Change Yourself - Master Your Own Behavior

The following is written on the tomb of an Anglican Bishop in Westminster Abby (1100 A.D):

"When I was young and free and my imagination had no limits, I dreamed of changing the world. As I grew older and wiser, I discovered the world would not change, so I shortened my sights somewhat and decided to change only my country.

"But it, too, seemed immovable.

"As I grew into my twilight years, in one last desperate attempt, I settled for changing only my family, those closest to me, but alas, they would have none of it.

"And now, as I lie on my deathbed, I suddenly realize: If I had only changed myself first, then by example I would have changed my family.

"From their inspiration and encouragement, I would then have been able to better my country, and who knows, I may have even changed the world."

Well Confucius, the enlighened sage, beat him to the punch. Confucius said:

"The ancients who wished to illustrate illustrious virtue throughout the kingdom, first ordered well their own states. Wishing to order well their states, they first regulated their families. Wishing to regulate their families, they first cultivated their persons. Wishing to cultivate their persons, they first rectified their hearts. Wishing to rectify their hearts, they first sought to be sincere in their thoughts. Wishing to be sincere in their thoughts, they first extended to the utmost their knowledge. Such extension of knowledge lay in the investigation of things.

"Things being investigated, knowledge became complete. Their knowledge being complete, their thoughts were sincere. Their thoughts being sincere, their hearts were then rectified. Their hearts being rectified, their persons were cultivated. Their persons being cultivated, their families were regulated. Their families being regulated, their states were rightly governed. Their states being rightly governed, the whole kingdom was made tranquil and happy. " (The Great learning, http://classics.mit.edu/Confucius/learning.html)

"From the emperor down to the mass of the people, all must consider the cultivation of the person the root of every thing besides." — The Great Learning, II: 130-2 (Loomis trans.)

So there you have it, as well as why I am always stressing to you  self-cultivation. It all starts with self-improvement, self-cultivation, personal cessation-contemplation and meditation practice. That’s the method. In my Socrates book I mentioned how THIS is what must be taught in schools.

It’s non-religious, and if you learn to watch your thoughts or  police your own mind through self-awareness and introspection, you’d have less and less of all the problems you see in the world. 

And while we're on the topic of change, I want to remind you of a quote on how to do it. There is a Buddhist sutra where Kuan Yin is asked why one is taught the virtues in a special order. In today's profit seeking world, his answer is quite insightful:

Kuan Yin (Avalokitesvara) asked the Buddha: "For what reason do you preach the Six Paramitas in such a good sequence?" He replied: "So that the sequent beings in the future may receive reliable instructions, I teach in this way. If the Bodhisattva does not care for or cling to the body or wealth (this implies dana) he may then keep his morality (sila). In order to keep firmly the moral precepts, he should practice patience (ksanti). If he can practice, it is possible for him to be diligent (virya). With diligence, he is then able to acquire dhyana. After he has this, he can then develop supramundane wisdom (prajna). That is why I teach the Six Paramitas in this order."



 



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