We continue our discussion of the three difficulties. The second difficulty is temporarily pacifying our delusions by applying their opponents. Every delusion has an opponent. When we apply the opponents, we reduce the power of the delusions within our mind. I like to think of things in terms of waves. If a wave with an amplitude of -1 is hit with a wave with an amplitude of +1, the result will be still water. Each delusion is a different type of negative wave on the ocean of our mind. To make the waters of our mind peaceful and calm, we need to neutralize these waves by applying the appropriate opponent waves. The more we do this, the more peaceful and calm our mind will be, and the more genuinely happy we will be. Many of our deluded states of mind are actually an interaction of many different delusions feeding off of one another. So, quite often, we need to apply a variety of opponents. This is no different than people who take several different medicines to counteract different illnesses within their body.
Kadam Bjorn says the power of the opponents within our mind depends upon two factors: our personal experience of having used a particular opponent and the strength of our desire to be free from the given delusions; and of these, the latter is more important.
The lamrim texts explain in detail the different opponents to the different delusions, for example rejoicing is the opponent to jealousy, patient acceptance is the opponent to anger, seeing samsara’s pleasures are deceptive is the opponent to attachment, wisdom is the opponent to ignorance, etc. But it is not enough to just “know” what the opponents are, their effectiveness depends on how skilled we are with using them. An apprentice and a master craftsman use the same tools, but the quality of their work differs greatly. In this light, it is generally better to pick a few key spiritual tools and to become highly skilled at using them than it is to use a little bit of everything ineffectively. Over time, through decades and decades of practice, you will gradually become more and more skilled with more and more spiritual tools.
For me, I overcome almost all of my delusions with my faith in Dorje Shugden. This is the most developed tool I have in my spiritual toolbox. The way I use it is as follows. If I am suffering from attachment, wanting something in particular, I request, “with respect to X, please arrange whatever is best.” Or “with respect to X, if it is supposed to happen, please arrange for it; if not, please sabotage it.” “Best” here means best for my spiritual training, not what is best for satisfying my worldly concerns. Then I no longer worry. I know Dorje Shugden is managing the situation, and whatever happens will be exactly what I need for my spiritual training. If I am suffering from anger or frustration about something, again I request, “with respect to X, please arrange whatever is best.” Anger, at its core, is a non-acceptance of things as they are. It is a wish that things were different than they are. Dorje Shugden’s job is to arrange the perfect outer, inner and secret conditions for our swiftest possible enlightenment. If Dorje Shugden has arranged what is perfect and what is best, then how could I possibly wish things were different than they are? Knowing it is perfect and for the best, I can then accept the aggravating circumstance. Because I can accept it, I don’t suffer from it. It is not a problem for me. It can happen that I accept that something is for the best but I don’t understand why it is for the best. Here again, I rely on Dorje Shugden. Dorje Shugden is first and foremost a wisdom Buddha. A particular external circumstance is neither a problem nor perfect from its own side, rather they become so in dependence upon our view and imputation. Something is an obstacle only for a mind that imputes obstacle. Something is perfect only for a mind that imputes perfect. But it is not enough to just say “it’s perfect.” For this imputation to have power and meaning within our mind, we need to realize how and why it is perfect. So I request Dorje Shugden, “please reveal to me clearly how and why this is perfect for my practice.” In dependence upon this faithful request, he will gradually bless our mind bestowing upon us the wisdom that sees how and why this is true. On this basis, we can accept. If we can accept, there is no basis for anger or worry.
But Kadam Bjorn said what is more important than experience with the opponents is the strength of our desire to be free from our delusions. Here we need to look carefully and honestly. All delusions promise us if we listen to them they will make us happy, but in the end they deceive us and make us suffer more. Attachment, for example, tells us if we stare at that hot babe, take that drug or eat that last piece of chocolate, then we will be happy. But what really happens is the hot babe thinks we are creepy, we become addicted to drugs and we get diabetes from overeating! All the while, we are left unsatisfied. It is like drinking salt water, the more we drink the thirstier we become. It is like licking sugar off of a razor blade, we get some sweet but are cut painfully in the process. It is like feeding the dinosaur which will eat you, the more you feed it the stronger it gets and the more quickly it devours you. Anger tells us if we harm the object of our anger it will stop harming us, but the more we harm it the more it wants to harm us. Jealousy tells us if we are jealous we will be able to hold onto our loved one for ourself, but in reality it just causes them to want to flee even further away. Doubt tells us it will protect us from believing something that is wrong, but in reality it prevents us from believing anything, even what is right. Our selfishness tells us it is the only one looking out for us, but in reality it is the root of all our negative actions and its sole purpose is to deliver us to the pit of the deepest hell. Ignorance grasping at inherent existence tells us we are seeking objective truth, but in reality we are believing in things that don’t even exist. All delusions lie. All delusions deceive us. But yet we still believe in them. We want to believe their lies. We like to think this time it will be different and it will work.
We can know all of the opponents in the world, but if we don’t really see how delusions are our enemy, if we don’t really want to remove them from our mind, then our application of the opponents will lack any power. It is not enough to contemplate how delusions are deceptive in general, but we need to make it personal. We need to take the time to consider how our specific attachments have created specific problems in our life. We need to reflect upon how our anger has always backfired and harmed those we love. We need our personal examples of how our jealousy has pushed away those we wish were closer. The more clearly we see the harm our delusions are causing in our life, the more motivated we will be to eliminate them. Then, when we do apply the correct opponents, our practice will have great power.