قدرت واقعی

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قدرت واقعی

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CHAPTER ONE - True Power

Frederick was by conventional standards a powerful man. He was a financially successful executive who prided himself on his high ideals. Yet he was unable to really be there for himself, his wife, Claudia, or their two young sons. He was filled with an energy that always pushed him to do more, be better, and focus on the future. When his youngest son came to him, smiling, to show him a picture he had drawn, Frederick was so absorbed in his thoughts and worries about his work that he didn’t really see his son as precious, a miracle of life. When he came home from work and hugged

Claudia, he wasn’t fully present. He tried, but he wasn’t really there. Claudia and the children felt his absence.

At first, Claudia had supported Frederick and his career completely. She was proud to be his wife, and she took a lot of pleasure in organizing receptions andother social events. Like him, she was committed to the idea that getting ahead, having a bigger salary and a larger home, would increase their happiness. She listened to him to understand his difficulties. Sometimes they would stay up very late at night and talk about his concerns. They were together, but the focus of their attention and concentration wasn’t themselves, their lives, their happiness, or the happiness of their children.

The focus of their conversations was business, the difficulties and obstacles he encountered at work and his fear and uncertainty.

Claudia did her best to be supportive of her husband, but eventually she became exhausted and overwhelmed by his continuing stress and distraction. He didn’t have time for himself, let alone for his wife and two children.

He wanted to be with them, but he believed he couldn’t afford to take the time. He didn’t have time to breathe, to look at the moon, or to enjoy his steps. Although he was supposedly the boss, his craving to get ahead was the real boss, demanding one hundred percent of his time and attention.

Claudia was lonely. She wasn’t really seen by her husband. She took care of the family and the house, didcharitable work as a volunteer, and spent time with her friends. She went to graduate school and then started working as a psychotherapist. Although she found meaning in these activities, she still felt unsupported in her marriage. His sons wondered why their father was gone so much. They missed him and often asked for him.

When Frederick and Claudia’s older son, Philip, had to go to the hospital for open-heart surgery, Claudia spent more than seven hours alone with Philip because Frederick couldn’t get away from his business. Even when Claudia went into the hospital for her own surgery, to remove a benign tumor, Frederick didn’t come.

Yet Frederick believed that he was doing the right thing by working so hard, that he was doing it for his family and for the people he worked with, who

depended on him. He felt responsible for fulfilling his duties at work, and his work gave him a sense of accomplishment and satisfaction. But he was also driven by a strong feeling of pride. He was proud of being successful, of being able to make important decisions, and of having a high income.Claudia regularly asked Frederick to slow down, to take time off for himself and his family, and to enjoy life. She told him she felt he’d become enslaved by his work. It was true. They had a beautiful home with a lush, green garden in a nice neighborhood. Frederick loved gardening, but he wasn’t home enough to spend time in the yard. Frederick always responded to Claudia’s requests by saying that he enjoyed his work, and his business couldn’t get by without him. He often told her that in a few years, after he retired, he would have plenty of time for himself, her, and their sons.

At fifty-one, Frederick was killed instantly in a car accident. He never had a chance to retire. He thought he was irreplaceable, but it took his company only three days to fill his position.

I met Claudia at a mindfulness retreat, and she told me her husband’s story. Although they lacked nothing in terms of fame, success, and wealth, they were not happy. Yet many of us believe that happiness is not possible without financial or political power. We sacrifice the present moment for the sake of the future.

We are not capable of living deeply every moment of our daily lives.We often think that if we have power, if we succeed in our business, people will listen to us, we’ll have plenty of money, and we will be free to do whatever we want. But if we look deeply, we see that Frederick had no freedom, no capacity to enjoy life, no time for his loved ones. His business pulled him away. He had no time to breathe deeply, smile, look at the blue sky, and be in touch with all the wonders of life.

It is possible to be successful in your profession, to have worldly power, and be content at the same time. In the time of the Buddha, there was a very powerful and kind businessman named Anathapindika. He was a disciple of the Buddha who tried to always understand his employees, his customers, and his colleagues.

Because of his generosity, his workers saved him many times from attacks by robbers. When a fire threatened to destroy his business, his staff and the neighbors risked their lives to put it out. His workers protected him because they saw him as a brother and father; and his business grew. When he went bankrupt, he didn’t suffer, because his friends pitched in to help him quickly rebuild his business. He had a spiritual direction in his business life. He was inspiring and skillful, so hiswife and children joined him in his spiritual practice and in caring for the poor. Anathapindika was a bodhisattva; he had a big heart and a lot of compassion.

He was happy not because of his wealth but because of his love. He allowed love to be his motivation, the force that pushed him forward. He had time for his wife and his children. He had time for his spiritual community, the sangha of nuns, monks, and laypersons practicing understanding and love. Anathapindika means “the one who helps those who are poor, destitute, and lonely.” People gave him this name because he was full of loving kindness and compassion. He knew how to love and take care of himself and his family, and how to love and care for the people of his country. He always helped people when they were in difficulty, so he had many good friends.

He invested in friendship, in family, in the sangha, so he had enough time to cherish and care for the people he loved. He was very happy to serve the Buddha and his community. When people talked about the sangha, Anathapindika’s eyes became bright. When people talked about poor people, his eyes became bright. When people talked about his children, his eyes also becamebright.

To me what most of us call the bottom line is actually love. If we crave only power and fame, we cannot be happy like Anathapindika. Anathapindika was a businessman out of love; love was his foundation.

This is why he had a lot of happiness.

Often when we start out in our profession, we do it out of love for our family, our community. In the beginning, our intentions are good. Then slowly we become consumed with pursuing success in our work.

Craving for success, power, and fame replaces our focus on family and community. This is when we begin to lose our happiness. The secret to maintaining happiness is to nourish our love every day. Don’t allow success or craving for money and power to replace your love. In the beginning, Frederick loved his wife, he loved his children, and he started his business with that love. But he betrayed himself by allowing his desire to succeed to take precedence over his need to love. If you look back at yourself and see that your aspiration for success is greater than your wish to love and take care of your loved ones, you know you have begun to follow

Frederick.In Buddhism, we see power differently from the way most of the world views it. Buddhists are as concerned with power as anyone else, but we are interested in the kind of power that brings happiness and not suffering.

Usually people chase financial and political power.

Many people believe that if they attain these kinds of power, they can do a lot of things and make themselves happy. But if we look deeply, we see that people who are running after power suffer greatly. We suffer first in the chase, because so many people are struggling for the same thing. We believe that the power we are searching for is scarce and elusive and available only at the expense of someone else. But even if we achieve power, we never feel powerful enough. I have met people who are rich, with lots of power and fame. But they are not always happy, and some even commit suicide. So money, fame, and power can all contribute somewhat to your happiness, but if you lack love, even if you have a lot of money, fame, and power, you can’t be entirely happy.

Who has more power than the president of the United States? President George W. Bush is the commander in chief of the most powerful army in the world, the leader of the strongest and richest nation in the world. Not many people have that kind of power.

But this does not mean that the president is a happy person. Even with all these so-called powers, I believe he still feels powerless and suffers deeply. He is caught in a dilemma: to continue or not to continue in Iraq?

Continuing with the war is difficult, and not continuing is also difficult. It’s like when you eat something and it gets stuck in your throat. You cannot spit it out and you cannot swallow it. I don’t think President Bush sleeps well. How can you sleep well when your young people are dying every day and every night in Iraq?

How can you avoid nightmares when hundreds of thousands of people are dying because of your policy?

You are very lucky you are not the president of the United States; if you were, you’d be suffering a lot right now. It is very clear that if political leaders do not have compassion and understanding as their foundation, they will misuse their power and make their own country suffer, and make other countries suffer.

Several years ago, the chief executive of one of the largest corporations in America came to the Green Mountain Dharma Center in Vermont to practice fortwo days with me and some monks and nuns. I was in the meditation hall leading a guided meditation one morning when I saw him sitting there. Later he talked to us about the life of a billionaire. They have a lot of suffering, worries, and doubt. They think everyone comes to them for money, to take advantage of them, and they have no friends. This man had a lot of political clout and financial resources, but he had come to learn to cultivate spiritual power. I had the opportunity to share with him some teachings on how to keep calm, breathe, and walk. He participated in sitting meditation, walking meditation, and eating meditation. He washed his own dishes after breakfast. I think he had a bodyguard that he did not allow to accompany him to the monastery. I gave him a small bell so that he could practice listening to the bell, coming back to his breathing, and restoring his calm in difficult moments. I don’t know whether he was able to continue his practice because he was utterly alone in the world of business, without a community to support him. The world he lives in is very demanding and busy because it moves so fast.

So we have to recognize the truth that if there’s no love or no deep motivation to serve this love, then no matter how rich or powerful you are, you still can’t be happy. You are happy when you can relate to other people and other living beings. If not, you feel all alone, in your own world; no one understands you and you understand no one. Love is critical to our happiness.

This is true not only for individuals but also for nations. Many countries want to make progress economically, materially. My definition of progress is to be happy, to be really happy. What is the use of having more money if you suffer more? You become a victim of your own success. We have to measure

progress in terms of true happiness. A nation may become very rich, very developed, and be called a superpower, but the people in that country still suffer deeply. The desire for material wealth becomes more important than the health and happiness of the people.

They don’t have time to take care of themselves and their loved ones, and that is regrettable. To me a civilized society is one where people have the time to live their daily lives deeply, to love and take care of their family and community.THE FIVE SPIRITUAL POWERS What most people call power Buddhists call cravings.

The five cravings are for wealth, fame, sex, fancy food, and lots of sleep. In Buddhism, we speak of the five true powers, five kinds of energy. The five powers are faith, diligence, mindfulness, concentration, and insight.

The five powers are the foundation of real happiness; they are based on concrete practices we will learn in this book.

The Power of Faith

The first source of energy is faith. When you have the energy of faith in you, you are strong. In the Gospel, Jesus said that people with faith could move mountains.

But the word faith is better translated as “confidence” and “trust,” because it is about something inside you and not directed toward something external. The Zen Patriarch Lin Chi used to say to students, “You who don’t have enough confidence in yourself, you go around seeking these things outside. You need to have confidence that you have the capacity to become a Buddha, the capacity of transformation and healing.” Faith is having a path that leads you to freedom,liberation, and the transformation of afflictions. If you have seen the path, if you have a path to go on, you have power. Those who have no path wander around.

They suffer. They don’t know where to go. You have been searching for a path, and now you have found a path; you have seen the way.

If you have some experience that this path leads in a good direction, you will have faith in your path. You are very happy that you have a path, and thus you begin to have power. This power will not destroy you or the other people around you. In fact, it gives you strength and energy that other people can feel. When you have faith, your eyes are bright and your steps are confident.

This is power. You can generate this kind of power every moment of your daily life. It will bring you a lot of happiness.

If you use a method of practice and find it effective, if it brings you mindfulness, concentration, and joy, then faith and confidence are born from this, not from something other people tell you. This is faith and confidence not only in ideas but in the concrete results of your practice. When you successfully practice mindful breathing (explained in chapter 3 and AppendixA), you feel light, solid, free, and confidence is born from this kind of experience. This is not superstition. It is not relying on someone outside yourself. The energy of faith can bring you a lot of happiness. If you don’t have faith, if you don’t have this energy of confidence, you suffer.

If we look carefully, we can see that the energy of awakening, compassion, and understanding is already there inside us. Recognizing these energies as an inherent part of your very being, you have confidence in these energies. And if you know how to practice, you can generate these energies to protect yourself and to succeed in what you want to do.

The Power of Diligence

The second kind of power is diligence. You are capable of coming back to your best and highest self, but you must maintain this practice. Don’t allow yourself to get distracted and forget to practice. Practice regularly, daily, with the support of your family, friends, and community—this is diligence. If you practice sitting meditation every day, walking meditation every day, mindful breathing every day, mindful eating every day,your practice is nourished, steadily, continuously, and this is the second source of power. You are able to practice mindfulness, but your motivation is not to prove that you are able to do it. The point is not to prove yourself. The point is to practice for your wellbeing and enjoyment. You simply practice, and you do it every day.

There are four aspects of diligence. The first is that when negative emotions haven’t manifested in your mind, you don’t give them a chance to manifest. In Buddhist psychology, we describe our consciousness as having two layers, two levels. The lower layer is called store consciousness, and the upper layer is called mind consciousness. Mind consciousness is our normal, waking mind; store consciousness is our unconscious mind.

Store consciousness is like the land, the ground, with many seeds preserved in it. In our store consciousness there are seeds of joy, forgiveness, mindfulness, concentration, insight, and equanimity. But there are also seeds of anger, hate, despair, and so on. All these seeds are kept by our store consciousness. One of the functions of store consciousness is to maintain theseseeds.

When a seed is watered in our store consciousness, it manifests as an energy in our mind consciousness and becomes a mental formation. You have a seed of anger, but when the seed of anger is asleep, dormant in your store consciousness, you don’t feel angry. However, when the seed is touched, when it is turned on, it becomes a mental formation called anger, and you feel the energy of anger arise. We can envision mind consciousness as a living room and store consciousness as a basement. If we water a seed of joy, that seed will manifest itself on the upper level of mind consciousness, making the living room beautiful. If we water the seed of anger or hatred, it will make the living room of our mind a hell for us and our loved ones.

We all have a seed of anger, a seed of despair, and a seed of jealousy in us. If you live in a negative environment, the environment can trigger these seeds. If you live in a positive environment, then the seeds of craving, violence, hate, and anger are not touched, not watered easily. So it is wise for you to choose a good environment that will prevent these negative seeds from being touched often. You should not allow other people around you to touch these seeds, and you should not allow yourself to water them.

When you read an article full of violence or watch a violent television program or film, you turn on the seed of violence. The first step of diligence is not to turn on these negative seeds and not to allow the environment to turn them on. Diligence here means the practice of selective watering. So if negative seeds in store consciousness haven’t manifested, keep them down there, don’t let them get watered. In your daily life, be careful not to give these seeds a chance to manifest.

Don’t suppress them; just don’t give them a chance. In your community, in your family, expose yourself only to sounds and sights that will help you touch the wholesome elements within you. Try not to expose yourself to sights and sounds that stimulate the seed of craving or the seed of anger in you. You need diligence to practice this, and you may need a community or group of friends with similar values to help you create a good environment. You can encourage your partner, your children, and your friends to help you protect yourself. And you can also protect them by creating an environment where they don’t have to be in touch with things that water their negative seeds.

The second aspect of diligence is calming and replacing negative seeds that do manifest in your conscious mind. When a negative seed is triggered—the seed of despair, the seed of anger, or the seed of violence—you need to know how to help it stop manifesting and return to its original form as a seed.

Don’t let it stay too long on the upper level of mind consciousness, because if it stays a long time, it will grow stronger and cause a lot of destruction. There are many ways to calm a negative energy without suppressing or fighting it. You recognize it, you smile to it, and you invite something nicer to come up and replace it; you read some inspiring words, you listen to a piece of beautiful music, you go somewhere in nature, or you do some walking meditation.

It’s like you have put on the wrong CD, and it plays music you don’t like, so you replace it with another one. When the new CD begins, it is very pleasant. The Buddha didn’t have CDs in his time, so he used the image of changing a peg. A carpenter uses a wooden peg to attach two pieces of wood. When the peg is rotten, it cannot hold the two pieces together, so he removes the old one and replaces it with a new peg. In the same way, you can change your thinking if it is unpleasant. If an idea is negative, full of craving or anger, you can use mindful breathing to touch a seed that is wholesome and invite it to come up. If this wholesome seed is interesting enough, the unpleasant seed will shrivel. But the new seed should be more attractive or the unpleasant seed will not go easily and will fight for your attention. With skillfulness, with diligence, you practice the second step to change the situation, helping the negative mental formation go back to sleep and helping the positive seed manifest. When the positive mental formation arises, the living room is occupied and there is little chance for negative guests to intrude.

The first two aspects of diligence concern taking care of negative seeds, the third and fourth, nourishing positive seeds.

The third aspect of diligence is to always invite good seeds to manifest. You know that you have a seed of love, a seed of forgiveness, a seed of joy, of peace, of happiness. Learn ways to touch them and help them manifest. If you live in a good environment, where you are supported by a loving, healthy community, youhave plenty of opportunities to help these positive seeds manifest.

The seeds of awakening, understanding, and compassion are always in us. They are part of our inherent nature. The question is how to help these seeds manifest. If the positive, wholesome seeds in store consciousness haven’t manifested, help them manifest.

Read something, say something, watch something that will water the seed of compassion, of loving kindness, so it will manifest in your mind. Organize your life in such a way that the good seeds in you can be touched several times a day, so they can manifest on the level of mind consciousness. This can be done quickly. Invite a wonderful guest to be in the living room often, and it will change the whole situation.

The fourth aspect of diligence is trying to keep a good mental formation in the living room as long as possible. We have to nourish it, to keep it in our mind.

If a seed of compassion, a seed of joy, or a seed of peace is manifesting as a mental formation, it is good for you, so keep it there, invite it to stay, don’t let it go back down to the basement. When you have a lovely friend visiting, you invite him to stay as long as possible, because his presence brings you a lot of joy. It is so pleasant to have a good friend sitting with you in the living room. If there is rain, you might say, “My dear friend, its raining outside, so stay and have another cup of tea.” You try to persuade your good friend to stay as long as possible. The longer the mental formation stays on the level of mind consciousness, the stronger it grows at the base. This applies to the positive as well as the negative. If you entertain craving in your living room for five minutes, the seed of craving has five minutes to grow. Help the seed of craving go back to the basement as soon as possible, and invite a beneficial seed to come up instead.

When you use your skillfulness and these practices to create mindfulness, this is called true diligence. True diligence can bring a lot of joy, a lot of happiness to you and your loved ones. People with the energy of diligence are extraordinarily powerful. They can transform themselves; they can help transform the community, the environment, and the world.

The Power of Mindfulness

The third power is the power of mindfulness.Mindfulness is the energy of being aware of what is happening in the present moment. When we have the energy of mindfulness in us, we are fully present, we are fully alive, and we live deeply every moment of our daily life. Whether you are cooking, or washing, or cleaning, or sitting, or eating, it is a time for you to generate the energy of mindfulness. And the energy of mindfulness helps you know what you should do and what you should not do. It helps you avoid difficulties and mistakes; it protects you and shines light on all your daily activities.

Mindfulness is the capacity to recognize things as they are. When you are mindful, you recognize what is going on, what is happening in the here and now. When you recognize something positive, you can enjoy it; you can nourish and heal yourself just by recognizing these positive elements. And when something is negative, mindfulness helps you embrace it, soothe it, and get some relief. Mindfulness is an energy that can hold the suffering, the anger, the despair; if you know how to hold your suffering long enough, you get relief.

If we lose this power of mindfulness, we lose everything. Without mindfulness, we make and spend our money in ways that destroy us and other people.

We use our fame in such a way that we destroy ourselves and others. We use our military strength to destroy ourselves and other people.

Walking and eating are actions we perform every day.

But usually when we walk we are not really walking.

We are being carried away by our projects and worries.

We are not free. When we walk with mindfulness, dwelling in the present moment, no longer pulled by our regrets about the past or our worries concerning the future, we touch the wonders of life and each step nourishes our happiness. With mindfulness we do not have to regret the way we have lived. Mindfulness helps us see and be in touch with our loved ones. It is the energy that allows us to come back to ourselves, to be alive and truly happy.

The Power of Concentration

Mindfulness brings about the fourth power, the power of concentration. When you drink your tea, just drink your tea. Enjoy drinking your tea. Please don’t drink your suffering, your despair, your projects. This is very important. Otherwise you can’t nourish yourself.There are things that you have seen but not very clearly. You can use the power of concentration to experience a breakthrough and see deeply the nature of what is there. Perhaps you have some difficulty, depression, fear, or despair, and you want to look deeply into the nature of your affliction to be able to transform it. To do this you need a lot of concentration.

Concentration can help us look deeply into the nature of reality and bring about the kind of insight that can liberate us from suffering. There are many kinds of concentration we can cultivate. Through concentration on impermanence, we become aware that everything is constantly changing. We may die tomorrow or anytime because of an accident. We should do everything we can to make our loved ones happy today. Tomorrow may be too late. With concentration on non self—the reality that we do not have a separate self—we become aware that suffering is there not only in us but also in the other person. Not only do we suffer, but so do our children, our partners, our friends, and our colleagues.

When we develop concentration on interbeing, on the interconnectedness of all things, we see that if we make them suffer they will make us suffer in return.Concentration on the nature of impermanence, non self, and interbeing can help us realize great breakthroughs that will bring us the fifth kind of power, insight.

The Power of Insight

Insight, the fifth power, is a sword that painlessly cuts through all kinds of suffering, including fear, despair, anger, and discrimination. If you are using your powers of concentration, insight allows you to fully see what you are concentrating on. Concentration on impermanence and non self leads to the insight of impermanence and non self.

Impermanence is not an idea, not a notion, but an insight. Many of us try desperately to hold on to some notion of stability or permanence. We become anxious when we hear the teaching of impermanence. But impermanence is not just negative; impermanence can be very positive. Everything is impermanent, including injustice, poverty, pollution, and global warming. In our lives, there is misunderstanding, there is violence, there is conflict, there is despair, but these things are also impermanent, and because they are impermanent they can be transformed if we have insight into how to live inthe present moment.

However, sometimes we forget about impermanence.

Although intellectually we realize that everything is impermanent, we forget that one day our loved ones will get sick and die. We don’t remember that we ourselves have to die some day. We have a tendency to think that we will live forever. And therefore we do not have the insight we need to live beautifully and really cherish our loved ones. For many of us, the excruciating pain we feel at the death of a beloved one is not entirely because we miss him, but more because we regret that while our beloved was alive, we didn’t have time for him, we didn’t care wholeheartedly for him. We may have treated him unkindly. And now that our beloved is gone, we feel guilty. If we have the insight of impermanence, we know that our beloved will die one day and that we must do everything we can to make her happy today. Don’t wait for tomorrow. Tomorrow may be too late. If we know how to live according the insight of impermanence, we will not make many mistakes. We can be happy right now. We can love our beloved, care for her, and make her happy today. And we won’t run toward the future, losing our life, which is available only in the present moment.

When the Buddha spoke about impermanence, he was speaking of insight. He was not being pessimistic but only reminding us that life is precious, that we have to treasure every moment of life. Concentrating on impermanence in this way will bring us the insight of impermanence. With this kind of insight, we don’t allow ourselves to be carried away by despair, anger, or negativity, because our insight tells us exactly what to do and what not to do to change the situation. With impermanence, everything is possible.

Without insight, we think of power as something we gain for ourselves and ourselves alone. But another insight we can cultivate is the insight of non self.

non self doesn’t mean that you don’t exist; it means you are not a completely separate entity. A lot of our suffering is born from the discrimination between self and others and our notion of a separate self. Suppose you are a parent. Looking into your child, you will see that your son, your daughter is your continuation. Just as a corn plant is the continuation of a kernel of corn, the child is a continuation of the parent. The father is there in every cell of the son. The father and son are not exactly one person, but they are not exactly two different people either. If the father can see this, he touches his nature of non self. If the son suffers, the father suffers, and vice versa. So getting angry at your son is getting angry at yourself. Getting angry at your father is getting angry at yourself. This is very clear.

When you are able to touch your nature of no-self, when you no longer see a distinction between you and your daughter or son, your anger will vanish. When you are in a power struggle, if you know how to meditate on non self, you will know what to do. You can stop your own suffering and the suffering of the other people in the struggle. You know that his anger is your anger, his suffering is your suffering, and his happiness is your happiness.

When my left arm hurts because of rheumatism, I try to take care of it: I massage it and do everything to bring relief to my left arm. I do not get angry at my left arm.

When I have a student who suffers, who is difficult, I try to practice like this. I do not get angry at her. I try to take care of her like I take care of my own arm, because getting angry at my student is getting angry at myself and will not help the situation. But we can act with this kind of wisdom only after we achieve the insight of non self.

In Buddhism there is a kind of wisdom called the wisdom of nondiscrimination. Nondiscrimination is one element of true love. I am right-handed, so I do most things with my right hand: brushing my teeth, inviting the bell to sound, writing calligraphy. I have written all my poems with my right hand. But my right hand is never proud of itself. It never says, “Left hand, you are good for nothing! I have to do everything by myself.” And my left hand does not have an inferiority complex.

It never suffers, it’s wonderful. My right and left hands are always at peace with each other. They collaborate in a perfect way. This is the wisdom of no-self that is alive in us.

One day I was hammering a nail in the wall to hang a picture. I was not very skillful, and instead of hitting the nail, I hit my finger. Immediately, my right hand put down the hammer and took care of my left hand. My right hand never said, “Left hand, you know, I’m taking good care of you. You should remember that.” And my left hand did not say, “Right hand, you have made me suffer. I want justice, give me that hammer!” My left hand never thinks like that. So the wisdom of nondiscrimination is there in us. And if we make use of it, there will be peace in our family, in our community.

If Hindus and Muslims in India use their wisdom of nondiscrimination, there will be peace. If Israelis and Palestinians realize their wisdom of nondiscrimination, there will be no war. If Americans and Iraqis see that they are brothers and sisters, two hands of the same body, they will not continue to kill each other. We all need to cultivate this kind of wisdom. With this insight, we can undo our own fear, suffering, separation, and loneliness, and we can help others do the same.

Insight comes from understanding. There may be elements of understanding in us already, but if we don’t have time to be mindful and concentrate, insight won’t manifest in us. We need to create the kind of environment where mindfulness and concentration become easy. It’s like preparing the soil so that the flower we plant can sprout. Insight is the kind of understanding you obtain after you’ve been mindful. If you allow yourself to get lost in regrets about the past and worries about the future, it is difficult for insight to grow, and it will be more difficult to know what right action to take in the present.

It is because of ignorance that we suffer. When we begin to touch insight, we are deeply in touch with reality and there is no longer any fear. There is compassion. There is acceptance. There is tolerance.

This is why we talk about insight as a kind of superpower. If you take the time to look at reality using the insights of impermanence and non self, you will have a breakthrough that will liberate you from your suffering and your difficulties. All of the first four powers lead to this fifth superpower. And with insight comes a tremendous source of happiness.

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