Wednesday, December 21, 2011


In Dale Wright's book The Six Perfections, we find these thoughts:

"That material generosity, while important, is less exalted than spiritual generosity is a point made frequently in early Mahayana sutras. Picturing human life as most importantly a spiritual quest, the kind of generosity that the sutras most fervently proposed was the gift of visionary life and human excellence, not material objects, and it is in this vein that they were written."

I'm not usually one to point fingers and call people names, but sometimes you just have to wonder if there are occasions where doing so is appropriate. So if you are reading this, I'm talking to you. Go ahead, blink and say "Me? You don't really mean that you think this applies to me, do you?" And in response, I repeat, yes, you.

Odds are, just like me, you are an incredibly selfish person. Deny it all you want, but you aren't going to get around that fact. You mainly and predominantly think only of yourself and your own happiness. You make the vast majority of your decisions based on how they will affect your happiness, heck with everybody else (even though you don't vocalize the thought, and may not realize you thought it). Your spiritual practice is a search for a better life for who? You. Your definition of success in most areas of your life relies on a benefit to you.

I know, I can hear you say, No, I really do hope for the best of all my fellow men and women. But, I ask you to stop and really pay attention the next time you say that. Odds are, just before that thought or just after, you'll find the thought, But what about me?

"...the kind of generosity that the sutras most fervently proposed was the gift of visionary life and human excellence..."

If you are now thinking about the life you intend to live next year, if you are thinking about whatever spiritual practice you might have, of any flavor, and where you plan to take it next year, if you are thinking about the world and the problems we all have with just getting along, then this thought is for you. Stick it in your head and keep it at the front of your thoughts for the next 10 days. Don't let up until you have answers.

I'd suggest that we all ask ourselves about this on two levels:

1) What am I doing to help others live a visionary life and a life of excellence? Even if I don't benefit, what can I do to promote that?

2) Am I living my life in such a way that I am offering the world my absolute best — a life of vision and excellence?

Think about it. That's all I ask.

A visionary life and human excellence.

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