Always aspire to do what is most beneficial

Feb 29, 2024


So often we don’t know what decision to make: should I take this job, leave the relationship, go here, go there? How to decide? In other words, what is the right basis for a decision? This is such an important point. It’s a huge point.


Obviously the key factor that determines our choices is our thoughts. As the lamas put it, what’s our motivation? And so often the basis for our decisions is attachment: that’s our motivation. It’s so instinctive, so natural, that we don’t question it. And, of course, it ends up leading us in the wrong direction.


Especially, we follow attachment to what other people think; we’re so afraid to do this or that because people mightn’t approve. This is pretty deep within us.


The best approach, the bravest, the most expansive motivation is, as His Holiness the Dalai Lama always advises: aspire to do what is most beneficial. “But how do I know what’s most beneficial?” we ask. Well, so often we don’t. So what to do?


The point is this: to say this every day, to have it as part of your morning practice, to have it as something you think in the day, automatically: “May I do whatever is most beneficial.” In other words, aspire to do what is most beneficial. 


And, even more brave, as His Holiness says, if we can, aspire to do what is most beneficial for the long term, better than short term.


So, there’s this decision to make and you just don’t know what’s best to do. It’s a bit like you’re walking along a road – and it’s your road: it’s your life – and you don’t know where the turnoff is. So what are your choices? You can’t stand still, you can’t go backwards, you can’t take any old turnoff because it looks nice. All you can do is take one step at a time on this journey, deal with what is in front of you: deal with your husband, your children, your job, whatever is in front of you this second. This is where your life has brought you so far. 


As Lama Zopa Rinpoche says, everything exists on the tip of the wish. Therefore this strong aspiration, every day, every day – “May I always make the right choices, may I recognize the turnoff when it comes, may I do what is most beneficial” – whatever words you like – nourishes the karmic seeds you already planted lifetimes before that will ripen as exactly what you need to do. “Oh, there’s the turnoff. There’s my next step” – and you’ll take it, no matter how difficult it is.


And this is not just for dramatic decisions. If each day you have that aspiration, then you will make the right choices that day, even the small ones, and you won’t get distracted by some cute turnoff. You won’t get distracted by what attachment wants or anger wants. You’ll always do what’s best, for you and for others, even if it’s the tough choice. You’ll go in the right direction, and you won’t get lost. 


Of course, there are always obstacles on our road, and often we want to avoid them. But no: just keeping putting one foot in front of the other, knowing that they’re your obstacles, they’re on your path, so just keep moving over them, through them, dealing with them as they come. You can’t just run away from them. 


You will never get lost if you have this aspiration: the internal is the thing that determines the choices we make – not the external. 


Be brave. That’s my best advice, continuously, because we can easily get lost. We follow attachment: “Oh, that looks like a nice road. I’ll go down there because it looks cute.” We lose the plot. Keep on track. Just keep moving, one step at a time.


“May I do what is most beneficial.” You can’t get any motivation broader or bigger than that. It’s the most amazing motivation to have. And then you’ll be really courageous, and whatever happens you’ll deal with it. You’ll have the courage to deal with it, and you’ll keep moving on your journey, and you won’t get lost.


Keep this like a broken record in your head: “May I do what is most beneficial.” Don’t forget it. It will guide you with certainty in the right direction, leading you eventually to your enlightenment.

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