Buddhist Philosophy

Sense of Balance Between Self and Others

As we train on the Buddhist path, we know that it is good to recognize our own faults and mistakes. And we also acknowledge our own good or positive qualities. Equally,  is very important to look after and take care of our families, our friends, as well as ourselves.

If we focus solely on our own needs, we actually create unnecessary difficulties both for ourselves and others. When we adopt that approach,  we are too self-centered we don’t really care for others. Because of that attitude, we do things that make other people uncomfortable. At the same time, because we are unaware of that, then we are creating more conditions to harm ourselves.

Therefore, when we interact with our partners, our parents, our children, and our extended family, we should always switch our perspective back and forth between ourselves and others. This helps us maintain a balance. This sense of balance reduces the likelihood that we cause any harm to others.

Sense of Balance

Sense of Balance and Focus in Life

Secondly, we need to have a focus in our life. It is very important for us to care for our family, our relationships, and our work. But at the same time, we call ourselves practitioners, or followers of the Buddha. Then it is very important that we don’t forget the Dharma. So we have to learn how to balance our daily, mundane responsibilities and the Dharma.

Our lives are very busy; we all know this. Yet, if we are honest, when we think about how much time we dedicate to Dharma versus our worldly life, we probably end up spending over 95 percent of our time on worldly activities and only 5 percent on Dharma. How much of our weekly time is given to practice? We may only come to temple or meditation sessions once, twice, or three times a month. When we investigate where our time goes, we can see what we prioritize.

As practitioners, we should be careful not to neglect the Dharma. That’s why we resolve to balance Dharma and bring it into our daily life more. We can integrate Dharma with our education and our work. We do that by really appreciating and understanding the key points. It is very important to take the time to learn from our Dharma teachers. And Rinpoche says he understands how busy we are. Yet, we need to make the effort not to forget, not to just think of the Dharma as something we do on special occasions.

Reminder and Self-reflection

To review, the first piece of advice is not to focus too much on our own needs. Instead, make some effort to focus on those around us and on our relationships with those in our lives. We become careful about the tendency to concentrate only on “me.” The second point is to aim for a balance between worldly activities and Dharma practice. Please don’t forget the Dharma completely because we get so busy.

Daily Reflection

Every day, we can take some time to check ourselves. We stop our busy activities and ask ourselves these questions:

  • How am I caring for and paying attention to others in my life?
  • Do I take their needs and desires into account?
  • Am I taking advantage of my precious human life to further my understanding of the Dharma?
  • And am I practicing what I have learned and understood?

If we take the time to honestly reflect and then act upon these reflections, we can find a renewed sense of balance.

As you begin, you may want to look at these questions every morning and every evening.  That gives you an opportunity to set your intention, and then to check how you acted in accord with that intention. As you gain familiarity with the practice, this process will become very natural and automatic.

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Suggested Reading

Dudjom Rinpoche, The Nyingma School of Tibetan Buddhism, trans. and ed. by Gyurme Dorje and Matthew Kapstein (Boston: Wisdom Publications, 1991), vol. 1, pages 468–474.

Ngawang Zangpo, Guru Rinpoche: His Life and Times, Ithaca: Snow Lion, 2002.

Nyoshul Khenpo, A Marvelous Garland of Rare Gems: Biographies of Masters of Awareness in the Dzogchen Lineage, trans. Richard Barron (Junction City: Padma Publishing, 2005), pages 41–48.

Padmasambhava, Legend of the Great Stupa, Berkeley: Dharma Publishing, 1973

Padmasambhava & Jamgön Kongtrul, The Light of Wisdom, trans. by Erik Pema Kunsang (Boudhanath: Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 1986-1999), pages 43-47 & Appendix 5.

Taranatha, The Life of Padmasambhava, Shang Shung Edizioni, 2005

Tulku Thondup, Masters of Meditation and Miracles, Shambhala, 1996.

Yeshe Tsogyal, Life and Liberation of Padmasambhava, translated by Kenneth Douglas and Gwendolyn Bays (Emeryville: Dharma Publishing, 1978, republished 2008).

Yeshe Tsogyal, Lotus Born: The Life Story of Padmasambhava, Rangjung Yeshe Publications, 2004.

‘The Life of Guru Padmasambhava’ in A Great Treasure of Blessings, The Tertön Sogyal Trust, 2004.