Everything we think, say, and do has consequences. This is the law of karma. If a person spends a great deal of time fantasizing about winning the lottery, partnering with an actor or music star they met at a fan party, or dreaming about what will happen when one gets a new job, loses twenty pounds, etc. the consequence is disappointment, possible depression, and definite suffering. When a person focuses on being positive, enjoying the simple things in life, and verbally appreciates those around them the consequences are likely to be contentment, happiness, and friendship. When we continuously hold a certain attitude, opinion, or belief about life it tends to manifest regardless rather the attitude is positive or negative. Abraham Lincoln once said, “People are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.” And people are about as unhappy as they make up their minds to be.
In the Analects of Confucius it states something like this- first it is necessary for the ruler to have peace in his heart, then there will be peace in the home, if there is peace in the home there will be peace in the neighborhood, if there is peace in the neighborhood there will be peace in the city, if there is peace in the city there will be peace in the nation.
So, the ability to have our actions take place in rightness depends first on having right thoughts or a right mind. One way the dictionary puts it is to be morally correct and while there is precious little agreement about what is morally correct it behooves us, once we have decided on a set of ethics, to remain true to those ethics. Changing our mind from one set of principles to another, possibly even to an opposing idea, to justify getting what we want is breaking the Spirit of Honor. It is important for a human being, a son or daughter of the Divine Spirit, to know what is right according to a chosen set of life ethics and then to do what is right rather than what might feel right at the time.
Over the years as a minister, I‘ve witnessed the misery created by individuals choosing what felt right at the time over what they had proclaimed was right prior to their time of temptation. Mostly, these decisions took place because the individual “fell in love” and knew without doubt that this time they were experiencing Ama Marai– unconditional love. It is easy to forget that unconditional love is something only Divine Spirit can give so we spend years looking for and hoping to be loved unconditionally by our family, friends, children, and partners. True love, for a fallible human, is facing our capacity to hurt each other. True love is the willingness to be accountable when we do hurt people, to make amends if we can, and to strive and devote ourselves to accepting, nurturing, and cherishing the love we give and the love we have received.
Being a divine avatar, a beloved son or daughter of Divine Spirit, implies that we must struggle to move from the absurd living of the world mind to the obedient listening of Tarai Spirit Mind. Absurd comes from the word sardus which means deaf. The dark world of ordinary reality teaches a Machiavellian attitude of expediency and unprincipled, self-aggrandizement- the standard “me first” attitude which keeps people deaf to the cries of suffering arising all over the world. When actions take place in rightness social justice and equality become the center post for decision making. This is the principle of democracy- the greatest amount of good for the greatest amount of people
Actions arise from attitude, attitude arises from habituate thoughts. Cultivating an attitude of gratitude is more than a cute saying; it actually works. The two most important values for living fully are appreciation and forgiveness. This works within our own psyche as well as within communities small and large. We must forgive ourselves for not being perfect and forgive others that they cannot live up to our expectations of them. Appreciating what we have, and what gifts others share with us, creates a willingness to wholeheartedly engage in relationship.
Developing a useful attitude starts with understanding and working within the conditioning of our ancient darkness. If we don’t bring to light the hidden motivations of our decisions they have a way of tripping us up. In my twenties, I had a terrible fear of abandonment and worked hard to become indispensable to those around me; so they would keep me around. And, while I did learn the basic principles of how to be a good servant this strategy was actually unsuccessful in keeping relationships. Friends and people in various communities found my solicitous assistance annoying or in some cases arrogant and snubbed me or even cast me out because I was a pest. Fortunately, Amma Ilowan, pointed out to me that while serving was commendable, my motivation was joyless and detrimental to myself and others. Ah, enlightenment! Oh, shit!
Actions arise from thoughts and attitudes. Actions are the ground on which we stand. Actions are the karmic seeds of destiny.
The Two Wolves
They sat together and watched the full moon move through the stars. The young Cherokee boy had been in a fight that day and his grandfather would speak with him.
“My son,” he began, ”there is a battle that goes on inside people. This battle is between two wolves that we carry within us. One wolf is evil. It holds the energy of anger, sorrow, jealousy, greed, arrogance, self-pity, guilt, inferiority, false pride and lies.
The other wolf is good. For it holds the energy of love, joy, peace, hope, humility, kindness, generosity, compassion, faith and truth.
These wolves are very powerful. And, they are often fighting like small boys,” he said glancing down at his grandson. His smile was hidden in the darkness.
The grandson thought about it for a while, and then asked, “Which wolf wins, grandfather?” The old Cherokee simply replied, “The one you feed.”
Most of us what to know the rules, learn what is expected of a spiritual person and live accordingly. However, while we can adopt a set of precepts it’s important to remember that those precepts, like the ones I included in this chapter are a call to be more than is even humanly possible. The reason spiritual paths create impossible goals is to elevate us to a greater height than we would choose for ourselves. It’s more likely that when we are goal setting we attempt to vision something that is actually possible of accomplishment. Spiritual ethics and precepts are so lofty that it reminds me of the catchphrase – Aim for the sun because even if you miss you will fall among the stars. Our actions will always take place in rightness if we are striving for the highest things we know.
The temptation is to say that loving-kindness, peace, acceptance, forgiveness, etc. is always the answer. And that answer may cause us to make decisions that are detrimental to ourselves or others. I love this story about employing loving-kindness in an unusual way.
Sangmu was developing the practice of loving-kindness. As a young disciple, she would sit in meditation each day filling her heart with loving-kindness for all beings, may they be free from suffering. However, each day she found her practice greatly tested when she went to the market for food. There was among the shopkeepers one merchant who persistently subjected Sangmu to unwanted advances. One day she could take no more of this. She turned to the merchant and raised her umbrella to strike him. It was at that moment that she saw her teacher standing some distance away watching this situation. Humiliated and chagrined she walked over to him ready to receive the admonishment that was surely hers.
Her teacher smiled down at her and said, “Sangmu, what you should do, my child, is fill your heart completely with loving-kindness before you hit this rude man over the head with your umbrella.”
Our actions are the ground on which we stand. Our actions are our destiny. Any relationship we enter into will be riddled with frustration and disappointment. That’s the price of being human. It’s in those times when we feel the most disillusioned that Spirit is calling us to be true to our soul’s honor, true to our promises, true to the moral, and ethical values we believed in when we thought life was perfect and our relationships seemed perfect. Only when tested in the fires of the dark world where we must strive to find the courage to live as a Divine Avatar, or not, do we cast the pattern of our future. Will we choose what is right? Or will we choose what feels so right at the moment?