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Other People's Baggage

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  • NamoAmituofo
    TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 27/01/05 Get news-free version here ______ Quote: He stood at an ancient door. Held it open wide and said to us simply, Come
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 27, 2005
      TheDailyEnlightenment.comWeekly 27/01/05
      Get news-free version here 

      He stood at an ancient door.
      Held it open wide and said to us simply,
      Come in. Work hard. The Dharma will never let you down.

      -Rafe Martin (On meeting the late Shunryu Suzuki)


      Alternative Perpectives on the Relation of Karma and the Tsunamis
      Our Responsibility to this World
      Feeling Compassion Instead of Pity

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      Realisation (1):
      Picking Up Other People's Baggage

      You discover a locked bag on the platform of an unsupervised train station in the middle of nowhere. Maybe it was discarded. Maybe it matters a lot to its owner. The train had just left, probably with the owner is on it. Since you do not have much luggage yourself, you can afford to carry it with you and drop it at the next station, which is the terminal. You decide to do just that - since it would be difficult for the owner to return to this one-way station, and since there was no one else to help. As you cannot be sure of the next person's honesty, you choose to bear the responsibility of finding its owner. You know you would feel guilty for not helping the helpless.

      As you lug it onto the crowded train, things were not as expected. There is hardly space for additional luggage. Because it was larger than your own, it had the privilege of way. In a sense, it was more important too, since it is someone else's stuff in your care. Guarding it is tricky with thieving opportunists around. Even going to the toilet needs you to lug it along. Gradually, due to its troublesomeness, the bag becomes a heavier and heavier burden. You begin entertaining thoughts of giving it up, of just letting go of it, leaving it to its own "fate". Hey, it's not really your responsibility anyway? But if not, whose is it? Maybe you will look back and regret this half-completed act of kindness for life?

      As you struggle more and more, you realise the uncertainties involved. Maybe it really was discarded after all? Will the owner appreciate and reward me? The questions are endless. Suddenly, it struck you that just as it is with anything you choose to do, you can never be 100% sure of the specific outcome. In fact, your own life today is definitely different from that you envisioned it will be last year. You can only be sure of one thing - of your motivation or intention - of why you choose to do or not do something. In the case of the luggage, it was mainly compassion that drove you to take up someone's burden.

      You realise your act is not totally unconditional, because you do hope to get at least a verbal "thank you" or some other form of appreciation. It was craving for this outcome amidst the uncertainties that made the load heavier. The sense of differentiation, that you are carrying someone else's stuff, made it alien and not entirely welcomed, though you do feel obligated to take it with you. If you are to accept it more, it becomes lighter. You just need to step in the shoes of the owner by imagining his anxiety. How could you not do what you can to relieve his suffering?

      You realise that since you have chosen to pick it up, you might as well carry it happily. The outcome is secondary. You can choose to enjoy the goodness of your act in process now, rather than focus on whether the outcome will be good. This is why the creation of good karma or the accumulation of merits is measured by one's altruistic intentions, not their outcome. Since the only thing you can be sure of is your good intention, the goodness of your compassion is its own joy and instant reward. Of course, other greater karmic rewards await too - but why delay your happiness? The deeper you realise this, the more ready you are to take on the task of helping more people. In the true unconditional helping of others, they do not become burdens, but sources of joy instead. In practising the perfection of generosity, the more you give, the more you get. A true sacrifice is one that does not feel like a sacrifice.

      When you choose to walk the Bodhisattva's path of helping all beings, you are actually choosing the path that leads to greater satisfaction and happiness. As Shantideva taught, "Whatever joy there is in this world, all comes from desiring others to be happy. And whatever suffering there is in this world, all comes from desiring myself to be happy." In selfishly clinging to your own luggage, which can represent your worldly possessions, not only does your happiness not grow, it will diminish, because it is limited. But in helping countless others to be happy, we become happy by rejoicing in their happiness and reaping the fruits of our generosity. Being generous to others is thus also being generous to yourself.

      Which do you prefer? A world where strangers do not care about your misplaced luggage or a world where everyone cares about everyone's happiness? Which world are you creating with your intentions and actions now?
      Shen Shi'an | pic:alvintexas.org

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      Review of Last Issue: Response to "Where were the Buddhas when the Tsunamis Hit?

      Realisation (2): The Rule of No Rule

      An interesting news item appeared in the papers a few days ago... In the Netherlands, a road intersection has no traffic lights, signs, road markings or divisions between roads and sidewalks. Yet the speeding vehicles have lessened greatly, as they move fluidly with no record of fatal accidents. It's part of a revolutionary counter-intutuitive "naked street" design.

      Everyone is gently "forced" to negotiate the right of way in an unassuming way. When the rules are taken away, everyone becomes more mindful and equanimous about their interconnectedness, as they look out for each other more. In sharing common space with no boundaries, motorists and pedestrians become naturally and equally respecting of each other. Differences and duality disappear. They both melt into a seamless whole, as the traditional concept of the roaring motorist versus the hapless pedestrian becomes no more. It is a beautiful reminder that deep down, we are not impatient people who would rather break the law and choose chaos. Instead, we know it pays to be kind and wise. Whether they know it or not, the road users are learning Dharma lessons without labels. That this concept works is very encouraging. To me, it bears testimony to how the Pureland ideal of universal harmony can bear fruit in our world! -zeph | www.moonpointer.com | pic:qc.ca


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