(7.52) If a snake lies dying on the ground,
Crows will act like brave eagles and attack it.
In the same way, if my self-confidence is weak,
Even the slightest adversity will be able to harm me.
(7.53) If, out of laziness, I give up trying,
How shall I ever attain liberation in such a feeble state?
But if, out of self-confidence, I generate effort,
It will be difficult for even the greatest adversity to harm me.
(7.54) Therefore, with a steadfast mind
I will overcome all downfalls
For, if I am defeated by a downfall,
My wish to triumph over all obstacles will be but a joke.
(7.55) “I will conquer all obstacles,
And none shall conquer me.”
Thus I, who will become a Conqueror,
Will practise with self-confidence.
Geshe-la says if we lack this self-confidence we will easily be defeated by discouragement or malevolent interferences. It seems many of us give up too early and we give up too easily. As soon as things are even remotely difficult, we give up trying. One reason for this is our motivation for overcoming our delusions is still worldly. We are doing it for this life, and indeed right now. Delusions make us unhappy now, we want to be happy now. As soon as it become “less fun” to not follow the delusions than to follow them, we give in. This is very short-sighted because no matter how hard it is to overcome our delusions, it is always harder in the long run to not do so. Another reason for this is pretty much every time in the past that we have stood up to our delusions, we have been defeated. Anyone who has battled addiction knows this experience. Since we “know” we will lose, we do not even bother putting up a fight anymore. But if we never resist, there is no way we will ever win the war. We have to use each defeat to strengthen our determination to eventually win the war. We also give up due to attachment to results. We want immediate results now, and if we do not get them, we give up. Again, this is a question of spiritual immaturity.
All we need to attain enlightenment is the decision to never give up trying. Samsara is a self-imprisonment. We are here because we choose to keep coming back by taking refuge in samsaric objects or being dragged down. We can generate self-confidence because we realize that if we never give up, nothing can stop us. If we decide to leave, nobody and nothing can stop us. If we decide to lead all beings to enlightenment and to never give up in that endeavor, nothing can stop us. Enormous confidence comes from this understanding.
I think we need to take Piglet from Winnie the Pooh as our Yidam. For those not familiar with Piglet, he is this tiny little pig with a big heart. Everything is so big compared to him, but he never gives up. When the wind blows strongly, despite him pumping as hard as he can to go forward, it pushes him back. But he never gives up, he keeps trying, and eventually he gets there. It is the same with our spiritual life. If we never give up trying, even when we are blown back, we will eventually get out. It is guaranteed. The only way we can fail is if we give up trying. The name of the game in the Dharma is the creation of causes. The only thing we are interested in is creating good causes, and we create good causes by trying, not succeeding. In this way, trying itself is success. Not trying itself is failure. If we try, we create good causes, and the future results are guaranteed because one of the laws of karma is if the cause is created the effect is guaranteed.
Very often, things are the most difficult when we are on the verge of a breakthrough. When we are about to have a breakthrough, there is often significant obstruction before we finally push through. People give up often when they are just about to break through. This is a shame. We see this in children when they are learning to walk, talk, etc. The same process occurs in the Dharma. When we are in a particularly difficult situation, we should recall this and use it to keep going and push through. It is very useful to recite as a mantra these words from Shantideva, “I will conquer all obstacles, and none shall conquer me.”