Wisdom and awareness against habitual tendencies

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

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There was a YouTube video about a minor car accident that went viral because of the reactions of the drivers after the accident. A car driven by an old man knocked into the back of a car of a young girl. Although the knock resulted only in a minor dent, the girl went berserk and started yelling at the old man. She even grabbed a car lock from the old man’s car and started smashing his car.

The action of the girl was shocking but the reaction of the old man was truly commendable. Throughout the entire time while the girl was shouting, yelling and hitting his car with the car lock, he remained calm. He repeatedly apologized to the girl and told her that he will pay for her repairs but she just could not control her emotions.

Later a reporter asked him how he managed to keep his calm under such an ordeal. The old man explained that he used to work in the emergency unit of a hospital and his ability to remain calm was critical to save lives.

Whenever we are faced with challenging circumstances, our wisdom and awareness will race against our habitual tendencies. The winner will determine our reaction towards our circumstances. In the old man’s case, he already developed a habit of remaining calm in the face of difficult trials. We are not so lucky. If we succumb to habit, most of us will be overcome by negative emotions. I have seen many wise men who are well versed in spiritual scriptures give in to their habitual tendencies instead of acting with awareness and wisdom.

A forest monk told me an interesting story about when he was a young monk. When he was a novice monk and was about to be sent out to live in the forest on his own for the first time, his master gave him a valuable advice which he will never forget. His master told him that as long as he is able to maintain a strong awareness, he will be free from fear.

With that advice, he was able to be fearless while alone in the forest. Whenever, scary thoughts arose, he would immediately become aware of those thoughts and let them go. Wisdom told him that those thoughts were useless and only served to disturb his peace of mind. With awareness and wisdom, he was able to protect himself from his habitual tendencies.

How do we sharpen our awareness and wisdom so that they win against our habitual tendencies most of the time, if not all the time?

Chade-Meng Tan was employee number 107 of Google and was often referred to as the ‘Jolly Good Fellow’. He introduced a course called “Search within Yourself” for Google employees which linked meditation to emotional intelligence. The course was so popular that there was a long waiting list to attend the course.

Connecting meditation to emotional intelligence was brilliant. In fact, that is the main and ultimate purpose of meditation. In his book, the ‘Handbook for Mankind’, the late Buddhadasa Bhikkhu mentioned that reaching deep states of meditation is not useful because once we get out of those states, we are basically still the same old self and there is a risk of us getting attached to those blissful states of mind. The Buddha mentioned the same thing when he talked about the time before his enlightenment. It is enough to meditate to calm our mind so that we are able to maintain awareness of our surrounding and inner states, in our daily life.

After calming our mind through meditation, we will become more aware of our mental and emotional states. We will be more conscious of our thoughts and if those thoughts are negative, we may use our wisdom to let go of those thoughts before they play havoc with our emotions.

Ceramic Products Manufacturer in MalaysiaCeramic Products Manufacturer in Malaysia

A good friend told me that he used to have a very bad temper. Even looking at someone else could trigger his anger and his temper would flare up very frequently at work. He recognized this as a problem but he just could not help himself.

Later, while chanting mantras, he started contemplating about the harm that his temper was causing him. He recognized that all his good work had been overshadowed by his temper. Others cannot see his strengths because they only see his short fuse. The Buddha said that a single moment of anger can destroy all the merits we have accumulated over many life times. This teaching left a very strong impression on him.

One day at work, he was challenged by a colleague. In the past, he would have started yelling but this time, his awareness won the race. He could feel his anger rising within him from his stomach but when the feeling reach his throat area, he caught it and the anger just dissipated. He was surprised that he was able to smile and resolve the problem with his colleague amicably.

Every time our awareness defeats our habitual tendencies, it becomes stronger and eventually, it will develop into a habit. If the old man and my friend in the stories above could develop the habit of staying calm in the face of a crisis, we could do it too. This is what emotional intelligence is all about.

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