Thanks to feedback from readers, who have let me know that certain pages of Oxzen's blog act as useful reminders of what spiritual intelligence consists of, I'm reminded of the value of posting the thoughts of the great spiritual masters from time to time. Whilst there's also value in considering negatives – such as examples of what spiritual intelligence is NOT – it seems obvious that the greatest good is in constant reminders of How to Practice.
This is the title of a book I came across last year, written by the Dalai Lama, which has the sub-title, The Way to a Meaningful Life.
In the foreword, written by its translator and editor, Jeffrey Hopkins, we read about how the Dalai Lama lectures on the stages of the path to enlightenment.
“He speaks with great speed and clarity . . . presenting the full range of practices leading to enlightenment, often juxtaposing topics that others leave in isolation – all this with the depth of a philosopher. The same dual voice of poet and philosopher is present here in this book . . .”
“He offers suggestions on how to practice a spiritual path that will lead to mental clarity and emotional transformation. In this way, he shows how life can be made meaningful.”
“The embodiment of these practices [is] the very core of his being. It is important for us to recognise that this insightful, compassionate, humourous, and often marvellous person rose from Tibetan culture. We need to value that culture as one of the world's great wonders.”
Introduction – by the Dalai Lama.
The Need for Peace and Kindness
"Human beings share the same basic goals: we all seek happiness and do not want suffering.
There are two ways to create happiness. The first is external. By obtaining better shelter, better clothes, and better friends, we can find a certain measure of happiness and satisfaction. The second is through mental development, which yields inner happiness.
However, these two approaches are not equally viable. External happiness cannot last long without its counterpart. If something is lacking in your perspective – if something is missing in your heart – then despite the most luxurious surroundings, you cannot be happy.
However, if you have peace of mind, you can find happiness even under the most difficult circumstances. Certain people may have acquired wealth, a good education, and high social standing, yet happiness eludes them.
On the other hand, some people who have less money to worry about enjoy more peace. They sleep well at night. Despite being poor in a material sense, they are content and happy. This shows the impact of a good mental attitude. Material development alone will not fully resolve the problem of humanity's suffering.
In this book I offer you, the reader, valuable techniques from Tibetan [Buddhist] traditions which, if implemented in daily practice, lead to mental peace. As you calm your mind and your heart, your agitation and worry will naturally subside, and you will enjoy more happiness. Your relationships with others will reflect these changes. And as better human being, you will be a better citizen of your country, and ultimately a better citizen of the world.
Animals and insects also want happiness and do not want suffering, but they have no special ability to consider how to achieve deeper happiness or overcome suffering. As human beings, endowed with this power of thought, we have this potential, and we must use it.
On every level – as individuals, and as members of a family, a community, a nation, and a planet – the most mischievous troublemakers we face are anger and egoism [exaggerated self-centredness]. No one claims to feel happy while being angry. As long as anger dominates our disposition, there is no possibility of lasting happiness. In order to achieve peace, tranquility, and real friendship, we must minimise anger and cultivate kindness and a warm heart ['loving-kindness'] This can be achieved through the practices I will describe in this book.
Developing a warm heart ourselves can also transform others, [who also] experience less anger. They will become more warm-hearted, compassionate, and harmonious. The very atmosphere becomes happier, which promotes good health, perhaps even a longer life.
You may be rich, powerful and well-educated, but without these healthy feelings of kindness and compassion there will be no peace within yourself, no peace within your family – even your children suffer. Kindness is essential to mental peace. As you will see in the pages ahead, the central method for achieving a happier life is to train your mind in a daily practice that weakens negative attitudes and strengthens positive ones.
The big question is whether or not we can practice kindness and peace. Many of our problems stem from putting ourself first at all costs.
To train the mind, you must exercise the patience and determination it takes to shape it. With patience, and practice, and time, change will come.
Today it is impossible to remain isolated, so if nations do not have mutual respect, problems are bound to arise. Economic rifts can be healed by a stronger sense of global interdependence and responsibility. The people of one nation must consider the people of other nations to be like brothers and sisters who deserve progress for their homelands.
The sale of weapons . . . by manufacturers in big countries fuels violence, but more dangerous than guns or bombs are hatred, lack of compassion, and lack of respect for the rights of others. As long as hatred dwells in the human mind, real peace is impossible.
We must do everything we can to stop war, and to rid the world of nuclear weapons. When I visited Hiroshima . . . my heart was deeply moved. How much pain and desolation nuclear war creates! Yet look at how much money is spent on weapons of mass destruction. It is shocking, an immeasurable disgrace.
The only way to achieve lasting peace is through mutual trust, respect, love and kindness. The only way.
External peace is impossible without inner peace. It is noble to work at external solutions, but they cannot be successfully implemented so long as people have hatred and anger in their minds. This is where profound change has to begin. Individually we have to work to change the basic perspectives on which our feelings depend. We can only do so through training, by engaging in practice with the aim of gradually reorienting the way we perceive ourselves and others.
The desperate state of our world calls us to action.”
Action Man – Spiritual Intelligence -NOT!
One man who's definitely called to action in world affairs is our very own Minister for Defence, the Right Honourable Bob Ainsworth, MP.
The war in Afghanistan is "winnable", the defence secretary, Bob Ainsworth, insisted today, as new figures showed that more British soldiers have been injured in the country this year than in the whole of 2008.
"The troops know that we've made progress in the last few months, and I still firmly believe that Afghanistan is winnable," Ainsworth told the BBC during a round of interviews this morning to argue the case for the campaign, amid an apparent growing mood of public scepticism in Britain as the death toll among British troops reached 204.
Ministry of Defence statistics showed that 94 soldiers were injured in action in Afghanistan during July, more than double the number in June. Twenty-two soldiers were killed in July, compared with four in June.
So far this year, 236 troops have been hurt in the fighting, compare with 235 during all of last year.
With a poll showing yesterday that two-thirds of British people believed UK forces should leave the country, the government faces pressure to explain why the sacrifice is necessary. The task has been made all the more difficult by an outcry over a new Afghan law allowing some men the right to deny their wives food if sexual demands are unfulfilled, among other restrictions on women's rights.
There would almost certainly be more British deaths, Ainsworth warned this morning.
"When we are suffering the kind of losses that we are we cannot afford to be complacent," Ainsworth told GMTV. "I will do everything I can to support our troops with the best kit but what I can't do is promise to make the operation in Afghanistan safe. This kind of operation is intrinsically dangerous, the enemy is smart and they are studying our methods."
“Winnable”, eh Bob? Clearly this man is refusing to learn any lessons from history. From what happened in Vietnam, for instance – another fine example of politicians of a particular ideological bent feeling certain that they could defeat the so-called primitive enemy who were fighting for their country's right to self-determination and independence.
He might even consider the history of Afghanistan itself, and what happened to the Russian army and airforce when they attempted to combat the Afghans who resented Russian interference in their internal politics. And how clever were the Americans then to give sophisticated armaments and training to the very people who would later turn against worldwide American imperialism? The guys the Americans, and we British, are now trying to root out of Afghanistan!
Our Minister of Defence may be some kind of amiable old boy who's just trying to make the best of a fucked-up situation that his job requires him to tackle, but he's also reactionary to the core and an unquestioning supporter of the kind of stupid politics that can only harm the world and make it a more dangerous place, not safer.
Sadly he's a bit of an egocentric idiot. Power seems to have gone to his head, and it's now impossible for any alternative thinking to penetrate his thick skull. He's New Labour personified. Not that the New Conservatives will be any better. We're doomed!
“General Sir Richard Dannatt, the outgoing head of the army . . . speaking at the official opening of an army recovery centre in Scotland, added: "It's a war about the people in Afghanistan. In particular we need to persuade the people in Afghanistan to support their government."
So here we have it – the people of Afghanistan don't support their 'government', and they need OUR persuasion that they should do so! Or maybe our bribes. And our propaganda. And our bombs. Just like the Vietnamese needed such 'help'.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband was on Radio 4 this morning still banging on about “the badlands between Afghanistan and Pakistan” and the need to combat terrorism. Militarily, of course.
To end on a positive note, with some positive thoughts, have a look at this website -
The greatest achievement is selflessness.
The greatest worth is self-mastery.
The greatest quality is seeking to serve others.
The greatest precept is continual awareness.
The greatest medicine is the emptiness of everything.
The greatest action is not conforming with the world's ways.
The greatest magic is transmuting the passions.
The greatest generosity is non-attachment.
The greatest goodness is a peaceful mind.
The greatest patience is humility.
The greatest effort is not concerned with results.
The greatest meditation is a mind that lets go.
The greatest wisdom is seeing through appearances.
Atisha (11th century Tibetan Buddhist master)