As I teach my meditation classes everyday, I find that’s it’s hard for people to understand what a strain their social relationships are on their emotions, and I see it’s hard for many to make a clear boundary between oneself and others. The lack of reflection on how one acts creates undo tension in the body and in the mind. Today I would like to talk about two types of people: those who are helpful and those who are burdensome. Let’s take a moment to think how we can be a helpful or burdensome person in our daily lives. Being helpful means to give strength, and being burdensome means you are unable to function independently and so rely on others for a living. Being helpful means you’re helpful to others as well as yourself, and being a burden means you are a burden to others as well as yourself. It’s difficult enough to practice meditation or just work in the office daily, but if the person next to you is relying on you, it makes your time even more difficult. I suggest you examine yourself and look at your present position whether you’re being of help to yourself or being a burden, and also whether you are being helpful or a burden to those around you. Simply, if you’re capable on your own, you’re being helpful, if you’re not, you’re being a burden. You absolutely should not be a burden to others. This can be achieved through your intentions alone, depending on your efforts. In fact, the difference between being helpful and being a burden is as slight as the thickness of one sheet of paper. One slight misjudgement and you’re a burden. But in the right direction, you’re a help. The most important thing is, Are you being helpful or a burden to yourself? Always think about whether you have too many thoughts that you can’t deal with them, and whether you have too many desires that you can’t deal with them either. And think about whether you are being helpful or a burden to your wife or husband, workers or friends, or to your family. If you realize you’re being a burden, first of all try to be a person of capability who can resolve matters by yourself. And instead of asking others for help, first be eager develop yourself into a more competent person, If you think you’re being helpful, then in addition to helping yourself and by improving yourself, try to be helpful to the people around you. I find that talented people neglect to cultivate others, which reduces their strength. Strength is formed from helping others. We have been raised to be not only independent but selfish also. It’s time to raise those around us also. Untalented people need to find the strength within them to develop themselves and stop expecting others to help; that’s a burden. The best methods for both: help others without their knowing, and learn from others by observing. But there’s another aspect to being helpful too. You must be bright. Being bright means your mind isn’t heavy, but light. Not only are you light, but your lightness creates an atmosphere where others can become so light that they can almost fly, and therefore you’re being a help to them. When I first began meditation, for a period of time my mind was so dark, as if I were carrying all the world’s burdens on my shoulders. I severed contact with others and sat meditating with a heavy heart. I thought that was an advanced level. So I didn’t smile, had a severed demeanor, and was haughty, but through practice I realized that being light is a more advanced level. When I started meditation, I was in a heavy state, like life or death. While training I used to say, “Why am I not feeling anything today?” In fact, it takes a long time to reach the stage where energy flows everyday. At first I thought that energy just pours down if I made the effort. But that’s not the case. One day the meditation Master said to me, “Why are you complaining while you are rejecting the energy?” I tried to understand what that meant. The next day the Master said, “There is so much sunlight trying to reach you, but how can the sun shine its light if the sky is full of clouds?” So I understood and removed the clouds from my mind. My heavy mind was full of dark clouds. The sunlight couldn’t penetrate through my clouds. But there are so many people nowadays drowning in their gloomy thoughts and they don’t notice it. They enjoy saying, “I’m moody,” or “I’m a serious person,” or “I don’t like to change my thoughts easily.” They consider it an advanced level. But through meditation I realized that being light is a much more advanced level than being heavy. Those who are confident are light. Their minds are so light they could fly. On the other hand, those without confidence have a tendency to put themselves down severely. If your mind is heavy, you not only put down yourself, but others too. You should say, “I’m being a burden not only to myself but to others.” You can see the difference between heavy and light just by looking at one’s facial expression. Be a bright person. Just being bright is helpful both to yourself and others. No matter what reason you may have, you need to clear away the clouds blocking your mind, and at the same time try hard to become bright. If you try hard, it’ll happen. If in fact, you’re unable to change a certain unsuitable habit, it’s because you don’t wish to change it. You secretly enjoy the habit. You say, “I’ll go my way, and you go your way.” Some never change, no matter how others feel. It’s as though they’ll take the habit with them to their graves because they don’t wish to change. If you say, “I want to change” then you can change. Therefore, change your dark character by yourself, and if you seek brightness, be like the sun and bring sunshine and help to those around you. Next time I’ll talk about being warm. The writer is a meditation and Tanjon breathing instructor in Seoul.