Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  There is nobody to get angry at

(6.32) “If all things were like illusions, who would restrain what?
Surely, any restraint would be inappropriate.
On the contrary, it is precisely because things lack inherent existence
That it is possible to assert the continuum of suffering can be cut.

Sometimes the objection may arise in our mind that if things lack inherent existence then there is no “us” who can practice Dharma and there is nothing for our Dharma practice to oppose, so what is the point?  Both of these objections arise from grasping at the extreme of non-existence – in other words, going too far with our understanding of emptiness to wrongly assert that things don’t exist at all.

Who is practicing Dharma?  A self that is imputed on a mind that has received Dharma instructions and gained a certain degree of control over one’s mind.  We have received Dharma instructions, we have practiced them in the past, this has given us a certain degree of control over our mind.  With that control, we then choose to practice Dharma.  What are we resisting when we practice Dharma?  In practice, we are disassembling the causes and conditions which cause delusions to appear.  If a rainbow is appearing, but suddenly the sunlight is blocked out, the rainbow simply disappears because the causes and conditions which give rise to it are no longer present.  The same is true with our delusions.  Another way of looking at it is with our choice of mind we create new conditions of the opponent to the delusion which then functions to neutralize the delusion within our mind.

Suffering can come to an end because its causes can be ended.  If you end the cause, the effect cannot arise.

 (6.33) Thus, whenever an enemy, or even a friend,
Commits an inappropriate action,
Such behaviour arises from other conditions.
Realizing this, I should remain with a happy mind.

Once again, this is reminding us how we can use emptiness to oppose our anger.  Normally we hear the teaching on emptiness and quickly become lost in the contemplations and lose the point.  This is why we need to make a point of directly connecting our understanding of emptiness to specific delusions that arise within our mind.

When we become angry with somebody, we should take the time to ask ourselves, “who precisely am I angry at?”  When we look, we find nobody.  We can ask, “what exactly am I angry about?”  When we check, we find nothing.  It’s all just a variety of causes and conditions coming together with nothing behind any of it.  Conventionally, we can’t blame the other person because it is not their fault these causes and conditions have come together.  Ultimately, we can’t blame the other person because there is nobody there to blame.  Realizing this, there is no longer an object of our anger and the anger disappears.  The same sort of reasoning can be used against any delusion.

(6.34) If things occurred independently, out of choice,
Then, since no one wishes to suffer,
How would suffering ever arise
For any living being?

This is actually an important point.  Nobody wishes to suffer.  We all wish to be happy all of the time.  Yet we suffer without choice and find it difficult to secure even a modicum of happiness.  We are all in the same boat.  When somebody harms us, they too are a victim of their delusions.  They do so without freedom or control.  As a result, they accumulate negative karma for themselves, which will ripen later in the form of suffering for them.  We may view ourselves as a victim of their harmful actions, but in reality they are equally a victim because in the future they will have to experience the suffering consequences of their actions.  Why are we experiencing this suffering now?  Because we had the karma to do so arising from our own negative past actions.  So what really is the difference between our attacker and us?  Nothing.  We are both victims, separated only by time.

We want to be happy and so do they.  Unfortunately, they are confused about the causes of happiness.  They are lost.  Instead of getting angry with them, we should generate compassion for them.  We are all the same, therefore there is no basis for loving some and being angry at others.

2 thoughts on “Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  There is nobody to get angry at

  1. Emptiness is ‘dependence upon’: due to this, everything can be perceived, understood, changed, known. Depends on cause, name, imputation etc

    Inherent existence is ‘non-dependence upon’: an inherently existent object, if it ever existed, could not form any relationship with anything else; it cannot be perceived, known, changed. It would be unnamed, unchanged, unknowable.

    Je Tsongkhapa said dependent relationship is the greatest teacher there is.

    Likewise, the greatest student practices dependent relationship, emptiness, by training in the simple thought, “depends upon”

  2. Shantideva, was a follower of Nagarjuna’s works, who in many of his texts emphasised the object of negation.

    How do things ‘not depend’ other things? That’s how sentient beings mistakenly believe things to exist.

    These two simple thoughts combined are a powerful protection of mind and harvest the real Dharma Jewels. How wonderful!

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