Nowadays, success is mostly defined by money and power. We can almost say that there is hardly any genuine love in this world. Some of my close friends say that I seem to be a very sad person, but if one has some sense of understanding of how the world is working these days, it’s almost impossible not to be sad. For example, taking lives of others, abusing others, bullying others for one’s own benefits, taking possession of things that do not belong to us, all these nasty things are not something to be worried about in this world. It almost doesn’t matter what you do, you just have to be wealthy and powerful, this is what the world sees as success.
I would think that there is nothing wrong with being materially successful, so long as we are not off balance. The problem with us samsaric beings is that we are always carried away by our desires, controlled by what we want and we tend to go beyond what we really need. When our desires take over our life, happiness will never be near us. Every time we achieve some degree of material success, we want more. Over time, we would even begin to get rid of anyone or any situation that is in our way. We will give all kinds of excuses to justify our desires to be materially successful.
For example, do we really need to eat other living beings to stay alive? Obviously we don’t. But we are killing so many other beings, either for food, for luxuries, for comfort, for all kinds of silly desires, because we are not happy with what we already have. We keep wanting more.
Whether it is from the point of view of a country, of a region or an individual, whatever we have is never enough. We have to take away what belongs to others, including their homes, their lives, their resources, etc. Wars start because of this. Disputes start because of this. There is no sense of “universality”, because we understand our own desires, our own sufferings and our own happiness, but we don’t feel or believe that others would have the same experiences as us.
Understanding about “Universal Oneness” is actually very important if we are looking for individual happiness, world peace and universal harmony. Bringing this understanding to the practical level, with actions that benefit others and refraining ourselves from harming others, I think this is good to begin with. Start small and develop on it.
For example, by trying your best not to kill one single seemingly unimportant being, like an ant or an insect, or even the irritating cockroach or fly, that would help to develop your patience to tolerate a small “irritant” and your loving kindness towards even a small living being. When we as humans are used to killing other beings, very soon we will get to the point of killing one human, and then killing one human would not matter much, our killing action will get bigger and bigger. A bad habit driven by desires, uncontrolled and untamed, will gradually become a seriously bad habit. If it is okay to steal one dollar today, it will be okay to rob someone eventually. Similarly, positive habit needs to be develop from small trials. Eventually, our positive habits will grow.
Many people speak about love and compassion towards humans, creating all sorts of activities to help humans. Other living beings are suffering hundreds times, thousands times more, and they are getting comparatively minimal help. I am extremely heart broken every time I see this kind of abuses by humans. Of course, I have been talking about this and I have been trying to set a small example, but making very little progress. I guess we are definitely struggling to make more people understand that every living being in this universe is like you and me. They want to be happy, and they do not wish to suffer. Trees, flowers, grass, water, mountains, wind, all feel the same way. Mammals, fish, birds, reptiles, amphibians, insects, arthropods, all feel the same way. Without understanding this, it is almost impossible to achieve universal happiness. If all the people living in the same room as you are unhappy, can you be the only happy person? Maybe you can for a short time, but definitely not forever. We humans have a great deal of potential to develop the universal compassion and kindness. Since we are seemingly the kings of this world, we do have more responsibility to benefit and help others, because we should understand that everyone of us including all other living beings are members of cyclic existence. In other words, we are all in the same boat, same situation.
For those of you who will be joining us in Ladakh, we will have more time to explore the subject of “Universal Oneness”. For those who cannot make it, we will definitely meet again and again, to encourage each other, so that we will develop the positive habits together. It’s pointless talking and thinking about being a practitioner, if one doesn’t first try to be a helpful and harmless being. Let’s try to be just that for a start.