The Three Principles

The Three Principles

From a talk given by Bo Lozoff in 2005

The Human Kindness Foundation was founded upon three principles. After reading the scriptures of most of the great traditions of the world, I saw three principles just singing off the pages of the Bible, the Koran, the Bhagavad Gita, the Mahabharata, Greek mythology and the writing of the Greek philosophers. I saw three principles that were just indisputably identical.

If you distill any of those great philosophical or religious traditions down to some practical advice, one thing they all agree on is: don’t want too much stuff – it’ll get you into a dynamic of wanting and acquiring and protecting and defending and repairing and replacing. And all this precious divine energy, this mysterious energy that can move mountains and raise the dead, winds up paying off a BMW. So all the great traditions have said live simply, live modestly. You have an inefficient use of your energy when you spend too much of it around your comfort and your toys. Live simply.

The second principle they agree on is, for your own sake, don’t devote your life to your personal success. Devote your life to the common good – make the world a better place. If you only devote your life to personal success, you will never ever have enough to satisfy you. There’s always more. If you devote your life to making the world a better place, you’ll have plenty of personal success, and you’ll be in tune because you’ll be drawn toward the part of the common good that draws you and you were created for. Each of us was born with an individual nature as well as being born with a universal nature. And our individual natures, like magnetic shavings, get drawn by certain stimuli: working with the environment or working with prisoners or working with the elderly or working with children or selling shoes with a great deal of compassion. I don’t have as much skill talking with children as I do with convicts so I gravitated toward a life with convicts. By the end of this tour I may have been in a thousand prisons. I haven’t been in a thousand day care centers. It’s not my pull. I’m glad there are people who go there. So we naturally gravitate toward our individual Dharma and here we are, that little thread in this enormous tapestry that we can never see the whole of with these eyes. So dedicate yourself to the common good and you’ll find your niche.

The third principle they all agree on is: spend at least a little time every day being humble, alone and silent before the Great Unknown. I’m always telling people it takes time to be deep. If you’re not willing to spend time to be deep, you know what’s going to happen? You’re not going to be deep. You may philosophically think you’re deep. You may intellectually believe in being deep. But it’s not free. It takes time – especially in as noisy and agitated a world as we live in today, where multitasking is a positive thing. If we don’t commit ourselves to some time, even if it’s ten minutes, of truly humble spiritual introspection every day, we’re not going to become deep. Don’t think that you’re above this, because that would be very arrogant. Don’t think, “Oh, not me.” Every good person who has ever been caught by the world is just as deep as you and me by nature. And we have to give some of our time to reminding ourselves that we really are like children before the Great Mystery. And we submit ourselves to the intelligence, the beauty, and the profundity of Life.

Cover artwork by Jason Bruni, Graceville Correctional Center