Vows, commitments and modern life:  Pushing ourself spiritually

Always meditate on special cases. 

There are some situations that it is more difficult to practice training the mind, with these we need to meditate specifically.  For example, meditating on special cases of developing compassion for our enemies or those with greater fortune than us or being patient with people who always get angry with us.  During the meditation break we should try put our virtuous determination into practice.

At the Toronto festival in 2002, in the lead up to the Iraq war, Geshe-la said what will no doubt go down as one of the most famous things he ever said.  He said, “Love is the real nuclear bomb that destroys all enemies.”  How does this work?  At a superficial level we can say if we love somebody, they no longer see us as a threat, and so they stop feeling the need to defend against or even destroy us before we harm them.

But there is also something deeper at work.  Whether between nations or between children in a sandbox, we perceive enemies everywhere.  Why does somebody become our enemy.  If we check, there is really only one reason:  because our desires are in conflict.  We want one thing, they want something else (or they want the same thing for themselves), and conflict ensues.  Love is a mind that also wants the other person to be happy.  But the function of love is to bestow a special wisdom which sees how everyone can win.  Love does not just mean give the other person whatever they want and deprive yourself of what you want.  Love sees beyond such zero-sum dualities to a deeper level where everyone can have something better than what they even initially desired.  Seeing this, we naturally work towards it.  The more genuine our love, the clearer will be this special wisdom.  The clearer we see how peace and mutual benefit can be achieved, the more effectively we will be able to communicate the possibilities to our “enemy” and the more likely they will go along.  We will then cease to be enemies and instead become partners.

Ultimately, love can destroy all “enemies” because we cease to impute such a term.  An enemy is one who harms us.  But with love, those who seek to harm us are viewed as incredibly precious because through them we can train in purification, patience, giving, the moral discipline of restraint, etc.  Without them, it is incredibly difficult, if not impossible, to train in such things.  Love for all beings actually makes it impossible for anybody to harm us, even if they try.  No matter what they do to us, we receive benefit.  Such is the power of love.

Those who have greater fortune than us normally give rise to jealousy within our mind.  We see all that they have, find ourselves more deserving, and wish we had these things instead.  The cruel truth is jealousy creates the cause to be separated from the object of your jealousy.  For example, if a boyfriend is very jealous every time their girlfriend talks with another guy, the girlfriend will grow tired of it and eventually leave him.  Rejoicing in other’s good fortune, in contrast, creates the karmic causes to obtain whatever good fortune we rejoice in.  So it is precisely because we want these things that we should not be jealous, but instead rejoice in the good fortune of those who have them.

Finally, there are some people in this world who have a unique power of make us upset.  Sadly, it is usually those people who are closest to us, such as our partner, kids, co-workers or extended family.  Because they have bothered us so often in the past, it only takes the slightest thing done by them to throw us completely off balance.  We have an extremely short fuse with these people, and even their laugh annoys us.  All of this comes from the bad habit of inappropriate attention to their faults.  Focusing on the faults of others feeds our anger.  Focusing on the qualities of others starves our anger.  With some people, we have been focusing on their faults for so long it is a deeply ingrained habit.  When we think about them, we get this running internal narrative about how awful they are.  Just as rejoicing in the good qualities of others creates the causes to have those good qualities for ourself, so too criticizing others creates the causes for ourself to have the faults we criticize in others.  So are quite literally transforming ourselves into our own worst enemy.

There is frankly only one way to break this habit:  conscientious effort over a long period of time.  When we find ourselves dwelling on the faults of others, we try recall how we are just feeding our anger and creating the causes to become equally faulty.  We then choose to stop doing that and instead to try appreciate the good qualities of the other person.  We just keep doing this again and again until it becomes our new habit.  My grandmother, who turned 104 this year, said there are two secrets to her long life:  first, she never thinks anything bad about anyone ever; and second, when she plays cards, she “plays for blood!”  You do not want to play cards with my grandmother, but we would be wise to emulate her attitude towards others.

2 thoughts on “Vows, commitments and modern life:  Pushing ourself spiritually

  1. It takes YEARS to accept, to realise that delusions are the problem. There are billions of people controlled by the delusion of anger at any time.

    How does it benefit me to be angry at them? The first conclusion must be kind of selfish one. I have to reevaluate how I see them. They are not in control, AT ALL. They appear to be. This is mistaken.

    They appear to be mean, nasty, horrible, selfish, disgusting beings. This is true conventionally. They apparently are. They say things, do things that are crazy. This is what appears to you. Accept thats how they are. But this is not how they really exist. They are decieved. You too are deceived. At present, they are choiceless, you are choiceless. All their choices are controlled by delusion. You will get hurt if you believe this madness. But, the present is impermanent. That is the reality of it. Even to Bodhisattvas.

    In the ultimate view, again, ALL beings are inside self. Mind is everywhere.
    Beings are your creation. Never forget. It’s difficult to understand that without realising subtle impermanence but that is how it is.

    I get angry all the time with these “idiots” I see all arund me. Hating and harming each other. NEVER separate. EVER.

    It’s all about perception of self.

    There are people who push your buttons because they are closer to our self cherishing, they stimulate it more. Friends, family, all self. It’s a harsh and painful truth to learn, you will fight against it. I have.

    How do you distingush self from other? How do you perceive it? It’s impossible to think right now, but it will come in time. Realisations take time.

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