Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
APRIL 17, 1990
There has been a continual assault on you attitude and the way that you view the world. We started it off with being more conscious of the love that we have received, what is termed as the meditation of heart warming love based on reflections on your mother. There were seven branches of that particular technique taught in the tradition of Maitreya and Asanga called the Six Causes and One Effect Meditation. One part of that is remembrances of ones mother and the generation of heart warming mother. We dealt with the perspective of if you put yourself on one side of a scale and the other people in the room on the other side of the scale, and you as a detached entity observing those and appreciating how each one of those wants happiness, and then which one you would work for if you were unbiased, naturally you would work for the larger number, the larger group. To deal first with their needs and then with the singular person. In that way you try to assault or attack the various positions that your ego takes in setting itself up as being the most central being.
That technique and the ones yet to come are termed the exchanging of oneself for others meditation. It comes from Lord Buddha to Manjushri to Nagarjuna to Shantideva. In his book the Guide to the Bodhisattvas Way of life there is an extensive chapter on the different meditations dealing with Exchanging one's self for others. Exchanging one's self for others actually has five parts. They say if you really want to work at transforming yourself you combine the seven and the five and you end up with a thirteen part meditation. We have been drawing from different parts of them in the process.
For this evening the point is to ask yourself what is the benefit of self cherishing. We all have it. By that I mean not the instinct for life, for example if we were walking along the edge of a cliff, the ground slipped underneath and you grasped to the wall or something.... that instinct for life is not what I am talking about. That is not self cherishing, it's the desire to preserve yourself. Self cherishing is the thought that cherishes yourself more than others. It is an attitude. Something which you develop and if no one questions it, if you were never taught the propriety of being more open towards others, then you might never think there was anything wrong with it. It's a dog eat dog world. I am going to do as much as I can for myself and forget others unless it is beneficial for my position.
We are going to ask what is the benefit of self cherishing. You really should take some situations and approach them from the side of your self cherishing. And then approach it from the side of being less self centered. And you have to weigh out the out come of following this route and what will come if I follow that route. What will come of it? The point of it, if you look to the long term results, is to try to bring yourself around to realizing that self cherishing is the worst enemy you could have inside of you. It is an attitude that destroys any happiness you have. It will disrupt happiness for yourself, if will disrupt happiness for those around. It makes you dissatisfied, uncomfortable, makes you whine and complain, and in more extreme cases, it causes you to manipulate others, to be very negative and verbally abuse other people. All of this comes from self cherishing.
It is important to look at my self cherishing attitude. The best time of course, is when you are suffering. It is wonderful! Because in suffering you are in the middle of it. This incredible sense of self-cherishing. Like I am important, I am feeling miserable, damn it I could kill everyone around me to get rid of all my problems! That is an extreme emotion of it, but if you get down to the bottom line, what you are really feeling is, I wish the problems would get out of my life. And it depends on how enlightened or how sneaky you are. What you do to get about doing it! It is really interesting! All the deviousness that comes into you to establish your situation again. You have to get into a suffering situation to realize what you do. Because I don't think half of you know what you do!
And then when you are out there trying to achieve your end. It is incredible especially when it involves emotions and such. We have to come back to self-cherishing and ask, what are the benefits if I follow through with my self cherishing.
For this evening in the meditation, it would be good if you took a particular situation that has happened to you recently. The dynamics of it are like this. You have your personality and if you think it is like this, in this little space, self cherishing has this what is coming to me? It's an energy that says what is happening to me. When you are self-cherishing, you would come to this group and ask what can these people give me that will help me? That is self cherishing. What is happening for me. It's very important for me. And that is alright, and you cannot say that is wrong, when we are suffering or when we have needs, we certainly go to other people and it is something which is beneficial in many ways. We do have sufferings. It is important to have people you can rely on and draw on. But the question you have to ask is, what, in the long run has it been doing for me?
Take some very simple things. Material needs. When you have self-cherishing then your material needs become quite important. And I am certain all of us in a given situation have our family or some relationship. And something has come along that we really want. But really we do not have the budget for it. Low and behold, we somehow managed to swing the money to buy it, to hell with everyone else! Our personality is quite strong in going out and getting what we want. And not really caring what other people want. There is this center of the personality which is drawing things towards oneself. And if you think of it, it is like a magnet or a hole that sucks things into it. What does that do to the relationships around me? If I act out my self cherishing, for example if I personally get what I want, what does that do for the other members of the family? Does it make them happy and comfortable? And again in the long run, would I feel good about myself if I had done that? These are thoughts to think about.
Or materially, let's say you go and spend that money on something that you wanted especially yourself. Like everyone else has to adjust to it because you spent the money anyway. Well, how do those people relate to you? What is the result of that action? Or it can come down to emotional interplay with other people. Like you want a certain something. It comes down to you want a particular breakfast cereal. You want that extra last piece of jam for yourself. You want that butter there! And if it isn't there, you complain about it. You lash out at the people around you because blast it. There was one little piece of butter there and you got here five minutes before me, why didn't you think of me? Why didn't you take only half of it? You took it all for yourself you horrible person!
These are things that go on. You get up in the morning and have to have your toast. It has to have butter. There is nothing worse than a dry piece of bread. And you are thinking of yourself. And myself wants my toast and coffee and things with sugar and milk, whatever. These are all the manifestations of self cherishing. And when you don't get it, what do you do? Your personality turns around and snaps at the people around you. It extends into the day. The whole interplay, if you work in a group or on a committee, and you need each others support on some activity, and what happens when one of the members doesn't do what they want, you get upset! There are all of these emotions that go on.
The energy of the self cherishing person is like, my expectation is not being met. My hopes are not being met! My wants are not being met! Because of that, normally we blame others. I think we have to say that that is how we respond. Self centeredness me and then we lash out at the other person.
We have to ask what are the benefits of that? You drove that person away from you a little bit. Maybe you had expectations that they should have fulfilled, but you pushed the person away. What is the result of that? Well, either they become afraid of you, or they become afraid of loosing your love and so they go out and they do what you want them to. And so they are working out their self centeredness too because they are nervous that maybe you won't love them any more. Because of that they won't be supported by you any more. Lot's of self centeredness and self-cherishing, personal concerns in there.
The whole self-centered personality always thinking self. Always thinking what is happening for me. And it is very difficult because it makes a lot of suffering for ones self. That personality is continually pulling things into it's own self. And if things don't work out, then it is uncomfortable, unhappy, becomes anxious, and makes life quite miserable for everyone else around when things don't work out. We get depressed. We even withdraw from everyone because we are not getting what we want from the situation. I can't handle it any more. So everyone back off and leave me alone until I feel good about my self-centeredness. Enough that I can come out and interact again. And that is what we do! We always have a demand for my space, my needs.
You have to question, what does that produce? It means I am continuously battling with the people around me. When you don't get what you want you are generally speaking rude to the people around you. You send them away. It is like you are not attracting them. They don't come running to you saying what can I do for you? They go, oh watch out so and so is upset, not getting what they want! And they give you space. They are not feeling drawn to you. That self centeredness, self cherishing, doesn't do a lot of good. It is the cause of unhappiness for yourself and the cause of making other people round you unhappy.
I would like you to spend this evenings meditation thinking about it. It comes in the form of I want. I wanted to sit over there and I have to sit here! I wanted the car tonight and they didn't give it to me fast enough. I am going to be late. Grumble! It is always I want. Think about it in the sense of is it really accomplishing what you want in the way of real happiness? The questions are, identify it. Does it really in a nice fulfilling way give me what I want? Or is it just badgering everyone into giving you what you want? And then it is alright because you ego is given what it wanted? You have had your ego pacifier stuck in your mouth and you are bearable to be with for another few hours.
And when you find that I want, you have to see what you do to manipulate to get it. And you have to ask yourself are the games you play with your personality and such worth it? Will I be happy with who I am as the years go by if I put myself on a scale of what I would like to think of myself. The great bodhisattva or some kind loving wonderful person? Am I up to scratch or am I really fooling myself? That is the process for this evenings meditation and I hope that you have some time to have some experience in that. It will be interesting and follows through into the next meditation very nicely. We shall continue with it next week but the first part of it if you really want an experience, I could give you alla technique and it is all finished and it is wonderful. But it is not that good though. It is better that you try to get one phase of it and try to gain some experience and when the next phase comes along it is meaningful. It is effective. You will find some power there. And it is not anything that is artificial. It is quite authentic for working for yourself.
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