In Buddha stories, we read about how Buddha approached people and converted them into the Buddhist way. It looks simple and effortless.
Being a Buddhist, we may sometime wish that we have similar ability. Perhaps we can convince others to abandon their greed, hatred, prejudice, foolish beliefs, and etc. We wish we can duplicate Buddha’s feat or at least, share some of Buddha’s wise words with family and friends.
Unfortunately, our clumsy attempt to share dharma doesn’t work out like Buddha stories. We end up feeling defeated, disappointed and even angry when people rejected our “sharing” or mock our beliefs.
Besides dharma, sometimes we wish to influence others to see our point of view too. We mistakenly conclude that our happiness depends on other people accepting our way of thinking or doing things. We crave their acknowledgement. I am right and you are wrong. I am wise and you are foolish……
If we examine the above carefully, it isn’t hard to see attachment, craving and ego driving our desire to influence people. According to Buddhism, such motivation leads to sufferings. (Ours and others)
Do we influence others?
The answer is simply. “We don’t consciously do it. or want it”
Foremost, we must understand that Buddha only approach people who has the right karma to receive Dharma.
That means, it is not about conquering others and changing them. Instead, those disciples already possess the right karma to see Dharma. Buddha merely helped them along the way.
Once we understand this, we should have a new perspective to respect the karma of other people. If they do not have the correct karma for understanding and embracing certain idea; then it is foolish of us to try impose our way of thinking upon them. We will end up creating unhappiness all around.
For example, imposing our dietary preference upon others. Scorning fellow buddhist who are not vegetarian.
But nothing is permanent.
Even stone will wear out under dripping water. A person who isn’t ready for dharma now, may be ready in future. We just need to have the wisdom to identify when the time is ripe.
In the meantime, we continue to let our practice flow. We focus on being a good Buddhist. The positive effect from our actions, speech and thoughts will permeate. By living righteously, we lead by examples. Those people around us will know that we do not gossip or carry tales about others. We avoid enmity and practice loving kindness. When their mind is ready, they will understand what we represent. They will be influenced.
Last but not least. a desire to influence others is still craving. And craving leads to suffering.
May all be well and happy.