BUDDHISM BASICS page 7
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The 5 Paths
THE 5 PATHS:
1. PATH OF ACCUMULATING MERIT
a. desire to learn
b. desire to criticize
c. desire to evolve
MERIT is good grades, trophies, winning a race, or being on time for school. Anything done well and recognized or appreciated by others is merit. A pat on the back, a compliment about your appearance, whether a big merit or a small merit, they are all important to our ego and self-confidence.
Most of the time though, our meritable actions are unseen by anyone. Accomplishing your homework, or teaching your dog a trick, or painting your best picture, will probably happen when no one is around to compliment you or give you credit.
This causes many people to seek attention for their actions, and to be noticed. Often, those who get into trouble are more noticed than those who do well quietly. If a child gets more applause and laughs for burping than they receive for doing their homework, they may prioritize antics over studiousness.
That is why Buddhism teaches humility and diminishes the attainment of glory. However, human nature cannot be denied. Buddhism also realizes that like any learning program, Buddhism needs to reward its’ young Buddhists.
Without promising virgins in Heaven or eternal life with free cable TV, Buddhism teaches us to realize the benefits of increased wisdom with our increased awareness. As we improve our minds and bodies and spirituality, we should notice the improvements we have attained. These new abilities may go unnoticed by most people. Helping an aged lady across the street may only get you a “thank you,” but it is just as valuable as winning a race.
So Buddhism teaches us to redefine merits as ALL good things we do all day long. Eventually, all your actions will become meritable and then people will start to notice some of them.
This requires us to keep developing, and improving, and LEARNING. With learning to do more–we do more. The more we do, the more chances there are of being noticed for one of the many things we do. So, learning becomes the FOOD of our merits. If we are not fed by learning we have nothing to create new merits with.
Learning requires new information. Appreciate what sources you have and if needed, seek more sources of learning. Are you sufficiently challenged mentally?
What are you currently learning?
Who “grades” your learning?
This is incredibly important. The person who teaches you is the person who also CRITICIZES you. Never resent criticism, whether you think they are right or wrong. The value of being criticized is beyond payment. Teachers are constantly faced with negative reactions and resentments for their grading and criticizing–yet without criticism, there is no improvement.
Teaching is more difficult than learning. Value the criticisms you get. Evaluate the information and improve somehow, constantly. Seek criticism from many sources. Look for a way to learn and improve from whatever information your receive.
By seeking criticism as you work to learn more you will naturally evolve into something new. This evolution is your greatest merit. Like the caterpillar that evolves into a butterfly, you are transforming into a new you. The teacher you choose, the class you work in, and the effort you expend in the time you invest–creates you.
Life is training you to live a life. The training you choose determines the life you will live.