Practices of loving-kindness and compassion are indispensable elements of all religious traditions. These are qualities everyone can practice, regardless of their religious affiliation or ancestry. In fact, training to develop loving-kindness and compassion provides a bridge between all religions and all the many parts of our global society.
I am a Buddhist, but I still have to live my life as a member of the larger world community and take full part in society, where Buddhism is not the only spiritual tradition. There are many different forms of religion and spirituality, and there are also many different types of people, including those who are inclined toward religious or spiritual approaches and those who are not.
Since our world community is so very vast and diverse, it is important for us to respect the entire range of religious and spiritual traditions, not setting ourselves up as “opponents” of any other tradition. The way to accomplish happiness in the world is to do meaningful work in one’s own life, with a positive motivation that sees all people and all traditions as equal.
~ 17th Karmapa
When we think of containers, we often overlook the ways in which the contents can affect the container itself — warming or cooling it, staining or bleaching it, stretching or strengthening it and even breaking it. The word used in Tibetan for “contents’ in this analogy also literally means “nutrients”, such that we ourselves are like the nourishment for the world that contains us. Indeed, as I have mentioned, the carbon dioxide we exhale nourishes the trees and plants, and our bodies also return to the earth and nourish it after we have died. The natural environment, in turn, nourishes us and provides us with the conditions we need for life. What this signals is that the connections of interdependence between us and the world we live in are far closer and more reciprocal than we normally envision. ~ 17th Karmapa
Do you want to let yourself be defined by your possessions or by your job? I mean this as a serious question, because you could identify yourself with your job or your money or your possessions. Or you could identify yourself with your inner qualities and with happiness. It really is up to you. ~ 17th Karmapa
Contentment is a wealth that gives the highest satisfaction, and we can gain it simply by mining our own mental resources, and knowing our own mind. We can cultivate the perspective that what we have is enough. We can see that we do not actually need more than we already have, and can be completely satisfied with that. ~ 17th Karmapa
It is important to recognize that love, concern, and affection are not optional. We do not need any reason to offer love and affection. It is possible to have love without prices and without conditions. We do not need any further compensation beyond just giving our love. And love is an indefinitely renewable resource. For the well-being of society and for our own personal growth as well, it is crucial that we learn to love without needing a reason or reward. ~ 17th Karmapa
We need to get to know our emotions. Right now, they are strangers to us. When we come across them, sometimes we react as if we were being confronted by a bandit. Instead, we should make their acquaintance, and then gradually make friends with them or create a wholesome relationship with them. In the end, the fact that anger or some other emotion no longer arises is not a result of forcefully shutting it out, but a matter of very naturally or even joyfully coming to the point where you make friends with it and are naturally in control. ~ 17th Karmapa