• By Nhat Quan
    Every one of you has a good heart, but in order to develop more and more, to become more and more perfect, you must practice and apply the expansion of your heart in your daily life very smoothly.
    In the tendency to practice to make the soul more and more open, a Buddhist always tends to seek the protection of:
    - Buddha,
    - Dharma means the Buddha's doctrine
    - Sangha is a community of people who practice the Buddha's teachings.
    These are known as the three precious refuges. To have the energy and will to carry out the process of expanding your soul, to find the source of happiness, you must thoroughly understand the things that you are not satisfied with in your current life. You must be aware of the pain of those dissatisfactions.
    Aware of these things, you naturally want to change your situation and end your suffering. From there you gain the motivation to find ways to fulfill your desires. And then you see that the three precious refuges are places that can help you relieve your suffering. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha offer such protection, helping you avoid suffering and misfortune.
    To seek protection and avoid suffering and misfortune, you must first clearly understand the cause and nature of suffering. Understanding these things, you will be determined to seek protection and stay away from suffering and misfortune. Such a process of consideration can help you understand the method that the Buddha achieved called Dharma. Next, the admiration you have for the Sangha and those who practice heart-opening is the same as for the Dharma.
    Your admiration for this protection is fueled by your considerations and is expressed by your daily spiritual exercises.
    Whether a follower of Buddhism or not, when you receive protection from the Buddha's teachings, the second of the three refuges, you will receive protection in terms of:
    - Escape from suffering and misfortune.
    As your understanding and faith in the Dharma increases, you develop enlightenment about the Sangha, a group of people who have practiced and achieved a state of freedom from suffering and misfortune. Then you will have the abilities of someone who is completely free from ordinary thoughts.
    To do this, I would also like to emphasize that people do not have to be Buddhists or Buddhists to apply these methods. Actually, the method cannot bring you enlightenment or compassion and kindness, but that completely depends on each person, depending on the efforts and motivation you have when practicing for yourself.
    The purpose of practicing soul expansion is to satisfy your desire for happiness. You all have the same desire for happiness and overcoming suffering and misfortune.
    When you look closely at the happiness you try to pursue, and the unhappiness you try to avoid, you see that all the pleasant and satisfying feelings as well as the unpleasant feelings Your tolerance and dissatisfaction are both through your senses of:
    - Taste,
    - Smell,
    - Hearing and all senses help you feel things around you.
    However, there is another way to feel happiness that must be felt with the soul. If you compare physical happiness and spiritual happiness, you will see that the happiness and suffering that take place in the soul are actually much more intense. Indeed, even though you live in a very pleasant environment, if you feel anxious inside, or if you are always thinking about something, you will not feel the pleasant things around you.
    On the contrary, you live in a difficult environment, but if you have joy in your open heart, you will easily face and overcome difficulties, challenges, and adversities. So, emotional and spiritual pain and happiness are always much stronger than physical pain and happiness.
    When you analyze, you realize that the intense emotions you have such as desire, hatred, and anger do little to bring you deep, lasting happiness. A satisfied desire can give you a temporary feeling of satisfaction, such as the satisfaction you get when you acquire a new friend or a new house that is often very short-lived. As you entertain desires, they tend to grow exponentially, and you become more and more ambitious and more and more dissatisfied with your needs. According to Buddha:
    - Ambitious,
    - Resentment
    - Angry
    As painful emotional feelings, they only make you anxious and sad. These worries and sadness are caused by a state of uneasiness in the heart, followed by an outburst of these emotions. This state of psychological inhibition can even cause physical pain. So let's find out where these feelings come from.
    From a Buddhist perspective, they originate from habits from when you were born. They stick with you from life to life. If you nurture those qualities, they will become stronger and stronger, causing harm to your entire being. Therefore, practicing the soul to become more and more open in everyday life is a process of controlling these emotions and minimizing their effects. To achieve deep happiness, you need to let go of those unpleasant emotions.
    Developing positive emotions for self-improvement can be difficult at first, but if you consistently develop friendly attitudes, you will be in a happier and more joyful state than a normal person in a debauched, careless life.
    On the contrary, when you examine your angry emotions, you find that they cause you great distress because they tend to involve mental exaggerations. Exaggerations cause strong emotional changes between yourself and those around you. Such as:
    - Like when you are attracted to something or someone, you tend to exaggerate its qualities, you see that that thing or person is completely good, completely worthwhile and you become so foolish because of the desire to possess that thing. On the contrary, if you don't like something or someone, you find it completely worthless, you find every way to criticize it because it's not like you imagined, even though the thing is absolutely beautiful in the eyes of many others.
    So you have to practice every day, when your heart is open, and you have a more liberal vision, than when you plan how you judge people, things, and all situations. Whether those objects have positive or negative qualities, you can start by realizing that thoughts and emotions are often grounded in reality. This is because rational opinions and judgments should not be influenced by exaggerated mental states, so everything will more accurately reflect the true qualities of a certain object. Therefore, I believe that cultivating the correct understanding of all things will greatly assist your search for happiness.
    To do this, you must first understand the value of ethical behavior and lifestyles. For Buddhists, ethical living means avoiding unethical behavior. There are 3 types of unethical behavior:
    a- Unethical acts performed physically,
    - Killing,
    - Theft,
    - Fornication;
    b- unethical behavior done through words:
    - Lie,
    - Divisive words,
    - Insulting and inflammatory words
    - Meaningless words
    c- Unethical thoughts.
    - Desire
    - Hatred and
    - Ignorance.
    You can see that overcoming unethical behavior can only be done once you are clearly aware of the consequences these behaviors cause. For example:
    - What harm does this meaningless statement do?
    - If you are passionate about this, what are the consequences?
    First of all, you must consider that the meaningless gossip that often creates conditions for you to talk bad about others is:
    - Waste of time
    - Makes you nervous.
    Then, your attitude towards people who meaningless gossip is that you don't really trust them. Such thoughts help you control yourself when you are tempted by gossip. By understanding this, you will have the best results in making the necessary changes in your search for happiness.
    Thus, in addition to being thoughtful, you also have to live a responsible life. You must avoid meaningless friendships and bad friends that make you lost and dum. But, it is not always easy to distinguish between good friends and bad friends. However, following the guidance of the Venerable Ones, you will easily recognize good and bad things without difficulty. You must be careful to avoid such negative influences and must value good friends who know how to help people to make life more meaningful.
    In short, when your mind is open you will have enough optimism to create good conditions for good behavior in your daily life, so first of all you should find teachers with good qualities, who have profound insights into the spiritual life that you want to learn. Fame, wealth, and power are not necessary qualities for any master you want to learn from. A spiritual master must possess sacred knowledge, certain knowledge of the doctrine he imparts, as well as experiential knowledge he has accumulated throughout his life.
    To accurately assess the capacity and necessary qualities of a spiritual master you want to study with, you need to have knowledge of the basic principles, you must know a spiritual master well. What qualities should it have? You must listen to them objectively, and consider their behavior over a long period of time. In this way, you can decide whether that Teacher is capable of leading you to enlightenment or not.
    When you know for sure, you can rely on yourself to learn until you get there.
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