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.

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?

 

Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Nothing creates itself

(6.27) Neither that which is asserted as the “independent creator of all”
Nor that which is asserted as the “independent permanent self”
Can come into being through intentionally thinking,
“Now I will arise.”

There tends to be two extremes when thinking about God, either he inherently exists or he doesn’t exist at all.  Those who assert he inherently exists say he is the creator of all.  But then the question arises, “what created God?”  If something else created God, then that thing is the creator of all.  Some say God created himself, but that denies the fundamental tenet that all causes must precede their effect (how can the effect exist before its cause?).  Some say God is permanent, but if that were the case how could he create anything since to create something is necessarily to change?  Clearly all of these conceptions of God are illogical.  People then wrongly conclude God does not exist at all.

Geshe-la himself refuted this at a festival many years back.  He said Kadampas do not deny that God exist, they simply have a different understanding of what that means.  We say mind is the creator of all, and the contemplations on emptiness prove why this is so.  Quantum physics is gradually catching up to what Buddha explained 2,500 years ago when it says objects come into existence when the mind engages them.  If we understand God to be the Dharmakaya, which is itself inseparable from our own mind of bliss and emptiness, then we can easily believe in God, understand the mind is the creator of all and appreciate the religious teachings of other traditions.  Many people come into the Dharma by rejecting Christianity or the like, but if our understanding of the Kadampa teachings is correct we will later come to appreciate their beauty.

Just as there is no independent creator of all, so too there is no independent creator of ourself.  We did not bring ourselves into existence, rather we emerged from a variety of causes and conditions.  Some people think that our very subtle mind which goes from life to life is our independent self, but that too arises in dependence upon causes and conditions, namely the substantial cause of the previous moment of mind and the circumstantial causes bring about change in that mind.  While the very subtle mind changes continuously, it always remains equally empty.  But this emptiness does not exist independent of the very subtle mind, rather it is the very nature of that mind.  Emptiness itself cannot exist in a vacuum, it is always the emptiness of something.  Without an object, you cannot have its emptiness.

 (6.28) If the independent creator itself is not produced,
Then how can it produce anything?
If the self were permanent, then it would follow
That experiences cannot be changed from unpleasant to pleasant.

Permanent in a Dharma context means unchanging.  If something is unchanging, how can it produce anything?  To produce something is to act in some way upon something else, which necessarily implies some change of the thing acting.  If the thing doing the acting doesn’t change, then how does it go from a state of not creating to something to a state of creating that thing?  It would have to either eternally be creating it or eternally not creating it.  The same is true with all things:  nothing creates itself.

Likewise, if the self were indeed permanent then how could it possibly experiencing anything different?  How could it go from not experiencing an object to experiencing it?  Wouldn’t that imply a change of state?  But a permanent object never changes.  If the self were permanent, it couldn’t experience anything, or if it did, it would have to experience the same thing in the same way forever.  Since clearly that is not our experience of the self, a permanent self cannot exist.

Why does any of this matter?  The point is two-fold.  First, all anger requires an object.  The object of anger we grasp at is permanent others, the harmed object is a permanent self, or maybe we blame a permanent God.  But none of these things exist.  By removing the object of anger, the mind of anger has nothing to hold on to and leaves our mind.

The second point is these sorts of contemplations quite often give rise to all sorts of feelings of discouragement and misunderstanding.  Shantideva uses these verses to help us identify within our own mind our impatience associated with thinking about Dharma.  We don’t understand, and this makes us unhappy.  Or we read the words, but fail to grasp their meaning and conclude it is a bunch of intellectual masturbation.  Or perhaps we just fall asleep because it seems so boring.  All of these reactions are examples of the impatience of thinking about Dharma.  By bringing this impatience to the surface, we can then work on generating a mind of patience towards profound topics.  It takes time, and that is OK.  If we contemplate them again and again with a positive mind, and we do so in the context of applying this sort of reasoning against the delusions that arise in our mind, then we will train in the patience of definitely thinking about Dharma.

Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Everything is like a rainbow

(6.25) All the shortcomings there are,
And all the various non-virtues,
Arise through the force of other conditions –
They do not govern themselves.

(6.26) The assembled conditions have no thought
To produce a suffering result;
Nor does the resultant suffering think,
“I was produced from conditions.”

At the core, anger is a response to unpleasant feelings within the mind.  It seeks to blame something outside the mind for what is taking place inside the mind.  Here, Shantideva seeks to pull the rug out from underneath that anger by showing, in fact, there is no object of blame outside the mind.

Every phenomena, internal and external, arises like a rainbow in response to causes and conditions.  I remember once I was in the area that used to be the Creperie at Manjushri.  The Mexican sangha came in with a bunch of bags of groceries.  They proceeded to unpack them and being chopping up all sorts of things, like carrots, cheese, apples and the like.  Other people were washing the lettuce, others making dressing.  Everybody was at their own table doing their own thing.  Then, they started putting it all in a common bowl.  When they were done, a “salad” appeared clearly to everyone’s mind.  But where did the salad itself come from?  What was it?  The lettuce, cheese, carrots and dressing are not the salad, yet when you take them all away there is no salad to be found anywhere.  A “salad” simply appears to everyone’s mind when the causes and conditions come together to see it.  The same is true for all other phenomena.  Nothing is actually there.

When the mind of anger arises, it necessarily has an object it is blaming.  But if we perform a salad-like analysis of this object of blame, we will realize nothing is actually there.  The thing we blame is just an appearance that arises when various causes and conditions come together.  Do we blame the carrots?  No, they too come from various causes and conditions.  There is nothing we can point to and blame for our anger.  When we do this, our anger loses its object to hold on to; without an object, it is impossible for the corresponding mind to arise.

The things that supposedly cause us suffering have no intention to do so; rather it is just a series of causes and conditions that come together.  This is easy to understand when we are talking about inanimate objects of harm, but it is likewise true for animate ones.  The person who harmed us isn’t actually there, the delusions which control him aren’t really there either, all are just the coming together of causes and conditions.  And we shouldn’t forget the most important causes and condition of all – ourself!  If we did not have a body, could it be harmed?  If we did not have delusions, would anything be a problem for us.  So if we blame the other person, then we likewise have to blame our body and our delusions.  To blame our body is to blame our parents, and their parents before them.  To blame our delusions is to blame the entire cultural environment we live in and all our previous lives and everyone we ever encountered.  But if we check these things, they are not there either.  We can search to the end of the universe and never find anything to blame – and if we blame one thing, we have to blame everything equally, so what sense is there is being angry at the person who harmed us?

Nothing governs itself.  Everything is like one giant ocean, with various currents flowing in all directions.  Everything affects everything else.  But if nothing governs itself, how can we say we have free will?  Free will itself arises from causes and conditions.  Delusions render our mind uncontrolled, free will emerges from a mind free from delusions.  We don’t intrinsically have free will, we need to create it within our mind through abandoning our delusions and gaining control over our mind.  Somebody whose mind is wholly consumed with delusions (which is pretty much everyone) has no free will at all.

Fundamentally, though, our “problems” come from our delusions.  Delusions come from the meeting of deluded tendencies similar to the cause with inappropriate attention.  Our inappropriate attention grasps at an object as being inherently pleasant, unpleasant or neutral, then exaggerates these qualities and then ignorantly grasps at these objects actually existing in this way.  If we want to free our mind from all “problems” we have to remove from our mind the causes and conditions which create this appearance.  To do so, we need to purify our deluded karma and abandon inappropriate attention.  Just as a rainbow will not appear without sunlight and rain, so too delusions cannot arise without deluded karma and inappropriate attention.  By removing the causes, the effect never arises.

Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Without choice, delusions take over

(6.23) Although it is not wished for in the least,
Sickness nevertheless occurs.
In the same way, even though they are not wanted,
Delusions such as anger forcibly arise.

(6.24) People do not think, “I will get angry”,
They just get angry;
And anger does not think, “I will arise”,
It just arises.

Delusions are the sicknesses of our mind.  When we become physically sick it it not desired, but it just arises due to the assembling of certain causes and conditions.  In the same way, delusions arise in dependence upon certain causes and conditions coming together.  When somebody gets angry with us or harms us as a result of their delusions it is not because they want to get deluded, the delusions just arise.

Anybody who has dealt first hand with depression or been with a loved one who is suffering through it knows the truth of these verses.  No depressed person wants to be depressed.  People tell them to “snap out of it” or “focus on the good.”  And try they do, but the force of the dark minds within them is (temporarily) much, much stronger.  Even though they want to have a good attitude, they can’t; but since they think they are supposed to be able to just flip a switch and be better, they feel like a failure when they are unable to.  Then their lack of self-confidence makes them feel powerless to get better.  There are many physiological reasons for this, namely depression affects the hormonal balances in the brain.  This shows the power of our mind.  Our mental actions are so powerful they can literally alter the wiring and chemical balance of our brain.   Just as an accident can cause great injury to our body, so too delusions can cause physical injury to our brain which can take months, or even years to heal.

Even though we have heard the teachings that delusions are like a sickness, Buddha is like a doctor, Sangha is like a nurse and Dharma is like medicine, we still don’t have the same attitude towards mental sickness as we do physical sickness.  We think it is a metaphor, not a definitive fact.  When somebody breaks their leg, we naturally generate compassion and we understand that it will take time to heal.  But when somebody becomes sick with delusion, such as jealousy, anger and so forth, we blame the other and person and view them as a failure.  We think that just because delusions are mental people can just turn them off, and the fact that they don’t means the continuation of their delusions is their fault.  We blame them and view them as a failure.  Why the difference in attitude between these two types of sickness?  The real reason why we have this attitude is we have not yet – even after so many years in the Dharma – actually begun the work of trying to root out our delusions.  We attend many festivals, we can recite our book outlines, we begin every sentence with “Geshe-la says,…” but we haven’t actually really begun the work of changing our mental habits.  Anybody who has sincerely tried to do so knows how hard it really is, and they don’t have such judgmental attitudes towards those struggling with their delusions.

A Bodhisattva is somebody who has promised to remain in this world for as long as it takes to gradually lead each and every being out.  This necessarily means we will have to spend a lot of time with highly deluded people.  Yet if we check our present attitude, we try avoid deluded people.  We try justify it with “we don’t want to come under their influence,” but our real motivation more often than not is an aversion to spending time with deluded people.  We have simply replaced our ordinary aversion to people we don’t like to an aversion to deluded people.  Mother Theresa actively sought out to spend time with the poorest and the sickest because that is where she could do the most good.  A Bodhisattva does the same those sick with delusions.  It is a real balance to spend time with the sick while accepting them fully as they are.  Normally, we try to change them.  Our job is to accept them.

This attitude of judging the deluded is particularly common among Dharma practitioners, but it takes a particularly destructive form when the judgment gets directed at oneself.  When delusions flare up in our mind and we know we should not be deluded, we usually respond in one of two ways:  either we pretend that delusions are not arising in our mind or we acknowledge that they are but feel guilty about it, and start beating ourselves up for it.  Kadam Lucy says we will never really overcome our anger until we first overcome our self-guilt.  Guilt is anger directed against ourselves.  We blame ourselves and become angry with ourselves because we are deluded and we feel like a failure because despite our best efforts we can’t stop it.  Such attitudes are completely wrong and are easily removed if we correctly understand delusions as a sickness, no different than any physical one, that arises when certain causes and conditions come together.  The teachings on karma explain that once negative karma has ripened, there is nothing that can be done but ride it out until it exhausts itself.  The arising of delusions within our mind is simply the ripening of a particular karma.  Every karmic seed has a certain duration to it, and we don’t know what the duration is.  Sometimes these delusions can last days, months, years or even lifetimes.  This is not our fault and there is no reason for us to feel guilty about it.  We need to accept that we have simply fallen ill with a particular delusion and we should take special care of ourself, nurturing ourself back to good health.  It is not selfish to do so.

Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Being patient with our Dharma practice

In How to Solve our Human Problems, Geshe-la explains there are three times we need to practice patience.  When we encounter unavoidable suffering, we practice the patience of acceptance.  When we are practicing Dharma, we practice the patience of definitely thinking about Dharma.  And when we are harmed, we practice the patience of non-retaliation.

Now Shantideva turns to the practice of the patience of definitely thinking about Dharma.  He does so in particular with respect to our study and practice of the teachings on emptiness.  Why?  Because we usually find these the hardest.  The most important thing to keep in mind is the harder any given topic of Dharma is, the more important it will be for our eventual liberation.  Why?  Because it is hard only because our mind is currently far away from the wisdom realizing this particular aspect of Dharma.  Things that are easy to grasp will not move our mind very much because our mind is already quite close to this wisdom; but the things that are hard will require massive restructuring of our way of thinking before this new Dharma wisdom will dawn in our mind.  I remember when I first started practicing Dharma, I really enjoyed and connected with all of the teachings except those related to faith.  For me, faith was only for those who cannot think for themselves and I rejected it.  Now faith is the lifeblood of my practice, and this change has changed everything for me.

This section is on the patience of definitely thinking about Dharma.  Shantideva is very clever in the way he teaches it.  The basic idea of this patience is we need to practice patience when studying Dharma subjects.  When we study Dharma, very often we have difficulty understanding what is being said, especially when it is very difficult subjects, like emptiness.

At such times, we should practice joyful acceptance of the fact that we don’t yet understand, but continue to apply ourselves fully understanding the importance of one day gaining a realization.  When we don’t understand things, we often get impatient and our mind blocks and we become discouraged or incapable of understanding anything.  This actually comes from an impatience in our mind that expects to understand very profound subjects easily.  This patience encourages us to accept where we are at, even when we don’t understand, and to joyfully keep trying.

So why is Shantideva clever in the way he teaches this subject?  He goes into a very complicated explanation of emptiness, and a debate between various philosophical schools, which we generally don’t understand at all.  This gives rise to the very impatience Shantideva is trying to encourage us to overcome!!

(6.22) I do not become angry when the cause of suffering
Is something inanimate, such as sickness;
So why become angry with animate causes,
For they too are all controlled by other conditions?

We think there is a difference between animate and inanimate causes of our suffering.  We realize there is no point in getting angry at a storm because it is just arising from causes and conditions.  In the same way, there is no reason for getting angry with others when they harm us because that too is just arising from causes and conditions.  There is actually no difference.

The key to understanding this is to realize that delusions function to make the mind uncontrolled.  So when animate objects (in other words, living beings) harm us in some way it is no different than the storm thundering in the sky.  It is just a situation of certain causes and conditions coming together and the person who gets angry is nothing more than a puppet on the string of their delusions.  They are the victim of their delusions.  Their delusions are propelling them to engage in wrong actions, but they will be the ones who have to suffer the karmic consequences.  We think they have free will and they can choose to not be deluded.  Only those who have not actually tried to overcome their delusions would make such a statement.  I, for example, don’t ever want to get angry, but anger arises in my mind without choice.  I try generate the Dharma opponents to my anger, but the anger remains despite my best efforts to remove it.  A few years ago I was filled with an uncontrollable rage towards my father.  No matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t shake it until eventually I was very fortunate to receive some powerful blessings which enabled me to let go.  We have the Dharma and we find it hard to let go, what need is there to say of somebody who knows nothing of the Dharma and whose mind is completely seized by delusions?  It’s not their fault.  If anything, it is the fault of our own negative karma which is impelling them to harm us.

Modern Bodhisattva’s Way of Life:  Suffering has many good qualities

(6.21) Moreover, suffering has many good qualities.
Through experiencing it, we can dispel pride,
Develop compassion for those trapped in samsara,
Abandon non-virtue, and delight in virtue.

Suffering has good qualities for those intent on following and completing a spiritual path.  If our motivation is worldly, in other words our main goal is to secure for ourselves worldly happiness in this life, then suffering is an unambiguous bad.  If, however, our intention is to follow and complete a spiritual path leading to permanent liberation and enlightenment, then suffering is spiritual fuel.  Just as a car cannot go forward without gasoline, so too a spiritual life cannot progress without suffering.  The truth is simple:  we are lazy.  When life is good, we feel no need to practice Dharma.  But when we are confronted with real suffering, then we realize ordinary solutions don’t work and our desire to practice Dharma becomes intense.  We see it as the only real solution to our problems, both temporarily and ultimately.

People whose primary motivation is spiritual are not afraid of suffering.  When suffering arises, they welcome it because they appreciate its usefulness and many good qualities.  Geshe-la said “we should learn to enjoy our suffering” because so many good things arise from it.  We must try and learn from suffering, not to run away from it.  This does not mean we should seek out suffering.  Suffering will come naturally because we are in samsara.  Obviously if we can avoid the suffering that arises, we should do so and there is no fault in doing so.  But for all unavoidable suffering, we should wholeheartedly welcome it as a gift from our Spiritual Guide and our Dharma Protector.  They are providing for us the conditions we need to make the next step on the spiritual path.

At present we worry about suffering.  We worry about what may happen to us.  In particular, we are very attached to certainty of knowing what is going to happen to us, and so we stress and we plan.  We think certain possibilities are good and others are to be avoided at all costs.  Why?  Every situation is equally empty, so every situation is equally transformable.  No one situation, one place, one job, one partner is better than any other.  Most of the time we go through life trying to manage our attachments and aversions.  True freedom is learning how to equally enjoy any possibility that may arise.  When we are forced to confront unavoidable suffering, we are given the opportunity to expand our mind in this way.  When we believe all of our suffering is emanated for us by Dorje Shugden then we know even though it is unpleasant, it is exactly what we need.  This doesn’t mean Dorje Shugden causes our suffering, rather it means we have the karma to suffer, but he gives us the wisdom blessings necessary to transform it into something useful.  Somebody who has the mind of patience is comfortable with uncertainty, in fact they embrace it, because they know it will be the fuel of their practice.

If we run away from our suffering and not accept it, then we’re going to be stuck in samsara forever.  That’s definite.  We will still grasp at some set of karmic appearances being good and others being inherently bad.  Samsara is not our external world.  Samsara is our delusions.  Our delusions wrongly grasp at external good and bad, and therefore they trap us.  Wisdom realizes every situation is equally good, just in different ways.  Freedom is being able to go anywhere with anybody experiencing anything and finding it all equally useful for our spiritual development.  I am not saying we run towards our suffering, but we stop running away from it and avoiding it and worrying what may happen to us.  Running away from it is not just a physical action, in fact it is primarily mental.  We mentally do not “welcome” the suffering in our life, rather we use all of our mental energy to try push it away and figure out how we can avoid it all while grasping at it as being inherently bad.  Such thinking misses the point of why these situations are being emanated.  We need to put all that to one side and stop worrying.

We can’t run away from suffering because it’s going to come our way anyway. That’s what we’ve got to accept about samsara.  We’re still not accepting life in samsara is the nature of suffering. We can’t change that fact. Suffering will never come to an end within samsara.  If we’re in samsara that is what we have to experience. We can’t change that. So we accept it, whatever comes our way, we accept, and then we use it, we use it to enhance our progress along the spiritual path, for example by dispelling our pride, developing renunciation, compassion, and so forth.

There is no meaning in rejecting suffering.  For ordinary people, when suffering arises they just try to avoid it, but then more comes and more and it is endless.  If instead we develop the courage to welcome it, confront it, then we can use it and we can finally bring suffering to an end.  We can do this if we recognize the good qualities of suffering.  It does require a tremendous amount of familiarity, starting off by voluntarily enduring or accepting minor sufferings, and then increasing our capacity until we can endure major ones.  But if we persevere in this practice, we will eventually succeed.  Then we will know true freedom.