Sunday, January 13, 2013
Negativity: Letter to a BuddhaPal
Nice to get your letter. I read how you felt you were surrounded by negativity all day long and that you were trying to clear your mind of it.
I think you should congratulate yourself that you are able to see what is surrounding you. At the same time, we talk in Zen about obstacles being “opportunities for practice.” The fact that you are able to see the negativity is a first step. Think about the reasons for the negativity. Think how many of the prisoners got a bad roll of the dice from the day that they are born. Realize that if you don't put wood in the fire you are taking a step at putting out the fire. Talk about positive things that are going on either with you or with the prison.
I'm sending you some of the Buddha's words on right speech. It is quite a practice to only say something that is affectionate. It is disarming to say the least.
Keep writing, and let me know how this goes.
P.S. I have the three monkeys on a little altar on my desk. Above them is Suzuki Roshi, who is our link to the Buddha. When someone complained about the people they were working with, he replied, “If you want to see virtue, you have to have a calm mind.”
We don't have a calm mind to numb our anguish, but rather to see the Buddha (or beauty) in everything (my words).
Here's some Buddhist text that I sent my BuddhaPal: http://www.accesstoinsight.org/ptf/dhamma/sacca/sacca4/samma-vaca/index.html
I tried (and failed) to convince my students that it was better to be able to appreciate a sidewalk than to own a yacht. With the sidewalk t...