Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  We don’t blame the stick for hurting us

(6.29) Clearly, if the self were permanent,
Then, just like space, it could not perform any actions;
And, even if it could meet with other conditions,
It would still be unable to do anything.

(6.30) Since, even when acted upon, it would remain as it was,
What effect could an action have on it?
If you say that something else affects the self,
What relationship could the self have with that?

(6.31) Thus, all effects arise from other conditions,
Which in turn depend upon previous conditions.
Therefore, all things are like illusions – they are not independent.
If we realize this, we shall not become angry with anything.

The main point of all of this is anger needs an object – there has to be someone or something to get angry at.  Anger depends on some external thing to be angry with that we consider to be the cause of our suffering.  Everything that arises in dependence upon various causes and conditions, so there is never anything that we can point to that we can get angry at.  If we try get angry at the thing, we realize we can’t because it just arises in dependence upon causes and conditions.  If we try get angry at the causes and conditions, we realize we can’t because they too just arise from different causes and conditions.  So we never find anything that we can get upset at and our anger subsides because anger needs an object.  When we look, we find no such object that we can point to.  Finding none, our anger has nothing to latch on to and it falls away.

In one sense it’s not their fault. It’s the fault of anger within their mind.  But if anger were able to speak up for itself, would it not say the same thing?  “I’m sorry, I have no choice. It is due to inappropriate attention in this person’s mind that I’m here.”  Just as the person can’t help it, the anger can’t help it either.  There is a classic analogy given of somebody hitting us with a stick.  Do we get angry with the stick?  No, youwe get angry with the person because the stick was controlled by the person.  In the same way, if youwe don’t get angry with the stick, we should also not get angry with the person because they too are controlled by their anger.  If we get angry with something, we should get angry with their anger.  But their anger is controlled by their inappropriate attention.  So we should get angry with their inappropriate attention, and so on.

On an easier to understand level, the situations that give rise to our anger do not exist from their own side.  They can be viewed in any way we choose.  Right now our anger is casting this elaborate story about how all these things are the causes of our suffering, and so to be happy we need to destroy these things.  With emptiness we realize that this is just a fictional story projected by my mind that has no truth.  I can view the situation in any way – it is not fixedly any one thing.

So instead of viewing this as samsara, we can view everything as the charnel grounds.  What appears is horrific, but we understand these things to be completely pure teachings arising from the Dharmakaya that are perfect for our swiftest possible enlightenment.  We do can do this with external situations, including anything that normally gives rise to our anger.  We accept it fully as a pure teaching arising from the Dharmakaya.  We can do this internally, where we find even the arising of suffering and delusions as perfect for us because it gives an opportunity to create certain causes, namely practicing their opponents.  In this way, we can have a real equanimity towards all effects that happen, either externally or internally.  We can accept everything as perfect.  When everything is perfect, there is no basis for anger.

We very often blame others and situations for why we get angry, but this is not fair.  Nobody or nothing has the power to make us angry, other than our own deluded mental processes.  It is not fair to others to blame them for what is the fault of our own mind.  This is actually a very liberating thought, because it means that no situation has any power over us.  By accepting responsibility for the problem, the solution falls into our hands.  Nobody or nothing needs to change for us to get better, we just need to change our mind.  Yes, it is a long training, but what is the alternative?  Remain angry forever and fall into terrible states of suffering?


4 thoughts on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  We don’t blame the stick for hurting us

  1. Thank you for your article Kadampa Ryan.
    I love “As there is no-one(person)object or no-thing object for me to get angry with.It is not fair to others to blame them for what is the fault of my own mind.”

  2. Human beings always grasp at a self.
    There are as many ‘selves’ as there are virtues, delusions, and everything in between.

    The angry self is dormant or active dependent on certain conditions. It lives in non-existent reality of how things SHOULD or MUST be that was caused from the past and it is located at the heart as potential. Created over time by mind. It does not permanently or inherently exist yet it’s potential to arise does exist.

    In that angry self’s reality people should or should not be a certain way. Life should or should not be a certain way. The world must or must not be a certain way. Its an inflexible mind. Seeing as things should be a certain way, it’s wishes are often unfulfilled and a non-acceptance follows.
    Of course this angry self is justified because it lives in that fixed reality as if it were true. And no one else can or does live in that reality, so its an incredibly isolated world to inhabit. Interestingly, the calm self that was grasped at dissolves.

    Mind is the creator of all things and worlds. It’s often helpful to think that this angry self lives in it’s own world, created by mind. What’s more often is Dharma practitioners uniquely develop anger because others are not kind or virtuous or polite.
    The practitioners mind has created an image of how things SHOULD be or how people should behave ie with decency or according to Dharma. This is unhelpful. Humans are born into suffering. That’s how IT IS. Ignorance is the overwhelming currency of the days and nights.

    A lack of understanding of the grasping of self is the first thing to contemplate, identify and accept. This acceptance that ones mind is ignorant, leads to a determination to recognise, reduce and abandon the mistaken minds of self grasping.

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