Consider the flame of a single lamp

The Buddha said, “When you see someone practicing the Way of giving, aid him joyously, and you will obtain vast and great blessings.” A shramana asked: “Is there an end to those blessings?” The Buddha said, “Consider the flame of a single lamp. Though a hundred thousand people come and light their own lamps from it so that they can cook their food and ward off the darkness, the first lamp remains the same as before. Blessings are like this, too.”

The blessings of the dharma are endless.  As we share the dharma with others, we are giving this priceless jewel, the gift of fearlessness. In doing so, we open all of consciousness to the Middle Way. The dharma allows us to see that we have choices in our lives. Indeed, life is all about the choices we make, and we can choose in everything. Maybe all we can choose is the attitude we will have or the intention, but that in itself is powerful. We can choose to use our own suffering – all if it, physical, emotional, spiritual – to benefit others in the practice of compassion and loving-kindness. We can choose to untangle the internal knots of ignorance, greed, hatred by using the teaching of understanding, love, and generosity. We don’t force the dharma onto others. We live the dharma and in being a living example of the teaching we teach them. There is no need to proselytize or try to convince anyone of how well the teaching works in our lives. Those who know us will see how well our spiritual practice works for us and lean towards it with us. The dharma is so easy to share because it works so well in our real lives. We could also give a person a job or teach them a trade.  This has truly lasting benefit. One of my dear friends taught me how to appraise commercial Real Estate when I moved to Colorado. Because of her, I began to earn a good living and to feel productive again.  Then another friend brought me over to environmental work and taught me that. Then, I went to work for another friend in her Real Estate law practice. In the last thirty-five years almost every job I have had has come to me though a friend’s generosity. The saying is that you can give a man a fish and feed him for a day. But, teach a man to fish and you will feed him for a lifetime. 


In the first verse of the Dhammapada, The Buddha said,  “All that we are is the result of what we have thought: it is founded on our thoughts, it is made up of our thoughts.” Because of this we bring awareness to our thoughts in meditation. We release them rather than falling into them, but we do this with awareness. We notice over and over what we think about. We see our obsessions, our habits, our fantasies. We notice how they affect us emotionally. We bring compassion and understanding to ourselves as we release these thoughts.

We are building a practice. Every day we sit and give a kind attention to the breath, the body, the emotions and the mind.  We give ourselves the gift of being with ourselves in an open and loving way for a few minutes. Continue to practice today for 20 minutes or 3 breaths.

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