An important meaning of enlightenment is recognising our deep connectedness with all forms and, therefore, of self-benefit with benefiting others. There can be no better way of growing spiritually than by always putting the other's benefit first.
When enlightenment is put to the service of others, and this compassionate action in turn becomes a dominant form of practice for the individual, this increases his or her ability to perform compassionately.
To be thoroughly enlightened is to naturally express this in all activities, but because of the nature of enlightenment, these activities must be forms of compassion.
"How can I help all beings to see and experience the truth so that they too may become 'awakened'?" this is uppermost in the heart or mind of the truly enlightened.
Embracing the truth should make a difference in the way one understand's one's own life, and -- equally important -- it should make a difference here and now in the world.
Compassion is simply the dynamic expression of the enlightened understanding of the real nature of things. In other words, compassion is action in accordance with reality.
One feels the pain of others and tries to eliminate the pain, but this is still done in the knowledge that everything happens within the one Consciousness and not 'to' separate beings. .
Enlightenment releases the natural and innate compassion that has been dammed up and inhibited by a totally mistaken view of what oneself and others are and how all are related.
It is also the release of energy that has been constrained by fear and confusion. When this energy is finally released, it makes a difference to the world, and this is what enlightenment is all about.
~ Francis H Cook
The Path of Offering
Spiritual practice in the Chan or Zen tradition is about having a clear direction rather than trying to attain goals and destinations. And especially, it's about embarking wholeheartedly on, on what has been called, the Path of Offering.
In the ancient wisdom teachings, reference is often made to six particular modes of conduct that enable us to turn away from the conflicts and trouble of unconscious living and embrace the joyous liberation of an awakened life.
These are wisdom, meditation, zealousness, patience, moral clarity, and gift giving or offering. The great masters have said that, if the practice of offering is perfected, all the other practices will be perfected as well.
The practice of offering begins with perceiving an opportunity to contribute to things in some specific way -- either addressing a particular need or adding to the value of what is already present. The better we get at perceiving such opportunities, however, the more we experience being in a position to do so.
Seeing more opportunities to offer what is needed or what will enrich our situation also means having more and more of what is needed, more and more with which to enrich others and our situation.
As our talent for offering or giving develops, we find that the more we are able to give, the more we are enabled to give. Increasing opportunities for offering imply increasing resources for doing so.
It is for this reason that the masters insist that there is no separation between benefiting others, benefiting oneself, and adorning the path of awakening. And it is why they teach that the perfection of giving brings about as well the perfection of wisdom, meditation, zeal, patience, and moral clarity.
As one's capacity for offering develops, one will naturally develop a more and more refined understanding of the interdependence of all things and how to meaningfully contribute to it.
In short, one will develop wisdom: fuller and fuller insight into the emptiness or mutual relevance of all things and the resources they afford for offering.
Continuing on this path means having an increasing capacity for open and responsively attuned awareness. It means having the energy and unwavering motivation to act as needed, when needed: the perfection of zeal or vigor. It means sensitivity to timing and a capacity for acting only when and as needed: the development of patience.
Finally, it means being able to see what must be done to redirect a situation dramatically: developing sufficient clarity to see how to contribute meaningfully to the liberating revision of troubled relationships.
It is crucial that bestowing gifts or offering is not seen as a process of making merit. It is not a matter of doing things in order to receive a particular compensation or to bring about a particular desired state of affairs. The truth lies far away from such calculations of utility.
Offering is the key to unlocking the resources within our present moment for swinging open the gates of liberation and restoring all things to their one true nature.
~ Adapted from, Chan Buddhism by Peter D Hershock, page 91
Awakened doing is the alignment of your outer purpose -- what you do -- with your inner purpose -- awakening and staying awake.
Through awakened doing, you become one with the outgoing purpose of the universe. Consciousness flows through you into this world. It flows into your thoughts and inspires them. It flows into what you do and guides and empowers it.
Not what you do, but how you do what you do determines whether you are fulfilling your destiny. And how you do what you do is determined by your state of consciousness.
A reversal of your priorities comes about when the main purpose for doing what you do becomes the doing itself, or rather, the current of consciousness that flows into what you do. That current of consciousness is what determines quality.
Another way of putting it: In any situation and in whatever you do, your state of consciousness is the primary factor; the situation and what you do is secondary.
"Future" success is dependent upon and inseparable from the consciousness out of which the actions emanate. That can be either the reactive force of the ego or the alert attention of awakened consciousness. All truly successful action comes out of that field of alert attention, rather than from ego and conditioned, unconscious thinking.
The modalities of awakened doing are acceptance, enjoyment, and enthusiasm. Each one represents a certain vibrational frequency of consciousness. You need to be vigilant to make sure that one of them operates whenever you are engaged in doing anything at all -- from the most simple task to the most complex.
If you are not in the state of either acceptance, enjoyment, or enthusiasm, look closely and you will find that you are creating suffering for yourself and others.
From, A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle
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