By Christine Longaker
Reflecting each day on the Three Noble Principles can bring all our fragmented selves into one whole, and give a sense of meaning and direction in our life. The Three Noble Principles are
Since we are all connected, all beings are worthy of respect and love, like our own family or cherished friends. Like the love of the Buddhas, or the love of God, this profound compassion radiates equally to all--enemies and friends, those happy or suffering, the strong and the frail--without any conditions or bias.
Like warm rays of sunlight, compassion is the natural radiance of our true nature--which is skylike, clear, and fundamentally good. Spiritual practice helps us re-connect with our true nature so that it becomes our way of being, perceiving and connecting in every moment of the day. Instead of judging others or reacting to their superficial layer of suffering or negativity, the stability of our spiritual practice enables us to recognize the fundamental "good heart" within each person. Through regularly inspiring ourselves with this pure perception, we will gradually come to embody the deepest truth of our own spiritual path.
Acknowledge as well that at the very core of your being is your innermost essence--an openness, radiant clarity and boundless compassion that is entirely free of suffering. Reflect next on how many others are suffering at this very moment, thousands with the same problems you have, and many in circumstances far more painful or desperate than your own. As you think of those who are in great distress, allow their suffering to touch your heart, so that you generate a deep desire to truly help them.
Reflect as well that even though so many people appear to be strangers, you are actually related to them as members of the human family. In different circumstances, any stranger could become your most cherished friend, or could save someone you love from a fatal accident. In the same way you would want to help your closest friends when they're in distress, allow your compassion to become more limitless and unbiased, so that you embrace everyone with the same profound compassion and love.
These reflections may awaken in you the heartfelt wish to do everything possible to benefit others, sharing all the positive power and merit of your spiritual practice with them, and committing to relieve their suffering and bring them happiness in whatever ways you can, through your actions, words, prayers or thoughts.
Dedicating our merit to others unites our activity with the enlightened activity of all saints and enlightened beings, making our merit more vast and inexhaustible. If you like, you can pray and dedicate with words like these:
By the power and the truth of this practice,
May all sentient beings enjoy happiness and the causes of happiness,
Be free from suffering and the causes of suffering.
May they never be separated from the sacred happiness which is free of suffering.
And may they dwell in the great equanimity that is free from passion, aggression, and prejudice.
When our positive actions are motivated by compassion, when we keep our heart and mind pure in the midst of our work or spiritual practice, and when we dedicate the merit to others at the end, then whatever we have done becomes a meaningful part of our spiritual path, our evolution toward our highest potential. Through employing these Three Noble Principles every day, and keeping them in mind during our every action, we will gradually begin to see the sacred in everything we do and in everyone we meet.