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Transcribing the oral tradition...
Vidyamala, Manchester, UK
Candradasa, FBA Team
Aileen, Shetland Islands
Padmavajri, East Sussex
Viveka, San Francisco, USA
Eric, FBA Team
Padmatara, San Francisco, USA
Sravaniya, Boston, USA
... so far and as far as you
can see they are going to continue being fulfilled so you can then start thinking in terms of
fulfilling other peoples needs. So what are those needs of ones own? I mean how can one
distinguish objective needs from subjective craving let us say?
Objective ne~ds can b~ fulfilled, subjective cravings cannot.
But can it be said that when your objective needs are fulfilled that quite
spontaneously you will preoccupy yourself With the needs of other people, can that be said?
Or do you still need a push from somewhere? So what are these objective needs do you
think, that should be fulfilled, rather have to be fulfilled first, can one identify them?
I suppose you neeWdk%b~a~ica\\ ~o
Y~s you need those. But even if you haven't got them it ~oesn't~~e'c~ude
helping other people. As someone will share their last half penny with someone, whereas
others would hesitate
even to share their last million (laughter). There are people like that who would gladly share
their last crust of bread, not bother what they would have for their next meal. Others would
hesitate to share~ even though they've got~whole larder- full, ~ondering whether they
would h~e ko-- ~~~~ do next week.
If you're happy within yourself, if you preserve....
S: Yes, if you're happy within yourself you can have peace of mind, quiet, so when you're
happy within yourself, when you have peace of mind, well what needs are being fulfilled
then? Can one speak in terms of needs being fulfilled, objective needs being fulfilled. If 50;
what are those needs which are being fulfilled so that you feel happy within yourself and
When you're psychologically happy, when your....
It would seem to be a matter of emotional positivity; you must be in a state of
appreciating your own
worth~ and feeling that your own worth i5 appreciated by other people; 'Iov must be1~a state
of loving yourself and feeling that you are loved by other people. I think this is the basic
requirement, probably, you know, before you can be expected in a sense to go out to other
people, to concern yourself to some extent with the~r needs.
You say it's two fold, that you appreciate your own worth and see that it is
appreciated. Why do we need the second, if you've got
S: It does seem, you know, looking at the development of the human being that unless there
is a feeling of being loved, you don't so to speak learn to love yourself. If you feel the abs
ence of love~in the environment, if you don't feel that you are loved by others, you feel that
you are unworthy perhaps~ ~here's ome0t,hin~ wrong with y0u~and that may well make it
difficult rt~ love yourself. Or if as a young child you are deprived of love, affection, it does
seem that your emotional
developmentkcan be quite badly crippled. So it would seem that before you- can really be
outward-~oing and think in terms of helping others, you must be in a quite highly Positive
emotional state, ~ught about as far as we can see, by the fact that you love yourself and have
had the cosciousness that you are or have been loved by others-' So that you feel emotionally
secure as well as emotionally positive. In addition it would seem that you would need to have
a certain amount of sensitivity1 a certain amount of awareness, you must be able to see other
people. Of course we are remaining on a common sense level still, you must be able to see
other people, appreciate their needs. I mean appreciate that their need is not simply for a
better standard of living in the material sense, not for a motor car or a T.V. set or more
education. That their need is for something spiritual, a spiritual path that they can follow. A
spiritual ideal to which they can devote themselves.
Also it transpires from this particular chapter, that the Bodhisattva is to think in terms of all
beings. Bringing that down as it were, to a lower level, one is to try to think not just in terms
of ones own needs, try to think in terms of the needs of other people ~he genuine needs-but
not just people of your own natural group, you're to try to think in terms oftwider and wider
circle£beings. So think of other beings, think say of other beings in your own family, but
don't confine yourself to your own family, don't confine yourself to your own tribe, your own
nationality, your own race. You are to try think eventually in terms of all beings and the
needs of all beings, not just the needs of one particular section of humanity, the one that you
happen to belong to so to speak. I mean the Bodhisattva doesn't have to think in terms of the
needs of all Buddhists, he is asked to think in terms of the needs of all beings4 So the
Bodhisattva is not only asked to cultivate an interest in the needs of others rather than his own
needs, but to cultivate a breadth and width of out look; v'ot to distinguish between one class
of beings and another, but to devote himself impartially to all. I mean if you think in terms of
these different kinds of beings, classified according to the mode of birth, well it means you
know, you have to devote yourself to beings very different from yourself, who haven't even
been born from a womb as you've been born from an egg, or from moisture or
spontaneously. In other words you musn't
be put off by the differences amongst beings1 feeling that 6~. they belong to a slightly
different group from you, so ~~ey are not your concern.
So, if one - to go back to the previous discussion-if one has a preliminary sort of intellectual
understanding of the whole matter. Supposing one understands, well yes it is desirable tha~
one should devote oneself to the spiritual progress of all beings, and then one
understands in order to do that, well you've got to think in terms of the needs of others rather
than thinking in terms of your own needs. And then of course you have to go one step further
back and you realise well you must just work on yourself and try to get yourself into a
sufficiently positive state so that you can quite naturally and easily start thinking in terms of
the needs of others and not just in terms of your own needs~~~~~you do come really right
down to earth.
On a scale could you perhaps be helping 'jouy~~ 4~
do social work or something?
S: I think social work is highly suspect; ~ think very often social work represents an escape
from one self. It does even seem from the~eportSth~t~ one reads in the newspapers that
sometimes social wo~kers actu~ly do a great deal of harm, they interfere in people1s lives
without really understanding what what they are doing. I think we've got one ex-social
worker with us. I don't know w~her you've got any comments to make on that, if not from
personal experience at least from observation.
Vessantra: IfLhink a lot of~social workers I knew were trying to, er, they were people who
had difficulties'tthemselves and rather than actually working on them directly, they;- were, as
it were working on them out there, through other people,and so often the results weren't very
good. A lot of it
wL innefect-~~~ o~ social work~ is to do with the whole way
-- - - - a sort of legalised, formalised way of helping. Social workers have a
whole lot legislation that ~~",'; -~ ~~ carrying out and so the actual individual personal
help is smothered.
Well perhaps one can say if the social worker represents
you having genuinely personal contact with people who are in 69, I,
difficulties and communicating some genuine syn~~athy to them~ at least giving them the
opportunity to air their troubles
and difficulties to you,and possibly being able to put them in touch with some (information),
some means of them actually getting help1 ~hen you might be doing a useful job. If you
could visit someone in financial difficulty and say ' there is such and such a provision1 you
could make and such and such an application,you could get such and such a benefit', they may
not know that and you could perform a useful function in that sort of way. But sometimes it's
happened, I mean there are cases reported in the papers, a social worker discovering that Mrs
So and So, well she's not really Mrs, she's not really married and sh~ got thr~or four children,
she doesn't keep the house very clean. Well yes the children are happy but she doesn't keep
the house very clean so better take them away from her and put them in care. This is the sort
of thing that one sees happening 01- kc~~ happens . The well-meaning social worker thinks
that it would be better for the children, that is better (for them~to be in a nice clean ko~L with
a foster mother rather than in a rather dirty and untidy sort of sl0~~"~l~ home with their own
mother who clearly loves them very much but who doesn't know how to bring them up. So
the well-meaning social worker rushes and sometimes does harm, causes great confusion not
to say suffering.
If you ~c'-~ say generally going out '-'~~some sort of ""c~kon, ... could you not work.
on yourself and doing that, working on youviet~ - -
certainly be good
for you if you were doing that, with a ...