** If you see your Guru as a Buddha, you will recieve the blessings of a Buddha ** If you see your Guru as a Boddhisatva, you will recieve the blessings of a Boddhisatva ** If you see your Guru as a friend, you will only receive the blessings of a friend **

Sharing Words of Wisdom from H.E. Gharwang Rinpoche

Many things happen unexpectedly in our lives, and some may be positive and others could be disheartening.

Whatever the experience might be, we should never allow these circumstances to ruin our lives, because once we fall into the trap of disillusionment and depression, we may never be able to pull ourselves out of that hole. Therefore, when we find ourselves in a disheartening situation, it may not be wise to wallow and share all our problems with others, since not everyone shares our concerns, and besides, we might end up upsetting someone who otherwise cares about us.

The Gross National Happiness Index as used in Bhutan could be helpful for any country. One certainly does not have to be Buddhist in order to be happy, and a country does not have to be majority Buddhist in order to value the happiness of its people. For instance, Denmark is one of the happiest countries in the world. Happiness primarily has to do with one’s mindset—not with one’s religion, geographic location, etc. Happiness is not strictly a Buddhist notion, but a universally achievable state of mind.

Strong action in the face of injustice does not require anger or hatred as its motivating force. Removing a harmful ruler from power or trying to effect social and political change should never be undertaken with anger, which is by its nature destructive. Radical positive change can be made guided by an altruistic motivation together with the wisdom of rational analysis of the most effective method for the situation. Rash reaction driven by anger will only lead to more pain and suffering. There are many leaders, such as Gandhi, who have successfully exemplified the approach of peaceful demonstration in the face of difficult political situations, without resorting to anger and violence.

Although there may be some unique challenges nowadays, it is not as difficult as it may seem to be happy in the present society. Happiness is simply a state of mind. Cultivating a positive mindset requires effort. We may begin with focusing on developing patience. Patience with our circumstances helps us to develop contentment, contentment with what we have, despite the messages of this materialistic society, is the first step towards happiness. Contentment brings satisfaction, and satisfaction brings happiness. Happiness is all around us and always available to us—we just need to know how to grab it. One important method for developing contentment, satisfaction, and happiness is maintaining realistic expectations. If we have too high of standards and expectations or too lofty  goals, then we will be stuck continually thinking, “I will only be happy when...” and will never open ourselves to happiness now. Every moment presents an opportunity to cultivate the kinds of positive mindsets that engender happiness.

As human beings, emotions like anger arise as a natural reaction to difficult situations that we face. But in fact, destructive emotions like anger cannot actually help the situation, but only create more problems in the future. As a Buddhist, difficult as it may be, we simply have to accept that our circumstances are conditioned by our past karma. There is nothing we can do to change the past, and so we can never find peace if we resist the past or try to deny it. We must instead do our best to improve the circumstances of ourselves and others through acting with an altruistic motivation. In the case of seeking justice in the tragic case of a child who was killed, we need to go through the appropriate legal means to help ensure that the perpetrator is removed from society so they do not cause more harm in the future. Even though we all face tragedies in our lives, this does not mean that we can never be happy. Happiness naturally emerges when we cultivate genuine love and compassion, and if we focus on cultivating such positive mindsets with respect to those in our lives as well as for those who are no longer with us, inner peace is possible. Everyone possesses the potential for cultivating positive states of mind, regardless of who they are or what they have experienced.

True love and compassion are unconditional, like the love shared by parents for their newborn child. Love should not be confused with attachment, which is concern for oneself rather than for others. Attachment is the desire never to be parted from someone or something. Attachment is a source of suffering, since it is a resistance to the inevitable—parting inevitably follows meeting. As Thich Nhat Hanh says, if love brings pain and suffering, that is not genuine love. Genuine love and compassion foster peace and happiness by helping us look beyond ourselves to focus on benefitting others. Genuine compassion is the selfless wish that another be free of suffering, and genuine love is the selfless wish that another be happy.

We find negative emotions, particularly anger and jealousy, difficult to manage because it feels as though these poisons are very powerful. But in actual fact, they have no strength in and of themselves. We are the ones who empower them by being patient with them when they start to become active. We even nurture and feed them, giving these poisons all the support that they need to survive within us and continue to cause us suffering. We might wonder why we are inclined to give these poisons so much power. Firstly, it is difficult to detect when these destructive emotions first arise within us. Secondly, once they take root in us, then it is much more difficult to  remove them. Finally, it is even harder to stop the continuity of such poisons once they gain momentum. Therefore, we must develop mindfulness so that the moment these poisons arise within us, we immediately recognize them without delay, and come up with the strongest antidote to counter them. Finally, we must also work to prevent these destructive emotions from arising in the first place.

Once, the Indian yogi called Shantideva rightly said, if we wish to protect our feet from the rough ground, we could never find a piece of leather large enough to cover entire globe.  However,  if we wear leather shoes, it is equivalent to covering the whole world. Similarly, it is impossible to change how all others think and act, but we can change ourselves according to the advice of the awakened ones in order to make our lives more meaningful. Therefore, it is in our best interest to be tolerant and humble, and to open our hearts to wise advice, because stubbornness and arrogance only leads to distress and dissatisfaction.

When one prepares to inflict pain on others, one should also expect to face the consequences of acts of hatred. So, it is in the interest of all not to indulge in harmful acts.

The history of mankind tells us time and time again that when we have the opportunity to appreciate each other’s good qualities, we fail to do so, instead focusing on the negative. But once someone is no longer physically present in this world, only then do we express our gratitude, which simply amounts to empty words. Therefore, while we are still able, this is the perfect moment to share love, respect, and care with others, because the rest is irrelevant.

When our hearts aren’t in the right place, then even though we might use the most beautiful words to express love and concern for others, the words will not carry weight or meaning. Consequently, above all we must be genuine in our hearts. Then, even without language, others will be able to appreciate our care wholeheartedly.

Many of us seem to have the tendency to be judgmental about others, without understanding the reasons why others may have acted the way they did. In my opinion, before we make any comments about others, we have to  place ourselves in the other's shoes so that we might get some sense of why they acted in this manner. Therefore, before we share any opinions about others, we have to properly understand the whole situation so that we don't regret what we say.

On the one hand, there is so much we might wish to achieve in our lives, but on the other hand, we may not have enough time to fulfill everything we dream of. In such a dilemma, it is wise to prioritize what is essential to make our lives meaningful and pleasant rather hoping to accomplish everything.