Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Stop being pulled in and pushed away

(5.45) Whenever I listen to any sort of talk,
Whether pleasant or unpleasant,
Or observe attractive or unattractive people,
I should prevent attachment or hatred towards them.

We need to learn to be more restrained.  When we generate attachment towards some things, we feel as if our mind is being “pulled in” by the object, and normally we go willingly thinking happiness is to be found there.  When we generate aversion towards other things, we feel the need to “push” the object away, and if we can’t push it away, we flee willingly thinking suffering is to be found there.  Just walking through a room full of people leaves us feeling pulled in or the need to push other things away in a wide variety of directions.  It’s exhausting.  We must try to weaken this habit so that we can achieve a much more balanced or stable mind.

Geshe Chekhawa says we need “Train without bias towards the objects.” This is important advice for us because we spend a lot of time with others.  First, we must become aware how our mind is being pulled in or pushed away.  If we don’t see it, we can’t do anything about it.  Second, we need to realize that this constant pulling and pushing causes our mind to be unbalanced, anxious and never at peace.  True freedom is the ability to go anywhere with anybody doing anything and our mind remains equally at peace.  We need nothing, we fear nothing.  That’s true freedom.  We need to take the time to fantasize how wonderful it would be if we had such freedom.  Just imagine how free we would feel to go through life not needing nor fearing anything.

With a desire to enjoy such freedom, we then need to change our habitual reactions to objects.  When we detect our mind being “pulled in” by our attachment to some objects, we should realize we are like a puppet on the strings of our attachment and then generate the wish to be truly free.  We remind ourselves that no happiness can be found in these objects, just further insatiable desire.  Our life experience has taught us that even if we obtain what we want, it never quite gives us the satisfaction we seek.  We are always left wanting more or we feel disappointed because it didn’t turn out the way we wanted.  Instead, we should recall that happiness comes from within our mind, and no external object has any power to do anything for us.  In this way we cut the strings that pull us and internally we remain balanced.

When we feel our mind wishing to push something away out of aversion, we should realize nothing has the power to disturb our mind if we don’t let it.  Things are only a “problem” for our worldly concerns, but adversity is our most powerful fuel on the path.  The mind of patient acceptance is a wisdom mind that knows how to use anything and everything for our spiritual training, so it feels no need to “push” anything away, rather it can welcome everything as an opportunity to train.  This does not mean we unnecessarily allow ourselves to be harmed nor does it mean we cooperate with others’ delusions and dysfunction, but it does mean when these thing happen it is not a “problem” for us, but rather an opportunity to train.

We need to be able to listen to what others say without bias.  Certainly, we should try to not react out of attachment if they praise us or hatred if they criticize us.  At present our mind is primarily driven by attachment and hatred.  We mustn’t look at others, especially those closest to us, with attachment or hatred.  We know if somebody appears attractive or unattractive our mind moves and we become unbalanced, like a “weeble wobble” (google it).  We need an evenness of mind, an equanimity.  We are equally welcoming and open with everybody.

It is important to be seen to possess that evenness, equanimity.  Because people know when we have it.  Especially within the Sangha we need to be more and more careful that we don’t become a bunch of cliques, the “in crowd” dedicated to the center and everyone else who just comes to “consume” without giving anything back.  Or between those who see everything the NKT does as faultless and those who don’t.  Or between Those who worship the teachers as a Buddha and those who see them as full of faults.  Or between those who mix traditions and those who don’t.  Or between those who have been around a long time and those who are new.  The list goes on and on, the “uptight Germans” vs. the “free-spirited Brazilians,” etc., etc., etc.  So many divisions we introduce into the Sangha, each with its own shade of judgmental attitude.  Shantideva says, no matter who we see, we need to simply be happy to see them, to listen.  This is a loving mind.


3 thoughts on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Stop being pulled in and pushed away

  1. Great examples of the push/pull of ordinary reactions. I at first thought that “retrained” in the first sentence was a typo, but I have since decided that it is a powerful teaching – we need to retrain, letting go of our lifetimes-long “training” in attachment and aversion. Thanks!

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