As a young boy of ten in Derry, Richard Moore was struck by a rubber bullet that left him blind. His Holiness was deeply moved when he heard how Richard had felt no anger to the soldier who fired the bullet and completely forgiven him. Amazingly, from childhood to the present day he has never allowed bitterness to control his emotions. Richard has gone on to become the founder of Children in Crossfire that strives towards the creation of a safe environment for all children. In his citation to Richard, His Holiness says, “You are my hero; while I talk about forgiveness, you have made it part of your life. This is a wonderful model for others to follow”.
Negative thoughts and emotions undermine the very causes of peace and happiness. In fact, when we think properly, it is totally illogical to seek happiness if we do nothing to restrain angry, spiteful, and malicious thoughts and emotions.
Saying that one should be patient and withstand trouble doesn’t mean one should be defeated and overcome. The whole purpose of engaging in the practice of patience is to become stronger in mind, stronger in heart. And you also want to remain calm. If you lose patience and your brain becomes confused with emotion, you will lose the power to analyze and figure out how to overcome the negative force that is opposing you
It is not enough simply to wish that love and compassion should increase in us. We need to make a sustained effort, again and again, to cultivate the positive aspects within us – and the key here is constant familiarity. The nature of human thoughts and emotions is such that the more you engage in them, the more you consciously develop them, the more powerful they become.
What is the relationship between spirituality and ethical practice? Since love and compassion and similar qualities all, by definition, presume some level of concern for others’ well-being, they presume ethical restraint. We cannot be loving and compassionate unless at the same time we curb our own harmful impulses and desires.
As human beings, we are all the same, there is no need to build some kind of artificial barrier between us. With this attitude, there is nothing to hide, and no need to say things in a way that is not straightforward. So this gives me a kind of space in my mind, with the result that I do not have to be suspicious of others all the time. And this really gives me inner satisfaction, and inner peace.
Developing altruism is one of the most powerful methods for countering negative tendencies and destructive impulses. Since overcoming negative tendencies and enhancing positive potential are the very essence of the spiritual path, the practice of developing altruism is really the greatest, most effective and most compelling practice of all.
It is necessary to help others, not only in our prayers, but in our daily lives. If we find we cannot help others, the least we can do is to desist from harming them.
Anger cannot be overcome by anger. If a person shows anger to you, and you show anger in return, the result is a disaster. In contrast, if you control your anger and show its opposite – love, compassion, tolerance, and patience – then not only will you remain in peace, but the anger of others also will gradually diminish.
Being altruistic does not mean totally rejecting our own interest or neglecting ourselves, this is a misunderstanding. In fact, the kind of altruism that focuses on the well-being of others arises from a very courageous mind, an expansive attitude and a strong sense of self confidence – so much so that the person is capable of challenging the self-cherishing and self-centeredness that tends to rule our lives.