A reflection on practice by Venerable Dhammadinna
The very starting point of spiritual practice is empathy, sensing the pain and vulnerability of others. We have a stunning insight that we can cause harm and that it is extremely important for us to bring our aggression under control. The moment we become willing to sacrifice something of ourselves for the comfort and safety of others, we become “a person who can be tamed by Dharma practice.” Consider this: our resolve to refrain from harming is the urge to gain mastery over our minds and the determination to tame impulsive, destructive moods. What a powerful karmic moment this is! From this intention arises our ethical discipline. When we feel pushed to react negatively it is a signal that we must take hold of something inwardly to check that harmful urge.
A mind is not an easy thing to train, however. Part of the work of mindfulness is to bring to mind what is wholesome and to promote it, and to remind us of what is unwholesome and to remove it. So we practice to observe and reflect again and again on the fact that unwholesome actions bring pain and wholesome actions bring self-respect and peace of mind, in order to become certain of this in our hearts. Skill in the art of restraint saves us from being inflamed by self-blame and establishes us in the firm footing in self-respect. This kind of self-respect is like a bright ornament that beautifies us and brings a special joy and delight. All of these qualities make the mind soft and receptive to truth, and we come to understand that compassion is both the beginning and the essence of the spiritual path.
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