A Western Buddhist's Travels

Sightseeing & detours on the path of enlightenment

Being more human

Yesterday I mentioned the improvement in my mental faculties, today I want to mention some of the interpersonal skills I have developed or improved. I used to ignore those I found begging on the street, and at times got annoyed with some who were a bit more persistent. Now at the least I acknowledge them with a hello, or have a nice day. I have stopped and chatted with a few, listened to the words they choose to share with me. At times have gone into a coffee shop or restaurant and bought something for them. I realize this won’t save any of them, however if I can treat them with compassion and regard them as sentient beings, then I have become a better person. When a friend asks for advice, I no longer try to figure out how they can fix the problem. Rather I try to give information which helps form the basis for them to decide which path to take. I ask questions about what they think would be right, or how they would like to be treated in that situation. I have learned to start taking the “I” out of my advice, and making it about the person I am talking with. I realize I don’t have answers for every problem, or that what works for me may not work for another. However I can still listen to them, not just hear them, ask questions and be genuinely compassionate, by not trying to fix everything. I have learnt that by living it not preaching it, is the most powerful way to show others the path to enlightenment. When a person is ready to learn more about Buddhism, they will ask questions or choose to visit a temple. They will take these steps not because of what we say, but rather by seeing the contentment, tranquility and peace of mind we enjoy compared to those around us.

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