The Tibetan Spiritual Life
In Tibetan Buddhism there are generally two types of meditation. In the first type you focus on one thing so as to still the mind, in the second type you use the thus trained mind to focus on specific mental exercises designed to help you see things from a different wiser perspective. ( I'm still looking for the book in which a Tibetan spiritual leader describes a short simple meditation. We can learn of this later) Stilling the mind is really important in helping right action. When a human being has a quieter mind it is easier to engage in right action because right action can actually be quite complex and requires constant attention to circumstances and conditions ( we must decide for ourselves with careful application rather than simply applying what somebody else says is right action.) Right action must be thought out for oneself. ( there certainly seem to be a lot of people who are happy to push others toward what they think is right action is isn't there? Right action in this case, is not getting irritated at them for doing so. This isn't easy because human beings engage in a great deal of subtle cruelty under such circumstances due to the temporary obscuration of their minds I mentioned earlier. Our minds are affected also when it bothers us!)
The reverse is also true. For example, if a human intentionally harms another living being it is difficult if not impossible to attain this perspective because the energies involved tend to make the subtle mind more chaotic. Hence, understanding really cannot go past a certain point. Kindness is very important to wisdom. The value of contemplation of one sort or another, and the importance of compassion is understood in many native traditions ( you already may well know of some to tell me of !). I have a recollection of a wise Native American elder (whose name I can't remember,alas) with another member of the tribe driving up the highway in an old automobile in the rain. It took them much longer to get where they were going because he stopped and got out of the car every few feet to take an earthworm off the road to safety. Tibetans digging a foundation to a house take a lot longer too because they carefully transport the earthworms to another spot so as not to hurt them . (The movie Seven Years in Tibet describes this.) Tibetans believe that when a human being is thoroughly trained in this wise and compassionate perspective the mind is very focused and powerful and can accomplish great good, even in the smallest of actions. Indeed such is the case, and such a mind is a great threat to an authoritarian system such as the Chinese communist government in Tibet. This is one of the reasons why their acts of destruction have focused on the spiritual leaders and centers of Tibetan Buddhism.
* the picture is courtesy of the Carsten Nebel website at http://www.tibetfocus.com/himalayas/tibet/index.htm