For the person who shows respect
And always reveres worthy people,
Four things increase:
Life span, beauty, happiness, and strength.
Dhammapada v. 109, translated by Gil Fronsdal
Here it is! The key to happiness and long life! All we have to do is ALWAYS revere and respect worthy people. Hm, could it be that this is not as simple as it sounds?
Who are the worthy people we respect and revere? And how do we revere them?
This verse points to nothing less than orienting our lives around those whom we aspire to be like. Rather than drifting from one entertainment or distraction to another, we’re asked to be awake to what is most important, continuously. The qualities we see in the people we most admire are the qualities that we want to nourish in our own heart-minds.
My dear mother-in-law was not a perfect person, but her love in action was the purest I’ve encountered. There was no one for whom she couldn’t spare some care and compassion. She sits on a throne in my heart and I often ask myself what she would do in a particular situation.
For a long time, I thought I couldn’t possibly aspire to awakening in the Buddhist sense; but now I do. I’m no longer afraid to think of the Buddha and say, “I want what he found”. So in a profound sense, the Buddha himself is at the center of my circle of respect and reverence. There are a few teachers I’ve known who sit very close to him in this holy place of my heart.
It’s not a matter of looking for perfection in others, but of recognizing noble qualities when we see them. You probably have friends or family members with some excellent qualities that are obscured by irritating behaviors. Possibly this could be said of any of us. Can we see the goodness, the worthiness in others (and ourselves), and focus on that?
Who are the holy people in your life? Whom do you aspire to be like? Who has qualities that you want to develop at the center of your own being?