Sunday, April 12, 2009

Can of Worms

Some people think that the moment we engage in Buddhist activities, we are supposed to be pure in our character, morally upright, etc, i.e. basically becoming a saint overnight. They think, "Why are they so involved in Buddhism and yet they are like that - selfish, arrogant, etc, probably worse than people who are not so into it".

Well, I can only say this: until you yourself are involved in the spiritual path, you will not realise the existence of your own can of worms. Your worms will not become as wild as when you were not "practising spirituality". It is said that when you start embarking on the spiritual path, this is the time when your can of worms start opening and all your bad behaviours and whatever negativities inside you will come out and "fight" for their survival. It is a natural reaction. They are fighting to remain inside you forever. They are fighting because you are trying to get rid of them. So, along the spiritual path, sometimes the good side wins and people see some positive in you. But sometimes, the negative side (the old habits) wins and people see the negative side of you.

This should not discourage anyone from embarking on the spiritual path. Let people say what they want... it is not as if they do not have their own can of worms. It is only that usually it is easier for ourselves to see other's faults than it is to see our own. Isn't this true? So, on our side, when we see someone else's fault, it could also be telling of our own impurity. After all, the Buddha said that if our mind is pure, everything we see is the Pure Land with Pure Holy Beings as inhabitants.

The other thing is, just because we see other people do not make spiritual progress, that does not give us the excuse not to embark on it ourselves. You could potentially be different and progress very fast. The thing is : not to jump to conclusions about others who may be interested in the spiritual path. DO NOT make judgements on their characters or their morality or think that they have not made any spiritual progress at all. You never know. You really, really do not know what's going on inside their minds. They are really trying their best to get rid of this can of worms which has been inside them for ages and ages. Now that they have met the Buddha's teachings, it means that they have the karma to start "get rid if this can of worms". Even a small atttempt in practising or studying Buddhism is good because it will create positive karmic imprints inside our mind that will bring fruit in the future even though we may not be successful in our practise in this life. Studying spirituality is never wasted.

So, the next time we come across Buddhists who are into Buddhism but whom we think are not real examples of what we think a Buddhist should be, we should reflect on ourselves instead. And ask: What about my can of worms? Have I got rid of them?

I am not saying this to justify the "misbehaviours" of Buddhists. Indeed, on the part of supposedly serious Buddhists, there is no excuse whatsoever that they should not be progressing even after many years of "practising". What I am saying is: it is not so easy as "non-practitioners" may think. The struggle inside to rid of this can of worms is tremendous. Only when we actually walk the path will we know.

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