Every Sunday I sit comfortably listening to Rev. Kiyota's interesting and instructive messages. In such a pleasant environment it is relatively easy for me to understand his ideas of compassion, impermanence, karma, and enlightenment. I always come out of the temple feeling like I should be able to handle future difficulties with less stress and more awareness.
And then it happens: deadlines loom just over the horizon, people drop over when the house is an awful mess, expectations are not met. Physically tired, emotionally overwrought, and spiritually unaware, I end up doing what I do best under these circumstances: I think only about myself. The illusion of altruism, compassion, and patience vanishes. Rationalizations, defenses, and denials take over. The objective part of my psyché becomes obliterated by my irrational side and I find myself as far away from enlightenment as anyone can get!
I once asked the Jr. YBA members what they would do if they saw a friend or family member being attacked verbally or physically. I got the expected responses of retaliation (fists, knives, guns, etc.). I asked them if their country was attacked by a foreign invader would they fight back? Everyone said they would. I then told them about a strange group of people who did not retaliate when they were being attacked. I told them about the Tibetan tragedy and the extraordinary response of the Tibetan people.
In 1959 the Chinese Communist military bombed the palace of the Dalai Lama and started a massacre. The monasteries near Llasa were destroyed. Thousands of monks and abbots were tortured and killed. Many fled through the Himalayas to India. Even though these people were brutally attacked, they did not fight back with violence. To this day the Dalai Lama has not spoken a harsh word against the Chinese government. He is patiently awaiting for the realization of the Chinese government that violence is not a "viable alternative." His Holiness has been awarded the Nobel Peace Prize and has alerted the world to the plight of Tibet. His gentleness toward the Chinese government has proved to be a powerful "weapon."
How can a people under such tremendous stress still respond with nonviolence and compassion? I am very moved by their understanding of the Buddha Dharma. In the future, I will try harder to listen to Sensei's messages with my head as well as my heart. I have nothing to complain about.
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