The six characteristics for self-evolution
Good morning, everyone. This is today’s Dharma Espresso.
A student in my class asked me: “Dear Master, you said we need to engage with the world, but I am already in the world, and I feel trapped in it. Since I don’t know how to meditate, I don’t know what I have to do or what I have to cultivate in order to get out of it.”
I asked her: “What trapped you?”
“This and that. Either children and grandchildren, or my husband, or other people say this and that. I can’t help getting angry. Every day, I feel trapped. I don’t know how to get out of it. If not, I keep suffering.”
I feel sorry for her, so I told her: “You are just like many of us. We all get stuck in life. If you realize your own true nature, if your true nature is opened, and its light radiates, you can see the light penetrate into your relationships with everybody else, and the light makes you feel at ease all the time.”
She interrupted me and asked: “Dear Master, how can I get that light?”
I said to her: “You don’t need to do anything. That light is already there. You just need to recognize it. You need to know that the light manifests itself in six different ways. They are called Love, Forgiveness, Letting Go, Adaptability, Openness, and Empathy.” I spent five more minutes explaining to her. “Love means lovability. You need to know how to express your love in a way that you can touch other people’s heart. Forgiveness is when other people did not say sorry to you, but you can still forgive them. You can let it go.
What is Letting Go?
It means we stopped doing hurtful things. For example, your grandchild said something, and you retorted to make him mad. Oftentimes, your husband reads the newspaper, then he gets upset and said a few things. You know he is mad, but you still snap back, which makes him even angrier. Saying things to release your anger will backfire and get yourself stuck. So, do
not say things just to satisfy your anger; do not say things that make people get crazy, mad, or angry.
Next is Adaptability. What does it mean by Adaptability?
We feel gentle, relaxed, without stress or uneasiness. Adaptability has the characteristic of flexibility. It is very gentle, and that gentleness is exactly like our true nature. We should be adaptable to our true nature, so that wherever the light shines, we follow it. It means that whatever happens to us, we look at it, and do not think that it is against us. Many times, it is not that people dislike us, fight us or hurt us. It is our own interpretation that people hate us, resist us, trick us, screw us up, or harm us. In fact, other people are also ignorant, and they are not even aware of what they do.
Next is Openness.
It means our heart and our mind are always open and broad. Openness indeed! When people said something, we don’t think they try to hurt us, so we can easily let it go and forgive them. Openness is a spirit of being open, broad, pleasant, and optimistic. It is curious how Openness works with one’s mind. Recently, there was a news article about some Vietnamese people who stumbled upon landmines while walking in the fields and the landmines blew up. There was a lady who was married with children, who stepped on landmines and lost her legs. At first, she was very angry because these mines were left behind by the Americans after so many years have gone by. After a while, she felt she could forgive everyone, even those who planted those landmines. She moved on, and she lives with an open spirit that is so admirable to other people. Her life is free of hatred, and therefore, is very open. Sometimes, people say things that get us mad, but because we think from our own standard, we get stuck. That is why we need to be open, to be broad in our view.
Last but not least is Empathy.
Empathy is having sympathy for someone, or having understanding and feeling for someone. Empathy means our heart is connected to other people’s hearts without any knot or obstruction. If we are not empathetic, other people will get stuck. If we are stuck, we will use speech or images to fight each other or to kill each other. Therefore, we need to be empathetic. Our heart and theirs feel for and understand each other. We show our Empathy to other people, which will lead to Lovability, Forgiveness, and Letting go – refraining from saying bad things, bringing up gentleness and flexibility, and finally keeping a broad mind and a generous heart. Therefore, Empathy means our relationships to others are always free of knots.
I am speaking at length, but you can jot it down on a piece of paper and say: “Yes, I will ask you later on. Right now, I just memorize these words, these mantras.”
Those words are: Love, Forgiveness, Letting Go, Adaptability, Openness, and Empathy. When you first hear them, they don’t resonate deeply in you. But they do gently. Keep practicing them. Anyone can cultivate these.
If you like meditation, you will see that these characteristics - Love, Forgiveness, Letting Go, Adaptability, Openness and Empathy, coincide with a profound cultivation of Kwan Yin Bodhisattva called Six Hands of Kwan Yin.
These six practices enable us to always give out, let go, comfort, untie knots, uplift other people, and fulfill other beings’ vows. Very deep and profound. Living in this world, we need to let the light of the Dharma, not from outside, but from inside our heart, shine through as Love, Forgiveness, Letting Go, Adaptability, Openness and Empathy. This way, we will not get stuck in our life.
On the other hand, if you are stuck in something right now, you should ask yourself: “Am I lovable? Did I express my love appropriately? Have I been forgiving or haven’t I, and is that why I am stuck? Have I let go, stopping myself from doing bad things? Have I been flexible and gentle to other people? Have I been open and optimistic about everything that happened to me? Lastly, have I been untying my knots and been empathetic to other people?” If you ask yourself those questions, you will find out where you get stuck. If you are stuck, you can fix it. There is no need to feel guilty, hurtful and talk to other people to release your discomfort, or your anger. If we treat the right points where we go astray from the six traits: Loving, Forgiveness, Letting Go, Adaptability, Openness, and Empathy, we can liberate ourselves right away, and we do not have to seek therapy, or talk to someone about someone else in order to chase away our sickness, our pain, our suffering, or our discomfort. Indeed, we have darkness and blind spots because we do not recognize these six traits in our life. Thank you for listening. I wish you be more joyful and awake, drinking this cup of Dharma Espresso.
Dharma Master Heng Chang
(Translated and transcribed by Compassionate Service Society)
Translator’s note: These words all begin with T in Vietnamese and are called Six Ts for short: Loving (Thương), Forgiveness (Tha Thứ), Letting Go (Thôi), Adaptability (Tùy), Openness (Thoáng), and Empathy (Thông).