Excerpted from the article “Cultivate the Good” by Sharon Salzberg in the September 2016 issue of The Lion’s Roar:
This passage is one of my favorites from the Buddha’s teaching:
WE CAN DO IT
Abandon what is unskillful,
One can abandon the unskillful,
If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do so.
If this abandoning of the unskillful would bring harm and suffering,
I would not ask you to abandon it.
But the abandoning of the unskillful brings benefits and happiness,
Therefore, I say, “Abandon what is unskillful.”
Cultivate the good.
You can cultivate the good.
If it were not possible, I would not ask you to do it.
If the cultivation of the good would bring harm and suffering,
I would not ask you to cultivate it.
But the cultivation of the good brings benefits and happiness,
Therefore, I say,”Cultivate the good.”
I think this beautifully exemplifies the extraordinary compassion of the Buddha. The mind of the Buddha sees not good and bad people, but suffering and the end of suffering, and exhorts those heading toward suffering through greed or anger or fear to take care, to pay attention, to see how much more they are capable of, rather than condemning them. He sees those heading toward the end of suffering through wisdom and loving-kindness and rejoices for them.