Thursday, December 25, 2008

US Air employees - an opportunity to practice altruistic compassion

December 22.
For the past several months, I have been studying and attempting to follow practices outlined by His Holiness, the Dalai Llama in his book, How to Practice: Guide to a Meaningful Life. The message is simple, though the accompanying practice is rigorous and difficult to sustain.

Morality comes first. ‘Help others’ is the basic moral precept. ‘If that is not possible, refrain from doing harm.’ Morality provides a context in which concentrated meditation becomes possible. Concentrated meditation, practiced with discipline leads to ‘calm abiding of the mind,’ in which one is no longer ruled by afflictive emotions, especially anger. Empowered with a mind of calm abiding, through further disciplined practice, it is possible to attain wisdom. Fundamental to wisdom is a deep understanding of the ‘emptiness of inherent existence.’ Wisdom provides a context in which the ultimate goal, Enlightenment, can be attained. Enlightenment may not be attained in a single lifetime, however. It may require many lifetimes of disciplined practice.

I am still struggling with the first step, altruistic compassion towards others. Reading over my earlier posting, “Flying South with US Air....” was a reminder that my progress along the road to Enlightenment, so far, has been very limited. My message was filled with anger, primarily directed toward human beings who, like all human beings, want happiness and do not want suffering (the Dalai Llama’s words).

On my return trip, I vowed to do better. To say that altruistic compassion necessarily has the power to change life’s circumstances in the short-term would be naive. But the US Air employees with whom I dealt did seem much pleasanter, and even more efficient. My trip was far more enjoyable.

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