Zoom Meeting Sermon January 1 2023

 

Topic: Core Tenet #1 & Types of Harm

First, a recap of the first Core Tenet of the Path: Do no harm, except in self-defense. Treat others with Compassion and Patience; everyone comes to Enlightenment in their own time and in their own way.

When we spoke before about Core Tenet #1, we discussed how kindness to strangers and criminals can be challenging, but is absolutely necessary. Today, we are going to talk about the ways in which we cause harm to ourselves or others without knowing it or meaning to, and how we can apply the Virtues of Self-Control, Mindfulness, Patience, and Compassion to avoid causing harm.

One of the hardest things to change is how we think of other people and the things we say to and about them. However, if you find yourself passing judgment on others for petty things like what they are wearing, even if you do not say anything out loud, you are still choosing to focus on negative thoughts. The sartorial decisions of others are none of our business and do not necessarily reflect upon their character or honor. About the only time it is okay to judge somebody on what they are wearing is if they are wearing a suit made out of human skin. Other than that, what a person chooses to drape themselves in does not matter. It takes a great deal of Mindfulness and Self-Control, but you can train yourself to recognize those judgmental thoughts and dismiss them. Such thoughts are beneath you. Focus instead on seeing the person inside the clothes, and recognizing them as a fellow human being upon Life’s path. Since Mindfully observing this practice, I have found that it is much easier to maintain my Serenity when I choose not to trouble myself with trivialities.

We must also be Mindful of how we treat those who are serving us in some capacity, such as the baristas who brew our coffee or the cashier at the grocery store. It is easy to forget that they are human beings with dignity and intrinsic value, but the bedrock of Path doctrine is benevolence. We are challenged to apply that doctrine to all of our interactions, no matter how brief or transactional those interactions may be. Exercise Patience and Compassion, especially when things go wrong. Sometimes mistakes are made, but it is never okay to make remarks intended to hurt. Perhaps they are just having a bad day and finding it difficult to concentrate on their work. We have all been there. You have no idea how much damage you can do by being mean to another person, but we all know the immense value of kindness.

One way we can end up harming ourselves is by maintaining relationships with toxic people. If a person’s presence in your life is bringing you more negative than positive energy, it might be a good idea to sever ties with that person. It can be hard, especially if that person is a family member or romantic partner. but you owe it to your peace of mind to only allow mutually beneficial relationships to take up your time and attention. Narcissists and other energy vampires are not worth keeping in your life. You can waste years of your life trying -and failing- to make them happy while completely ignoring your own needs, and that is detrimental to your mental health. You will never get those years back. We should also never assume responsibility for the actions of another person, unless that person is your child and they are under the age of six. If you find yourself apologizing to others for your partner’s or friend’s behavior, that is a sign of a toxic relationship.

It takes a great deal of Self-Control, Mindfulness, Effort, and Patience to train your mind to focus on the positive rather than the negative. It is a daily practice to recognize and dismiss those thoughts that disturb our Serenity, so today’s sermon comes with homework: For the next week, if you find yourself judging somebody for something inconsequential like what they are wearing, remind yourself that such petty concerns are beneath your regard. Challenge yourself to look for something positive instead of focusing on things you dislike. See what kind of affect this practice has on your mood and your sense of inner peace. Do you think you can do this?

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