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Architect of one's life - #2

We put our hopes everywhere and that conceals the true condition of things and spoils our vision of the world. Consequently, we are lost in trying to orient or adapt ourselves correctly in our lives. Equanimity means to see things as they really are. First we must see clearly, then we can adapt our actions appropriately without being unduly emotional. To reach equanimity we need mind training to develop good habits. Whether we are seeing things as good or bad, helpful or annoying, we must take the time to examine the situation as it is. Bodhicitta, mind training, equanimity, and clear mind are all interrelated. The progress and development of any one will have positive effects on the others.

Whenever we do something, it is usually in response to a personal need. Otherwise, our efforts in the "something" will not last long and it won't work. Likewise, to end suffering we must raise a sense of urgency to be rid of it. Suffering comes from others and our milieu. When we are at work, people generate unpleasant situations which could be improved. One possibility for positive change is to observe the relationship we have with other people. Often, where there is a conflict we should observe it like this:

"The poison is my own self-preoccupation. The conflict is created because they don't act as I would like them to act. But, is my method or my way of seeing things good or not? "

The mistake is our general refusal to take other people into account or to "share the cake." In our relationship with others we should always consider them first. We should not regard them as obstacles. We should acknowledge that they also have aspirations. They have the same aspirations as we do only from a different perspective. Understanding their point of view will render any interaction easier, more open, and with less conflict. Dysfunction usually comes from negative attitude. Altruism is the preoccupation with other peoples' welfare.

Whenever we do not see results from our efforts, we immediately dismiss them as bad. This is a mistake. Our expectations might have been too high. It is important to see our egos at work. We should be patient and be modest in our expectations.

Sometimes, we decide to wait for an ideal situation before we act and as a result we never get started. The resolve to do what is right was good but lacking in application. The smallest examples are usually the best to start with. Take an everyday event that has gone wrong, determine what happened. Recognize your own reactions before any further undertakings. You might find your reasons for reacting are often: "I don't like it!" or "That's just the way I am!" Yet, you never ask: "Why am I like that?" Or, "Why am I always saying, "I don't want ... and so forth." It is precisely these tendencies which develop aversions. You have created them by yourself. You carry your bias into all your relationships. Ask yourself why. This is where you can affect the big changes. By "yourself," the method doesn't work; you need the "other" to provide the opportunity.

Contentment is key to openness. Avarice is natural in all of us: "I want things to be like this for me!" This type of thinking gives rise to frustration. There is no longer contentment. Contentment is not pining always "for better," or "for more," etc. Instead, be reasonable and set realistic and effective goals. Bodhicitta requires us to look at other people's viewpoints. This principle should always be our prevailing interest. But we neglect our efforts to develop contentment. We should examine for ourselves what is really unpleasant in a given situation. Contentment is a state where things are deemed satisfactory. It is a matter of reasonable balance.

Bodhicitta which includes benevolence is often absent from our mind stream. Most situations are fluid. We should try to be flexible. We are not computers, and profit and efficiency should not be our only concerns. We should act out of benevolence even though this is not yet spontaneous for us at the moment. We cannot be only charming and nice to people whom we like. We should be vigilant lest we quickly give up after a few attempts. Natural benevolence does not stay for long. The law of cause and effect functions well and without exception, benevolence leads to better resolution of conflicts. Always engender benevolence when facing aversion. There is a danger in taking the teachings too intellectually. Peace of mind is not measurable unlike a stethoscope probe is. The result of positive action is assured though it might not be evident.

Benevolence always leads to positive mental states. Feeling grateful is generally considered a positive state. For example, if you bought some rice at the market, then went home and cooked it for supper, reflect on the people who grew the rice and give them credit. In this way benevolence will increase. Because of benevolence we forge recognition. Each time you recognize a link, it makes you feel much better. The opposite of benevolence is tension. Contrary to the natural tendency of deluded mind, which is usually not even aware of thoughts, try to see if your thoughts make any sense. When we are more centered and focused, a deeper understanding is then possible. Always examine the meaning of what you are doing. Be aware and develop mindfulness. A non-distracted mind is present in meditation. When our mind is less preoccupied, we will see more of the present moment. The same attitude that we adopt in our formal meditation should be applicable likewise in our active life. Reflect and keep check of your thoughts and actions. A deeper understanding of the teachings will develop. Usually, we think that once we have heard something, we understand it all. The same applies to people; we see them and we think we now know them. Remain open. Always make allowance for other possibilities rather than being closed-minded, or too definite about your own views. On the subject of meditation, the object of training is to allow for a clearer mind. Mind has the capacity to find its original clarity. Meditation is not to add something to, or to change the nature of mind, but to remove the veils that obstruct the mind from manifesting itself properly. When the mind is disturbed, it is not focused. It is wandering or following various chains of ideas. Through meditation, we can bring it back to the "here and now." Stability of mind will enhance a deeper awareness of mind itself. Stability, clarity, and lucidity are original qualities of the mind.

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