Acting from heart and mind

by Lama Chuck Stanford, Rime Buddhist Center & Monastery, Knight Ridder Newspapers, Dec 14, 2005

Kansas City, MO (USA) -- All religions teach that we should not harm one another and that we should be kind to one another.

The difficulty is how to actualize this into our daily lives. From the Buddhist perspective this is best achieved through the practice of meditation. It is through meditation that we cultivate a compassionate heart.

All too often we all have seen those who appear to be religious by attending church regularly but in their day-to-day lives are mean, nasty people.

Those who are truly spiritual express their spirituality every day in everything they do. One of my best friends never attends church, yet he is one of the kindest, gentlest souls who is always helping others. He is what in Buddhism we call a "bodhisattva."

A bodhisattva is one who works for the benefits of others. So obviously being religious alone isn't the answer. What is most important is what is in one's heart and mind. In Buddhism the desire to alleviate the suffering of other beings is called "bodhichitta," which translated means "awakened heart."

The only real way to live your faith is to get beyond self-cherishing and work for the benefit of others. The eighth-century Indian saint Shantideva said, "For all those ailing in the world, until their every sickness has been healed, may I myself become for them the doctor, nurse, the medicine itself."