Friday, February 25, 2011


When Confucius was asked about benevolence he said, "There are five things and whoever is capable of putting them into practice... is benevolent."

"They are respectfulness, tolerance, trustworthiness in word, quickness and generosity. If a man is respectful he will not be treated with insolence. If he is tolerant he will win the multitude. If he is trustworthy in word his fellow men will entrust him with responsibility. If he is quick he will achieve results. If he is generous he will be good enough to be put in a position over his fellow men."

I have found in life that being respectful or tolerant or trustworthy, and taking responsibility for our lives and being quick to help others and to work hard and to be generous, is a choice.

We can look around and point fingers at everyone else but when we realize, you know what? I want to be respectful. I don't want to carry around a legal pad and keep note of every reason why this person or that group does or doesn't deserve my respect.

When we figure out that being respectful doesn't depend on anyone else's behavior and that instead it truly comes from within us and then flows out to everyone around us: That's when we experience true liberation. And that's when all the reasons to hate diminish and we become compassionate.

Being respectful is a personal decision that connects us in ways to humanity and nature that we can't even imagine until we open our minds to this way of seeing life.

Being kind and tolerant of people who are going through difficult times or who are ignorant is also a life choice. We are all constantly learning. Life is a process. First we find out what we are supposed to do. And then somewhere along the line we try to figure out all of the reasons why we should always be able to do what we want. The "I want what I want and I want it now" mentality has led us into wars, abuses of power and seriously bad judgment when it comes to our environment.

We don't have all of the answers, ever. If we understand this it is easy to tolerate ignorance because we understand completely that this is part of the human condition and we are after all - human.

Taking responsibility for our lives and saying what we mean and keeping our word and doing what we say.... and doing it with the quickness and ease of breathing in and breathing out.... this is the path, the direction that leads us to wisdom and empowerment and some good old fashioned common sense.

And being generous in the way we treat others and the way we love and care about others.... this is what makes all of it worthwhile. Not power. Not control. Those are illusions. Even those who take it by force cannot hold onto it because the people must be free.

This was true back in the days of Confucius and it is just as true today.

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