by the lazy Buddhist

During the recent visit of Lama Yeshe Rinpoche and Lama Katen to South Africa, they both spoke about the importance of being a good person. So what is a good person, particularly from a Buddhist perspective? There’s a lot of guidance out there for anyone one on the Buddhist path, the ten virtuous and non-virtuous actions, the six paramitas, the eight perversions, the six doors of remedy to name a few. But what caught my attention, was my use of the words ‘out there’.

I have always found the framework of Buddhist ethics, conduct and morality helpful when I’m grappling with some of samasara’s more enticing temptations… (and no, I am most certainly not going into any detail about that!). That said, the scenario has always been along the lines of, ‘me-over-here-trying-very-hard-to-follow-Buddhist-guidelines-over-there’.

During the Cape Town leg of their trip, someone shared an excerpt from Nelson Mandela’s book, Conversations with Myself, with Lama Yeshe Rinpoche. I don’t know who you are, but thank you! In the excerpt, Madiba said that ~ Honesty, sincerity, simplicity, humility, pure generosity, absence of vanity, readiness to serve others – qualities that are within the reach of every soul – are the foundation of one’s spiritual life. Maybe because Nelson Mandela is so familiar to most South Africans, his life, his struggles, his growth and his extraordinary leadership, it made such a powerful impact.

At his talk before the Refuge ceremony in KSDJ Kensington, Lama Katen gave an exquisitely simple explanation of Refuge. He said, Buddha is someone who has overcome the five poisons. What Nelson Mandela discovered in his prison cell, we learn through meditation. ~ At least, if nothing else, the cell gives you the opportunity to look daily into your entire conduct, to overcome the bad and develop whatever is good in you. ~

It turns out, Buddhist ethics and guidelines are not out there after all. They are here, within me as I struggle with wanting what I can’t have, and not wanting what I do have, and in coming to understand that my happiness cannot be gained at the expense of others. We are, after all, all in this together!

Till next time,
Tania Potter