Vows, commitments and modern life:  Pleasant feelings are not the problem, attachment is

Never to lose appreciation for the path of attachment.

Because the beings of this world have very strong attachment we definitely need to practice Secret Mantra, the method for transforming attachment into a cause for generating spontaneous great bliss.  Having found such a wonderful practice we must never lose our appreciation for it.

Attachment is the driving force of this world.  Attachment is a mind that considers certain external objects to be causes of happiness.  From this mind also comes aversion, thinking certain external objects are causes of suffering.  Because it thinks external objects are the causes of happiness, it tries to obtain them; and because it thinks external objects are the causes of suffering, it tries to avoid them.  But no matter how many objects of attachment we obtain, we never find the happiness we seek and we always go looking for new objects of attachment.  No matter how many objects of aversion we avoid, we keep encountering problems, and so there are always new objects of aversion.  If the mind is filled with attachment and aversion it will never be happy because it will keep projecting that we need to obtain and need to avoid yet more things.  This is the experience of everyone, we need only check our own life to confirm its truth.

In reality, both our happiness and suffering are parts of mind.  Therefore, their causes must come from inside the mind.  If we have a mind of contentment, we want for nothing.  If we have a mind of patience, we can accept everything.  Then nothing has the power to disturb our mind.  We can be happy all of the time.  Contentment, quite simply, is the ability to be happy with what we do have, not unhappy about what we don’t have.  Patience, quite simply, is the ability to use any adversity for our spiritual growth and the cultivation of inner peace.  These two minds are the secret to a happy life.  Possessing them makes us truly rich, even if we own nothing.

Once we have reduced our minds of attachment and aversion to more manageable levels by training in contentment and patience, then we are ready to use the instructions of Tantra to transform the residual attachment we experience into the path.  We need to be very clear on this point:  we cannot transform gross, uncontrolled attachment into the path with Tantra.  The reason for this is simple:  delusions function to make our mind uncontrolled, and attachment is nothing other than uncontrolled desire.  If we cannot control our mind, when attachment arises it will seize us and we will become a slave to its desires.  In such a state, it is nearly impossible to recall our Tantric practice, much less engage in it.  If our desire for our objects of attachment is greater than our desire to be free from attachment then it is impossible for us to use Tantra to transform attachment into the path.  This is very clear and there are no exceptions.  So we must first bring our gross attachments under control with the Sutra teachings, in particular those on contentment, renunciation and emptiness.  Once they have been reduced to manageable levels and once our desire to be free from attachment altogether is very strong, we are then ready to transform attachment into the path.  Absent this, what will likely happen is our attachment will kidnap the teachings on Tantra and then use them as an excuse to indulge in our objects of attachment.

In reality, we don’t transform attachment into the path.  Attachment is a delusion, and delusions are objects to be abandoned.  Instead, what we really do is transform pleasant feelings into the path.  There are two types of feelings we can have, pleasant and unpleasant.  We can transform pleasant feelings into the path with Tantra and we can transform unpleasant feelings into the path with the teachings on patient acceptance.  With these two, no matter what we feel, we will always have something to practice.

As explained in earlier posts, we transform pleasant feelings into the path by realizing that the pleasant feeling does not come from the external object, rather it comes from within our mind.  We dissolve the object of attachment into emptiness but retain the pleasant feelings, thus helping us realize clearly happiness comes from within and does not in any way depend upon anything external to us.  In this way, we use the pleasant feelings to dispel the mistaken illusion of external causes of happiness.  In this way, our experience of the pleasant feelings functions to destroy our delusion of attachment.  Such spiritual technology is truly priceless.

Sometimes we can be afraid of Tantra.  We know how strong our attachment is and we know how easy it is for our attachment to kidnap our knowledge of Tantra and use it to justify not ever abandoning our attachment.  So we are reluctant to even try.  This is an extreme, and an example of this downfall.  The way we protect ourselves against this extreme is to say, “I do not need to seek out objects of attachment to transform, rather as I go about my life I will naturally encounter them.  When I do so, even if I don’t succeed in actually transforming the pleasant feelings into the path, I will nonetheless try to do so.  With enough experience born from sincere effort, I will get better and better at doing so until eventually I can do so with any and all objects of attachment.”  This is a balanced way of practicing.

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