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Good intentions are no protection
May 8th, 2018

illustration (attribution, if any possible, is at the end of the article)

Good intentions are no protection

One of the risks those on a spiritual path regularly need to tackle is… the hope that doing good, good intention, merit, etc, will somehow shield them from bad news or challenges… as if God (or the Universe or whatever) rewarded their good works by protecting them more than others.

Many spiritual people experience frustration when they try to help others and it doesn’t work (sometimes due to the active resistance of the very people they try to help!), and they wonder why a ‘pure’ intention (without hatred, with patience, etc.) doesn’t give better results.
The thing is, though, that such an intention does give better results (bringing positive energy always helps compared to negative energy)… but ‘better’ is far from ‘guaranteed’… and their brains crave for a ‘better’ or ‘best’ which is so good that it’s basically fail-proof… Better results don’t change the essential nature of things, though; in particular, it doesn’t allow to make the impermanent permanent, so their brains basically raise expectations to an unrealistic level, and thus set them up for disappointment.

Some bodhisattvas supposedly postpone their attainment of peace and bliss and whatever, for the sake of helping others attain it too. Thus, they basically choose to stay in saṃsāra, in the realms of suffering, of anguish, of unsatisfactoriness, etc.
The sort of suffering they experience tends to arise from the frustration of not being able to help more or faster, of not finding the ‘right’ words all the time (not being ‘heard' by those the words are addressed to), etc.
The two Tara (white and green) are supposedly born from the tears of frustration of Avalokiteshvara, the bodhisattva of Compassion (who also has 11 heads and 1000 arms, as they split due to trying to 'reach out' more…).
The sort of suffering bodhisattvas experience tends to arise from the frustration that good intentions still do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes (no matter how good, benevolent or pure!).

Spiritual people tend to accept that 'tainted' intentions do not allow them to force reality to comply with their wishes… but they still crave for ‘special' intentions ('good', 'pure', etc.) which would allow them to force reality to comply with them wishes. Reality doesn’t allow that.
When encountering difficulties, it's not rare that well-intentioned people think that they might need to ‘fix’ something, that doing their best to be a good (insert-appropriate-term) clearly wasn’t enough and that some flaw stayed and needs fixing.
From a Buddhist perspective, this is an unrealistic hope that once reaching a ‘good enough’, being a good (insert-appropriate-term) would make life safe —to the point of permanently safe.
People might have been a good (insert-appropriate-term), but this cannot make life safe; it probably made it ‘better’, they probably had some positive results, it wasn’t all for nothing, but the ‘prize' was (and is) in the journey they had (and have), not in some kind of warranty.

Which then leads to the ‘but then why does (whatever) no longer work?’.
Most probably know already that such a question isn’t really helpful… The very idea that there’d be a (true) ‘why’ is linked to the idea that there was something to fix which would have provided for the warranty craved for. There’s no such ‘why’.
And it doesn’t make life ‘bleak’, or efforts ‘pointless', it just implies that the reward is in the journey (even if it includes some sadness too along the way), the reward is not found in attaining some sort of perfectly-safe state.
At times, this seems discouraging… at other times, we find it easier to go back to the "it’s in the journey” perspective.

Reality doesn’t comply to our wishes, it’s just not what it does, and good intentions don’t offer a magical solution (to the unsatisfactoriness / dukkha arising from this fact).

#Buddhism #Dharma
illustration: white Tara
Buddhism has no specific guideline on supporting teachers, it simply asks for you to consider causality: if you want this living tradition to survive, how are you participating, in practical terms, to make this happen? Nice words, exposure or social media ‘+1’ might feel good, but they do not actually help with the basic necessities: