Daily Wisdom / Pema Chödrön

How Can Joy and Peace Be Found?

Book coverRecently I was teaching from a Buddhist text called The Way of the Bodhisattva, which offers guidance to those who wish to dedicate their lives to alleviating suffering and to bringing benefit to all sentient beings. This was composed in the eighth century in India by a Buddhist master named Shantideva. In it he has an interesting point to make about peace. He says something along the lines of “If these long-lived, ancient, aggressive patterns of mine that are the wellspring only of unceasing woe, that lead to my own suffering as well as the suffering of others, if these patterns still find their lodging safe within my heart, how can joy and peace in this world ever be found?”

Shantideva is saying that as long as we justify our own hard-heartedness and our own self-righteousness, joy and peace will always elude us. We point our fingers at the wrongdoers, but we ourselves are mirror images; everyone is outraged at everyone else’s wrongness.

—Pema Chödrön in Buddha’s Daughters: Teachings from Women Who Are Shaping Buddhism in the West, page 69

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