A Blissful Journey
By Geshe Kelsang Gyatso
Also available as an audiobook on CD
This highly popular book is a manual for positive living.
Characterized throughout by a thoroughgoing optimism, it shows with extraordinary clarity how we can transform an ordinary human life into a blissful spiritual path.
This transformation is entirely internal. No external changes are required. We continue living in our homes, maintaining our relationships and our jobs while inwardly changing our view, intention, and actions.
As we become more and more pure through this practice, those around us also benefit. Our friends, family, neighbors, colleagues – everyone with whom we come into contact benefits from what we say, think, and do.
This is a journey that all of us in our hearts yearn to take.
“A work of deep spiritual insight.” — THE NAPRA REVIEW
The Inner Wealth of Compassion
When we arise from meditation we try to carry our feeling of compassion into the meditation break. Whenever we encounter anyone we should recall how they are suffering and develop compassion for them. Then just seeing a living being will be like finding a rare and precious treasure. This is because the compassion we experience upon meeting others is a supreme inner wealth that is an inexhaustible source of benefit for us in both this and future lives.
As mentioned earlier, external wealth cannot help us in our future lives, and even in this life it is not certain that it will bring us happiness for it is often the cause of much anxiety and can even endanger our life. Rich people have particular worries that poor people never have; for example they often worry about thieves, about investments and interest rates, and about losing their money and social status. This is a heavy burden for them.
Whereas most people can go out freely whenever they choose, many wealthy and famous people need bodyguards and may even worry about being kidnapped. Rich people have little freedom or independence and can never fully relax. The higher up we are in the world the further we have to fall; it is safer to be nearer the bottom.
No matter how much we succeed in improving our external conditions, they can never bring us pure happiness nor provide real protection from suffering. True happiness cannot be found in this impure world. Instead of striving to obtain external wealth it would be far better if we sought the internal wealth of virtue, for, unlike external wealth, this can never deceive us and will definitely bring us the peace and happiness we desire.
If we are skillful, friends can be like treasure chests, from whom we can obtain the precious wealth of love, compassion, patience, and so forth. For our friends to function in this way, however, our love for them must be free from attachment. If our love for our friends is mixed with strong attachment it will be conditional upon their behaving in ways that please us, and, as soon as they do something we disapprove of, our liking for them may turn to anger. In fact, the most common objects of our anger are often our friends, not our enemies or strangers!
If we often get angry with our friends we are transforming them into maras. A mara, or demon, is someone or something that interferes with our spiritual practice. No one is a mara from his or her own side, but if we allow people to stimulate in us deluded minds such as anger, strong attachment, or self-cherishing we transform them into maras for us.
A mara does not need to have horns and a terrifying expression; someone who appears to be a good friend, who flatters us and leads us into meaningless activities, can be a greater obstacle to our spiritual practice. Whether our friends are precious treasures or maras depends entirely upon us; if we are sincerely practising patience, compassion, and love they can be like priceless jewels, but if we are often getting angry with them they can become maras.
We would be delighted to find a treasure chest buried beneath the ground or to win a large sum of money, and would consider ourself very fortunate. However, if we consider the deceptiveness of external wealth and the superiority of the inner wealth of virtue, how much more fortunate should we feel whenever we meet another living being, the potential source of limitless inner wealth? For a sincere, compassionate practitioner, just seeing other living beings, speaking with them, or merely thinking about them is like finding buried treasure. All their encounters with other people serve to enhance their compassion, and even everyday activities such as shopping or chatting to friends become causes of enlightenment.
© Geshe Kelsang Gyatso & New Kadampa Tradition