Ancient Wisdom, Modern Choices

by Su Maya


These days there are so many choices, so many distractions, so many dynamic articles of drama and chaos pulling for attention. New directions may appear to have no origin and may not reveal an ending. New friends arrive unannounced; old friends disappear without explanation. Along the way, you may be searching for guidance. You may have found some and then later been disappointed by a teacher or the lack of soul in a book.

Every belief system seems important to those that are promoting it. Which do you focus on? The path you choose to give power and energy is the one that will become your legacy.

According to the Lam-Rim teachings of Tibetan Buddhism, there are three main types of paths, and therefore, people who develop accordingly:

  1. Those who are seeking self-gratification.
  2. Those who are seeking the release of their own suffering.
  3. Those who are seeking liberation for all beings.

Overall, the meaning of the Lam-Rim teachings is about the balance of wisdom and compassion. The higher you go in spiritual awareness, the more your empathy grows for others, and the more your actions reflect this.

At some level of perception, there is a coherent whole within which we all exist harmoniously. The Masters have seen this and shared it with us to show us a way out of the cyclical trap of life, sickness and death. How does one go from suffering to releasing the suffering of others?

First, you must find the way out of the mess. You may have had so much pain that this becomes an all-consuming drive. Once you have gotten out, and reached a place of clarity, then you may find a purpose to help others do the same. Be aware that this includes all sentient beings of other species. They too are on a path, and struggling toward the Light.

If it is necessary, you may let some situations go and move on to higher ground. It is not wrong as long as your focus is on the perfection of intention and saving others. Part of the spiritual journey is continuing the process of discernment. You will be asked to determine who and what is in resonance at each level of sensitivity.

For example, people say, “Follow your heart,” but what are they really saying? You have to look deeply into their intention. Are they saying, “Buy our cars to satisfy your desire for status (and our yearly quotas)”? Or are they saying, “Look at me — at how beautiful and successful I am, and don’t you just ache to be better than you are”? Or are they saying, “Inside your soul is an effervescence that will not die, therefore you do not need anything to take you away from the Truth”?

After sorting through the coarse forms of persuasion, even in the most erudite dialogue there are many shades of deception. There will be more trials and more relief to follow.

The simpler your lifestyle, the fewer the distractions. Of course, the purification continues on more subtle levels, but by then you are able to perceive obstacles ahead of time and have the tools to delay or avoid new entanglements that may cross your path.

For more information on the Tibetan Buddhist path, you could read A Lamp for the Path to Enlightenment by Atisha Dipamkara Shrijnana or the very lucid book by the Dalai Lama called Illuminating the Path to Enlightenment.

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