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Our Outer Life as a Reflection of Our Inner Life

inner life of a BuddhaA continuing commentary on the teachings of the Buddha

“Here and beyond he is punished. The wrong-doer is punished both ways. He is punished by the thought, ‘I have done evil,’ and is even more punished when he comes to a bad state.

Here and beyond he rejoices. The doer of good rejoices both ways. He rejoices at the thought, ‘I have done good,’ and rejoices even more when he comes to a happy state” (Dhammapada 17, 18).

Now we come to the major message of these two Dhammapada verses in relation to both good and bad: “He suffers and is tormented to see his own depraved behavior.…He is glad and rejoices to see his own good deeds.” When we look at our life, both internal and external, and intelligently perceive it, we SEE the nature of our past (and often present) deeds. Our external life reveals our inner life; our life as it unfolds before us is an objectification of our mind, and nothing else. Study your life and you will come to know your mind. When we suffer we are seeing our negativity, and when we rejoice we are seeing our positivity. Our life is a revelation/reflection of our inner life. The effect reveals the nature of the cause.

The Inner Life of the wise

Actually, Buddha’s words apply mostly to the wise, for only the wise grieve or rejoice over their wrong or right behavior–others only grieve or rejoice over their results. The ignorant says: “How miserable I am: look at my poverty and illness.” The wise says: “How wrong have been my past actions: look at my poverty and illness.” It is the difference between the person who repents because he understands his deeds are evil and the one who repents because he is going to be caught and punished.

The blindness of ignorance

The ignorant only look at their outer condition, whereas the wise look at their inner condition as revealed by the outer. So, as is usual with the words of all the wise, only those already substantially wise will understand and heed them, and the foolish will either not even see them or will disdain them altogether.

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