According to Eastern tradition there are three treasures on the pathway to enlightenment: simplicity, patience and compassion. At first glance, such simple ideas. Yet after contemplation one easily recognizes: it’s these basic thoughts, when woven into our day, that can lead each of us to a contemplative, peaceful and more fulfilling life.
In this short article then, I invite you to take a page from Eastern religion: explore the three treasures and become aware of your relationship to them.
The first treasure: simplicity. Simplicity in thought and action. According to author Thomas Cleary in his translation of Taoist Meditation, simplicity leads the seeker on the Way. Simplicity of thought, he tells us, can often be brought about by silence. And in the silence, we gain personal wisdom. If finding 10 or 20 minutes each day to rest quietly or meditate could bring you closer to peace, would you be more conscientious in devoting this time?
Simplicity of action, however, feels a greater challenge. It involves priorities and discovering what is truly important. Here’s how I personally handle this: When I feel overwhelmed by my “to-do list” I create a game by challenging myself to let go of everything I can do without. Then, I remove as many things as I can from my list. What I am left with are those items of greatest importance. I devote as much time necessary to completing each task with joy and precision.
Try it now. What can you remove from the task list today that could bring you closer to simplifying your life? What will you place your attention on?
Treasure number two: patience. Yes, the virtue. And just like simplicity, it is also a challenge to move slowly through tasks until they have been completed or to remain calm when dealing with someone outrageous. I’ve found that we are often mirror images of others and attract to us parts of ourselves. This is important to note as it could manifest positive or negative events, depending on mindset. In this light, Inalya Vanzant reminds us to keep thoughts pure. She tells us to remind ourselves: “I will gain more understanding when I realize… how I interpret what comes at me is a reflection of what is in me.” When faced with a situation requiring patience ask yourself: Am I casting a positive image?
In this framework, more of my favorite wisdom comes from author Richard Carlson in his new book: Easier Than You Think. In it he explains, when we are with someone, we should make every effort to pay expert attention to that person. This engages them and often can diffuse a stressful situation by simply making them feel important. With this in mind, the next time you engage in conversation or even a casual chat with someone: ask yourself if you are creating a role model’s image.
Compassion, the third treasure. I often liken it to empathy. Although we cannot always know directly what it is like to be another, we can value everyone’s need to be heard. Conflict or anger is often a cry for help. We simply need to be aware of our circumstances in effort to create compassion in our lives. We will be called to help others as we become more enlightened vessels of peace. Events will come to us as a reflection of what we need to heal in ourselves.
Thomas Cleary reminds us we should always act in sincerity. In Taoist Meditation he writes: “to choose what is good and hold onto it firmly is a matter of sincerity.” Compassion, as well, challenges us to define what is most important to us; a reoccurring theme throughout the three treasures. To me, this involves being awake and aware in our lives to see the ways in which we are available to give sincerity and service.
Today, be aware of the ways spirit is working through you. Remember: You are the vessel of peace for others and the world. I believe, the more we become vulnerable to trust and open ourselves to sincerity, the more we can allow compassionate behavior into our lives and become enlightened each and every day.
It is my wish these positive ideas enhance your life and bring you peace. Be conscious every day of the messages you are receiving, the people you meet, your experiences. It is amazing the way these simple ideas can enrich your life exponentially. Go forth then, and be aware. Place your attention on the three treasures: in the darkness they will bring you light.