In the first part of this chapter, Shantideva is encouraging us to observe the law of karma by abandoning non-virtue and practicing virtue. Otherwise we will remain for a long time in the lower realms. Now he encourages us to abandon delusion (the cause of negative actions), otherwise we will remain for a long time in samsara. Our suffering will never come to an end otherwise. Shantideva includes all the stages of the path before we go on to the six perfections.
First of all Shantideva goes on to describe the faults of delusion.
(4.28) The inner enemies of hatred, attachment, and so forth
Do not have arms and legs,
Nor do they have courage or skill;
So how have they made me their slave?
There’s only one enemy that has the power to harm us—delusion. There is no enemy that possesses arms, legs, weapons. Only the enemy of delusion gives the objects of delusion the power to harm us.
We are under the control of delusion. We think, speak, act as delusion wishes. We are its servant, its slave. Delusions give us no choice. If we check, delusions simply, without obstruction, move into our mind and take over, even if we don’t want them to. We don’t ever wish to get angry, yet when an object of anger appears to our mind, it moves in and takes over, forcing us to say things and do things. We become its slave or victim. Anger uses us. It uses our body and mind to do whatever it wants. Geshe-la said it is like an evil spirit abiding in our heart, controlling us.
We need to become more aware of what delusion makes us do. We need to become precisely aware of what attachment of uncontrolled desire makes us do, what pride makes us do, what anger, ignorance, etc. make us do. Until we really do feel like we’re under their control, we won’t be motivated to abandon them. We must feel like—“I have no choice but to obey,” “my delusions actually are in charge, in control; I’m not.” We also need to see how there’s no resistance. We wouldn’t let anybody take over, tell us what to do. Not at all, quite the opposite, we would fight back. We rebel. Yet we don’t fight those delusions, even though they have “no arms or legs, no courage or skill” we don’t fight back. Why?
(4.29) While they remain within my mind,
They harm me at their pleasure,
And yet, without anger, I patiently endure them.
How shameful! This is no occasion for patience.
We are taught we need to be patient with our external enemies. Geshe-la said, “love is the real nuclear bomb that destroys all enemies.” By loving our external enemies, they can become our friends. We are taught we need to be patient with our suffering, accepting it as purification for our past wrong deeds, and using it as a reminder to avoid negative actions, engage in virtuous actions, generate compassion for those whose suffering is far worse than ours and generate bodhichitta.
But we should never be patient with our delusions. They are not an enemy who can be pacified by giving them what they want, instead they come back stronger asking for even more. They are the schoolyard bully who will only stop when they are stopped. Being kind with delusions will not make them any kinder to us, rather they will abuse our kindness and betray us at the first opportunity. We don’t negotiate with terrorists because to do so is to encourage more terrorism; in the same way, we don’t compromise with our delusions because the more we give them the more they attack us. Venerable Tharchin says giving delusions what they want is like feeding the dinosaur that will eventually devour us, the more we feed them the bigger they get. When somebody is just trying to provoke us into overreacting to them, we don’t do them that service, instead we keep calm. When somebody is out to deceive us, we don’t go along with their lies as if they were true. All delusions are deceptive lies.
Just because we should not be patient with our delusions does not mean we should not be patient with ourself. We cannot expect just because we have received a few teachings on the faults of delusions that we can somehow turn off like a switch deluded habits we have been forming for aeons. Kadam Morten says, “we need to accept the existence of delusions, not their validity.” Geshe-la explains in Eight Steps to Happiness that pretending we are not deluded when we are just leads to repression. They then come back stronger. So when a deluded tendency arises in our mind, no point pretending otherwise – we need to accept the reality of the situation as it is. But it doesn’t mean we accept the validity of what the delusion says as being true. The arising of a deluded tendency is a karmic effect of a past delusion, our assenting to the truth of the deluded tendency is the new mental action of generating a delusion. If the tendency arises but we see it as a lie, we have not actually generated a delusion, in fact we have generated wisdom and the karma of the moral discipline of restraint.