Saturday, August 17, 2013

Quotes from "Ancient Wisdom, Modern World" 3/5

- Here again, we have terms which appear to have no ready equivalent in other languages, though the ideas it conveys are universal. Often so pa is translated simply as 'patience', though its literal meaning is 'able to bear' or 'able to withstand'. But the word also carries a notion of resolution. It this denotes a deliberate response (as opposed to an unreasoned reaction) to the strong negative thoughts and emotions that tend to arise when we encounter harm. As such so pa is what provides us with the strength to resist suffering and protects us from losing our compassion even for those who would harm us.

- So pa is thus the means by which we practise true non-violence. It is what enables is not only to refrain from physical reactions when we are provoked, but it enables us to let go of our negative thoughts and emotions too. We cannot talk of so pa if we give in to someone yet we do so grudgingly or resentfully. If, for example, a superior in the work place upsets us yet we are obliged to defer to them despite our feelings that is not so pa. The essence of so pa is resolute forbearance in the face of adversity. In other words, the one who practises forbearance is determined not to give in to negative emotion in the form of anger, hatred, desire for revenge and so on) but rather counters their sense of injury and does not return harm for harm.

- Nor does practising patience in the sense I have described it mean that we must accept whatever people would do to us and simply give in. Nor does it mean that we should never act at all when we meet with harm. So pa should not be confused with mere passivity. On the contrary, adopting vigorous countermeasures may be compatible with the practise of so pa. ... so pa means we are in a stronger position to judge an appropriately non-violent response than if we are overwhelmed by negative thoughts and emotions.

- We have a saying in Tibet that engaging in the practise of virtue is like driving a donkey uphill, whereas engaging in destructive activities is as easy as rolling boulders downhill.

- Making a habit of concern for others' well-being, and spending a few minutes on waking in the morning reflecting on the value of conducting our lives in an ethically disciplined manner, is a good way to start the day no matter what our beliefs or lack of them. The same is true of taking some time at the end of the each day to review how successful we have been. Such a discipline is very helpful in developing our determination not to behave self-indulgently.

No comments: