SIX BOUNDLESS PATHS
The instructions on how to attain Enlightenment has six parts, also known as “The Six Boundless Paths”. We consider these paths “boundless” because there are countless ways and opportunities to practice them, and they bring boundless happiness. Keep them in mind, even in their simplest version, and you cannot avoid making spiritual progress.
Once you attain Enlightenment, all your suffering ends.
When you view yourself as an Enlightened Being, even though your feelings may get hurt and you may experience physical pain, you’ve discovered happiness that is unaffected by physical conditions. Rather, your happiness affects your physical conditions.
Someday everyone will recognize his or her own Enlightenment.
People often do things – not intending to hurt themselves – that cause themselves untold suffering.
When we go down the lane between our lives, many of us know who we want to spend our next life with: we know how to get along with those people. So most of the time, we choose to be with them again and again, because we know what to expect from them.
Oftentimes, however, the most familiar is not the most beneficial.
If we dedicate our merit to helping others, many more people will meet us along the lane, besides those we know best. Many of these people will be Enlightened Beings who want to help us, because we want to help others… because we can help Them to help others.
Eventually everyone will recognize true happiness.
Enlightened Beings teach us how to find happiness – sometimes in very surprising ways.
They can teach us how to end our suffering, but only if we meet them. If we agree to help Enlightened Beings, we gain friends for life, so to speak. So it’s a very good idea to agree to meet and help Enlightened Beings.
How do we recognize Enlightened Beings if we meet them along the lane? They make prostrations to everyone. We’ll explain more about this later; for now, this is all we need to know.
Assume everyone is an Enlightened Being.
Enlightened Beings fill this world, and many of them seem very ordinary. They choose to appear ordinary so they can meet people and help them. When we view others as Enlightened Beings, we learn from them and generate positive karma.
When Enlightened Beings appear as ordinary beings behaving negatively, we deal with them accordingly.
Follow your heart, embrace only positive actions, and act as lovingly as you can when you defy negativity.
Do only good things.
Focus only on your own intention. It determines everything.
Intention affects interactions with other living beings. Anything possessing life force is a living being. All living beings deserve consideration.
Once we understand that we need to avoid negative actions, many questions come to mind: What are negative actions, how do we know when we’ve committed a negative action, and how can we make amends if we have committed a negative action?
Negative actions are any actions that cause harm to other living beings.
Animals, plants, and even micro-organisms all possess life force. Humans comprise only one example of intelligent life in this World, and we need to understand that all life is sacred. Once enough people accept this principle, we’ll begin to receive friendly guests who will help many living beings understand principles which will make our lives much easier. They’re waiting, just out of sight, until we’re ready for them to join us.
If a terrorist believes that his or her mission brings happiness to the world, are his or her actions negative?
That depends on whether or not the terrorist is an Enlightened Being. No one can be sure that any of us are not Enlightened Beings, so hedge your bets and assume that everyone is an Enlightened Being. No one less holy than an Enlightened Being assumes the responsibility of deciding the fates of others, and when ordinary people assume that role, Enlightened Beings always step in to save the day. This can happen in many ways.
How do we know if an action is harmful to other living beings?
I saw a dream once of a place in which many people were preparing for war, and many people were planning to overthrow a government. I could tell that in the dream, people were being misled and controlled. The “teachers” in this place not only taught people warfare, they also taught them how to hate, even how to hate one another. Because these people were isolated, they couldn’t distinguish what they were being told from what was going on in the world outside. Now if these people were to attack and try to overthrow their government, they’d be committing very negative actions, in a number of ways.
First, they’d be acting without the slightest consideration of what others (outside their group) would want them to do. Next, they’re not Enlightened Beings, so it would be a mistake for them to take the fate of others into their own hands. Also, they would clearly harm many people.
War is always harmful, period.
Enlightened Beings cannot bear to stay in places where hatred thrives. An event such as a war generates immeasurable hatred, not only in the battlefield but also wherever war is conceived. Sometimes people feel that war-torn places have been abandoned by Holy Beings.
Enlightened Beings do not abandon places where hatred is very strong – Enlightened Beings exist everywhere.
But Enlightened Beings in Bodies need certain conditions if they’re to accomplish anything, so if their wishes are being frustrated, they simply move to a more receptive location. Other beings can then take over and use more wrathful means to accomplish their ends.
Enlightened Beings prefer less wrathful means, but sometimes circumstances necessitate hellfire and brimstone, especially if the people involved relate better to that imagery. Still, only Enlightened Beings are qualified to employ hellfire and brimstone, and that’s why we have floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, and oil spills.
Interestingly enough, earthquakes are sometimes man-made. Not all earthquakes are man-made, but it’s a pastime that’s becoming increasingly popular in some circles. If someone decides to cause an earthquake, that’s very negative karma indeed, because it’s a crime against Mother Earth as well as humanity.
All actions create karma.
Make a wish. Desire creates karma for you, because it affects your mind. You are your mind.
Suppose you wish to give to others. Now you’ve created positive karma with others. Further, if you actually do give to others, you create even stronger positive karma with everyone involved.
All actions create karma, even though not all actions affect other living beings. Some actions, such as some forms of thought, only affect the individual.
Let’s suppose that you want a slice of chocolate pie, and that’s what you’re thinking about. The simple thought of wanting a slice of chocolate pie does not create any karma, because it doesn’t affect anyone but the thinker – you.
However, let’s suppose that, instead, you think of giving a slice of chocolate pie to everyone who wants one (It does matter whether or not they want one.). Now you have still not created karma, but you have created merit for yourself. Furthermore, if you act on that wish, and do your best to give a slice of chocolate pie to everyone who wants one, you have created karma with all people who were involved, and you also created merit for yourself.
Now, if you dedicate that merit to benefitting everyone, your merit is multiplied countless times – as many times as there are living beings that need your help.
Keep a karma maintenance plan.
A plentiful good-karma (or merit) account guarantees that we meet our needs. It also helps us enjoy conditions that continue the cycle of creating and exchanging good karma.
Your karma and merit travel with you from life to life; material things do not.
Since we need all the help we can get, we also need all the good karma we can get. Requesting help doesn’t require merit or good karma, but getting help does.
Creating positive karma merely requires a good intention and one’s mind.
Karma ripens fairly; “disabled” and “abled” people create karma equally. Disabled people are actually more likely to have merit and attain Enlightenment than others, because they likely dedicated all their merit to others.
When we help a “disabled” person, we help an Enlightened Being. If we make fun of a “disabled” person, we make fun of an Enlightened Being.
Not all Enlightened Beings appear normal. And not all normal people are Enlightened Beings.
We also need to be sure to keep our merit accounts filled, so that we never run out. We need a steady influx in case we stop being able to create more for ourselves. If we happen to take rebirth in Hell, there’s no way we can create more merit, because our minds are preoccupied with how horrible our conditions seem.
Many places and conditions in this world resemble Hell, in that sense of the word. At least many people behave as if they were in Hell.
So we need to know how to keep our merit accounts filled – not how to spend our last bit of merit on things like jewelry, money, and electronics. If we expect to enjoy a human rebirth at all, it’s not things we need, but merit. Merit and karma travel with us from life to life; things do not.
Giving is the easiest way to generate positive karma, as well as merit.
Imagining a perfect world for everyone is the easiest way to give. Buddhists sometimes refer to this as making a Mandala Offering. Even this imagined perfect world carries the power to transform because the world we experience arises from our minds.
People make mandala offerings in countless ways, and complicated versions abound. But the version we’re giving you is very simple. Mentally imagine a perfect world, and offer it to All Living Beings. That’s it. You don’t have to visualize or make anything; you just need to think it. This way you cover all the bases: you set your good intention, you practice giving, and you give to countless Beings, all of whom are Enlightened Beings. There is no better way to create merit, period.
Completing the Path
Those are all the instructions you need in order to become an Enlightened Being. If you keep collecting merit and keep the intention to help All Living Beings, it will eventually happen naturally, thanks to the laws of merit and karma.
Suggestions for Success
- Practice as if your life depends upon it, because it does.
- Assume that everyone you meet is an Enlightened Being, because they are.
- Do not be discouraged.
- Make every effort to meditate on these Teachings. ‘Meditate’ simply means to think about it.
- Dedicate all your merit to attaining Enlightenment.