Words To Live By

I can be a bit of a sucker for self-help articles on the internet; sometimes it helps me to realise that just about anyone can pontificate about just about anything online and someone will enjoy it; sometimes I get to feel a little smug about having lived long enough to have acquired a little bit of wisdom for myself, and very glad that I wasn’t writing my precious gems of life experience at the age of twenty-five for the whole world to read; and sometimes I do find what I read interesting enough to take notes and bring into my own ways of seeing things.

Recently I read a piece by a person who felt that the three most important qualities he admired in others were humility, curiosity, and empathy. This has stuck with me enough since I read it that I feel like adopting it as my new year intention: I trust that my years of practice have set me on the right direction in all three aspects, but they are all qualities that we can continue to cultivate.

Musing, as I usually do, about how things I read in the ‘outer’ world intersect with the practices we do, I tried to align these three with what are often referred to as the three trainings in Buddhism: sila, samadhi, prajna. Sila, or ethical conduct, would seem to line up most with empathy, since it is all about behaving relating skillfully with others (and is the component that basic mindfulness practices often leave to one side, regrettably). The other two I could not pin down so easily, although concentration and wisdom will go hand in hand with humility and curiosity. So perhaps my organising mind will have to leave them as discrete sets of qualities, and I can just keep working on all of them.

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