1. Gather Merit
Whatever the circumstance may be, there is a difference between people who gather merit (or positivity) and those who do not. What do I mean by gathering merit? First, it is to be able to cultivate compassion; to have an altruistic motivation and to do things to benefit others. It is to help people in an appropriate way, such as giving advice, and likewise to be generous and disciplined and to develop patience—to develop these kinds of qualities and do things with a pure, sincere wish to help.
Moreover, someone who regards themselves as a Buddhist should “make offerings upward” and “practice generosity downward,” meaning that one should make offerings “upwardly”—to our objects of refuge, the buddhas, our spiritual teachers; and to the sangha, the community of practitioners—and give “downwardly” to sentient beings. Make offerings and practice generosity like this on a regular basis.
It is through these kinds of actions, done with a pure motivation, that you gather merit, and the result of this is that you will encounter fewer obstacles and hindrances in this life, your aims will be fulfilled, and things will go smoothly for you.
2. Seek Out Good Role Models
In addition to gathering merit, we also need good role models to follow. It has been more than 2,500 years since Buddha Shakyamuni passed into parinirvana,yet the transmission of his teachings remains embodied and upheld in today’s genuine and qualified dharma teachers. These teachers are excellent role models for us, and to follow their example and teachings is excellent too.
In my case, my role models are my meditation teachers, Kyabje Tulku Urgyen Rinpoche and Kyabje Nyoshul Khen Rinpoche. Both of these teachers were extraordinarily kindhearted, generous, caring, and patient, and both were outstanding meditators. They were amazing people. So you likewise need to find this kind of role model, someone with truly excellent qualities to look up to and try to emulate. For us Buddhists, our shared role model is of course Buddha Shakyamuni himself.
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