10 Questions for the Dalai Lama

Saw 10 questions for the Dalai Lama at the Dobie Theater last night with my husband. Sometimes I think we live in an amazing time. Even though everything is crazy and we seem to be on the brink of extinction, immense beauty shows up in odd ways. Sometimes sanity makes itself known through incredible people. The Dalai Lama is one of these people and I feel lucky to be alive during the time of his existence.

What do you suppose will become of Tibet? I wonder if the Dalai Lama’s people will continue to buy into his message of peaceful resistance, and if they do what will become of them? So many societies have simply been snuffed out and only remain as legends. I hope this isn’t true for Tibet. But already China is kidnapping the real deal and putting in it’s place puppet religious leaders. How many times has history seen this done before?

Perhaps the Tibetans will be like the Hopi (Hopi’sinom, or “People Who Live in the Correct Way”/Hopita, those who practice the peaceful way) and somehow manage, against all odds, to continue to practice a full cycle of traditional ceremonies and observe them for the benefit of the entire world. The Hopi’s native language is making a comeback so they are not in danger of becoming extinct any time soon. Maybe it is “truth” that has allowed them to maintain their traditional identity for so long when so many others have been unable to do so?

Maybe the world will finally come to the rescue of the Tibetans. That would be good. But increasingly, the modern world is seeing religion as “bad”. Or only specific religions are seen as “good”. A whole new generation of Tibetans are growing up with absolutely no connection whatsoever to their homeland. How will they perceive this time in history? Many have become frustrated with the Dalai Lama’s peace activism. Will they likewise become frustrated with their religion?

I’d love for the story to have a fairy tale ending and for the Tibetans to get back their land. But even if this happens, can they go home again? Tibet has become a cheesy Chinese tourist trap. All of the important religious artifacts have been destroyed, amusement parks and prostitution abound and the actual Tibetan population is decreasing as more and more Chinese take over the area.

Somehow in the face of it all, the Dalai Lama remains lighthearted and steadfast in what he says is “truth”. I suppose the Tibetan culture will live on in the hearts of all of us who have been touched by it even if it isn’t able to do so on it’s own land.

Interesting film in that it raised more questions for me than previous films on Tibet have done.

The Tibetan Book of Yoga by Geshe Michael Roach

My daughter and I worked through all of the exercises in The Tibetan Book of Yoga. I hadn’t realized there was a Tibetan Yoga so this was all new to me. Tibetan Heart Yoga comes from the Gelukpa tradition of the Dalai Lamas of Tibet. I don’t think this is the actual practice, but one modified by Geshe Michael. I was able to follow it and could easily imagine incorporating this into my day – so at least it is accessible to true beginners.

Geshe Michael Roach claims that you can piggy back this yoga on any yoga you are learning – that any instructor can help you perfect the poses. My daughter takes yoga but I haven’t done yoga in years! This may have inspired me to take it up again.

The Diamond Mountain teachers are a group of teachers from the United States, Ireland, Canada and Australia who have extensively studied the ancient wisdom traditions of Tibet and India with the great masters.

The write up on Geshe Michael Roach says he is the first American to complete the twenty-year course in a traditional monastery and earn the title of “Geshe,” or Master of Buddhism. He is the founder of the Asian Classics Input Project, which is probably the world’s largest database of ancient Asian manuscipts, and the author of several internationally selling popular books on Eastern Spirituality. He is a translator of Sanskrit and Tibetan and recently completed a three-year deep meditation retreat in the Arizona desert.

A few ineresting points I want to hold onto:

  • We are are supposed to do yoga facing the east because that is the direction in which we turn as we stand on the Earth. West refers to our back.
  • I liked this: “…this tidiness needs to happen on a wider scale if you ever hope to find the kind of concentration that we’re sending others here. That’s because our minds are like a computer – they only have a certain capacity to store things, and no more. If I ask you how many pairs of shoes you have, or how many knickknacks scattered around your house, your mind immediately begins calling up pictures of each one of them. This demonstrates how cluttered our minds really are: Some old pair of tennis shoes that we never wear is taking up precious space in our minds. And if that seat is occupied when our next great idea needs a place to sit down, we might lose it altogether.

The same thing applies to our relationships, and the books we read, and the news we choose to listen to. The capacity of the mind is not infinite. Relating to a hundred objects on a very shallow level prevents you from going deeply into one or two. And something happens to the inner winds when we do go deep: The flow begins to quiet down and clean up.

  • All-Day Yoga is called Chulam Neljor and some of the greatest descriptions of it are found in the writings of a master called Quicksilver Dharma Bhadra (1772-1851) and in works by Dechen Nyingpo (1989-1941), the teacher of the His Holiness the current Dalai Lama.
  • It’s a good idea to take one day off a week as a break and to start your practice at the same time every day. Your body will respond to this rhythm.
  • It is best to practice yoga on an empty stomach – try not to eat anything 3 hours before practice.
  • It is very important to be steady. You can’t expect great results if you work very hard for a few days a week and then do nothing on the other days. Better a steady, modest effort every day.
  • Give each session a good half hour and don’t try to rush it or shorten it.
  • It is important to stay warm during the practice. Roach recommends a standard “sticky” mat with a traditional cotton mat placed over it to prevent the plastic from coming into direct contact with your skin.
  • It is good to wear clothes that are entirely made of natural fibers like cotton or wool because it further prevents the plastic from coming into direct contact with your skin.

Robert Thurman

Robert Thurman is a really interesting guy. He was the first Western monk in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition but decided he would be more influential in American Academia so gave up his robes. He’s practiced Buddhism for decades and is a long time friend of the Dalai Lama whom he has served, on occasion, as his translator. He is also the father of actress Uma Thurman.

In 1997, he was voted by Time Magazine as one of America’s most influential people. He has degrees from Harvard and is the Je Tsongkhapa Professor of Indo-Tibetan Buddhist Studies at Columbia University.

I learned more from this three part series On Buddhism than from anything so far. It’s definitely academic – just Thurman up in front of a podium lecturing. So if you are into multi-media, this won’t do it for you. And it is kind of dense, but he presents really difficult concepts beautifully and in a very straight forward way.

More info on Thurman:

An interesting interview with Thurman at Beliefnet.com

Clip of Thurman explaining Buddhism

Thurman’s Home Page

Robert A.F. Thurman on Buddhism – The Sangha

Notes on the final part of Thurman’s lecture series on Buddhism. 

The Sangha – The Community

American Buddhists don’t, as of yet, really have the view of infinite rationality which is we are here now, having been infinitely connected, and will continue to be infinitely connected.

Western belief, instead, is that death leads to nothing and all our sins are absolved when we die.

Also, there are no monastic Songha’s in America yet. Begging is not Kosher because of the Protestantization of America. (Protestantism being the demonastacization of the West.) True monasticism, as practiced in Buddhism and Catholicism, was first invented by the Buddha.

In Buddhism, there is no indivisible thing – no individual. If you keep peeling away the layers of reality, eventually you will land upon emptiness. So if Buddhists believe that after all the layers are peeled away we are emptiness, how can the Buddhist tradition likewise contain individualism? Buddhism teaches a social individualism.

If there was an individual that was the real you, not only would you not be individualistic, you wouldn’t even be there because in order to be there you have to be related. But if there was a part of you that was non-relational, then you couldn’t relate to other individuals. You couldn’t exist.

Only because you are infinitely divisible are you nothing more than your infinite connections. The part of the interconnectedness that you can deal with yourself – you have to take responsibility for that.

Buddha broke away from his duty as a son, as a warrior, as a husband, as a prince. Thurman claims The Bhagavad Gita is an effort to keep duty (ie the war effort) going in the face of Buddha’s teaching. In The Bhagavad Gita, Arjuna wants to pull out of his duties. But they make him get back in. (The Bhagavad Gita was written 800 years after Buddha). The Vedic society was collective. The King can’t do what he wants because he has to do what the people want.

If you are interconnected ultimately, then relatively, you are the one responsible for your separate self. It is oppressive to merge this self into a general will. If we are an individualistic society, then the highest purpose of the collective is the individual purpose of all of us. Society’s purpose is to bring each of us to our highest potential.

Collectivism is where everyone is supposed to support everybody else, but no other person is supposed to be fulfilled.

Collectivism – you serve the whole but in the whole there is no one person.

versus

Individual – Every individual is the supreme purpose of the life of the whole. In that way the whole flourishes individual by individual.

Sangha is the community founded as an alternative world to collectivism and collective coercion and the oppression of separateness.

Buddha forbade his monastics to become priests. He didn’t want to create a priestly caste, and by not competing with the Brahmin, he kept himself from being executed. (Social principal of not competing).

He was trained to be a king so was an excellent sociologist.

In an enlightened experience you do feel others as yourself and yourself as others. But this is not enlightenment and is often mistaken by mystics to mean that the enlightened person believes everyone is obliterated and yet you are all one, but none of you exist. This is based upon the pre-trans fallacy which gets confused with trans-egoic insight. With the pre-egoic lack of having developed any sense of seperateness or self-responsibility or definition.

The sense of oneness in enlightenment is balanced/coordinated non-dualistically with a responsible sense of non-differenitiation. There is an oceanic state (like the mystics claim), but it is non-dual from the differentiated state.

The reason that “other” is such a problem to us in our unelightened state is that we think the self is a real thing and that other people are different from us.

There are three progressions:

  • self and others (you and the other are different and I am the center of the universe)
  • no self and others (you and the other are the same)
  • self and others (you and the other are different but believe you are equally you as I am me. I am not the center of the universe.)

Buddha’s message is that we can understand reality sufficiently to have happiness and everyone can know it. We can become completely different human beings without selfish drives at all. In that way, we will be truly happy. I want you to do that and you want me to do that. This is the awakening within the Jewel Community.

The problem with anthropology is that it has no room for concepts of transcendence. Anthropologists define religion as pattern maintaining systems of belief and ritual. The purpose of religion is also pattern transcending. In terms of Tibet, anthropologists have agreed with the Marxist condemnation of Tibet as a Feudal Theocracy. From their point of view, the nuns and monks just sit around while the people slave and toil. But this is completely false, the people love the monks and nuns. It is not an oppressive arrangement.

There are 8 verses for training the mind.

“By thinking of sentient beings as even better than the wish granting jen for accomplishing the highest AIM, may I always consider them precious.”

By more individualism and more education of people to seek the highest goal for themselves in life, the society became much more supportive of this even in the lay sector.

This is Mahayana – seeking enlightenment of the mind as a freedom of the mind, but you are also seeking a higher embodiment. Enlightenment of the mind is Wisdom. Enlightenment of the body is Compassion. Compassion is expressed in the body through interaction with others. You can’t be compassionate without another person.

“Wherever I go with whomever I go, may I see myself as less than all others and from the depth of my heart may I consider them supremely precious.”

Self Cherishing – is the constant worry about how I am, how am I here, and how am I. It is the evaluation of “how we are”. Compassion training is the replacement of self-cherishing with other-cherishing. It is exchange of one for the other. You see the other as equal to yourself. Equally existent.

The mystic state is a semblance of voidness. It is a pleasant state and it is releasing. But it is a falsely constructed void if taken in itself apart from everything that is empty. This state couldn’t be disconnected because we experience it. We enter it and we leave it. It’s a good experience because it dissolves the rigidity of the self-absolutization and the “other absolutization”.

It is the squeezing together of the sky-like equipoised experience and the dreamlike differentiating experience where the differences of self and other return but are like a dream. In the dreamlike thing, your there-ness is equal to my there-ness. It requires no leap of mental faith.

Your relations with others are always spoiled by 1 of 3 things. You evaluate others in a few minutes and locate them as either inferior in some way, you decide you are equal in some way, or you locate them as superior in some way. The minute you locate someone as your inferior, you condescend to them (even if only slightly). If you perceive them as your superior, you are immediately envious (conditioning ego-habit). And likewise, because we all pick up on one another’s vibes, whoever we feel envious of will immediately feel condescending toward us. If we are condescending toward someone, they are jealous of us. And round and round it goes.

If you shift your view just slightly, you begin to see yourself from the eyes of jealousy, contempt, and competitiveness. If you don’t want them to feel about you in these ways, then you have to quit feeling about them in these ways.

“May I examine my mind in all actions and as soon as a negative state occurs, since it endangers myself and others, may I firmly replace and avert it. When I see beings oppressed by negativity or pain, may I as if finding a treasure, consider them precious, for they are rarely met.”

There are three major virtues to develop the body of compassion of Buddhhoood.

  1. generosity
  2. morality/justice
  3. tolerance/patience

The third one is hard because in order to have tolerance you have to have beings who injure you. The person who gives you a really hard time is a real treasure.

If we are equally each other but have long lived in a state of mutual conflict and in tension because we have long been laboring under the delusion that we are more than you, then the more we make you more than me, the more we are approximating the condition of our total mutual enlightenment. When we will be all, in all, to all of each other. That is community. Let them have the victory – that is the victory. This is as in Christianity – the mystical body of Christ. We are all limbs of the same body.

Everyone brought up in a materialistic society has the habit of thinking, even though we may not be aware of it, that we really don’t exist. With this belief, it is easy to make the jump to give of yourself, especially when you think of it like falling asleep. That’s easy. But! To give the victory to someone when you are arguing with them or they have given you trouble, when you think “you are righteous, they are wrong” completely changes the dynamic of our interconnection.

There are three levels within the Jewel Community:

  1. Revolutionary (in the inner sense)
  2. Evolutionary (in the education sense)
  3. Fruitional or Millennial

Lost Civilizations

While I was looking for stuff on the Chinese Revolution, I also came across Time Life’s series on Lost Civilizations. This was another absolutely gripping series. There are 10 programs, almost 1 hour each on different civilizations that have been lost over time. They start with the most ancient and move toward the more recent: Mesopotamia – Return to Eden, Ancient Egypt – Quest for Immortality, Aegean – Legacy of Atlantis, Greece – A Moment of Excellence, China – Dynasties of Power, Rome – The Ultimate Empire, The Maya – the Blood of the Kings, The Inca – Secrets of the Ancestors, Africa – A History Denied, Tibet – The End of Time.

I took a few notes – primarily on Tibet because of my recent interests…

On Tibet:

Tibet was the very last surviving major ancient civilization and is currently a diaspora on the brink of extinction. In the 7th century, the Tibetans were feared conquerors, their methods being not unlike those used by Ghengis Khan. After 1000 years of military might, Tibet decided to demilitarize. This is the only civilization ever known to voluntarily give up it’s military might so it is absolutely remarkable from a historical standpoint. Most tend to go the other direction and strengthen their military might. By the end of the 17th century, Tibet had given up it’s fortresses for monasteries and violence was replaced with spiritual wisdom. A peaceful, self-sufficient society emerged dedicated to the pursuit of non-violence and it existed this way for 800 years.

It’s a very interesting experiment for a country to say “I do it for the other”. Tibet maintained it’s independence by trading spiritual blessings with China. But when Mao Zedong gained rule, religion came to be seen as a superstition and the Tibetan society was viewed as one that was in need of education. In 1949, China invaded Tibet. In 1959, the Dalai Lama fled to India. He was only 23 years old.

100,000 Tibetans follows the Dalai Lama to Tibet, but 1.2 million more died. This was a Holocaust, not unlike what happened to the Jews. But like it took quite a while for the details of the fate of the Jews to emerge after WWII, we don’t yet have the details of what happened to the Tibetans and don’t yet know the full extent of the carnage. Some of the survivors have horrible stories – of terrible torture: being suspended upside down, having their legs imprisoned in casts for years, being so hungry they were tempted to eat their own excrement. Many of these Tibetans have been imprisoned all of their lives, being arrested when they were young and only released when they were elderly.

The Tibetans remain in India, not having access to their land. The Dalai Lama believes that there is still hope for their survival, if they can somehow negotiate some sort of self-rule with China. But if they cannot obtain this, then their society will become extinct, leaving no surviving ancient civilizations on earth.

I have just a few notes on the other shows:

On Mesopotamia:

1. Ten Commandments: The Ten Commandments come from Hammurabi’s Code? 1200 years before the Israelites had been taken captive, Hammurabi was a Babylonian king who had a stone inscribed with laws that bare his name. This stone emerged in the late 19th century. This Babylonian code is the precursor to the laws we find in Exodus, Leviticus and Deuteronomy.

2. Noah’s Ark: In 1852, Nineveh was discovered in Northern Iraq. This was an Assyrian civilization and contained the Library of Nineveh in which the Epic of Gilgamesh was discovered. This story predates the Bible by 2000 years and contains within it, a story of a man building a boat that is exactly like the story of Noah in Genesis. The major cities of Sumer were Uruk, Ur (said to be the birthplace of Abraham) and Eridu. The Sumerians invented the wheel, gardening, government and were the first civilization on earth to invent the 60 second minute. And most significantly, they wrote things down – they invented Cuneiform. According to this documentary, they are considered to be the first civilization to ever exist. 

3. Garden of Eden: Part of the Epic of Gilgamesh contains a story of a Garden of paradise, complete with a serpent. Archaeologists now think the myth was based upon an actual place – the Island of Bahrain which would have seemed like paradise compared to the surrounding areas. They have found embalmed remains of people and serpents – embalmed serpents are everywhere on the island of Bahrain.

On Egypt:

All I have written down is the discovery of the Rosetta Stone by Napoleon. This was a signficant discovery because there was a Greek translation under the Egyptian Cuneiform which finally allowed experts to break the code of the Egyptian writing. One of my favorite Catholic priests claimed that this proved that Moses did not actually exist – that his story was based upon an accumulation of stories that can be found in the Egyptian libraries. He said that Moses and Abraham were symbols for groups of nomadic tribes – not actual individuals. Many archaeologists concur with this, since absolutely nothing can be found on Abraham or Moses, but similar stories about other people abound.

On Greece:

Athens was a boys club and women were nothing. This tends to continue to be true in most of Greece.

Socrates was accused of not believing in the gods and was said to corrupt the minds of the youth. His trial and conviction would not have happened under Pericles who ruled during the city’s Golden Age. Socrates embodies Athens at it’s best.

On the Maya:

I think the most interesting thing about this show was one of the experts claiming that the decline of the Mayan civilization is not particularly mysterious or significant. What is significant is that a civilization like the Mayan civilization could be maintained for 2000 years.

The civilization was completely reliant upon a system. In order to survive, the people had to believe in the power of the King. When the people no longer had faith in the King, the civilization collapsed. As more and more people lost faith in their ruler, they left the cities.

The Mayan civilization was a bloody one. The King and Queen had to give blood in exchange for immortality. They would pierce their tongues and their genitals which caused tremendous bleeding, and offer this blood to the gods in great ceremonies. As they kingdoms began to falter, rather than increase military might, they created even more fearful ritualistic blood sacrifices, which of course, did not save their civilization.

It was very easy for the Mayans to accept Jesus because they were already so heavily into blood sacrifice. The idea of a King sacrificing himself for the people and becoming immortal made perfect sense to them. So they embraced Christianity without a qualm.

An interesting note: the Mayan calendar is among the most accurate ever developed and it abruptly ends in 2012. The Tibetans believe we are entering an Apocalyptic age, and some scientists claim we are in for a reversal in our magnetic field. This reversal has occurred at fairly regular intervals during the history of the earth. Could it be the Mayan’s calendar ends with the estimated reversal?

Wheel of Time

Watched Werner Herzog’s documentary, Wheel of Time. Herzog is a Cultural Anthropologist and does a fantastic job of making you feel like you are observing the Buddhist Kalachakra Intiation first hand. This is the largest Buddhist ritual to promote peace and tolerance.

Kalachakra means Wheel of Time. During the cermony, Tibetan monks painstakingly create a mandala out of colored sand. At it’s center is the Wheel of Time.

Herzog interviewed the Dalai Lama who explains the mandala stands for the world of phenomena, the realms of consciousness, and the “pure lands” of the deities. Each of us, according to our ego, is the center of the universe. But this center creates impermanence. And so the mandala, after it is viewed by the hundreds of thousands behind glass, is destroyed and put into the river to give blessings to all.

Over 500,000 Tibetan Buddhists gathered in Bodh Gaya, India for the ordaining ritual of Tibetan monks in 2002. The tree under which Buddha is said to have obtained Enlightenment exists in Bodh Gaya. The ritual was to be presided over by the Dalai Lama but he was too ill to carry out the initiation.

Herzog films the religious zealotry of these folks without judging it at all. It’s a very respectful depiction. There are people for whom the pilgrimage took 3 1/2 years because they traveled amazing distances prostrating themselves all the way. There are others who prostrate themselves 100,000 times facing the tree where Buddha was enlightened.

And for a group of people who claim to be non-interested in form, they went crazy over the gifts that were thrown to them by the Tibetan monks. It reminded me of a Mexican Pinata at a children’s birthday when all of the kids go crazy for the candy they knock out of it. But what’s even more amazing is that the whole event is joyful and there is no sign of hostility even though these people are packed in together like sardines and have been sleeping together in close proximity for days.

Herzog takes us to Graz, Austria in 2002 where the Dalai Lama is able to carry out the initiation. One of the attendants sitting with the monks is actually an elderly ex-school teacher who has just been released from a Chinese prison. He was there for 36 years for daring to stand up for a free Tibet.

The film concludes with a picture of Mount Kalish. One three day trip around the mountain is said to wipe away the sins of a lifetime.

I feel like I’ve come back from the festival, myself! The only thing is, I don’t feel like I know that much more about Buddhism than I did before because there isn’t much explanation offered for the traditions other than the simple observation of them.

Apparently, Herzog knew very little about Buddhism when he made this film and made it somewhat reluctantly. It’s still quite fascinating to be placed in the midst of this sort of celebration that is meant for peace and tolerance.

The Six Paramitas (Generosity, Ethics, Patience)

I’ve finished watching the first two discs of The Dalai Lama’s talk on the Six Paramitas. This was the first I’d heard of the Paramitas.

Paramita is a Sanskrit term which refers to perfection or transcendent. There are ten Paramitas in Theraveda (The Way of the Elders) Buddhism. In Mahayana (Great Vehicle) Buddhism, there are Six:

  1. Dana – generosity, giving of oneself
  2. Sila – virtue, morality, proper conduct – ethics
  3. Ksanti – patience, tolerance, forbearance, acceptance, endurance
  4. Virya – energy, diligence, vigor, effort
  5. Dhyana – one pointed concentration, contemplation
  6. Prajna – wisdom, insight

Tibetan Buddhism is also known as Vajrayana Buddhism which is an extension of Mahayana Buddhism. It differs in technique from much of Mahayana Buddhism but not in philosophy. It is said that Padmasambhava, at the request of the King of Tibet, traveled from Afghanistan to bring Vajrayana Buddhism to Tibet and Bhutan in 747. Around the 14th century, Tsongkhapa brought Gelug to Tibet. He established the first monestary in Tibet called Ganden Tripa which is lead by the Dalai Lama. Compassion is considered to be the fundamental spiritual orientation along with the doctrine of emptiness as propounded by Nagarjuna and Candrakirti.

So – my notes from the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet on the first two Discs of the Six Paramitas…

Buddhism is situated in the middle between the proponents of non-existence (a sort of nihilistic philosophy) and the proponents of existence (a sort of externalist, materialistic, narcissistic philosophy). In order to find the middle way, Buddhism says to discard the cause and practice the path. There are two wrong views. One is superimposition or exaggeration and the other is depreciation. In order to remove them, valid cognition must be used.

Often, Tibetan buddhism is described as animism, shamanism, or lamaism by Westerners. But this is not the case. Tibetan Buddhism arose from Nalanda Masters (of Nalanda University) who taught that composite phenomenon are impermanent; everything defiled is suffering; and all phenomena are empty and without inherent entity.

Nirvana is peace. Therefore, acceptance is Buddhism. Non-acceptance is non-buddhism.

As soon as something arises, their very occurence ensures their cessation. Nothing can exist without arising and ceasing. Destruction starts as soon as it comes into existence. This is impermanence.

The most poisonous of all emotions is ignorance. This doesn’t just refer to not knowing, but also to misunderstanding. Being under the influence of ignorance is suffering. The cause of disturbing emotions is ignorance, the result is suffering. Ignorance make us cling to things as existence. The truth of the path is to realize the non-self.

The first of the Paramitas is Generosity. Generosity can be inappropriate and harmful so must be offered with the appropriate intention. It is the giving of material things as protection from fear. Sometimes generosity can induce fear in others rather than protect them from it. If you want to look good, all is lost because the ulterior motives are not pure. It becomes a sort of power play rather than true generosity.

Likewise, giving something in order to get is not generosity. It is the hope for reward and therefore is selfish. (Makes me think of Christians who do good works in order to be rewarded by God rather than doing good works to do good works.)

The second Paramita is Ethics. It is important to have determined self- confidence. This is very different than self-interest or self-cherishing. Without self-confidence, it is impossible to accomplish anything for the benefit of others. You must have self-confidence in order to develop the capacity to help someone else.

You must also conquer disturbing emotions. No matter what it is that happens to us, it can be turned into a virtue. This is how we maintain mindfulness in all practices.

The third Paramita is Patience. It is impossible to get rid of all harmful beings and suffering forever. But it is possible to tame one’s mind so that the perfection of patience takes place within one’s mind. Unfavorable situations will occur. There is nothing that can be done about that. We can only train our minds.

For instance, it is only if the weapon hits that body that we feel pain. If there is no weapon, there is no pain. If there is no body, there is no pain. Yet, we don’t get angry at the weapon or at the disturbing emotions that make someone use a weapon. We get angry at the person caught in the middle of the weapon and disturbing emotions. Eventually, the disturbing emotions will cease to be. So showing anger at the person is unjustified because the situation is temporary.

It is the presence of a beneficial intention itself that is the criterion for whether something is helpful or valuable. We make ourselves more miserable by getting angry. Patience creates happiness. Happiness, therefore, is the accumulation of merit. Taming ego clinging is what removes the condition of suffering.

The only way to patiently accept suffering is to create an attitude of acceptance. Why be unhappy about something if it can be remedied? And what is the use of being unhappy if it cannot be remedied?

Compassion is to take upon oneself the suffering of others. How the world came about is secondary. What is primary is the suffering of beings. The main issue is how our disturbing emotions function.

(To be continued.)