The Science Of Awakening


When we extend generosity to others, not only do we ease their pain, we also awaken — come out of our own isolation — in the process. There’s a science to serving others.Whenever we visit a big city we can stop and offer money to the homeless people we encounter on the street. So often we see people rushing around, trying to get where they are going. But when we take a moment to make an offering to someone in need, and have a human interaction, it changes the whole atmosphere of our mind and theirs. It takes us out of automatic pilot. Serving others is the antithesis of retreating into the self. It is an energetic shift that moves us toward the open and boundaryless state of interdependence.Dzigar Kongtrul Rinpoche often says we don’t have to get rid of the self or ego when we do this. We don’t have to change the basic makeup of our mind at all. We simply need to make ourselves big enough to include others in our wish for happiness rather than just focusing entirely on ourselves. In other words, the more we decentralize the self — the more we spread our wealth of love and care — the freer and bigger we become. We discover a happiness that is not reliant on the conditions and preferences of self-care.When we serve beings with all our might, our aspiration to benefit them shepherds us toward the bigger truth of interdependence. As our wisdom of the interdependent and the boundaryless nature of things increases, so does our compassion and inclination to serve. Do you see the relationship between these two? Without this bigger view, we would simply try to fix things in our limited, objectified world. And without the practice of service, we would have no way out of that world.The science of awakening is not a Buddhist principle. It is a shared experience that reflects the laws of cause and effect. When I listen to the news I am often struck by the stories I hear. People who experience great loss and suffering naturally look for ways to serve others. They move from “I am suffering” to “there is suffering,” which inspires in them a longing to serve. The love that inspires this longing is the same love we all have when we stop focusing solely on ourselves and move toward the truth of interdependence.“Best then,” as my teacher says, “to become the keepers of our brothers and sisters.” Best then, that they become the object of our understanding and love. Best then, that we care for them as our means to awaken to the great interdependence of “things” beyond self and other. ~Elizabeth Mattis Namgyel

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