In Eight Steps to Happiness Geshe-la says "'Self' and 'other' are relative terms, rather like 'this mountain' and 'that mountain ... 'This' and 'that' therefore depend upon our point of reference. This is also true of self and other. By climbing down the mountain of self, it is possible to ascend the mountain of other, and thereby cherish others as much as we presently cherish ourself."

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Favorable Conditions

We learn - for example, at this year's US Festival, where Gen-la Dekyong granted the empowerment of our Wisdom Dharma Protector, Dorje Shugden - that the function of our Dharma Protector is to dispel obstacles and provide favorable conditions for our spiritual practice. The last phrase is important, because the conditions may not at first appear favorable. As Gen-la said, our idea of favorable conditions is that everything goes our way. She asked us to examine that assumption: "How does that train your mind?"
If you're sincerely relying on Dorje Shugden, however, you can be sure that everything that arises is for your benefit, and that is how I tried to view my cancer.

A couple of days ago, my oncologist told me I was in remission from cancer, which everyone would recognize as a favorable condition. For me, it means I can not only attend Summer Festival, but probably even have some energy while I'm there. It also means I need to keep my practice as strong as it was when I had cancer, and it means I need to take advantage of my energy to put even more effort into it.

May everyone have favorable conditions.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Am I an Atheist?

After US Festival, I visited my brother and his family for a few days at the Jersey shore. His wife's father, who was a devout Catholic had just died, and we were talking about religion. My brother describes himself as an atheist, although he said if wanted a religion, he would choose Buddhism. In fact, the one time he was at KMC NY, I couldn't get him out of the Temple!
My sister also considers herself an atheist.
But it occurs to me that I am too - if you define an atheist as someone who doesn't believe in God.
More often, I think people usually mean a non-believer, because in a culture that's predominantly monotheistic, we tend to equate the two. I certainly don't think of think of myself as a non-believer.
One of the things that's changed since I became a spiritual practitioner is that I find I have a lot in common with people who are religious, when I used to have more affinity for secular humanists. Now I have different feelings about abortion rights, for example.
In Sunday's NY Times, there was an article about Mitt Romney and his Mormonism, and I felt that we have a lot in common - even though I don't agree most of his political positions. Strange bedfellas, huh?