Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life: Temporary release vs. Ultimate release

(8.77) Deceived by desire, people become fools.
Some think, “I need money to support my life”,
And, although they fear for their lives, go off to war;
While others enslave themselves for the sake of profit!

(8.78) Some, as a consequence of their desires,
Suffer cuts to their bodies
Or are stabbed, impaled,
Or even burned.

In general, people find their conditions difficult to live with.  More and more, as times become more degenerate, people find their condition quite unbearable. It is as if their pervasive suffering is becoming manifest.  And they have to do something for some relief.  They are not looking inward at themselves. So they distract themselves instead, don’t they? Don’t we?

People have some sense of suffering – such as our fear, loneliness, boredom, frustration, and so forth. And these things build up, due in particular to self-cherishing, they tend to buildup.  When this happens, people have to seek some form of release, otherwise they simply would not be able to cope.  And a lot of people do not. Some people commit suicide or have total breakdowns because they are unable to cope and they have to find some kind of release.

What do they do, they lose themselves, they try to at least, don’t they?  They lose themselves in social media or Netflix, they lose themselves by taking drugs, they lose themselves by having sex.  There are all sort of things people turn to to lose themselves.  They are constantly distracting ourselves.  If they did not, they feel they wouldn’t be able to cope.  So they chase after some temporary relief, some temporary release. And immediately afterwards, there is a buildup once again.  So it is in samsara. As soon as we have some sort of relief, there is a buildup in tension all over again, leading to another temporary release. Followed by another buildup. If that is not changing suffering, I do not know what is.  It seems sometimes, if there is a buildup of stress, then people have nervous breakdowns. There must be some release for people, and if they cannot find it, their system malfunctions and they have a breakdown.

From their attachment there can be a buildup of all sorts, and in part I think a buildup of sexual energy, can’t there?  There is a sexual tension arises in people’s minds, affecting them both mentally and physically. Of course if they continue to turn to objects of attachment, especially attractive males, attractive females, attractive bodies, and so forth, then what can we expect?  Generally, what we do to find release just makes our situation worse.   We can expect this. Due to our own self-grasping in part, it will be like this:  things building up in our own mind and becoming more and more unbearable for us, then we will seek just like everybody else some kind of release from it all.

What other people do and what we as Kadampas do must be different. How then can we prevent this buildup taking place, leading to again and again a need for release, a desperate need for release?   We can meditate on renunciation.  We can consider the impurity of the body to stop our exaggeration.  We can realize that our sexual attachment comes at a terrible price in this life in terms of the problems and mental suffering it creates.  We can think about the problems it will create at the time of our death and beyond and realize it is just not worth it.  Am I going to go another round in samsara just for a few moments of contaminated pleasure?  Moksha means release, we let go realizing we no longer want to follow what our delusions say.  It is like we have been possessed, and we are released from our possession.  By letting go, we get release, because the release comes from a build up of tension from wanting and expecting things to be different.  With the mind of renunciation, we stop looking within the dream, we have given up on it, so we do not expect anything from it.

As well, we can meditate on love and compassion, as I explained before.  We try not to forget that the bodies that we are attracted to are the basis for suffering living beings, an “I” imputed onto a contaminated aggregate.  If we find their bodies attractive, it causes them to identify more closely with their contaminated aggregates, which keeps them trapped in samsara.  We can also meditate on unconditional love that does not seek anything from the other person, but just wishes to make them happy.

We must know that the only true release is what we will experience with the wisdom realizing ultimate truth.  When we realize ultimate truth, emptiness, directly, then there will no longer be any buildup. What we will experience is a permanent release. A permanent, on-going, eternal release, otherwise known as liberation. It is a state beyond sorrow.  This is what we should seek. Permanent release. Then there will be no inner buildup leading to pain and suffering ever again.  We don’t have to wait until we have a direct realization of emptiness for this to have an effect.  Whatever extent to which we have some understanding of emptiness, it can be effective right now.  The more we apply this understanding, the more it will work for us, until eventually it uproots all our delusions.

It is best we train in all three: nonattachment or renunciation, compassion or Bodhichitta, compassion, and the correct view of emptiness.  Perfect.  It will work.  If we train in all three, then we will be able to transform graveyard cities full of moving bones into the charnel grounds of Heruka and Vajrayogini.   We try now to patiently apply ourselves without any expectation. It does not matter if we don’t succeed straightaway.  With joyful effort, we must patiently apply ourselves.  If we eventually succeed in doing this, think about what we will have to offer to others.  Living beings are increasingly finding their condition more and more unbearable, but we will have a solution.  To gain such a solution, we must be taking the medicine ourselves. If we are to bring about a change for others, first of all we must bring about a change, a deep change, for ourselves. This requires us to actually try. 

Then, we will make things better for ourselves, and every day we will create the cause for that permanent release in the future. Even now, we will find definitely we can experience some relief from the buildup of tension, some release.  With our present understanding, we can prevent this buildup that takes place in our minds.

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