It is not by mere study of the Dharma, it is not by a profound understanding of the scriptures, it is through the experiencing of what is taught by the Dharma that makes one a Buddha’s son. No amount of knowledge or prayer will bring forth the rich feelings and understanding of the Buddha’s message than by living it! That is why many say that Buddhism is a way of life and it is indeed the Way that improves one’s life, both for the present and the future.
How does one develop the compassionate mind? Again, intellectual knowledge of compassion is not enough. It must be a feeling for others that kindles the heart, it is the great and sincere wish to see that all other beings are happy and freed from the pains of life. It is not enough to wish for the happiness of one’s own family or his friends, but also all other beings, including animals. He who is lacking in compassion cannot have a good heart, he who ill-treats others or do not care for others’ feelings too can’t be a Buddhist, and also, he who cannot be kind to animals, is far from the Buddha’s heart. Such a person may have heard the message, accept it and embraces Buddhism, but it is all an empty practice without compassion for others, one practices only self-cherishing and his ‘I’ will bear a heavy burden on him. He will be kind and helpful only when he is pleased and such a person will eventually find that his friends will not be sincere to him. To follow the Buddha’s path is to seek Enlightenment, liberation from the realms of suffering. To follow this great path, there is no room for selfishness, no room for self-gratification and no room for indiscipline. To be a person on this path there must be love, universal love, meaning, the love for others. The result of love is happiness, so the practice of love will bestow happiness on others, it will destroy anger and jealousy leading one to care for others more than oneself.
Practising love is a cause to one’s enlightenment ultimately, and in the beginning it helps to develop one’s compassionate mind. Love and compassion are both tools to success in the path of freedom. Love can bring about peace of mind, plant good seeds for the future, and other meritorious powers. Have you not known love yourself that you do not understand the meaning of it? It must not be associated with cravings of any kind, it must be pure, as pure as the love a child has for his parents, that of a mother for her baby. Even an animal can display this kind of love when forced to protect her young ones, so why not the humans? If you think you are a Buddhist and you would like to have happiness, you should know what love is because you will be praying for the blessings of the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas because you know that they can generate pure love for all beings, and they will confer blessings! But there are times when you have prayed and prayed and do not seem to receive any response and there will be disappointment.
Reflect, do you deserve that love too? Was your request for blessings for your very own benefit only? At times when others asked for love and understanding from you, did you give freely? If these and other reasons are there to show that you have been caring only for your own well-being, you should at least wait more patiently until your good roots have been fertilised by your own acts of love towards others.
There are people who will ask but do not give in return and they will not try to see their real selfish nature. There are also those whose hearts are dead towards the feelings of others so that even love for their own families are tainted with selfishness. He who cannot love his own family, he who cannot even help his own loved ones, how can he ever be called a Buddhist? How shall the Divine Ones answer his constant pleas for love when what he is seeking daily is not yet realised by him? If his is not able to show love to those closest to him, how can he ever show it to friends at all? For such a person, his life will be lonely and the search for love will be in vain. For such a person the mind of compassion will not flower and he is only a Buddhist in name.
Each must therefore quietly sit and think of his own faults before he blames the world for all his unhappiness. To attain happiness, one must generate love, the source of all happiness, and be ready to love with the heart of a Bodhisattva, one who does not discriminate. He must set good causes so that the good result can be set in motion to flourish by the powers of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The law of cause and effect is very real. To make others happy one will easily find happiness, to cause hurt to others is to punish oneself eventually, which even a non-Buddhist can understand!
Thursday, 19th September 1985
8th Moon, 5th Day