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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    their expectations I suggest some homework For the next week every time you are irritated or angry with someone you re close to look at what your external and internal buttons are An external button is a situation in which you typically get upset For example a family member leaves their dirty socks on the floor does the grocery shopping a day later than you asked or talks about how much better you d feel if you lost weight An internal button is your expectation An external situation only becomes a button for us if we have internal expectations attachments and sensitivities As part of this homework write down the situation as well as your expectations in it Then check to see if your expectation fits the situation or not Ordella did the homework assignment She reported the following I have discovered some very interesting things about myself while doing the Button Homework Assignment I d asked you if there was a common denominator among the underlying expectations that make us mad Well I realized that at the very least all my expectations are unrealistic In addition after you talked about how we tend to think of our spouse and dear ones as a part of us and therefore take them for granted and don t treat them very well I wondered How do I think my husband Alan is part of me Obviously he is his own person I just don t get it In an attempt to understand I wrote out some situations that are my buttons and then asked myself What was my expectation of him in this situation As I did I wound up laughing out loud at myself Button He doesn t know something and asks too many questions Expectation He should know everything that I know Button He is doing something wrong inefficiently too slowly etc Expectation He should do everything exactly how I would do it Button He is not supporting me He is doing his own thing while I am struggling to get things done This is a big one especially when I am busy Expectation My agenda should be his number one priority So here I am expecting my husband to have the same knowledge as me to do everything like I do and to have the same agenda and priorities as I have If that doesn t sound like thinking that he is an extension of me I don t know what is I can t believe how absurd it is to think like this yet for years that s been what I ve assumed was right and true Let s hope that now since I have exposed my underlying delusional thought these three buttons will disappear When I did the same exercise regarding my buttons with my kids I discovered more unrealistic expectations For example I hold my children to a higher standard than I do myself They should have do and be everything I don t have can

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004nov/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    people we know we can t We are forced to look at them ourselves And when we do we also see that they are incredible opportunities to grow and learn The bodhisattvas who sincerely wish to practice the Dharma want to have problems They want people to criticize them They want their reputation to get ruined Why They see problems as wonderful opportunities to practice Atisha a great bodhisattva in India helped to spread Buddhism to Tibet in the 11th century When he went to Tibet he took his Indian cook with him This cook was very disagreeable speaking harshly and being rude and obnoxious to people He even regularly insulted Atisha The Tibetans asked Why did you bring this person with you We can cook for you You don t need him But Atisha said I do need him I need him to practice patience So when someone criticizes me I think He is an incarnation of Atisha s cook One time I was living in a Dharma center and had big problems with one person there let s call him Sam I was so happy when I left that place to go back to the monastery and see my spiritual master My master knew of my difficulties and asked me Who is kinder to you the Buddha or Sam I immediately replied Of course the Buddha is kinder to me My teacher looked disappointed and proceeded to tell me that Sam was actually much kinder to me than the Buddha Why Because I couldn t possibly practice patience with the Buddha I had to practice with Sam and without practicing patience there was no way I could become a Buddha so I actually needed Sam Of course that wasn t what I wanted my teacher to say I wanted him to say Oh I understand Sam is a horrible person He was so mean to you you poor thing I wanted sympathy but my teacher didn t give it to me This made me wake up and realize that difficult situations are beneficial because they force me to practice and find my inner strength All of us are going to have problems in our lives This is the nature of cyclic existence Remembering this can help us to transform our problems into the path to enlightenment Dharma Practice in Modern Society This is an important aspect of Buddhism in modern society Dharma practice isn t just coming to the temple it s not simply reading a Buddhist scripture or chanting the Buddha s name Practice is how we live our lives how we live with our family how we work together with our colleagues how we relate to the other people in the country and on the planet We need to bring the Buddha s teachings on loving kindness into our workplace into our family even into the grocery store and the gym We do this not by handing out leaflets on a street corner but by practicing and living the Dharma ourselves When we do automatically we will have a positive influence on the people around us For example you teach your children loving kindness forgiveness and patience not only by telling them but by showing it in your own behavior If you tell your children one thing but act in the opposite way they are going to follow what we do not what we say Teaching Children by Example If we re not careful it is easy to teach our children to hate and never to forgive when others harm them Look at the situation in the former Yugoslavia it is a good example of how both in the family and in the schools adults taught children to hate When those children grew up they taught their children to hate Generation after generation this went on and look what happened There is so much suffering there it s very sad Sometimes you may teach children to hate another part of the family Maybe your grandparents quarreled with their brothers and sisters and since then the different sides of the family didn t speak to each other Something happened years before you were born you don t even know what the event was but because of it you re not supposed to speak to certain relatives Then you teach that to your children and grandchildren They learn that the solution to quarreling with someone is never to speak to them again Is that going to help them to be happy and kind people You should think deeply about this and make sure you teach your children only what is valuable This is why it s so important that you exemplify in your behavior what you want your children to learn When you find resentment anger grudges or belligerence in your heart you have to work on those not only for your own inner peace but so you don t teach your children to have those harmful emotions Because you love your children try to also love yourself as well Loving yourself and wanting yourself to be happy means you develop a kind heart for the benefit of everybody in the family Bringing Loving Kindness to the Schools We need to bring loving kindness not only into the family but also into the schools Before I became a nun I was a schoolteacher so I have especially strong feelings about this The most important thing for children to learn is not a lot of information but how to be kind human beings and how to resolve their conflicts with others in a constructive way Parents and teachers put a lot of time and money into teaching children science arithmetic literature geography geology and computers But do we ever spend any time teaching them how to be kind Do we have any courses in kindness Do we teach kids how to work with their own negative emotions and how to resolve conflicts with others I think this is much

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004oct/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    contributions from the other inmates with whom I correspond Their response was overwhelming Every person contributed something A few of them told their friends who were also incarcerated and they sent objects as well They offered Buddha images hand written mantras and prayers Dharma texts prayer beads incense Buddhist pendants an ink drawing of Chenresig a braided refuge bracelet and a handkerchief kata For people who are incarcerated and lack access to religious items these objects are dearly cherished Yet each person who contributed thanked us for giving them this opportunity to give Prison circumstances in the U S are such that many Buddhist inmates have difficulty receiving religious objects and teachings that those of us on the outside take for granted There are several reasons for this difficulty The Department of Corrections in some states do not allow Buddhist inmates to meet together as a group They say either that there are no Buddhist volunteers to lead a group or not enough prisoners to form one Thus the only access to teachings Buddhist inmates in those states have is books and in a few cases audio tapes They are allowed to have personal religious objects but only those acceptable to the authorities For example only plastic Buddha statues are allowed in some prisons and audio tapes must not have screws Inmates face several difficulties in procuring these items Most inmates have very little money Prison wages are generally in the range of 0 50 an hour unless an outside business employs prison labor in which case it is higher Often a percentage of this is garnished to pay for their room and board in prison Ordering and receiving religious items is challenging Once an inmate asked me for a malla Buddhist prayer beads I had to make two phone calls to the chaplain the inmate had to fill out a request the chaplain had to inform the mail room the prayer beads had to be strung on cotton string and could be made of only certain materials When they arrived the mail room had to tell the chaplain who would pick them up if everything was according to specification Then whenever the chaplain had time he would give them to the inmate Some chaplains are resistant to Buddhist inmates requests for materials and some mailroom clerks create obstacles as well Some states require that Dharma books be sent directly from publishers Most do not allow hard cover books Pictures are easier to send but they must be unlaminated and not larger than a certain size If an allowable item is mailed in a padded envelop or bubble wrap prison authorities return it to the sender Thus Buddhist inmates need great perseverance to receive the teachings and religious objects that are readily accessible on the outside When they are able to receive teachings or even practice together as a group they value the opportunity When a Buddhist inmate has an item he or she cherishes it What especially touched me

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004sept/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    or lose Psychologically this attitude brings more happiness How do we deal with anger when we witness a person harming another All the techniques described above are applicable here However being patient doesn t mean being passive We may have to actively stop one person from harming another but the key is to do this with impartial compassion for everyone in the situation It s easy to have compassion for the victim But compassion for the perpetrator is equally important This person is creating the cause for his own suffering he may be tortured by guilt later he may encounter trouble with the law and he will reap the karmic fruits of his own actions Recognising the suffering he brings on himself we can develop compassion for him Thus with equal concern for the victim and the perpetrator we can act to prevent one person from harming another We needn t be angry in order to correct a wrong Actions done out of anger may complicate the situation even more With a clear mind we ll be able to determine more easily what we can do to help How can we help someone who is creating negative karma by getting angry at us Each situation is different and will have to be examined separately However some general guidelines may apply First check up if the other s complaints about us are justified If so we can apologise and correct the situation That stops his anger Second when someone is very upset and angry try to calm him down Don t argue back because in his state of mind he can t listen to you This is understandable we don t listen to others when we are in a temper So it s better to help him settle down and later perhaps the next day discuss it What do we do when people criticise Buddhism That s their opinion They re entitled to have it Of course we don t agree with it Sometimes we may succeed in correcting another s misconceptions but sometimes people are very closed minded and don t want to change their views That s their business Just leave it We don t need others approval to practice the Dharma But we do need to be convinced in our hearts that what we do is right If we are then others opinions aren t important Others criticisms don t hurt the Dharma or the Buddha The path to enlightenment exists whether others recognise it as such or not We don t need to be defensive In fact if we become agitated when others criticise Buddhism it indicates we re attached to our beliefs that our ego is involved and so we feel compelled to prove our beliefs are right When we re secure in what we believe others criticisms don t disturb our peace of mind Why should it Criticism doesn t mean we are stupid or bad It s simply another s opinion that s all

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004august/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    do so How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were free from suffering and its causes May they be free I shall cause them to be free Guru Chenresig please inspire me to be able to do so How wonderful it would be if all sentient beings were never parted from upper rebirth and liberation s excellent bliss May they never be parted I shall cause them never to be parted Guru Chenresig please inspire me to be able to do so The key word in the four immeasurables is all sentient beings All is a short word with great meaning We don t simply think May my friends relatives and everyone who loves me have happiness and its causes Even animals wish for that But as human beings we try to extend the limits of our love and think May the jerk who cut me off on the highway have happiness and its causes May that doctor who screwed up my prescription be freed from suffering and its causes May the person who hung up on me may the person who complained about me may my friend who won t speak to me may my cousin who doesn t invite me to her parties may all these people have happiness and its causes and be free from suffering and its causes When our compassion becomes strong we will be able to think and feel May Timothy McVeigh Sadam Hussein and George W Bush have happiness and its causes and be free from suffering and its causes We must try to gradually extend the scope of our equanimity love compassion and joy spreading them out to all sentient beings not excluding even one If our hearts shut down when thinking of one sentient being and we can t bring ourselves to include them in all we should stop and observe what s happening in our heart mind With compassion for ourselves we ask What in me is resistant to this Am I hurt Angry Prejudiced When we become aware of what we re feeling then we apply the appropriate Dharma antidote For example think of Osama bin Ladin when he was a baby Doing this we realize that he didn t come out of the womb as a terrorist but due to conditioning in this and previous lives his mind was overwhelmed by confusion and hatred He s acting in the way he is because he s trying to be happy and doesn t know the real method to find happiness Thinking like this we let go of our anger and bias Then contemplating the kindness of others we open our heart and wish them well Each of the four immeasurables has four parts a wish an aspiration a resolve and a request for inspiration and each part progressively leads our mind to a deeper more committed state Going through each step slowly thinking of specific people or situations and making examples from our life is very helpful

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/2004july/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    s so many sentient beings having so many different experiences in the universe and poor Chodron just stubbed her toe No Sense Getting Anxious Thus one antidote is to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at ourselves But for those of you who can t laugh at yourselves there is another way The great Indian sage Shantideva advised us If you have a problem and you can do something about it there is no need to get anxious about it because you can actively do something to solve it On the other hand if there is nothing you can do to solve it getting anxious about it is useless it won t fix the problem So either way you look at it whether the problem is solvable or unsolvable there is no sense in getting anxious or upset about it Try thinking like that about one of your problems Just sit for a minute and think Is there something I can do about this or not If something can be done go ahead and do that there s no need to sit around and worry If nothing can be done to alter the situation it is useless to worry Just let it go Try thinking like that about a problem that you have and see if it helps Not Worrying About Making a Fool of Ourselves Sometimes we are anxious and nervous before going into a new situation Afraid that we will make fools out of ourselves we think I may do something wrong I ll look like a jerk and everybody will laugh at me or think badly of me In these cases I find it helpful to say to myself Well if I can avoid looking like an idiot I ll do that But if something happens and I look like an idiot then okay so be it We can never predict what other people will think or what they will say behind our back Maybe it will be good maybe not At some point we have to let go and say to ourselves Well that s okay Now I ve also started thinking If I do something stupid and people think poorly of me that s okay I do have faults and make mistakes so it s no wonder if others notice them But if I can acknowledge my mistakes and rectify them as much as possible then I have fulfilled my responsibility and surely others don t hold my mistake against me Paying More Attention to Others Another way of dealing with anxiety is to lessen our self centeredness and train our mind to pay more attention to others than to ourselves This doesn t mean that we ignore ourselves We need to pay attention to ourselves but in a healthy way not in a neurotic anxious way Of course we need to take care of our body and we should try to keep our mind happy We can do this in a healthy and relaxed way by being mindful of what we are thinking saying and doing This kind of focus on ourselves is necessary and is part of Buddhist practice However it is very different from the self centeredness that makes us so distressed and restless That self centeredness puts undue emphasis on ourselves and thus makes every small thing into a big one Considering the Disadvantages of Self Preoccupation By considering the disadvantages of self preoccupation we will find it easier to let go of that attitude When it arises in our mind we will notice it and think If I follow this self centered attitude it will cause me problems Therefore I won t follow that way of thinking and will turn my attention instead to view the situation from a broader perspective one that encompasses the wishes and needs of everyone involved Then we can use the same amount of energy to be sensitive to others and develop a kind heart towards them When we look at others with an open mind we recognize that everybody wants to be happy and free of suffering as intensely as we do When opening our hearts to this fact there will be no space left inside ourselves for self centered anxiety Look in your own life when your heart has been filled with genuine kindness toward others have you simultaneously been depressed and anxious It s impossible Developing Equanimity Some people may think But I do care about others and that s what makes me anxious or Because I care so much about my kids and my parents I worry about them all the time This kind of caring isn t the open hearted loving kindness that we are trying to develop in Buddhist practice This kind of caring is limited to only a few people Who are the people that we care about so much All the ones who are related to me my kids my parents my friends my family We are right back to me me me again aren t we This kind of caring about others isn t what we are trying to develop here Instead we want to learn to care for others impartially without thinking some beings are more important and others are less worthy The more we can develop equanimity and an open caring heart towards all the more we ll feel close to everyone else and the more we will be able to reach out to them We have to train our mind in this broad attitude expanding our care from the small group of people around us so that it gradually is extended to everyone those we know and those we don t and especially to those we don t like To do this start by thinking Everyone wants to be happy just like me and nobody wants to suffer just like me If we focus on that thought alone there is no space left for anxiety in our minds anymore

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200406/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    others in a constructive way it doesn t matter to whom we reach out We can t say one way or one group is better or more deserving of help than another Of the groups you mentioned that it might be good to help many inmates belong to one or more of them They often grew up in poverty from a family where the parents were alcoholics or drug users They were troubled teens and many of them suffer from depression or other illnesses that were not diagnosed So it s true helping people from these groups earlier before they commit a crime would prevent a lot of suffering for them and for others But even if someone has committed a crime they are still a human being with the Buddha nature and are therefore worthy of respect People in general often see inmates as not being members of society But to me society means the collection of sentient beings in this universe Everyone belongs to society and there is nowhere we can go where we do not live in relationship to society and everyone in it We exist interdependently We exist in relationship to prisoners It s easy to think that helping someone who is about to be released from prison is useful because that will facilitate their re introduction to the busy world But people in prison have lives too and their lives influence many lives on the outside I would love for a journalist to do a long story on Sunday morning in America and feature all the people in prison waiting rooms There are parents there are wives and a fewer number of husbands there are kids who grow up with a prison waiting room and visitors room as part of their environment When one person in a family goes to prison an entire family as well as a group of friends is impacted Influencing one prisoner has ripple effects that go far and wide Society exists in prison too There are real people there not only inmates but also guards chaplains maintenance crews etc Influencing one inmate can go a long way and can save a life One man told me that reading Working with Anger at a crucial time for him helped him calm down and look inside when he was on the verge of violence That may have resulted in saving the life of another inmate or a guard and preventing grief of a family should someone have been killed Furthermore in working with inmates and with people on the outside for that matter I am just as concerned with aiding their future lives as helping this life I am concerned with their progress on the path to enlightenment and that goes far beyond this one life Some of the inmates I ve been in touch with are very sincere Dharma practitioners and although there are many obstacles for them in this life in other circumstances in future lives they may zoom along

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200405/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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  • Spirituality in Daily Life
    having so many different experiences in the universe and poor Chodron just stubbed her toe No Sense Getting Anxious Thus one antidote is to have a sense of humor and be able to laugh at ourselves But for those of you who can t laugh at yourselves there is another way The great Indian sage Shantideva advised us If you have a problem and you can do something about it there is no need to get anxious about it because you can actively do something to solve it On the other hand if there is nothing you can do to solve it getting anxious about it is useless it won t fix the problem So either way you look at it whether the problem is solvable or unsolvable there is no sense in getting anxious or upset about it Try thinking like that about one of your problems Just sit for a minute and think Is there something I can do about this or not If something can be done go ahead and do that there s no need to sit around and worry If nothing can be done to alter the situation it is useless to worry Just let it go Try thinking like that about a problem that you have and see if it helps Not Worrying About Making a Fool of Ourselves Sometimes we are anxious and nervous before going into a new situation Afraid that we will make fools out of ourselves we think I may do something wrong I ll look like a jerk and everybody will laugh at me or think badly of me In these cases I find it helpful to say to myself Well if I can avoid looking like an idiot I ll do that But if something happens and I look like an idiot then okay so be it We can never predict what other people will think or what they will say behind our back Maybe it will be good maybe not At some point we have to let go and say to ourselves Well that s okay Now I ve also started thinking If I do something stupid and people think poorly of me that s okay I do have faults and make mistakes so it s no wonder if others notice them But if I can acknowledge my mistakes and rectify them as much as possible then I have fulfilled my responsibility and surely others don t hold my mistake against me Paying More Attention to Others Another way of dealing with anxiety is to lessen our self centeredness and train our mind to pay more attention to others than to ourselves This doesn t mean that we ignore ourselves We need to pay attention to ourselves but in a healthy way not in a neurotic anxious way Of course we need to take care of our body and we should try to keep our mind happy We can do this in a healthy and relaxed way by being mindful of what we are thinking saying and doing This kind of focus on ourselves is necessary and is part of Buddhist practice However it is very different from the self centeredness that makes us so distressed and restless That self centeredness puts undue emphasis on ourselves and thus makes every small thing into a big one Considering the Disadvantages of Self Preoccupation By considering the disadvantages of self preoccupation we will find it easier to let go of that attitude When it arises in our mind we will notice it and think If I follow this self centered attitude it will cause me problems Therefore I won t follow that way of thinking and will turn my attention instead to view the situation from a broader perspective one that encompasses the wishes and needs of everyone involved Then we can use the same amount of energy to be sensitive to others and develop a kind heart towards them When we look at others with an open mind we recognize that everybody wants to be happy and free of suffering as intensely as we do When opening our hearts to this fact there will be no space left inside ourselves for self centered anxiety Look in your own life when your heart has been filled with genuine kindness toward others have you simultaneously been depressed and anxious It s impossible Developing Equanimity Some people may think But I do care about others and that s what makes me anxious or Because I care so much about my kids and my parents I worry about them all the time This kind of caring isn t the open hearted loving kindness that we are trying to develop in Buddhist practice This kind of caring is limited to only a few people Who are the people that we care about so much All the ones who are related to me my kids my parents my friends my family We are right back to me me me again aren t we This kind of caring about others isn t what we are trying to develop here Instead we want to learn to care for others impartially without thinking some beings are more important and others are less worthy The more we can develop equanimity and an open caring heart towards all the more we ll feel close to everyone else and the more we will be able to reach out to them We have to train our mind in this broad attitude expanding our care from the small group of people around us so that it gradually is extended to everyone those we know and those we don t and especially to those we don t like To do this start by thinking Everyone wants to be happy just like me and nobody wants to suffer just like me If we focus on that thought alone there is no space left for anxiety in our minds anymore When we look at each

    Original URL path: http://www.themetaarts.com/200404/chodron.html (2016-02-13)
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