So, this is probably the oddest topic I have ever chosen for a blog post, but I plan to impersonate a wizard at our Fundraising Fancy Dress Picnic next month and I am transforming this activity into a teaching on wisdom by seeing what inspiring words the great magic-users of literature have to share. Milarepa said that everything he encountered was his teacher, and Albus Dumbledore certainly gives some good Dharma advice:
‘To the well-organised mind, death is but the next great adventure.’
Encouragement not only to contemplate our death, but to prepare for death by working with our own mind. If we use our life wisely, then death will no longer be something to fear:
‘When death actually comes we shall feel like a child returning to the home of its parents, and pass away joyfully, without fear.’
– Geshe Kelsang, Living Meaningfully, Dying Joyfully
Professor Dumbledore is also very encouraging when it comes to focusing on our potential:
“It is our choices, Harry, that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
We are not fixed, we change in dependence upon our choices: with every action we are shaping ourselves into new people, eventually into Buddhas. I may have a great ability to deceive others, for example, but this does not control who I am: I can choose to act against this harmful instinct and through my choices become a better person.
We can also gain some insight into compassion from Gandalf:
“Many that live deserve death. And some that die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment.”
Magic gives the wizard great power, and so they can teach us about how to use power wisely – which is, in essence, the practice of moral discipline. This is from one of my favorite books, Ursula Le Guin’s A Wizard of Earthsea:
“The truth is that as a man’s real power grows and his knowledge widens, ever the way he can follow grows narrower: until at last he chooses nothing but does only and wholly what he must do.”
Moral discipline is walking a narrow path – but it does not feel restrictive because it is a path chosen by our wisdom that knows right from wrong. As our practice of Buddhism deepens, we do find that our choices are simplified: as we see more clearly how to bring happiness to ourselves and others, then it is obvious what we need to do.
And to conclude, some words of wisdom from the creator of Harry Potter, who tells us that we all have our own magic:
‘We do not need magic to change the world – we have all the power we need inside ourselves already. We have the power to imagine better.’
Help us make the magic happen: Fancy Dress Fundraiser