Success & Abundance
What all living things desire.
Published: May 25, 2012
by Dalai Lama
Seeing the connections between us.
In order to generate a strong sense of affection and closeness to all other sentient beings, you must first generate a strong sense of equanimity toward all sentient beings. Based on this feeling, you can generate a sense of kinship with the rest of sentient beings and view them as your mother. Then you will be able to reflect on the kindness of these sentient beings, which is the same as the kindness of your present family which sustains you now. When you see them as your own relatives and remember their kindness, you will be able to generate an attitude of cherishing them, taking them to your heart.
Another method of generating an altruistic attitude is to exchange yourself with others. This is possible because all other sentient beings are the same as you in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering. They are also the same as you in having the capacity and the opportunity to get rid of suffering and attain happiness. Like you, all sentient beings have the right to eliminate suffering and attain maximum happiness. Although you are the same from all these perspectives, all other sentient beings are countless. And yet you are not unrelated to them, because in worldly terms you are very much dependent on them.
Now, seeing that you have this close connection with all other sentient beings, it is foolish to neglect their welfare to pursue the interests of only one being—yourself. On the other hand, it is wise to neglect the interests of one for the benefit of the rest, who are the majority of sentient beings. All the pleasures and facilities that we enjoy in this life, such as wealth, possessions, fame, and friendship, are all obtained in dependence on other beings. We cannot think of enjoying anything by our own efforts alone, without their help. In this modern age especially, everything we enjoy—food, clothing, and everything else—is produced by various manufacturing companies in which other people work. Almost nothing is grown or produced in your own small garden or courtyard.
We eat canned fruit which is produced by the hands of other human beings. When we travel in an airplane, we depend on the work and facilities provided by the many people who are involved in running that airplane. In our modern society we cannot think of surviving without depending on other human beings. Equally, without other human beings you would have neither reputation nor fame. Even though you may have acquired certain qualities that are the basis of your fame and reputation, if other people do not know about them, there is no question of your becoming famous.
If you think carefully, even your enemy, whom you usually view as an opponent and completely dislike, gives you the chance to generate many qualities like patience, courage, and strength. If you are able to see how you can gain these kinds of qualities from your enemy, you will also be able to generate kind feelings toward him.
If you are able to generate such a positive mind toward your enemy, who is normally an object of contempt, you will have no trouble in generating a feeling of care and concern toward neutral beings or, of course, toward your friends. In order to generate such a mental attitude, it is not necessary that you recognize all the sentient beings individually. You can, for example, infer that all trees have certain common characteristics from the qualities of one particular tree without having to know each and every individual tree. Similarly, you can conclude that all living beings are the same in wanting happiness and not wanting suffering by examining your own situation. By doing so, you will easily generate compassion, which is an aspiration thinking how nice it would be if all sentient beings could eliminate suffering. If you are able to generate a clear understanding of the sufferings of sentient beings, you will also be able to generate love, which is to think how nice it would be if all sentient beings met with happiness.
Based on these two aspirations—love and compassion—you will generate the special attitude of taking responsibility for getting rid of these sufferings yourself, and this will induce the mind that wishes to attain the highest enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings. This altruistic aspiration for enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings is called the mind of enlightenment.
Tenzin Gyatso is a practicing member of the Gelug School of Tibetan Buddhism and is influential as a Nobel Peace Prize Laureate and as the world’s most famous Buddhist monk.