I WAS WATCHING THE MOVIE Kundun, the true story of the 14th Dalai
Lama. One of the things that struck me was how peaceful he was.
The actor radiated a deep calm. I understand the real Dalai Lama
does too, even under catastrophic circumstances such as those
portrayed in the movie.
As part of their spiritual practice, the
Buddhists in Tibet say prayers to bring enlightenment to all
beings. They wish others well and pray that people find happiness
I have tried this, just for the hell of
it, and found it feels good. Wishing others well only
in my head, now, I'm not talking about saying anything aloud
feels soothing and calming. One of the most distressing
experiences is being angry at people and feeling hurt by them.
The habit of wishing others well counters that directly. It makes
sense that the practice would lead to peace and calm.
If you were in almost continual prayer
or meditation, you could probably remain as tranquil as a holy
person, no matter what happened. I know, I know, that's crazy,
right? You've got a life to live, and you're not about to meditate
it away. But I'm thinking more along these lines: What if when
you met with someone, you occasionally said something like this
to yourself, "May you find happiness."
What would that do to your state of mind?
What if while you were walking to your car to go to work, you
said a silent prayer for all beings? What state would that put
you in? Would you be calmer or more tolerant if someone tailgated
you? I think you would. And why not? Most of the negative thoughts
we think about other people are worse than worthless. Why not
replace it with the practice of blessing other people?
Now when I say "blessing," I
don't necessarily mean anything religious. I'm not much of a
religious person. You've probably guessed already. I just mean
wishing others well. If you want to think of it as asking God
for it, or directing some kind of cosmic energy, or using "mind
power" or simply wishing it, the effect on your own body
is probably the same.
I've been trying out this idea, and it
has some very good effects. I haven't ascended yet, but I'm working
on it. Last night a friend of mine really got on my back. We
were working on a project together, but she was all over me,
overseeing me and questioning me to make sure I hadn't forgotten
anything or to make sure I was doing it right, and she was very
intense about it. When I got up this morning, I thought about
last night and I was mad at her. And resentful. But I tried this
method I made a wish that she find happiness in her life
and immediately it changed my feelings toward her.
It changed the way I saw her behavior last night. To wish her
well, I had to shift myself to a different point of view and
from the new perspective, it was clear to me that she meant well
and that reminded me that she's a decent, kind person who has
been very good to me. It is as if the act of blessing her disengaged
me or unhooked me from my self-righteousness, and I became more
the kind of person I want to be.
The day after I wrote this article, I came
across a new study by researchers at Columbia University showing
that women who were trying to get pregnant were twice as successful
if someone was praying for their success. And the people praying
for the women were total strangers. The women didn't know they
were being prayed for, and the nurses and doctors didn't know
either. The researchers were surprised, and weren't sure whether
or not they should publish their findings, but they decided to
do it because the differering pregnancy rates were so huge between
the two groups.
My emphasis in this article has been on
the effect on you when you wish others well, but it may
also be true (and I thought it might help the effect on you)
that it might actually help the other person. I'm pretty skeptical
about this stuff, but this isn't the first study I've seen like
this. I almost didn't include this study in this chapter but
it seems to add some oomph too my well-wishing to think that
my blessings might actually do the people some real good, so
I put it in.
Give a silent prayer of good wishes
happiness, well-being, peace for someone. This is good
for you and it might be good for the people you interact with.
Sometimes praying for others' well-being
feels like a job and you just don't feel like it. When that's
the case, wish yourself well. You probably need it.
Wish others well.