when it is in your hand and you can manage. The way you manage is by challenging your addictions. Don’t let them drive your life. I let the laziness drive my day completely. Then, at the last minute, I had to do everything, because I don’t want broken commitments. So I had to rush through and just say it. That’s what happens to me in 24 hours.
But that way my laziness also takes away my good spiritual practice completely. In addition to that, our jealousy and addictions to hatred, obsession and so on are all taking our precious opportunity away. Be aware of that and give yourself a challenge to do something good and right – at least a couple of times per day. Once you start doing that, you begin to build your positive path.
No matter whoever says what, mystical or whatever, what I know of the spiritual path, is that it means the reduction of those negative emotions. If you do that, their influence will be reduced. That in turn will reduce the negative karma created by those addictions. When that negative karma is reduced their consequences will be reduced. Not only that, you automatically gain positivity, the positivity of reduction of those negative karmic deeds. That is your spiritual gain. Honestly. That is spiritual gain. Many people may think that spiritual gain is something other than that, something that comes out in front and shakes your body and does something. That is not necessarily a spiritual path.
The solid spiritual path that Buddha had gained, and that many great beings have gained, is the reduction of the negativity and building the positivity, by reducing the negative karma, so that there are no negative karmic consequences. Which means that there is no suffering. When there is no suffering, that lack of suffering is happiness. Honestly. We don’t know what happiness unless we have pain. When the pain is relieved then you enjoy and appreciate life. Exactly like that, the lack of negative consequences is happiness.
Happiness is not numbness or dullness or confusion. It is not. It is lucid, clear and normal. The bottom line to me then, is to avoid negative karma. I am talking to you about karma, because that is my background. I am not learned at all, but I had the opportunity to deal with the Buddhist teachings for 70 years, and what I gained is that. Honestly. That’s what I learned.
It is cause and effect. When there is no cause there will be no result. Suffering is a result of negative karma. We did something wrong to somebody and we are actually paying for that. There is no police or judge or somebody punishing you and making you suffer. We are doing it ourselves. These are karmic consequences. When you don’t have the cause the result cannot come. So the lack of pain and suffering is happiness. It is empty of it. The Buddhist wisdom is supposed to be about emptiness. So I should say: it is empty of suffering. And that is joy. Honestly.
I hope people do notice that. I don’t mean to say it in such a funny way, but that is the reality. You don’t look for something called happiness. You look for getting rid of pains and sufferings. Then you will have joy and happiness. When you get rid of negativity you gain positivity. And that will bring positive results. To be able to clear that within ourselves, is to move forward on our spiritual journey. At least we should know what we are looking for. If you are a Buddhist practitioner, particularly a Mahayana Buddhist practitioner, your spiritual purpose is to become a Buddha. If you are not a Mahayana practitioner, then your goal is freedom from suffering, which is known as nirvana. But a person like us, what do we want from our spiritual practice? We want joy and happiness, which is empty of pain and suffering.
Posted on Monday, November 27th, 2017