I attended the teaching of the Dalai Lama on the eight verses of training the mind in the San Jose Convention Center and the interfaith gathering of clergy afterward. The eight verses are all centered on building compassion. They are similar to the Beatitudes in the way they recommend specific practices that lead away from self and toward love and humility. One of the assets of the Buddhist tradition I really appreciate is that because they have no belief in God, they concentrate all their study and practice on developing the human characteristics that most other faiths attribute to God. This is something very practical about Buddhism that admire, and I think many other people do too. We concentrate a lot of study and practice on identifying and defining God and establishing rules for being in right relationship with God. This can have the effect of drawing us away from instilling the attributes of God we most admire.
The Dalai Lama pointed out that an asset we Christians have is because we believe in God, we do not have to work so hard at avoiding taking credit for our own growth in perfection. We know it is all grace and that it is God alone who deserves praise. We know we are subject to God and not in charge of the universe. Buddhist teaching places great emphasis on humility so that the monks and priests who seek to progress on the spiritual path do not do so for their own sake. The ultimate goal is spiritual union with all that is. We seek this too in our own way. For us, our personal relationship with God, Jesus, Mary and the Saints is woven into the spiritual path. We look for different signs and assurances along the way than our Buddhist brothers and sisters, and we have a rich heritage of stories to guide us.
The Christian mystics teach us that the path moves through stages of purification, illumination and contemplation...all of which require discipline and devotion. The mystic way is not for the faint-hearted or feeble-minded.... although meekness and simplicity are most welcome. These are the lessons I am pondering today as I go about my daily business of photo editing, website administration, data security and coordinating senior transportation options. I am grateful for the eight verses today. They help me with ordering daily life in accordance with what really matters. If you are interested in learning more about them and the Dalai Lama's visit, you can find more online at teaching the mind.