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Buddhadharma : Spri 2007
buddhadharma| 25 |spring 2007 Weall know, intellectually at least, that the Buddha’s dharma is not merely a topic of study, nor is it simply some- thing to be practiced on our meditation cushions. But as we hurry through our daily lives, it is easy to forget that the quality of formal practice is inti- mately tied to the quality of our minds, moment to moment. Practitioners of all levels can benefit from instructions on how to enrich their own lives and the lives of others by cultivating five noble qualities that are within reach of us all: contentment, rejoic- ing, forgiveness, good heart, and mindfulness. The basic nature of our mind is essentially good. The Buddha taught that all beings are bud- dhas covered by momentary obscurations; when those obscurations are removed, they are real bud- dhas. The true identity of every sentient being, not just human beings, is a state of unconditioned suchness. This is the basic nature as it is, pure and perfect. We have an inherent capacity to care for others and to understand; it’s not a product of education or upbringing. To practice the dharma means simply to develop and nurture these intrin- sic qualities. That is our task, our responsibility. According to the Buddhist approach to spiritual- ity, the ability to care includes both loving-kindness and compassion. We aim to cultivate loving-kind- ness and compassion until they are boundless, totally free from partiality. The ability to under- stand, when developed to its utmost, is called “the wisdom that realizes egolessness,” an insight that sees the fact that the self, or the personal identity, has no real existence. There are many conventional methods for infi- nitely expanding our kindness and compassion and realizing the true view. Contentment, for instance, is a valuable asset not only for so-called spiritual people but for everyone. Discontentment ruins every chance for happiness and well-being, but true happiness is immediately present in a moment of feeling content and satisfied. From today on, no matter what, try to appreciate whatever you have: the comfort of your home, the pleasure of your possessions, and the goodness in the people close to you. Happiness is already present and accessible to each and every one of us. Often when imagining what it takes to make us feel happy, we see some other place or object that we haven’t managed to possess: I’m just about to. I’m on my way there. I can achieve it, I simply haven’t yet. As long as fulfillment is at a distance, we will remain unfulfilled. When we do not get what we want, we are not happy. Ironically, once we do get what we seek, it’s not that satisfying and we still are not happy. The grass is always greener on the other side. We all know that those who have nothing suf- fer. It is understandable; they are hungry and they have lots of other problems. They may be too hot or too cold. But who is truly happy? We need to seriously investigate whether peo- ple who have fame, power, and wealth are happy and whether those who have nothing are always unhappy. When we look into this, we see that hap- piness is not based on objects but on one’s mental state. For that reason, those who are truly happy are the ones who appreciate what they have. Whenever we are content, in that moment, we are fulfilled. The teachings of the Buddha are com- mon sense. On one hand, it’s very simple: we are all search- ing for happiness. How do we become happy with- (Opposite) Davidjane Buddhafield, 2001