Sunday, 12 January 2014

Monstaville Book II. Appendices II & III

For Appendix II (President Obama) click here

Appendix III

"We, as humans, have two duties with regard to Universal Love. The first is to love ourselves so that we can love others. The other is to cultivate tolerance, for although it may not be possible to love everyone. It is imperative to hate no one.” – Rosicrucian saying.

Excerpt from The Art of Happiness. A Handbook for Living by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Howard C. Cutler (Riverhead Books, New York, U.S., 1998, p.255-259).

Because of their vast importance in overcoming anger and hatred, the Dalai Lama spoke in some detail on the meaning and value of patience and tolerance.
                ‘In our day-to-day life experiences, tolerance and patience have great benefits. For instance, developing them will allow us to sustain and maintain our presence of mind. So if an individual possesses this capacity of tolerance and patience, then, even in spite of living in a very tense environment, which is very frantic and stressful, so long as the person has tolerance and patience, the person’s calmness and peace of mind will not be disturbed.
                ‘Another benefit of responding to difficult situations with patience rather than giving into anger is that you protect yourself from potential undesirable consequences that might come about if you reacted with anger. If you respond to situations with anger and hatred, not only does it not protect you from the injury or harm that has already been done to you – the inquiry and harm has already taken place – but on top of that, you create an additional cause for your own suffering in the future. However, if you respond to an inquiry with patience and tolerance, then although you may face temporary discomfort and hurt, you will still avoid the potentially dangerous long-term consequences. By sacrificing small things, by putting up with small problems or hardships, you will be able to forgo experiences or sufferings that can be much more enormous in the future…
                ‘To the Western mind,’ I observed, ‘patience and tolerance are certainly considered virtues, but when you are directly beset by others, when someone is actively harming you, responding with ‘patience and tolerance’ seems to have a flavour of weakness, of passivity.’
Shaking his head in disagreement, the Dalai Lama said, ‘Since patience or tolerance comes from an ability to remain firm and steadfast and not be overwhelmed by the adverse situations or conditions that one faces, one should not see tolerance or patience as a sign of weakness, or giving in, but rather as a sign of strength, coming from a deep ability to remain firm. Responding to a trying situation with patience and tolerance rather than reacting with anger and hatred involved active restraint, which comes from a strong, self-disciplined mind.
                Of course, in discussing the concept of patience, as in most other things, there can be positive and negative kinds of patience. Impatience isn’t always bad. For instance, it can help you take action to get things done. Even in your daily chores, like cleaning your room, if you have too much patience, you might move too slowly and get little done. Or, impatience to gain world peace – that certainly can be positive. But in situations that are difficult and challenging, patience helps maintain your willpower and can sustain you.’
                Becoming increasingly animated as he moved more deeply into his investigation of the meaning of patience, the Dalai Lama added, ‘I think that there is a very close connection between humility and patience. Humility involves having the capacity to take a more confrontational stance, having the capacity to retaliate if you wish, yet deliberately deciding not to do so. This is what I would call genuine humility. I think that true tolerance or patience has a component or element of self-discipline and restraint – the realisation that you could have acted otherwise, you could have adopted a more aggressive approach, but decided not to do so. On the other hand, being forced to adopt a certain passive response out of a feeling of helplessness or incapacitation – that I wouldn’t call genuine humility. That may be a kind of meekness, but it isn’t genuine tolerance.
                ‘Now when we talk about how we should develop tolerance towards those who harm us, we should not misunderstand this to mean that we should just meekly accept whatever is done against us.’ The Dalai Lama paused, then laughed. ‘Rather, if necessary, the best, the wisest course, might be to simply run away – run miles away!’
                ‘You can’t always avoid being harmed by running away…’
                ‘Yes, that’s true,’ he replied. ‘Sometimes, you may encounter situations that require strong countermeasures. I believe, however, that you can take a strong stand and even take strong countermeasures out of a feeling of compassion, or a sense of concern for the other, rather than out of anger. One of the reasons why there is a need to adopt a very strong countermeasure against someone is that if you let it pass – whatever the harm or the crime that is being perpetrated against you – then there is a danger of that person’s habituating in a very negative way, which, in reality, will cause that individual’s own downfall and is very destructive in the long run for the individual himself or herself. Therefore a strong countermeasure is necessary, but with this thought in mind, you can do it out of compassion and concern for that individual. For example, so far as our own dealings with China are concerned, even if there is a likelihood of some feeling of hatred arising, we deliberately check ourselves and try to reduce that, we try to consciously develop a feeling of compassion towards the Chinese. And I think that countermeasures can ultimately be more effective without feelings of anger and hatred.
                ‘Now, we’ve explored methods of developing patience and tolerance and letting go of anger and hatred, methods such as using reasoning to analyse the situation, adopting a wider perspective and looking at other angles of a situation. And end result, or a product of patience and tolerance, is forgiveness. When you are truly patient and tolerant, then forgiveness comes naturally.
                ‘Although you may have experienced many negative events in the past, with the development of patience and tolerance it is possible to let go of your sense of anger and resentment. If you analyse the situation, you’ll realise that the past is past, so there is not use continuing to feel anger and hatred, which do not change the situation but just cause a disturbance within your mind and cause your continued unhappiness. Of course, you may still remember the events. Forgetting and forgiving are two different things. There’s nothing wrong with simply remembering those negative events; if you have a sharp mind, you’ll always remember,’ he laughed. ‘I think the Buddha remembered everything. But with the development of patience and tolerance, it’s possible to let go of the negative feelings associated with the events.’

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