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.
Nanaimo Sept 15 1993
(tape really bad)
Patience and dealing with the world. In going back into the essence of why and then moving outwards, if one takes just the superficial level, this is the application of outer activity. From the Buddhist perspective, there is relative technique and ultimate technique. Relative technique is essentially working with the feelings, emotions and and how we react with situations that arise. The emotions are a relative level and in working with them on a relative level, resolution often comes by repressing certain things. So initially it is suppression, and that is the relative level.
The ultimate technique is dealing with the investigation of the nature of reality. That your self existence is completely open. The investigation of the nature of your personality, the basis of the feelings that you have, and whether they are valid. Those investigations deal with the ultimate because they go to the ultimate question, what is the nature of reality. That investigation, if you were to talk about tree, the suppression would be chopping a branch, and things like that. The ultimate would be digging the root right out. The energy that gave the roots, leaves and branches would be gone.
But if one was to do that, to go to the essence, then you would say you have gone to the extreme of peace or the extreme view of quenching what is the potential of us as human beings. And we have magnificent potential to perform and accomplish great things. The bodhisattva ideal is to work on a relative plane and of course, to appreciate the ultimate plane. The ultimate plane gives context, relative plane is the play ground for activities in that one works in a relative way trying to cultivate and go beyond suppression to actually be able to creatively work with things.
And of course, the more you practice the more you have understanding. The more you have understanding the more you move into a natural spontaneity whereas initially there is merely suppression. The Buddha, in his initial teachings at Sarnath were that the world is fire. When your eyes contact an object you burn. When your ears contact a sound you burn. When your body seeks sensation, you are burning. You are burning with desire. This would all be quenched if you seek for peace.
That teaching, it is said, was particularly for arhats, people that strove for the attainment of peace. They didn't want to have anything more to do with the world. They were tired of dealing with emotions, they just wanted eternal peace. And so they renounced everything and meditated on the ultimate nature of reality and quenched the energy of the mind by realizing it's nature and the clinging to that. It is called a clinging because it is an extreme.
The Buddha in later teachings, in relation to the people that participated, then started to present the bodhisattva ideal and it could be said it is in relationship to the audience and the merits of the audience. So with that, the bodhisattva path which is the path of developing us as individual, taking the great quality that one's human existence has, and valuing that. And feeling very powerful and inspired by it, then trying to bring glory to it.
I have said this before, but the Buddha must have been a terrific interesting character. The charisma of our popular people of today is paled in comparison to the charisma of the Buddha in the effect. His message, the presentation and such must have been unbelievable. Because the effects of something two thousand five hundred years ago, the message he gave are still very valid in relating to human experience. It is not just related to a cultural setting.
With that appreciation, when we look at ourselves, the goal of perfecting or bringing forth quality in ourselves, and valuing it, so we say, I have potential, and with cultivation I can express it and express it beautifully. And so the ideal and inspiration, the feeling about the ideal, is very natural for our time and culture compared to the path of ascetic renunciation where everything is basically shut down and try to realize the nature of reality. That is an incredible suppression. I mean, the objective is my delusions cause me pain. So I will suppress them. And so the relationship to them is very antagonistic. There is an incredible violence to self in the sense that we completely want to suppress them. You have great emphasis to meditative concentration, with the attainment of concentration you turn your awareness to the investigation of the nature of reality, and within that you basically absorb yourself into that and try not to come out.
I think we can see that there is a very strict and tight interpretation. Whereas, take the same delusions. You have feelings, you have delusions. With those, if you look at them as that they are not a permanent reality, they have a lot of basis in them because I have not been conscious and developed myself. I havn't from day one when I was born,understood the nature of my life, the nature of my path and such things. But as I have developed and matured, and maybe I have come to some realization of who I am. At that point, then you make a decision, it would be nice to develop myself. The bodhisattva ideal is a very nice ideal. So suddenly your delusions which in the lower path are an enemy, are merely something which makes trouble. They disturb the situation. But your relationship is not antagonistic. Rather it is a relationship of saying, your view, your perspective is completely invalid, completely inappropriate, it does not bring any good resolution to the problems I have. So I don't need to think that you are the worst thing which could happen. You are just a misunderstanding. A misapprehension. A lot of old habit energy which I have never really investigated. So the relationship is not antagonistic. k It is rather, let me go into you, work through you, and then I can end up on the other side of you with the creative energy.
Just within ourselves, we have work environments in which we are working. And when we are working we see others around us. And some people are really capable of dealing with situations. And with the topic of patience, some people are really patient. We might be apprehensive or paranoid or fearful, or excited by some problem, but others handle it very well. By meeting these people, we see there is the potential to be of that nature. And what it is, some people have the innate karma of that, it seems to be part of their nature. But others, maybe they have been burned by their delusions. Maybe they have gone through a lot of delusion and come out the other side. Those people have terrific power because they have been able to go through them. They really understand the feelings, the intentions, the energies. For them, their ability is really an experiential one. And so it is almost worthy of veneration when someone has developed that quality.
The Bodhisattva path is a path of being able to recognize delusions as not being the total way the world exists, not being the worst enemy that has ever been. They are really just a bad misapprehension of reality. They are based on unconscious habit pattern energy, never having been investigated or thought about. And so when one looks at one, you could say there is compassion in relation to the delusions because one recognizes that they are a mistaken way of having lived. Never having investigated those with a deeper mode, deeper nature of things. So, lit is not that they are antagonistic, it is just that there is a misapprehension.
So with that thought, then one says, obviously I don't want to stay that way. As I said, our culture is much more supportive of development and growth. It is almost a theme. To develop and grow and become better. That is very much so the bodhisattva ideal, that we take our personal potential and we say we would really like to be a better and creative person. I would like to be generous, I would like to be kind without violence of body, speech and mind. I would like to be a very capable person in the sense of when something arises, I have capacity to take it and do something with it. And this capacity is really very much patience. And then there are the other perfections, but we can just talk about those three.
It is nice to develop ones quality and recognize that is going to move towards something which is really part of a relationship with the world, it is something which is going to improve the world, something which is going to give me fulfillment, it is going to help others feel good, so there is an inspiration there. And that is the reason for the relative teachings. That is the reason why they are important, and why, for example we are going to spend most of the winter talking about anger, dealing with anger, and how to deal with the feelings.
You will most likely not remember this talk too much, but I would like you to keep it in mind if you can that, the working on the relative plane is an incredible asset for you as an individual. Because it is the plane where you will feel fulfillment and good energy, you will feel good about yourself and such. And so it is worth while putting in some time and energy. In the long scale of many lifetimes, it will, for every inch you move in this life, in the next it will be that much easier because you will have that much familiarity and relationship with it. As time passes, the problems you have in this lifetime, won't happen in the next lifetime because you will have worked through them. And it is certainly something which is worthwhile to venerate. To think that all the things I blew in this lifetime, hey, if I work through them well in this lifetime, next time I will not have to deal with them again. I will feel good about myself. And if I meet that situation again, I will right away recognize it.
I am certain each of us can draw on an experience of when we were younger, that doing a certain thing was the way we worked through this. I am trying to talk about positive things, but one which comes to me, sort of a stupid one, but when I was a teenager, I smoked. I had money and therefore cigarettes. It is a thought that I can draw on out my past, but it is the thought that says, I always would lend cigarettes because I always knew that that was alright. In me there was the innate sort of sense that why don't I have any money, so I can lend cigarettes. That not that it was cigarettes, that just there was the innate sense that if you shared it, it was not a great problem and things would always work out.
I am sure that each of you can think of something that has come to you. Like you are hit by something. Or someone wants to have access to your property or cigarettes, or money, or time. I would be intrigued to see if you could draw on a memory of a vivid knowingness. It didn't require any articulating, it was just a vivid knowingness. It was a knowingness which said this is the right way to act. And I know it is not reality. So I am going to be this way. In that way you have validated something.
That knowingness which did not require a lot teachings, or your parents to harp it into you, to share or something like that. My mother always said money didn't grow on trees. It is really ingrained into me, a real uptight conservative existence with a budget. There was always a budget and you never blew it! In some ways my mother imprinted me with miserliness.
I am trying to touch on that there are things which maybe we wern't taught particularly aby our parents or our culture, but just in our heart, that this is the real way it should be. I am not going to be negative or selfish or in that way. That deep level of conviction is what I am trying to touch on. What could be, that is something from your previous lifetime which is a familiarity. Drawing on it in this lifetime, you are hit with a situation and you say, this is how I feel I should respond to this. And so it indicates it's familiarity to a particular activity, and in this sense, I am looking at a positive activity.
In that you are validating why in this lifetime it is worthwhile cultivating any small activity which is in a positive direction. Try to practice small types of generosity such as leaving pennies. It is a feeling that you develop of being a generous person. If you can expand beyond that, into greater ways of being generous, that is your quality. It is worthwhile having it because you are becoming a richer person within yourself.
Or if you see someone hurting, if you have the ability to go over and talk to them. From there you let those people unload and maybe work through some of their suffering. There are a lot of different things that are potential for you as an individual for developing these qualities. In that way, it is something that you will have with you this lifetime, and as you develop more familiarity with it, and certainly in future lifetimes, it will be yours intuitively because of familiarity with it.
This evening I only wanted to touch on the background of why we are going to talk of patience. It has deep roots in that you have innate quality which is the potential of enlightenment, it is the Buddha nature. That quality is developed with the pursuing of positive relativity, that when you relate to someone or the world around, that you upgrade them or work with it to be something nicer and cleaner. That energy is the energy of enlightenment and when fully developed, is the enlightened being. For ourselves it is the qualities of happiness.
So when we work with patience, we are trying to do something like this. When something comes our way, and it is a problem, with patience you can bear it well. And maybe it is hurtful, which is one of the definitions of patience, the ability to bear harm, or maybe, there is another called armor like patience, which is the ability to be persistent in trying to attain a goal. To the best term, the ability to attain quality which is difficult to attain. That is also a patience. Then there is the patience of love which is giving kindness and sharing with other people, which is also called the patience of protecting, which is helping others who are suffering.
All of those are, I have the ability to take a situation which is difficult and work on it and work through it. And that is something which we don't have a lot right now. Right now we get angry, get uncomfortable, we lash out, whatever. We have that as more natural. All of us do!
It is important to recognize that the more we can work with ourselves in a positive way, and we can really feel good that we are developing a nice quality in ourself. And maybe it will take five, ten or fifteen years, maybe the rest of our life. Doesn't matter. Every inch we move is an inch closer to something which is more deep and natural for ourselves. And it means that we have a greater ability to not be bothered by that problem when it comes. When it does come we are more capable and have better ways of dealing with it. We have more fluidity and capacity and creativity to deal with any situation. And that is something which we can venerate. In our heart we can say, I really like that!
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