Vows, commitments and modern life: Retaliating to harm or abuse (part 2)

The difference between a worldly person and a spiritual person is which life they are working for.  Worldly people work to enjoy good effects in this life.  Spiritual people use this life to create good causes for their future lives.  The road of our future lives is endless and it is guaranteed.  The road of this life is indefinite, and it could end at any time.  It doesn’t matter at all what happens in this life, any more than it matters what happened in last night’s dream. We are so obsessed with what we are “feeling.”  Who cares what we are feeling?  What difference does it really make?  It is only because we think we are important that we think what we feel is important.  But the self we think we are doesn’t even exist, so how could its happiness possibly be important?  And even if it was important, what is more important this one fleeting life or our countless future lives?  There comes a time in our normal life where we work hard now to have things easier in the future.  We voluntarily endure the sufferings of University so that we can get a good job and have a better life thereafter.  We happily work hard and save up our money to go on a special trip.  This involves sacrifice in the short run, which we gladly accept because we know the rewards are greater on the other side.  Such is the optic of the spiritual practitioner.

We cannot blame others for being so inconsiderate and harmful to us.  It is not their fault.  They don’t even exist, they are just karmic echoes of our own past harmful and selfish behavior.  We have nobody to blame but our past delusions which drove us to negativity.  If we did not have the karma on our mind to be harmed, nobody would even appear to harm us.  Our negative karma propels them to harm us.  When they do so, they create negative karma for themselves and they will suffer in the future.  From our side, if we accept the suffering, we purify our negative karma and so are better off; but from their side they accumulate negative karma and will have to experience similar suffering (or worse) in the future.  So who is better off and who is worse off.  It is we who should be saying sorry to them. 

This does not mean we should allow others to abuse us and take advantage of us.  There is a middle way between being a doormat and being a raging lunatic.  We do not help people by allowing them to abuse us, so we must break the cycle.  But we also don’t help them by retaliating, which just causes the cycle of mutual harm to continue.  Ghandi showed the middle way.  We accept the harm, but we refuse to cooperate with its wrong purpose.  We accept the harm as purification, but we don’t reward it by giving people what they want.  Blackmail only works when we give in.  If we refuse to give in, even if people throw everything they have at us, then we break the cycle.  We accept the harm in the short run to be free from it in the long run.  If people blackmail us and we don’t give in, they may try to blackmail us again in the future, but both they and we will know it won’t succeed.  We have stared them down once before, and we can do so again.  Eventually they give up trying.  This helps them and it helps us.

Of course, if we can avoid others harming us we should do so.  There are enough instances of people harming us where we cannot avoid it that we don’t need to needlessly expose ourselves to harm that is avoidable.  Sometimes not cooperating with others delusions means ending that particular relationship.  We do not stick around with others abusing us if we can leave.  But for the harm we cannot avoid, or for the harm that is too insignificant to warrant ending the relationship over, we accept it and refuse to cooperate with it.  We shouldn’t go to extremes with this.  In general, we should go along with others wishes as long as they are not harmful.  We don’t expect others to be perfect and always completely free form harm.  We need to accept others mistakes and give people the space to change.  But on important things, we need to fearlessly say no and not give in.


One thought on “Vows, commitments and modern life: Retaliating to harm or abuse (part 2)

  1. There are several types of clear light mind which we must come to experience, understand and realize. All other minds arise from the ‘all empty’.

    Contaminated karma, our world, our life appears like a dream and according to Buddhism, happiness and suffering are feelings. We experience it all with feeling.

    “We are so obsessed with what we are “feeling.” Who cares what we are feeling? What difference does it really make? It is only because we think we are important that we think what we feel is important. But the self we think we are doesn’t even exist, so how could its happiness possibly be important?”

    From the viewpoint of ultimate truth this makes sense. I think this was Kadam Ryan’s intended meaning, since he is already enlightened! So I thank him for allowing me to provide commentary. Our world does not exist outside our mind as some fixed thing. There would be much scope to discuss the profundities here, but there is no need to go into too much detail so I will provide some small points to consider.

    From the viewpoint of conventional truth, again, it makes sense to conclude on not dwelling on or ruminating on thoughts and feelings arsing from karma via those who harm us. Ordinary beings have a wanting to feel good and a wanting to not experience suffering. We want to feel good.
    But alongside this, for us degenerate practitioners, this mental factor is very important.

    Since our primary mind is made up of the five factors this gives us a clear indication of what we need to purify and how we need to purify our mind. Although, according to Buddhism, there are only 3 types of feeling, this makes things simple intellectually but, in the conventional world having an extensive language of emotions and feelings is very beneficial to determine what is going on inside the body and mind of living beings. Without such, things are very vague. Physical symptoms and reactions that also cause changes in mental and physical well-being are important to note. Using them, we can determine the meaning behind the conceptual labels and pinpoint where precisely our attention should be placed.

    In Tantra, we seek to ‘make’ our primary mind full of bliss so that everything we experience is blissful. Tantra is very much about pleasurable feelings, which is what Buddhas experience all the time.

    The way we learn to locate the impure winds is by using our mental factors. Feelings play a large role in this. There is no other way so this is highly important. It’s the reason why tantric practitioners regard their aggregates in such high esteem, because through utilizing the human form a practitioner can attain the incomparable illusory body.

    Tantric practitioners especially can use strong emotions/feelings to locate the energy winds upon which the minds are mounted. It is then relatively simple to clear these impure winds and untie knots around the chakras. We purify the mind and all the harm we have caused from the 4 gross minds through to the ‘4 empties’ or subtle minds.

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