Thursday, February 11, 2016

Practice 34 is never express harsh words

Verse 34 of the 37 Bodhisattva practises

Harsh words disturb the minds of others
And the cause deterioration in a
Bodhisattva’s conduct
Therefore give up harsh words
Which are unpleasant to others
This is the practice of the bodhisattvas

Geshe Tenzin Zopa said:

Practice 34 is never express harsh words. Even though one’s
mind at the start of the conversation was based on bodhicitta
and wisdom, the moment harsh words come from your mouth,
it marks the collapse of bodhicitta.
During Dr Jimpa’s recent session, he expressed the view
that as long as harsh words are used, no matter if used with
compassionate motivation, it is still negative. Hence we should
guard our speech carefully. However, it is not just a simple
matter of not using scolding words. Sarcastic words or sweet
words designed to cause hurt, come under the category of harsh
words as well.

In Western cultures, teachers are not allowed to beat nor scold
the children and need to apply the softest method to deal
with them or else face police action, right? The Bodhisattva
practice seems to be more inclined towards Western culture!
But of course, one needs to apply wisdom too e.g if the child is
frequently doing wrong and harming others, the child has to be
firmly taught not to do that. For a start, we should avoid any use
of harsh words and instead, find alternative ways to deal with a
difficult child.

I am certain that Kuan Yin Pusa never expressed harsh words
but yet was able to liberate numberless beings under critical and
wild conditions. However, no wonder Kuan Yin’s head cracked
into 11 parts before being re-assembled by Guru Amitabha.
In the process of our practice, we definitely will cry many
times, sometimes with good reason as we feel we have failed
but remember always that we cannot give up. This is where
having Dharma friends helps. If one is surrounded by those who
discourage you from practice and encourage distraction, it will
be very difficult to sustain your journey on the Path. Your basic
Buddha nature like a like a clear sunny sky. Sometimes, there
are storm clouds – it does not mean that the sun is no longer
there; it is just that the clarity has been temporarily overcast by
clouds. Likewise, our fundamental nature is clarity but delusions
are like the clouds which interrupt the clarity. Hence we need
practice and virtuous friends help us to keep up the practice to
clear off the clouds and restore a clear, happy, sunny mind. We
need to be cautious about negative friends and foster virtuous

I have observed on several occasions during puja that some
attendees seemed lost as to which page of the puja text is being
peformed and when someone shows that person the correct
page, that person gets upset! Perhaps that person’s ego was
hurt by the thought, “I know how to turn the page”. In any case,
when we offer help, wisdom is required. If your help is rejected,
there is no need to get angry. If someone gets upset with you,
back off and go enjoy pizza! (Laughter). Although offering help
is virtuous, wisdom requires us to be mindful about whether
the person is ready to receive your help. Otherwise, it might be
better to leave them alone for the time being.

For example, you may want a visitor to be comfortable and thus
offer him a cushion. But he insists on sitting on the hard floor.
You cannot insist that he sits on the cushion. There is the danger
that he would regard you as a pushy person and be discouraged
to return to a centre of pushy people. Be skilful and observant.
That is a bodhisattva practice.

Harsh words include unskillful speech. Let us say you have a
friend whom you always joke with. A family member of this
friend then passes away and when he calls you, you continue to
talk in a joking way about the death or say something casual like
“Don’t worry, be happy”. This will not do. Although the phrase
itself is not unpleasant but under the circumstances, it comes
under the category of harsh speech. We need to be very careful
with this.


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