Dawn of Dharma Essentials, Part 4: The Positive Qualities
Positive qualities and morality are essential in our human life. In this teaching from a special Dharma-stream essentials series for Dawn of Dharma students, Phakchok Rinpoche explains the significance of morality that helps us in our practice. Rinpoche begins by stressing the importance of calmness. Calming the mind can be achieved through meditation practice. How do we bring calmness? In the beginning, we bring our minds to a single point of focus. Rinpoche suggests we introduce our agitated minds to calmness in 3-5 minute settings.
Eleven Positive Qualities
Rinpoche introduces a list of 11 qualities that we train in developing.
- Loving Kindness
- Contentment and Rejoicing
- Noticing and Dignity
- Reflection and Integration
- Generosity or Giving
- Remembering Others’ Kindness
- Openness and Avoidance of Intoxication
- Truthfulness and Accepting Karmic Responsibility
- Meaningful Living
All sentient beings have an innate core of calmness and compassion. These qualities are a form of morality. Rinpoche explains how we train in develop loving-kindness and compassion toward all sentient beings. Similarly, we can train in becoming content. When we are content, we feel naturally calm and enjoy what we have. We aren’t always looking for something “more”.
Noticing means that we see honestly our own characters. This ties in with point #6 on reflection. We notice without judgment and identify where we can improve. Through reflection, we learn how to integrate our practice with our daily life. Reflection is a mirror to look at ourselves. Normally, we are very good and noticing the behavior of others, but we sometimes don’t take the time to see ourselves.
When we reflect regularly, we will understand how to integrate our meditation practice into our daily life. We carry what we learn from our studies and practice into regular activities.
Positive Qualities of Remembering Kindness
Remembering the kindness of others helps us to stay humble and to realize how everything is interdependent. None of us can survive without the love and kindness of other people. When we reflect on kindness, we feel a sense of loyalty and affection toward all those who have allowed us to grow and thrive. We feel thankful for those who benefit us–and we can expand this feeling into appreciation and thankfulness for everything around us. How much benefit do we derive from the sun? The earth? The wind?
Positive Qualities of Avoiding Intoxication
What do we mean by intoxication? It includes anything that clouds our judgment and mind. When we think of intoxicants we often limit the meaning to alcohol or drugs. Rinpoche reminds us that there are many other habits that prevent us from seeing clearly.
Taking Responsibility: Living Life Meaningfully
In life, we need to take responsibility for our own actions. The word karma in Buddhist terms simply means action. When we act truthfully, accepting responsibility for our behavior we can live a meaningful life. Our life is worthwhile–this is the biggest gift we can give ourselves. Positive qualities will naturally flourish when we understand that every action brings consequences. We will delight in doing the right thing.
Samye Institute has produced a series on morality and ethics based on the Tibetan Emperor Songtsen Gampo’s list of sixteen points. Phakchok Rinpoche encourages students to learn and reflect on the Sixteen Principles of Societal Human Values.
We encourage you to study these sixteen points and to ask yourself the questions posed in each segment. The more familiar we are with these moral principles, the calmer and more content we will become. When we investigate the benefits of moral behavior for ourselves and others we can truly develop positive qualities.
Which of these qualities do you see immediately in yourself? If you note that you have some of these qualities already well developed, it is great to notice those and to rejoice.
Conversely, are there some of these qualities which are more difficult for you?