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Newsletters

2014

JANUARY

N° 34

Hatred is never overcome by more hatred.
Only love can overcome hatred –
this is an eternal law.

Dhammapada verse 5

Happy New Year!

Loosing yourself in Love.

The teachings of love have been the most important part of my spiritual journey and of my life. The first words I ever understood my teacher to say as we sat together in a simple Dhamma hall when we first met forty years ago were, 'if you want to be truly happy in life you must cultivate a loving heart'.
This was the part of my practice that had been missing.
Those words resonated within me and became my raison d'être.

Even when it was difficult, even when it seemed pointless, even when I felt too tired I made my intention to be loving. Sometimes strong and defiant, but always clear. Yes must mean yes, and no must mean no! Love is never weak, but also never aggressive. Love has the gentle quality of powerful clarity, and so always resides with integrity.

Apart from the presence and wisdom of my teacher, my guide and support for all those years of training was the Metta sutta and particularly the middle section.

May all beings be happy and secure, may their hearts be wholesome.

Whatever living beings there may be, feeble or strong, tall, stout or medium, long, short or small, seen or unseen, those living far or near, those who are born and those who are to be born, may all beings, without exception, be happy.

I recited this many, many times every day slowly opening my heart to be accepting of the way of the world. Judgements and opinions fell away naturally and I recognized the fundamental truths that beings are the way they are, that is their responsibility, but I the way that I am and that is my responsibility.

When beings are cruel and unkind it is because they are unawakened, because of these actions and words they will meet unhappiness in the future. This is never a punishment, but only a consequence. When we live with love our life becomes loving, when we live from fear our life becomes fearful.

The equations in Dhamma are always very simple.

Cultivating a loving heart does not make anyone a victim, but only releases them from an emotional misunderstanding of life.

So I repeated this formula every day because I wanted to be free, and freedom lies in love.

This verse for me is very beautiful, but there is one point that may be easily missed when we chant Buddhist teachings without true investigation.

The sentence that precedes these words in the Metta sutta is an instruction from the Buddha. He says, as the master teaches his disciples, 'you should always be thinking, may all beings be happy and secure...'

You should always be thinking.....

These are the thoughts that you need to carry with you in your day and in every moment of that day. Not how can I earn more money. Not how can I be promoted at work. Not how can I get everything that I want. Only may all beings be happy and secure, may their hearts be wholesome (etc).

To loose yourself in love is to find a life that has value to yourself and others.

Without a loving heart no matter how religious or spiritual we may like to think of ourselves we are only like chickens pecking in the dirt and scratching in the ground, judging and commenting on the lives of others, taking our power from critisising, ridiculing and even humiliating those others, but in the end, never really happy.

If you really want to be happy in life, you have to cultivate a loving heart.

Love is the antithesis of fear, and so is true freedom in life.

Love is kind, generous and caring to all beings equally in every moment, without requiring something in return.

The masters say;

I am kind to those who are kind to me.
I am kind to those who are not kind to me.
I am kind.
This is the way of love, and so when I say, may all beings be happy, this is exactly what I mean.

May all beings be happy

*******
Birthday Message

That people kill animals is a fact of life. That people are cruel and unkind to other living beings is a fact of life. That the meat and dairy industries are completely without love and compassion is a fact of life. That animals are seen only as produce by individuals and especially large profit based corporations is a fact of life. That you are part of this is a fact of life. Now, what do you want to do?
Harmlessness (Ahimsa) is the highest spiritual practice in the world. It means to serve and take care of others, not to exploit, and without the cultivation of 'oneness' your spiritual journey will come to a standstill. You may be deeply involved in religion, but living compassion is much more important.
And if you say 'but I like meat' would you not give this up to save the life of another living being? It's only a self important blindness that will not see the suffering of others to maintain our own pleasure. The true Dhamma life demands that we live with love and awareness. We can progress to the moment of awakening only by honestly recognizing that we contribute to the cruel and humiliating treatment of other beings simply by turning away.
When we make the choice to be meat free, food shopping and preparing meals becomes a part of our spiritual practice, taking care not to support the meat and dairy industries and definitely avoiding burger chains, no matter how glamorous they make eating dead animals seem!
You cannot extrapolate yourself from the equation by saying that the Buddha said its acceptable to be involved in animal slaughter by eating meat, (personally I doubt a fully awakened being can ever say such a thing) - what do you say?
You are responsible for you in every moment of your life, and killing and eating the flesh of these cruelly murdered animals is a choice, not a necessity. You must decide for you, but at some point everyone on the path to awakening must arrive in the place of universal love.
And so truly I say, may all beings be happy.

Michael Kewley
 
*******

Koan:

When the life is simpe the mind is spacious. But which comes first?

Dhamma quotation:

Question:
You say that
practice is everything, but isn't that just selfishness?
Answer:

When the Buddha was dying, one monk decided that it would be better for him to continue his practice of meditation in the hills rather than to join the other monks at the Buddhas camp, waiting for the death to occur. When the Buddha heard about this he praised that monks attitude, pointing out that he knew what was valuable, and what was not.
Practice is everything.

With practice, we empty ourselves of the impurities of greed, hatred and the confusion that blinds us to the reality of life. In the Theravada tradition of Buddhism, this is called the Vishudhimagga, the path of purification.When we see clearly the natural tendencies of mind, we will notice that they are established firmly in our own selfish desire for happiness. We pursue this happiness blindly, often hurting others in the process, simply by not knowing the depth of what we do. Once we are living with love and awareness as our foundation for life, we can see what is beneficial to ourselves and others and what is not. As long as we don't know how things are, we will always be acting from a position based in ignorance. Simply contributing more confusion to an already confused world.

From Not This
Michael Kewley

Follow Michael on twitter @MichaelKewley

Next Pure Dhamma Newsletter, April 2014

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