37 Practices-Practice #8

The Buddha said that our suffering and confusion is the result of our negative actions. Understand this and turn away from all behaviours that are harmful to self and others. Use all your strength to resist any tendency to cause harm to anyone. The Sons and Daughters of the Buddhas all follow this practice.

 

Lama Das’ Commentary:

When we hurt others, we run the risk that our actions will boomerang back on ourselves. In some cases, we feel the repercussions immediately — often with our own immediate guilt, if not worse forms of instant karma. Other times, it may take years or lifetimes. But the laws of cause and effect are very clear. An essential spiritual rule: Do no harm. Cultivate the good. Be as good as you intrinsically are.

Self-Examination:

Am I scrutinising all my thoughts and actions for any trace or unwholesome motivation?

Shihan Henderson’s Commentary:

First, nobody’s perfect. And in Budo studies we focus a large amount of our energy on searching for perfection or the perfect technique. But we must understand that the perfect technique by definition does not exist and therefore we will never attain it. When we keep this simple truth in mind we are better able to see ourselves in a more positive light. That is, we will never be perfect. Far too often people are their own worse enemies. They, sometimes unknowingly, get down on themselves for not being as good as they think they should be. This self-defeating attitude also can pervade emotional states.

Often when an individual feels negative emotions building, he or she may become anxious or upset with themselves since they wish these feeling not to exist and their very existence creates inner guilt. Inner guilt creates conflict and that conflict is a negative which sooner or later will manifest itself in a physical way.

In order to break this tendency we must see ourselves as human with all the faults and misgivings that we, and others, have. Again, nobody’s perfect.

Most importantly, we must understand that having negative feelings is normal. It is what you do with them that is the critical issue. Contrary to popular belief, we are not our feelings. We are something else. The feelings that we have inside us are like visitors coming and going as they often please. It is important to realize that these emotions are not your core self. They float above your core, or your true Buddha nature. Once you are able to identify that underneath these emotions lies your true self, you will be much better able to dismiss negative emotions as the false friends that they are.

The difficulty is that the challenges of this world causes eruptions and emotions that we are not always comfortable with or able to deal with adequately, because we are imperfect by nature. So when you feel these emotions building remember to separate yourself from them and realise that they are not you. More importantly, remember that these present uncomfortable feelings will pass and newer feelings will shortly take their place. Sometimes the best solution is to remove yourself from the situation that is causing you to experience the negative emotions in the first place.

The reason why we need to understand that these negative emotions are not who we are is that because these emotions are usually very powerful: they scream at us for action. And at the moment that they are the most powerful and intense we often want nothing more than to react. Unfortunately, these reactions can have very negative consequences because they are borne of negative emotional states, so any positive outcome is by definition impossible. This is where you must call on the discipline that you’ve learnt in your Budo studies to give you strength.

We have all done it. We all have had a moment in time and place that we wish we could rewrite. Something we said or something we did. Don’t worry — it is in the past and we have all experienced it, so you are not alone. But it is a lesson for the present and the future. Once you are able to remember that the emotions you have are separate from your true nature and true self and that many of us fight this very battle as well, you’ll be better able to react in a more positive manner and then you’ll change your Karma for good. It’s up to you!

Budo-Examination:

Do I over-react often and by doing so hurt the other people around me. Am I a slave to my emotional states or am I able to control my thoughts and actions in light of them. Do I let my negative feelings interfere with my Budo studies, do they hold me back? Am I the receiver of negativity because of things I have said or done. Do I try my best to seek the positive in all things or do I let negativity rule me?