Having Good Character
In Buddhism you have to have good character to learn Spirits because a spiritual consciousness will only share their wisdom with someone who has good character. You wouldn’t want to give your wise, strong self-defence power to people who are aggressive, selfish, egotistical, or bullies. You also don’t want to give them wisdom that they can use to read people and trick them.
So when wise, spiritual people choose to teach, their first consideration is always “Does this person have a good heart – a good character – or not?” After that, the other aspects of their character can slowly develop. But the basic requirement is that they have a good intention towards themselves and to other life. If they don’t have good intention towards themselves and others, they are not ready: teaching them would be hopeless.
It’s like a seedling in the dirt: you cannot just pull it out and transplant it before it’s ready to grow. It will not grow quicker; it will shrivel up and die. You have to wait until it develops a strong root system. This is why when a consciousness has not yet developed good character, I don’t usually bother to teach them.
You all have a good intention to learn what life is, to take care of yourself, and of others. That is why you can learn Spirits. Your intention influences your life.
Where does suffering come from?
Bad (blind) intention creates suffering. How does suffering appear in your life? Through blind habit: blind intention builds into blind habit, which creates suffering.
Blind intention comes from greed and fear. When we are afraid, we do a lot of stupid things because we don’t know the right way to protect ourselves. Greed comes from fear that you don’t get enough, that you have less than others. A child soon learns to yell and scream to get attention from their parents; that pattern continues into adulthood.
Of course, fear is a kind of blindness. When you can’t see what’s going on, you feel fear. When you are unaware, you have Innocent Blindness which creates fear. When you feel fear, you create Wrong Intention Blindness, and act in the wrong way. It’s a vicious cycle.
One day I walked into the office where I work and I noticed how unhappy everyone was. Later, I bought lunch from a shop and the guy behind the counter was really frustrated and upset. Then a friend rang me and he was upset. At the end of the day, I thought, “Wow, everyone I’ve spoken to today was really upset and unhappy.” Then I came to the dojo to train and everyone was smiling. I thought to myself, “Either there’s something wrong out there or there’s something wrong in here!”
I’ve learned that happy people are hard to find. This group (at the dojo) has care power to develop themselves and to help others; they are happy to develop themselves and to learn.
We all have bad character and habits, but the more we can clean them out, the lighter our life will feel. We create all the suffering in our lives. We make life heavy and dramatic because we don’t have enough wisdom to make it simple. If you can make life simple and truthful, a lot of the time that will get you out of trouble; then life becomes light.
“This health and happiness are priceless”
I know many people who don’t care about happiness and health. Their thinking is, “I’ll work hard and make a lot of money now, and be happy later. I won’t bother taking care of my health until it’s a problem.”
When you are always thinking “I’ll be happy later” then happiness never comes. If you don’t practise or experience happiness, you will lose it. Eventually, you won’t even know what happiness is.
If you don’t take care of your health until you are sick, it is already too late. You will damage your life just for material possessions and security, but don’t care about the most important, priceless value.
To me, health and happiness are always in the present because life only exists in the present. There is no “next moment”; when you experience the future, it’s the present. Whatever you truly experience is always the present, so I want to make sure that every present is a good present.
- Keep your intention correct because suffering comes from blind intention and blind habit.
- Do not get affected by people who have blind intention and blind habit. It doesn’t matter if they’re your family or friends; if they have unhappiness and suffering yet use their ego to make you follow them, don’t do it. Their life is miserable and they want you to join them? No: you need a barrier to protect yourself and keep yourself pure.
You are connected to this world and everyone in it; if you don’t have a barrier to keep the pollution out, even though your intention and habit are good, you will still find that the poison affects you.
There are two kinds of successful life.
The first is to work hard and become successful. Politicians, business people, and religious leaders appear successful. They have money and power because they have worked hard to reach their position, but really, they are losers because their health is poor. They have sacrificed much to create the image of success, but deep down, their life is a big mess. So working hard only creates superficial success.
The second kind of success is experienced by people who have the power to live in the present and always take health and joy as important, but in a wise way. Eventually, they will be successful too, because they concentrate in the present to be aware of everything. Their awareness rises higher and higher. Their wisdom is to enjoy life, so their enjoyment power becomes high-level. They are able to enjoy life from many angles; they gain more wisdom to concentrate on any subject they want. That is called Spiritual Journey of Success. That’s the direction we should follow.
- Stay in the present
- Enjoy life in a wise way
When you live this way, you become truly successful. In every present that you do this, your whole life is every-present successful and your whole journey is completely successful. But if you look for happiness in the future, then your whole journey is waiting for that happiness, your whole journey is sad.
The first kind of success is a trick: it leads you to Hell, to all kinds of suffering, to a fake, illusionary, superficial image of success. So stop trying hard and make life easy instead. Develop your ability to live in the present to enjoy life for real. Then you create happiness, you aren’t waiting for it or trying to grab it: you are happiness.
You also need to create a barrier to prevent pollution from others. When you do these two things – inside and outside – in a wise way, you will find that life changes. From now to all your future, life is beautiful.
If you leave this path, life becomes stressful. It will become more stressful because this is the Dharma Ending time. This world is getting crazy: we are destroying the environment, there are too many people, everyone is greedy for material security, there’s a lot of lying and cheating. The world’s stress is always increasing, so if you don’t improve your ability to be pure – to resist pollution and to create happiness – the stress will overwhelm you.
When you’re swimming at the beach and a big wave comes, what do you do? Do you try to go against it? No, it will smash into you and drag you under. Instead, you dive into the cool water and let the wave wash past you.
The ability is in every second you can practise.
Take responsibility for your life; don’t blame your problems on the world. Even though the world is Dharma Ending and is full of stress, it’s not a bad thing. It’s still perfect, according to Buddhism. Fertiliser can still grow sweet fruit; dirt can still produce a pure lotus flower. That’s the test and beauty of life.
The true power doesn’t come from outside, it comes from your heart. If your heart is willing to learn, to develop, to go in the right direction with the right discipline, then everything will change for the better.
Observe your intention in everyday life; make sure it is happy. Our subject today is joy and wisdom. Your happiness has to connect in a wise way, so make sure your intention is joyful and wise: this will automatically influence your habit.
When your intention and habit are joyful in the present with wise calculation, life changes for the better. You will realise that you don’t have to try to find happiness any more. You don’t have to wait for happiness any more. You create happiness. You are happiness. That makes every second amazing, and never boring.
When you are wise, you are never bored because you are calculating and being aware every second. Make your intention good, and then you feel good about life. Practise joy and wisdom every second, every present.
I can explain wisdom to you, but it’s only when wisdom is your natural power that it becomes useful. That wisdom becomes you. It’s not even “your” wisdom, you are wise consciousness. You are the wisdom power. When you do that, all the drama and suffering cannot come to you.
This post is taken from a talk by Forever Wisdom Forest on 5 January 2011 at the Sydney dojo.