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Weekly Dharma

The Importance of Magnanimity

Fo Guang Shan International Translation Center
©All rights reserved.
Written by Venerable Master Hsing Yun
Recorded by Steven Chan, Toronto Radiant Subchapter

  • The Importance of Magnanimity    3:16
Weekly Dharma

The Importance of Magnanimity

The Importance of Magnanimity

      There are many types of emotions people feels towards others—happiness and love, discontentment and resentment, gratitude and enmity, positive and negative—but the most important one that connects one person to another is magnanimity.

      Confucius advocated forgiveness. The compassion of the Buddha and the love of Jesus both share that same spirit. Buddhism speaks of "treating foe and kin alike," Jesus teaches "love your enemies," and Confucius says "to love everyone is to demonstrate benevolence." All of these teachings are espousing a spirit of magnanimity.

      If we want to have lasting relationships with people, we need to be magnanimous. If there is no forgiveness, no support, and no give and take between friends, how could any friendship last for long? If there is no mutual trust and understanding between husband and wife, how can the couple live together harmoniously? Both a family's closeness and a society's harmony hinge on magnanimity. Nowadays, we see many dysfunctional families, organizations and communities divided by disputes and arguments. However, we also see many people putting things aside disagreements and becoming friends again based on magnanimity. What a wonderful thing that is!

      There is a parable about a follower of the Buddha named Devadatta. He was a ruffian who had committed all sorts of evil deeds. One day, while he was walking, he almost stepped on a spider. However, a sudden thought of compassion arose in his mind, and instead of stepping on the spider, he took a big step and walked over it without harming it. Later, due to his unwholesome karma, he was reborn into hell, but because of his one thought of compassion he was liberated from hell and from further suffering. Devadatta's single thought of compassion is an illustration of magnanimity!

      Besides being magnanimous toward people, we should also have the capacity for tolerance towards all beings and things. In protecting the environment and its diverse ecosystems, we are demonstrating respect and a forgiving mind towards all living beings and nature. Nowadays, many societies are moving towards the advocacy of benevolence and forgiveness in their government policies. For instance, mediation committees are active in many communities, and a family court has been established in many courthouses. Furthermore, judges are progressing toward handling all civil and criminal cases with a sense of magnanimity in mind aiming to eliminate animosity within human relationships.

      We can easily forgive when we feel love, but when we can forgive despite our anger, then this is true magnanimity. Buddhism's "unconditional compassion and kindness as we are all one" is the best example of magnanimity. With magnanimity, families will be full of joy and ease, and the earth will be filled with peace and harmony—what a wonderful world that would be!

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Recorded by Leann Moore         0:21

Peace is the art of etiquette;
     talking softly is the mark of
     civilization;
smiling is the sunshine of
     relationships;
trust is the friend of success.
This is the protocol for modern people.

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