Less than a week of study to go and I am not yet enlightened, however I have gained some meaningful insights into the way I live my life.

The cornerstone of the Mahayana tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is to free all sentient beings (ie. all living creatures) from suffering and the causes of suffering.

Although we can appreciate this on an intellectual level, to really practice and live this is truly profound and humbling. I have become aware of how much the self-cherishing “I” pervades my life. I just need to look at my reactions when I find there is no warm water or water at all (!) when I go to shower or being at the end of the food line to find that some dishes have run out. How instantaneous and self-important my needs and desires are without even a thought of others! Furthermore, my reactions only serve to create pain and suffering in my own life, let alone the karmic implications of my negative thoughts and emotions!)

Try this Meditation:

When faced with your automatic reactions to some undesirable event, whether irritation, anger, frustration or pity, become aware of how you are cherishing yourself above others.

Consider that we all want to be happy and free from suffering and our own desires are not tantamount to those of other sentient beings. Instead, rejoice in their happiness and wish them more happiness and freedom from pain and suffering in their lives.

For example, on finding empty food bowls at lunch time I can foster understanding and kindness by thinking “May they enjoy the meal and be sustained by the nutrients of the food”, rather than “They are disrespectful”, “That is my favourite dish and it’s not fair that I missed out!”, “They are greedy and take too much!” “Tomorrow I will make sure to be first in line!” etc.

Can you imagine how the sentient and natural world would benefit if respect, rejoicing and giving were cultivated over entitlement, pride and taking?!