THE FOLLOWING IS AN EXCERPT FROM "THE FORCE OF KINDNESS" BY SHARON SALZBERG
(READ AND DISCUSSED THIS AT MY BOOK CLUB YESTERDAY)
"The Buddha often spoke with a tremendous pragmatism, which is reflective of the force of his compassion. His teaching isn't lofty, abstract, or removed from people; it is very present, very available. To describe the qualities of an ethical life, the Buddha often emphasized the characteristics of a good friend. He spoke about a good friend---a true friend---as being someone who is a helper, who will protect us when we are taken unawares, when we are surprised by life in some way. This person will be a refuge to us when we're afraid. He spoke about a good friend as someone who is constant in our times of happiness and in our times of adversity or sorrow, someone who will not forsake us when we're in trouble. A true friend is someone who will tell us their secrets and will not betray our secrets to others, while also being completely honest with us and warning us if he or she thinks we are heading toward danger."
"The Buddha talked about this kind of friend as being someone who is sympathetic, declaring that this is not a person who will rejoice over our misfortune. A true friend actually takes delight when things are going well for us and when we're happy, rather than being envious or jealous. She or he will try to stop someone when that person is speaking ill of us and will praise those who speak well of us. A good friend exemplifies qualities like generosity and morality and balance. When we have such a friend, we have a gift beyond measure. And not only can we appreciate the true friends we have, we can determine to be a good friend to others---and not just to a precious few we owe a favor to, or only to those whom we lover personally and uniquely.We can determine to approach life as a whole in that way."
"In this light, the Buddha exhorted his students to make their lives count, both for themselves and for the protection of all beings. No matter how one is living---whether alone or in partnership, whether raising children or not, whether mostly in solitude or in a large public forum---it is important to have our lives be an expression of all that we know and all that we care about, In fact, this unity of wisdom and compassion empowers our commitment to an awakened life, one where we can see things clearly and respond skillfully."
AS I READ THIS, IT MADE ME REFLECT ON IF I HAVE BEEN (AND AM) A GOOD FRIEND. HAVE I BEEN THERE IN TIMES OF ADVERSITY OR SORROW? NOT BETRAYED SECRETS TO OTHERS? HAVE I BEEN COMPLETELY HONEST? HAVE I BEEN SYMPATHETIC AND NOT JEALOUS OR ENVIOUS? HAVE I BEEN GENEROUS AND MORAL?
READING THIS REALLY MADE ME TAKE A GOOD LOOK AT MYSELF (AND OTHERS) AND THINK DEEPLY ABOUT THE BUDDHA'S EXHORTING HIS STUDENTS TO MAKE THEIR LIVES COUNT. NOT JUST FOR OURSELVES BUT TOWARD LIVING BEINGS.
TODAY, I AM THANKFUL FOR THE OPPORTUNITY TO EXAMINE MYSELF, TO SEE MYSELF (INCLUDING MY FLAWS) AND TO BECOME AWARE. SHARON GOES ON TO SAY:
"The commitment to not harming allows us to be worthy of trust from others---they know they have nothing to fear from us. They know we'll be straight-forward and forthright---they won't have to look for veiled messages and disguised insults. " Amen!
EVERY ONCE IN AWHILE A BOOK COMES ALONG THAT HITS THE NAIL ON THE HEAD FOR ME. THIS IS ONE OF THOSE BOOKS. IT IS NOT A LONG BOOK (97 PAGES COMPLETE WITH A CD OF MEDITATIONS) BUT IT IS A BOOK THAT IS FILLED TO THE BRIM WITH THINGS THAT MAKE YOU SIT UP AND TAKE NOTICE. THE MESSAGES BEG TO BE UNDERLINED BUT THAT WOULD MEAN UNDERLINING THE ENTIRE BOOK BECAUSE IT IS FILLED WITH STUFF TO MULL AROUND.
THE FORCE OF KINDNESS. THE TITLE SAYS IT ALL, DOESN'T IT! IF I HAD NOT LEARNED ENOUGH LIFE LESSONS IN THE PAST, THIS BOOK HAS BEEN THE IMPETUS TO MOVE ME FORWARD JUST A BIT MORE. SURE, I WILL NEVER BE PERFECT. BUT I AM SOME OF THOSE THINGS THAT SHE SPEAKS ABOUT. I AM HONEST, SYMPATHETIC, HELPFUL, GENEROUS AND MORAL AND MUCH MORE. I VOW TO CONSTANTLY CHECK IN WITH MYSELF TO SEE THAT I CONTINUE TO GROW AND LEARN. MY COMMITMENT TO AN AWAKENED LIFE.