‘Toward all beings maintain unbiased thoughts and speak unbiased words. Toward all beings give birth to thoughts and words of kindness instead of anger, compassion instead of harm, joy instead of jealousy, equanimity instead of prejudice, humility instead of arrogance, sincerity instead of deceit, compromise instead of stubbornness, assistance instead of avoidance, liberation instead of obstruction, kinship instead of animosity.’
There are times, and this is one of them, when it feels easy to despair about the venality of the human race, the amount of self-interest that leads to inequalities, of anger that leads us into chasms of sniping and othering, all while the planet is sinking into irrevocable harm. And when I think of the words I can apply, I recognise that they are the words Buddha categorised as the Three Poisons: greed, hatred and delusion. Then I can say to myself, it was ever thus with humans. And Buddha prescribed ways to conduct ourselves in hard times – and which times have ever not been hard? These words are quoted in Red Pine’s commentary on the Diamond Sutra, as they answer a question that Subhuti has about how a Bodhisattva should behave.
There is a part of us that knows that this is the path to reducing suffering, and we would wish for everyone to have that realisation, even while we acknowledge that this wish, like the Bodhisattva Vows, is impossible to carry out. We can just keep trying, every moment, and reminding ourselves when we forget.