Guest article. I put out the following question on Facebook, receiving replies from all over the place, and would like to give Kadampa Life’s floor to these voices 😊
What do you think you can do best as a spiritual practitioner to help the world practically, given its current circumstances?
(I have grouped the answers in sections for convenience, despite overlap.)
Conquer delusions, including anger
Fight evil…. in our mind. Flat refuse to be stirred into hatred. See the facts for what they are and support those taking a stand against harmful actions with encouragement and resources.
Keep calm, stay loving, do a bit of meditation every day, call out evil when I see it, but be careful to manage my time well and not get sucked into too many debates and mud-slinging.
I will try to use these situations to show me where I need to work on my own feelings of pride, anger, fear, etc. There seems to be never ending opportunity. Sometimes I forget that many people are overjoyed at the things I find most disturbing. Practically, I will do all I can to support tolerance.
Be mindful of the 3 poisons in my mind, just waiting to divide everyone I meet into friends, enemies, and strangers. Remember that everyone wants to be happy, and, if engaging in debate on the state of the world, I need to always (gently and without attachment!) argue with that motivation in mind.
Unwavering determination to never give up.
Renunciation and patience – samsara has always been like this
Use it to increase renunciation, grow bodhichitta, and focus on my practice more.
There are certain people for whom I have a tough time generating love. I’m noticing how much fear arises when I attempt to release grudges/old anger/hurt from my heart. I’m trying to sit with the fear, and identify it, rather than identify with it, in an attempt to loosen the grasping to an “I” that has been hurt, and to an “I” that is still angry.
Realise that the actions of others are merely a reflection of my own mind and previous actions, and joyfully accept the training each day brings.
It also occurred to me later today that samsara was always bad, and always had the potential to get worse. All that’s changed now is what is manifesting for us. Samsara being a bit more honest about its true nature if you like.
My main job is to keep renunciation, compassion, and bodhichitta to the forefront of my mind and quickly attain liberation so that I can really help all my mothers to do the same.
For me, I am using patience, “I stop wanting things to be otherwise.” Then I contemplate what I can do to help with resistance to these dire times, imo. I donate to organizations that I think are positively involved in supporting the people. It is the best I can do.
Purify my mind — a pure mind perceives a pure world.
Compassion and love
Really, sincerely work on developing compassion for everyone. This experience is making us dig deep in our practice!
Keep supporting the idea of love and compassion for all beings (including — especially — those who disagree with us), and the effectiveness of a peaceful, focused state of mind.
Keep compassion as our main practice and be the change we want to see in the world.
Really wish for others to be happy – equalising self and others.
Promote unity/foster empathy. We need to remember we all want the same things, and stay united against divisive “isms”.
The point is exchanging self with others at all times and giving compassion to all living beings.
I have been having different things arise to practice at different times, but today’s theme has been to see how we are more the same than different. Equalizing and equanimity.
All living beings have two things in common: they want to be happy all the time and free from suffering. But out of ignorance they destroy their happiness like a foe. I wish all living beings could find permanent happiness and freedom from suffering. I don’t care who they are. We are all the same in our long-standing two wishes – in that respect there is NO difference. We need to dwell on our common goals and wishes. Not our differences as these maintain the continuum of dualistic appearances. There is no limit to our patience, our love, and our forgiveness. We could not cultivate these without the objects of our patience, love, wisdom, and forgiveness. How kind other living beings are. I must repay their kindness. I will repay their kindness. Then we can realize that there was nothing to forgive other than a simple appearance created from the ripening seeds of our karma. Let’s sow some beautiful seeds in our mental garden. Heal our mind and be like our Spiritual Guide, full of humility and wisdom.
Internally – lots of taking and giving or remembering pure view. Practically – encourage and point out people’s good qualities, relate to everyone’s potential, and give Dharma in all its guises wherever needed.
While this state of the world is dividing people, it is actually galvanizing the rest of us to try harder, reach out more, understand others, help those who need it.
Remember that Donald Trump is our kind mother and meditate on that. Of course all beings are, but sometimes I like to zone in on an individual whom I am manifesting as a challenge to my peaceful mind at present.
Our main practice is the practice of the six perfections: giving, moral discipline, patience, effort, concentration/meditation, and the wisdom realizing emptiness. We need to become enlightened to benefit all living beings. In the process we do our best with pure intentions. Our daily practice of reliance on the Three Precious Jewels, renunciation, bodhichitta, unwavering faith, and cherishing others will take us there, with a happy peaceful mind.🙏
Can we really ignore the suffering and in-humanity, and should we remain silent? What would a Bodhisattva do? What would Buddha do? Jesus?
Showing kindness to those experiencing suffering. Showing compassion and love towards all. Practicing purification. Wishing for enlightenment with a strong faith in my Spiritual Guide. Seeking his help for myself and everyone I meet throughout these degenerate times.
One thing I am practicing is looking at people and smiling if their eyes meet mine. Most people smile back. We are all the same … frightened, alone, and wishing it were not so. I try giving my own human presence and acceptance in that moment. It is a small thing. I am really just trying to train myself to be kinder — but I think it is also helping the world practically.
Smile at others with Geshe-la at our heart. Find creative ways to make others feel good. Mentally bring people and animals into the mandala. Try not to forget the unseen suffering of animals and lower realm beings — they need our help so much.
Taking the meaning “practically” to mean “action”, I’d suggest: Listening without judgment.
Being what others need you to be. Holding boundaries without anger. Intention without self-grasping, delusion, or self-indulgence.
To most sincerely follow the advice of my Spiritual Guide with respect to authentically living, to the best of my current ability, the Bodhisattva’s way of life.
Integrate my bodhichitta motivation into all my actions in protesting racial, societal, political, and environmental injustices … Emphasize to myself that my social justice life and my spiritual life do not in fact have to be separate and that they can empower each other in the best way. Inner peace and outer peace are a dependent arising …
… I agree. I think that we can think of ourselves as Heroes and Heroines when protesting injustice, putting our bodhichitta motivation into practice by protecting others. We also pray and meditate. The meditation break and meditation session support each other.
Love the spontaneous peaceful demonstrations. Please let’s keep it peaceful and respectful, for it is for ALL OF US … as they did in Standing Rock, keep it prayerful and peaceful. Our lesson here I think is to learn how to transform adverse conditions …”always keep a smiling face and a loving mind, and speak truthfully without malice.” As we know, sometimes you have to make a stand, but you can do this creatively, and with a loving mind …
If we are a member of a dominant group (white people, males, straight people, upper income people, etc.), then humbly seek out, listen to, honor, and act in solidarity with people who are experiencing oppression (people of color, women, gay/lesbian/bi/trans folks, low income people, etc.). It’s unhelpful – harmful actually – for those of us in dominant groups to remain silent and inactive when others are suffering.
We need to protect others, using our compassion and wisdom.🙏
Be the ‘best’ me I can be. Remain as centred as I can without falling prey to the delusional dramas playing out in multitudes here on FB/internet/TV etc. Keep a strong mind of love, compassion & patience for all beings, no matter what their views or actions; & rely with strong faith on my Guru at my heart & all the Buddhas & Bodhisattvas to know what is best for me at each & every moment. Also to hold a strong wish to become just like Arya Tara so that I may help her to liberate all living beings from suffering and sorrow … And if I struggle to achieve this, I try to remember to breathe 😉
Become an enlightened being as soon as I can. Otherwise, I have no real power to help anyone.
The main thing: seize the day NOW! by increasing my efforts to train in realizing emptiness in this life, recognizing this is the most powerful act of compassion there is. Also, give love and fearlessness to those who are suffering by peacefully voicing my support for inclusive policies and leaders.
Gen-la Khyenrab once taught us that the best thing we can do to help others is to meditate on their emptiness.
Keep repeating over and over – “For though it appears, it does not truly exist — like a mirage.” “Although it does not exist, it appears — like an illusion.” Remember emptiness like this … let the solidity dissolve a bit … then act out of compassion for all living beings. Be a protector – without anger – without grasping – protect all living beings. (Something i aspire to 😊 – work in progress.)
I’ve been having fun – and a bit of a breakthrough – offering my mandala as the absence of all the things I’m (normally) seeing and fearing in the world right now.
None of our ordinary judgments or ways of looking at and reacting to the world will ever change the world in any significant way. The acts of the Bodhisattva, however, can change everything in every way. All things are appearances of our karma — if we purify our karma by opening up the great treasury of merit within ourself by giving birth to a Bodhisattva, everything will just purify. From joy to joy, from purified appearance to purified appearance, our very presence can transform everything for everyone in a radical, magical way.
I too will try to remember emptiness and work at making progress on the path. But we also live in this world, where we act “normal” while changing our aspiration. I think it is important to speak up in your community and to donate money to organizations that try to protect our democratic institutions, and to try to talk across the divide, without rancor, whenever that possibility arises.
At the end of the day, remembering none of it is separate from my mind.
Power of prayer
Call a representative. And pray.
I think we need to try and remember the power of prayer and that we are heading towards degenerate times, as Geshe-la has previously warned us many times. Also by aiming to control our own mind and show an example.
“We can always pray” — when I move to remember this more swiftly and more flexibly, I simply feel more spiritually confident and refreshed in blessings.
Maintain love and compassion for all, and make prayers for world peace.
Not to discount the importance of helping in worldly ways, but I feel we should never underestimate the power of our concentrated prayers and sadhanas such as Tara and Kangso, Migtsema ritual actions, mantra recitation of the four actions with precise objectives, pacifying fire pujas and so on. If they weren’t practical and effective for solving daily problems, they wouldn’t be taught.
Transform it all by training in shepherd-like bodhichitta in conjunction with the four complete purities in Tantra.
The power of Heruka increases in degenerate times. Now, in these times, I feel my inner love growing. I think these are the times to grow our love, compassion, tenderness, and understanding. All is always changing, fields of illusions — have courage and faith in our loving-kindness in all moments, progressing to a pure, loving state.
Being a good example
Try to show people around me that Dharma really does work by showing patient acceptance, love, compassion, and refraining from all non-virtuous actions.
Set a great example by protecting and standing up for the less fortunate and doing it with love rather than anger or self-righteousness. Compassionate action!
Be a calm, peaceful, patient, reasonable example to others and control my mind.
I need to flourish Kadam Dharma. I need to flourish it in my heart first – really practise from the depths of my heart because it feels like we’re running out of time. If I can increase my wisdom and compassion I’ll be better able to help people. And I need to help Kadam Dharma flourish in the world through strong prayers and physical action. The world needs Kadam Dharma more now than ever before. People need a reliable source of refuge that gives them hope for a happier future.
I’m learning that being a Dharma teacher forces us to deal with our own deluded ways of responding to the current situation – being a good example is probably the best thing we can bring to this suffering world.
Speak out against injustice — participate at whatever level necessary, be it taking part in protests, writing letters to senators and representatives, giving money to organizations that help your cause (human rights, amnesty international, doctors without borders…) Be a good role model by showing kindness and respect, compassion and love. Use our spiritual practice to maintain a good heart – when we are with others, keeping our thoughts and mind mixed with our Guru. Try not to sink into negativity by guarding our mind, and remembering impermanence. And that love is the Great Protector.
I think we need to model patience, love, and compassion; and speak from wisdom, speak from wisdom, speak from wisdom only. Teach people to have compassion when someone is doing outlandish things and separate him/her from his/her delusions …. in other words, LIVE Dharma. SHOW people a way that’s very different from acting out of fear, hatred, or judgment.
Not spreading anger, and taking a calm stand when necessary. Also, showing a good example according to particular circumstances, helping others with love in practical ways. In Chile, for example, there are big fires right now, so it’s important to do our best to help all the victims. Another example, there are lots of stray dogs in our country and a couple of days ago we saw a big bucket filled with fresh water fixed to a house fence — dogs stopped by and drank happily, one after the other. We shouldn’t lose this kind of detail, whatever the circumstances are.
To be an example … to live as best we can as Buddha taught … to not be a crusader but to follow the teachings to the best of our ability.
Sounds easy, but keeping a happy mind is the best thing we can do for anyone.
“Rely upon a happy mind alone.” This means really noticing when my own mind is not peaceful and then not trusting it to be giving me suitable guidance about anything. It also means remembering to rely upon the purest of peaceful minds that I know, and taking my guidance from there instead.
Over to you! How would you answer this question? Would love to hear from you.
I answer this from the point of view of a suffering and deluded sentient being who has tested the patience of Kadampa teachers and practitioners for many years. If they had not practiced patience with me they would have 1) become angry and impatient and thus interfered with my access to Kadam dharma. All sentient beings, Kadampas and non-Kadampas need our patience while they struggle with their delusions and obstacles. I often contemplate the ultimate patience that Venerable Geshela has and is practicing with most of his disciples (Those who are not yet enlightened). He once said about Manjushri Centre: “This is a ‘Mental Hospital’.
Thank you for posting this. It is inspiring to read how these amazing Sangha are using the precious Dharma right now. ☺
i find it inspiring
I want to just read this in its entirety to my class this week, which is on ‘keeping a peaceful mind in these turbulent times’. What a beautiful resource – just look at the wisdom and compassion in our sangha! Thank you Luna K!
i know, they’re amazing aren’t they?!
There are so many perfectly relevant comments above, I need to add nothing, yet more words arise … I hope that you will find something useful here.
Whilst speaking out against injustice and participating in whatever way we can to help overcome brutal regimes: in order to protect the protectorless – to be an island for those seeking land – to be a boat for those fleeing pain, starvation & terror – to be a lamp illuminating dark paths of fear, loss & uncertainty – whilst giving material help, love & fearlessness – we must also try sincerely to give dharma, the only path out of samsara’s beginningless & endless suffering in all of its infinite manifestations. Out of compassion we should find ways to give Dharma to those who oppose Dharma, through simple messages for the modern world given with love, or by giving blessings through prayer, or by dedicating our merit towards their purification and enlightenment, and by example of good behaviour.
We must also recognise that being surrounded by increasingly threatening political discord is an environmental effect of our personal and collective karmas, indicating that the other three effects of our own karma have either ripened in the past or have yet to ripen in our futures – such environmental discord is therefore a mirror … of our past. We must therefore also perform purification practices for ourselves, practice patient acceptance whilst transforming adversity, strive enthusiastically to increase our love & compassion towards realising Bodhichitta, try to stop assenting to the inherrent existence of all phenomena, try to understand that the things that we normally see do not exist: try to realise the illusory nature of all appearances, mere appearances to mind.
Whilst speaking out against injustice and participating in whatever way we can to help overcome brutal regines, we must try to act with wisdom: many people are good at performing pacifying and increasing actions – some at performing controlling actions – very few are good at performing wrathful actions – without self deceit we should try to learn to know which of the four actions we are good at – we must check our own motivation – check there is no anger before clicking that ‘post’ button – if anger has sprouted in the mind, don’t press the button!
Although even innocent and loving words will be perceived by angry minds as being sharp weapons, we need to at least try to prevent perceived sharp edges, just try, realising that hatred feeds fires of hatred, only love eventually softens and dissolves hatred and anger.
And … rely on the Guru, Deity and Protector.