2023-03-16-Gil-Love When It is Hard (4 of 5) Love as Non-Harming
3:06PM Mar 17, 2023
So hello, and welcome to the fourth talk on
law love when it's hard to love in times of challenges, and today I'll introduce this topic of non harming, which is one of the, I think one of the most marvelous and inspiring, least for me, qualities a human being can have. And it's central to the whole Buddhist amped enterprise. And to really appreciate that's a kind of a unifying principle or core principle of the dharma, puts everything else into kind of into very important context are very important kind of fits everything else together. And one of the kind of understandings of what a religion is, is its religion provides values, principles, orientations, for how to live one's whole life, kind of Ultimate Teachings, ultimate purposes, ultimate understandings that apply to all over one's life. And so this is one of those that makes Buddhism a religion, that it's a religion of non harming, and not harm. And, and the core, one of the core teachings of the Four Noble Truths is an expression of that it's a formulation of that, where the word for harm is presented as by the word dukkha, or suffering. And so I've met people who their very being their disposition and personality way of being in the world was clear that they were a harmless person that they were dedicated to not harming. Sometimes such people are dedicated to being honest. And I've met people who are, it seems like they're incapable of lying, and, and incapable of harming others. And this dedication to not harm not harm. When I was about 20, or 21, I made a mistake, and someone wanted to challenge me to a fistfight. And it all happened very, very suddenly. And, and so there was no premeditated thought on my part. But what I immediately did was I dropped to one knee and spread out my, my hands wide. And, as if, you know, I'm now invulnerable, and I'm not defending myself and, and I said, I can't fight. And the and so rather than then being, you know, defensively be beaten up on the person spun around and marched off and discussed. But this idea of not being able to fight not being able to harm anyone, whether that should be practiced all the time, and the way that I just described for myself, that's a personal question that I'm not for me to say, in all the circumstances of life, what we would do, but to have as the forefront of our hearts and minds, this care, to not want to harm and to really make that the first consideration, the first kind of way of thinking about a situation, let's not harm here. And, and I'm teaching about this, this week about love, because it's a form of love, to not harm and rather than always expect love to have a very high bar what love is that it means having, you know, just filled with warmth, and appreciation and joy and kind of a radiance of positive regard for anyone and everyone and everywhere. That love can also not be so dramatic. It doesn't have to be that we always have a warm heart and open hearted generous kind of sense of kind of gushing. joy and appreciation and compassion for others. Sometimes love is quieter is more basic. And one of the forms of love is, is not harming, we love others through not harming them. We love others by not setting up obstacles for their growth and their evolution in their development of their life. We love others by giving them room to be who they are. We give love to others, by giving them safety. So many people in this world are not safe, don't feel safe groco have grown up not feeling safe. And, and don't automatically feel that other people they encounter are safe for them. But to really kind of get a sense that someone is harmless, dedicated to being harmless, that they're not going to harm is a gift that we give to other people. And it's a gift of love of care. Love being a respect for others. Maybe we don't have gushing warmth for someone. But we have an appreciation for their autonomy, their possibility their humanity, that we don't want to mess with it. A dedication to non harming is also directed towards oneself, that one doesn't want to harm oneself in any way. And this is also a form of love. And again, same thing just before that, we measure sometimes the idea of love or metta towards oneself compassion for oneself. It was some idea that it's maybe more than it has to be. It has to be some little bit you know, warmth and gushing, and the light and, and kind of lots of smiles and but sometimes, you know, even towards ourselves. It's profound. It's a profound form of love that's quieter. That's not to be gushing kind of feeling of warmth, but rather just simply caring enough for oneself, that one doesn't want to cause harm to oneself. As we practice mindfulness, a very important thing begins happening, that mindfulness brings a heightened sensitivity to the impact of our behavior or the impact of our thoughts or attitudes or impulses we have. And what we start discovering is that when we intentionally want to harm someone else, get revenge or, you know, somehow cynically, poke them in some way or whatever it might be. We are simultaneously harming ourselves. In fact, for the, in the teachings of the Buddha, he actually says that when we intentionally harm others, we actually harm ourselves much, much more than we harm the other. And, and to kind of mythically talk about, you know, rebirth, that even if you do some, like kill someone else, that's pretty bad for that person who died. And I don't want to diminish the horror, horror horror of that. But for the person who kills, they're gonna get reborn endless times, many, many, many times, where they're going to be killed violently be tortured, and in these kind of burning hills. So those are those kinds of mythic teachings of Buddha Buddhism, but it kind of points this idea how much we harm ourselves more than we harm others, if we want to intentionally harm them. And so we can feel that when we have the heightened deepened sensitivity of mindfulness and, and it's a game changer to feel that and see that how much we harm ourselves. And, and so that we also then see how we harm ourselves by our negative attitudes towards ourselves, and, and to not want to harm ourselves anymore. Even if the negative attitudes have some truth to them. They're not needed. We don't need to send arrows into our own hearts. We don't need to set up obstacles that interfere with the natural growth into goodness into honesty into non harming that exists in every heart. You in your heart that our hearts. And so not to add restrictions on ourselves not to add things that undermine us or Oh, or discourage us or depress us. You know, one of the leading causes for depression, they say is negative self talk.
And negative self talk and come with such authority can seem like it's true and it has to happen. But you know, that it's it's repetitive over and over and over again, it's not useful. So to recognize it as a kind of self harm, might begin to make put a crack into this strong impulse, we have to have negative self talk, to realize it's not necessary. There's another way, there's a way of non harming. And it's not easy to make a shift. But it isn't so much that we have to actively do something else like love other people. It's mostly a an avoidance. And even if all it takes is to bite your tongue to avoid saying the harmful thing, this is beneficial. Sometimes we have to really restrain ourselves physically, so that we don't punch someone out. And the, I had the occasion to do that, to avoid punching someone out in meditation hall once when I was in Asia, where we were all monks practicing together, and but this monk who was sitting next to me, must have hated me, and kind of prejudice. And, and was constantly poking me and, and saying kind of not nice things to me and during meditation than him Buddhist monastery. And so I just sat there and and, you know, I never replied in meditation. But there was one day I remember I just was felt like, I just want to turn around and punch the guy in the face. And, but I didn't, and I kept my hands to myself. And that took a fair amount of restraint. So sometimes it works that way, that we have to just restrain. And that's the beginning of an alternative. And, but also, to begin to learn how not to participate with the thoughts and impulses, without having to do a lot of work, to not pick it up, to not give into it, maybe even not believe in it. All these efforts, all this approach to trying to live without harming is a significant way of loving. So the question, where's the love? How can I love in this, when there's a challenging situation? Here's an, you know, an easy answer, but not always easy to implement. The love is found in the dedication to non harming. And, and I'd like to propose is that this is such an important and central value, that it's more important to adhere to that then somehow solve the challenges we're in. And I'll end with a story that a Dalai Lama tells of some point in India, he met with a monk who had been in a Chinese prison camp for 2025 years before being released and then he was able to come to India. And so the Buddha met with him and the Buddha, the Buddha, the Dalai Lama, then asked the monk, were you ever in danger in the prison camp? You know, a violence of starving or something? And the monks answer surprising Dalai Lama. The monk said, Yes, I was in danger. I was in danger of losing my compassion for the prison guards. The greatest Well, the greatest health the greatest thing that the monk had, maybe was his compassion, his kind regard is not wanting to harm anyone. And that was, that's what he identified as being the most precious most important part of who he is. And, and so more than anything else, perhaps non harming represents our greatest wealth, our greatest beauty, our greatest home our greatest kind of one most wonderful place that life can radiate from and no matter what the challenge that we're in for a Buddhist, the love that doesn't want to harm should always be close by. May we love the world through a dedication to non harming. So thank you very much and look forward to being back here tomorrow.