Everyday Dharma – Week Five – Be Magnanimous

For the next few weeks this blog will include teachings and tips from the book Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You, by Lama Willa Miller. Everyday Dharma is designed to be akin to a spiritual manual.  We invite you to read along with us during the seven weeks. and you can catch up on previous weeks here.  And be sure to comment below and let us know how it’s going.

“Step five is to cultivate magnanimous deeds. This week you will discover how acting enlightened makes you feel more enlightened.” – Lama Willa Miller from Everyday Dharma: Seven Weeks to Finding the Buddha in You

Initially, when we think about magnanimous deeds, it might bring to mind the acts of wealthy people – those who can afford to build hospitals and schools. However, Lama Willa encourages us during week five to be creative about the way we can put magnanimity into action. She says you don’t have to be wealthy, or feel like a saint, or even think of yourself as generous. “Opportunities abound; where there are living beings, there is a field for generosity. So when someone comes into your field of interaction, begin by asking the question, How can I be magnanimous with this person?” Some of the creative ways suggested by Lama Willa are – Giving protection, Giving ease and comfort, Offering encouragement, Helping the sick, and Listening.  You can listen to her guided meditation on Giving and Receiving for free on iTunes.

In this short clip, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo expresses some examples of how to practice generosity in our daily lives

- “smile with an inner wish for their well-being”

Exercise: The Gift of Smiling  by Lama Willa Miller:

Today, try a “smiling experiment.” Every day, we pass people on the street, interact with them over a counter, pass by their desks, without giving them our full attention. Today, make a conscious effort to smile at some of these people, at least three of them. When you smile at them, join the smile with an inner wish for their well-being. After you try this, consider these three questions:

  1. How did the person respond to your smile?
  2. Did smiling change the tone of your interaction with that person?
  3. How did you feel internally after this interaction? Did smiling change your state of mind? 
Did you try the smiling exercise?  What creative ways did you find to be magnanimous this week? Please feel free to share how you are doing with Week 5 in the comments below.
Everyday Dharma I DharmaCrafts
- Lama Willa Miller author of Everyday Dharma

Willa B. Miller, PhD is the founder of Natural Dharma Fellowship in Boston and Wonderwell Mountain Refuge in Springfield, New Hampshire. She is on faculty with One Earth Sangha’s EcoSattva Training and is a member of the Council on the Uncertain Human Future. You can read her Buddhist advice regarding climate change on lionsroar.com.

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