Cultivating true self-confidence: Adopting a winning strategy for overcoming our faults

We continue with our discussion of how to generate a reliable basis for self-confidence.  In the last post, we talked about how to generate the basis of virtuous actions through enjoying engaging in virtue.  In this post, I will talk about how to generate the basis of our ability to overcome our faults.  In the next post we will talk about generating the basis of our pure potential.

Most of the reason why we lack self-confidence has to do with the fact that we have so many faults and make so many mistakes.  We have so many delusions that our mind is out of control and we do things that make the situation worse and we can’t stop ourselves from doing it.  When we try overcome our faults, they defeat us everytime, so we just give in to them everytime they arise.  This reinforces our feeling of being helpless against our delusions and this destroys our self-confidence even further. Because we have even less self-confidence, we have no power to fight our delusions, and the vicious cycle continues downward.

In this post, I will try explain how to reverse this situation by adopting a winning strategy against our delusions.  When we gain familiarity of using this method, we will be able to start winning battles against our delusions, and little by little we will be able to have confidence that we will be able to overcome all our faults.  Then we will have nothing to fear.

So what is a strategy for overcoming our delusions?  I will take as my example for illustrating how the method works strong desirous attachment.  Attachment quite simply is a mind that thinks some external condition is a cause of our happiness, and is usually thinks without this external condition I can’t be happy.  This is a delusion because happiness is a state of mind, and so comes from the mind.  The real cause of happiness is inner peace, whose cause is virtuous states of mind.  Desirous attachment can take many forms, such as alcohol, drugs, cigarettes, for a partner, for being with somebody (not being alone), sex, attractive forms, etc.  Just for simplicity, I will us the example of cigarettes, but it is equally applicable to any other type of attachment, such as sexual attachment.

The strategy consists of eight steps.  The first three I will explain in this post and the final five I will explain in the next post.  Before any of the steps, we recall the problem.  For example, we see or think about a cigarette and generate an urge to smoke.  Then:

Step 1:  Analyze the nature and the cause of the problem.  The nature of the problem is not something external, the fact that you saw a cigarette; it is the unpleasant feelings in your mind.  The cause of the problem is not something external, it is the delusion of attachment within your own mind.

Step 2:  Ask yourself the question:  what kind of being am I?  If you are a worldly being, namely you are interested in external happiness, then this strategy won’t work for you.  If you are a spiritual being, in other words you are interested in gaining spiriutal realizations, then everything works.  We can change what kind of being we are through the practice of Lamrim – whose main function is to change our desire.  Again, we are so lucky to have access to Kadampa centers where we can receive introductory and advanced teachings on the Lamrim.  Within the Lamrim, the quickest way to change our desire is to recall death by asking ourself the question:  “Do I want to arrive at my death and realize what I could have accomplished spiritually but didn’t because I wasn’t motivated enough to overcome this attachment?”

Step 3:  Make requests to Dorje Shugden:  “Whatever is best with respect to this delusion, please arrange.”  If it ceases, then end of story.  For example, there is a very pure monk named Gen Togden.  He told me the story of once when he had really strong anger, he requested Dorje Shugden to arrange what is best with respect to this delusion being present in his mind.  Through the faith of his request, his anger subsided immediately.  This is not some miracle.  When we know whatever is happening is for the best, all worry, anxiety, attachment or fear vanish.  Even if it doesn’t completely vanish, it will be reduced considerably.  Any residual of the delusion that persists means that Dorje Shugen wants you to train in overcoming this delusion.  Either way, you accept with infinite faith that this is perfect for your practice, so you are happy (because what you want is to practice).

In the next post I will explain the remaining steps.

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