Question: Do you have any advice on what to do when you realize you have not acted out of love and compassion, but have done something unkind?
Answer: Generally, recognizing that you did something wrong helps to purify your negative action and it decreases your tendency to act that way in the future. When you acknowledge your unkindness, your mind returns to the state of love, compassion, and wisdom, which can awaken you from further negativity. It is said that the only positive quality of negative action is that it can be purified. Recognizing that you behaved badly begins the process of purification; then you need to consciously decide that you are not going to act that way again.
Beyond having the intention to change your behavior, when you see that you have hurt others, you could do practices for them related to generosity, discipline, patience, and joyful effort. Concentration practices also help you become more pure and strong. The Vajrayana meditation on Vajrasattva is particularly helpful in purifying negative actions.
Venerable Khenpo Rinpoches
The Buddhist Path
Photo of the Vajrasattva thangka at the PBC Palm Beach Dharma Center.
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