Joyful discipline ~ 17th Karmapa

Done right, discipline is taken on joyfully and with a clear understanding of why engaging in it is good. For example, many people nowadays have given up eating meat. Why would we do that? We should not become vegetarian just because someone says we should, or because the Buddha taught that we should not eat meat, or because it is the custom where we live, or because giving up meat would give us a good reputation. If we give up eating meat for these reasons, it might be better not to do it at all, because our decision is not sincerely motivated.

In the beginning, we have a certain feeling about not eating meat. Then we can ask ourselves questions, such as what are the real benefits? After careful consideration, we become certain that this is the right thing to do. Our answer has to come from within, inspired by real conviction, so that when we do give up eating meat, it does not become a hardship or a struggle but something we do with joy and intelligence. It is the same with any discipline in the Vinaya, the Mahayana, or the Vajrayana. Whatever we give up or whatever we do, we should first feel a connection to the practice and then be very clear why we are doing this and not something else. When we act this way, our discipline becomes very inspiring.

17th Karmapa

from the book Traveling the Path of Compassion: A Commentary on The Thirty-Seven Practices of a Bodhisattva

translated by Ringu Tulku & Michele Martin

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