Perhaps, like me, you have wondered how you might best contribute to helping save the world. There are so many problems evident around the world that need attention, but which are most urgent? Which people are the most needy? Where is the worst suffering, the most oppression? Where is the earth being damaged most? There is no shortage of strife around us needing attention. At the same time, we can wonder what it is we have to offer the people of the world. What talents, what time, what commitment? What can I do? Sometimes these considerations are so perplexing that we become paralysed and do not act at all.
One method that helps sort through life’s options and indicates the best course of action for us is meditation, although this is usually done indirectly. The meditation that I have been taught emphasizes the gradual development of both wisdom and skilful activity for the purpose of helping all living beings. One must have wisdom to know how to act, and one must be skilful in carrying out these actions. One without the other will produce less than satisfactory results. Incidentally, skilful activity in this context is a synonym for compassion. So, basically, the idea is to act with compassion based on wisdom.
One of the first purposes of meditation is to see our own mind. When beginning meditation, people are often taught the technique of watching one’s breath. This method has the effect of ‘taking a breather’, literally allowing our usual random and wild thoughts to settle naturally. With the settling comes more and more clarity of mind. With clarity comes a glimpse into how our thoughts are influenced by our emotions and how our emotions arise. With a better understanding of how we op...
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...evere: it can be gentle, according to your own nature, but it really should be regular and committed. As I suggested earlier, shop around and find a genuine teacher: one who lives the qualities of wisdom and compassion, one who is genuinely advanced on the path and not just talking a good game, seeking students for their own ego gratification.
The notions I have mentioned here are not original; they are abundantly present in all our wisdom traditions. My own chosen path is Tibetan Buddhism. Again, I am grateful to the living masters of this tradition willing to teach their well-developed methods for progress along the path. The best answer I’ve heard to the perennial question “What is the meaning of life?” comes from His Holiness the Dalai Lama: “To be happy and to be useful.”
Comrades, to the ramparts! May all beings benefit from our efforts, large and small!
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