Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Becoming like a block of wood, again!

(5.48) Whenever there arises in my mind
The desire to become attached or angry,
I should not do or say anything
But remain as impassive as wood.

(5.49) Whenever I am pretentious, mocking,
Arrogant, or self-important;
Whenever I develop the intention to speak of others’ faults,
Or think of profiteering or deceiving;

(5.50) Or whenever I start to solicit praise,
Deprecate others,
Or use harmful or divisive speech,
I should remain as impassive as wood.

(5.51) Whenever I desire wealth, honour, or fame,
Or the attentions of a circle of admirers;
Or whenever my mind wishes for veneration,
I should remain as impassive as wood.

(5.52) If I develop a mind wishing to say something,
While neglecting others’ welfare
And pursuing only my own,
I should remain as impassive as wood.

(5.53) If I am ever impatient with suffering, or lazy and fearful of virtue;
If I am about to speak recklessly or disparagingly;
Or if attachment to my circle of acquaintances arises,
I should remain as impassive as wood.

Looks like Shantideva has been watching us closely.  He knows how we act.

He provides lots of examples here of the importance of being as impassive as wood when a delusion is about to arise.  If we can’t stop ourselves from acting on our delusions, we must as Shantideva advises switch off and become like a block of wood.  Our mothers always told us if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say anything at all.  Shantideva goes one step further saying if you don’t have anything non-deluded to do, don’t do anything at all.

We need to stop paying any attention to what we feel is causing the delusion to arise. We just forget everything.  Stop thinking.  There will be a strong desire to continue and it will be difficult to just stop.

By doing this, in effect we are taking away the power of the delusion by stopping gross discrimination and feeling.  Without these we cannot apprehend or experience anything, and the delusion will disappear.   If we are to achieve success we must train in bringing about and meditating on the cessation of gross discrimination and feeling.  We need to become familiar with that cessation in our mind.

Geshe-la explained this when he did the teachings on Vajrayana Mahamudra.  It is not the suppression of all gross mental activity, rather it is the cessation of it.  We just let it all go and keep our gross mind unmoving. We achieve a cessation of gross mental activity and gross feelings by letting go of all of it.   When we let it go, we have to have a reason.  Otherwise we will just suppress with this method.  We realize that it is our ordinary mind spinning and it will take us where we don’t want to go, so we don’t follow it.  This is perceived by our subtle mental consciousness.  We observe with our subtle mental consciousness the absence of gross mental activity or feeling.  When we do this, all gross delusions subside.

If we become familiar with this practice we can learn to switch off more and more quickly.  If we’re utterly familiar, we can switch off right there and then in the face of delusion.   Just through this we gain some ability to control our delusions, or at the very least stop acting on them.  In Meaningful to Behold Geshe-la says, “by depriving them from energy in this way, we shall prevent our delusions from influencing our behavior, and they shall fade away.”

With a correct motivation, understanding the benefits of this practice, we try to take this advice of Shantideva to heart, especially with overcoming our desire, uncontrolled desire.  When we have desire we don’t want to stop, we want to indulge.  Sometimes it’s best to use this method.  When it becomes too much, we need to just switch off.  It is not a holding down of gross thoughts it is a letting go of all of them.  We pay attention to something different – the stillness of our mind.  This will give us some space.  With the space we acquire, we then need to debunk the delusion – realize that it is a lie.  If we still believe the delusion but don’t express it, we are suppressing it.  It will just blow up later.  You must use the space to debunk it, otherwise it will just come back.

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