Two monks sit before a spiritual man they have never heard before, he speaks what is in his heart, his motivations known only to himself. Some of what he says is similar to the Dharma, others not, his own journey along the path is still in progress.
When he is finished, one monk nods and smiles, contemplates what is said, and moves on with his day; forming not judgment or attachments to what has been told. He continues to serve all he sees and mediates on the teachings he knows to be true.
The second monk frowns and shakes his head, spending the rest of his day telling the spiritual man how he is wrong, then walks from village to village telling others not to listen to the spiritual man.
“What should we do about the evil natures Bhiksus?” Asked Ananda.
“Oh, that,” said The Buddha, “is very easy. You should be silent and they will go away. Don’t talk to them. After all aren’t they bad? aren’t they boisterous and disobedient? Ignore them. Don’t speak to them. They’ll become bored and leave on their own.”
A thought occurred to me this morning on my way home after dropping off the kids at school. We Buddhists, much as the same as others of other faiths, seem to find ourselves in our respective communities, come across a vocal minority who believe we are not living as piously as we should be. A few examples; those who believe all Buddhists must be vegetarian or even vegan, and those who believe all Buddhist should refrain from coitus or carnal relations. There are times when I find myself smiling and shaking my head slowly when I find these few. Sometimes the best teachers are the ones who are quite adversarial and sit in judgment, admonishing.
I could cite passages of where the Buddha ate meat, and had discussions with monks who tried to force their views of vegan-ism upon the sangha of that day, I could agree on quelling sexual desire with physical relations only serves to strengthen that desire, much as the lust of possessions only deepens that hunger. But there are plenty of articles out there, easily found in our virtual community today.
Instead I will ask you the reader this, when you see someone, practicing in a way you think is not correct, that moment before you chose to speak are you practicing metta? Are you remembering that the teachings of The Middle Way are also teachings on the Buddha teaching his followers to find a middle way between extreme practices and opinions, not to get lost in fanatical perfectionism?
We must strive to keep clear in our minds and focus when dealing with others in our communities, that not everyone will be along the path in the same place, at the same time. Practice your loving-kindness, be inoffensive and non-violent towards others and towards your own thinking. For truly, is it not what really angers us when we see the flaws in others, a reflection of our own flaws that we see in ourselves?
Remeber, we cannot all be Lamas and Monks!
“The Pali word metta is a multi-significant term meaning loving-kindness, friendliness, goodwill, benevolence, fellowship, amity, concord, inoffensiveness and non-violence. The Pali commentators define metta as the strong wish for the welfare and happiness of others (parahita-parasukha-kamana). … True metta is devoid of self-interest. It evokes within a warm-hearted feeling of fellowship, sympathy and love, which grows boundless with practice and overcomes all social, religious, racial, political and economic barriers. Metta is indeed a universal, unselfish and all-embracing love.” -Acharya Buddharakkhita