Monday, June 06, 2005

Transforming problems into wisdom

I attended a talk by Venerable Tenzin Palmo on the evening of 1 Jun 2005 at Bright Hill Temple. I took down the following salient points, most of which are relevant for all people regardless of religion:
  • To focus on gaining happiness for ourself will result in suffering. To focus on gaining happiness for others will result in happiness forourselves.
  • Learn to master our mind, open our heart and be ethical. Be aware that everyone other than ourselves wishes for happiness. We should treat others as we treat ourselves.
  • Develop patience and compassion. It takes tremendous courage not to retaliate or wish to retaliate when the other party is angry or wishes us harm. We should see such situations as opportunities to purify our mind. Strong emotions such as anger, if conquered, will bring about wisdom. If we could see our emotions with clarity (their causes and effects), we could transform them into powerful positive energy.
  • We can be anything we want. We don't have to label ourselves (eg. I'm such a loser). We should strive to use each day to benefit others and ourselves. Every moment and every person we interact with is an opportunity for us to purify our mind. Use negative events to develop the state of the mind.
  • Renounce some of the habits that are of no use in our lives.
  • Learn how to be present and deal with "now", rather than be trapped in the past or future. What is important at this moment is to make choices and give happiness to as many people as possible. Each of us has a responsibility to bring sanity to the unruly world and spread it to other people. We live inside our mind and are not the master of our mind and feelings. We must learn to master our mind and feelings, so that we can use our life to be brave, drop negativity and open our heart.
  • If we can be the master of our mind, we will be the master of everything and nothing can touch us. Be kind and start to look inside our mind instead of being swept by our mind/feelings. True happiness comes from inside us when our mind is secure and we are secure.
  • Wisdom is seeing things as they really are without judgement, without commentaries, likes/dislikes.
  • We are lazy to change ourselves because we think we can't change and therefore we undercut our ability. We must be determined and strong and encourage ourselves.
  • We can die anytime. Time is precious, so we shouldn't waste our lives. If I'm going to die, what is important? What can I do, so that I won't die with regrets? Live life in a way that benefits others and ourselves.
  • Wealth is not the problem. It is the clinging to wealth that is the problem.
  • Use your family and others around you to practise patience and compassion. At the beginning of the day, make the determination to live the dharma and benefit others. At the end of the day, assess, encourage ourselves, improve ourselves. Have the aspiration and try to make the right decision.

I think the parts in blue are very meaningful messages. It's very hard to implement some of them. It's normal for us to react in anger when someone hurts us. All of us are afraid of death. It sounds very altruistic and seems impossible to practise the above. However, I do feel good about myself and happy with Frisky and Dharma in my life. Mum has been pampering me by cooking some Maggi instant porridge and squeezing fresh orange juice after my wisdom tooth surgery today. I thanked her for mothering me and she said she treats me so because of how I have treated her. I tell myself I must try not to retaliate the next time my parents make me angry or say hurtful things because once I give in to anger and flare up @ them, it will only make things worse and not better. It's hard to do but I will try.

Another point made in the talk is that no amount of material goods like clothes and shoes is going to make us happy forever. This is something we all know but we like to pamper ourselves sometimes. I shall try to remember to spend my money more meaningfully the next time I go shopping. I have not bought anything from the Great Singapore Sale, so maybe this is a good start :)

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