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.
June 27 1989
The Buddhist approach to spirituality is the fundamental nature to our being is our Buddha nature exists within all of our minds. It is termed the most subtle level of consciousness and all living creatures have it. In that sense, that most subtle nature is unchanging. It is similar to in the sense, from this moment how we are and then how we will be when we become fully enlightened, that most subtle nature will never change. It doesn't grow or it doesn't shrink. It is just the basic nature of our consciousness. And so for a buddhist, the practice is to allow themselves to access that, to be more tuned or aligned or in harmony with that. And if one was to come from that level of consciousness, to manifest it purely.
In Buddhism there is the concept of previous and future lives. Someone might ask the question, when is the beginning, when is the end? For Buddhism, there is no beginning. It is a really important aspect. That one never think of a beginning moment, because if there is a beginning there has to be an initial cause. And if there was an initial cause, then why? Why did the initial cause happen? There are many problems to go through if one tries to establish a beginning as something created. So a Buddhist never has to deal with that. They step out of the way of worrying about how it all began. And if we looked at the scale of time and space, they are infinite. If you allowed yourself to think about it's immensity, it is inconceivable to think there is a beginning for that. You can even think of solar systems and galaxies grow and then be destroyed or shrink down to back holes.
Anyhow, within that infinity of space there is our little consciousness. And the most subtle level of our consciousness which is most refined, that is the seed of our enlightenment is termed to be there. And it is said to be non defiled, neither good nor bad because as it is the; most subtle nature, if it was qualified by being either good or bad, then there would be no need for us to do anything because it already has it's nature. So the most innate level of consciousness already has it's nature. So the most innate level of consciousness is called intrinsically pure. It is like the vacuity of space. Many things can come into it and do their thing and leave, but the basic nature of space doesn't change. So it is said that at any time in our existence, because we use the example of space like sky, there are many cloud formations which come. Some are pure white and some are dark. These cloud formations are like various states of mind we have but as clouds do not change the nature of space. They might give it dimension or size, but they don't change the mature of space 3which is to be open and free. In the same way, at various times in this existence or previous or future existences, you have various cloud formations of personality, and those ones are temporary. And in the final ultimate enlightenment there is what is termed what is clear light and spaciousness of consciousness which is the omniscient mind.
So tying that in with patience. The perfection of patience relates very much to that because your being, and in trying to develop yourself spiritually, you are trying to be more attuned to your more subtle nature. To be able to manifest it without clouding or staining or defiling it. In doing that the perfection of patience is really crucial because we do have at many times, lots of things which make us upset and angry. Where they infuriate us and whatever. In doing that, then we make a lot of problems for ourselves to become more tranquil and more at peace with ourselves and to be able to reveal our innate buddha nature.
The definition of the Perfection of Patience is a mind which can bear hardship. The mind capable to handle situations or to bear a situation without becoming hostile about it. The example they give is, if one is to think that if one was to eliminate all one's enemies in the world, it would be endless. You would never be able to do it. Maybe the best thing would be to eliminate yourself! Then all your problems are gone!
Rather than that the best thing to do is to realize your own mind and in doing that you subdue all your enemies. All of those things which bother you. The example they give is if you try to cover the world with leather, it would be impossible. But if you covered the soles of your feet, you have covered the world. The point is, if your mind realizes patience, then no object is too great for you to be able to handle. Whereas if you don't realize patience, even the smallest thing can over come you. So patience is the capacity of the mind to handle situations. This is something which is not natural for us. I think all of us would say if we meet someone who handles difficult situations and doesn't get flustered, we would think they had it together or were fairly developed. So you can see that patience is a quality of character. And it is something which can be developed.
In working towards realizing more patience in our being, two things are important. One is to identify the disadvantages of getting upset, and the other is to realize the good qualities of being patient with the situation. The most immediate statement one can say is that no one likes an angry person. So when you let yourself get angry remember that no one likes being around angry people. I think all of us have the wish for others to like us. If we think of ourself in the world, we want to attract people. We want them to like us, w w ant support, we want friends and such! We want to be warm and happy. Well when we alow ourselves to get angry, all we do is send people away. It drives them away, it makes us unhappy. It makes not sleep at night. You will get indigestion. It is the opposite of what we really want in our existence.
The first part is to identify anger as being totally disruptive and negative. So when you feel anger coming, think of what I am going to get into right now is not going to do a lot of good! So in someway you just stop it's expression. Already my mind is flashing those thoughts which say you have got to express yourself or you will be inhibited. And if you are inhibited you are even worse and stuff! But if you can, get in touch with that anger does not produce good situations. It sometimes might alleviate the situation right way for you if you get furious enough everyone runs away and the problem is resolved! But it doesn't really resolve the problem because you carry that anger around with you and it is not going to do good things.
The point is to ask what happens with myself when I get caught up with anger? Normally there are the objects of our anger and our mind's concept or way of dealing with the situation which has gone beyond. We feel that within this certain area I can be in control. When we are taken beyond that, we feel insecure and therefore get angry. We feel hostile, fearful, and therefore we get angry. So we should start to come into touch with the objects of our anger and think about those and what options we have in dealing with them. So you start to say, alright I can get angry. All I have really done is made a statement to the world around me which says I am very unhappy and I feeling I am being exposed or vulnerable. And I don't like that. And so we get furious and lash out. That is the inner dynamic of our mind. In some way we are afraid or we are feeling that the situation is out of control. Our personal grasp on reality, our mind set, is stretched too far and we get angry. That is the object of our anger.
From the object of our anger then we are making the statement, my mind can not handle the situation right now. And I am unhappy and you could also say that your mind then resorts to a method which it thinks may resolve the situation. If I get furious enough those problems will disappear. I will over ride the people around me, I will over ride the situation. Sometimes it will work and sometimes it will not. But it does not give a good solution to the problem.
Try to get into what goes on when you get angry. When you get angry your mind feels threatened, and you rely on a solution of anger thinking it will resolve the situation. Then ask, does that really help the situation? Does it help me go through it and resolve it properly, and will it solve it forever? Does it bring me lasting satisfaction! I think if we deal with ourselves on those points, we will start to become more aware and realize that it does not solve the problem. I may drive people away. It makes me upset and emotional. So much so that I can not sleep at night, I can not eat properly, I will get indigestion, I will bring myself into a very difficult position. So maybe I should not try to get into anger and instead look for alternative expressions.
In this sense, move to a more positive position. Like, not suppress your anger. There is a difference between the word suppression and repression. To hold your anger in check is not bad. To run away from your anger and feel that it did not exist, is bad because you are not dealing with the issue. But checking anger is not pushing it away, it is stopping it's expression and seeking for other alternatives to it!
When you have anger, with anger you have a lot of energy. You are energized about a situation. That energy needs expression. You don't need to go and lash out. You can do it in other ways, releasing it equally. It might not be as satisfying, because if you yell loud enough you can feel that you have won! Maybe you don't get that satisfaction, but you will resolve it.
When you deal with your personality and with your spirituality, the point of one's whole practice is that one moves toward more open states of consciousness where one's mind is not tight and one's grip on reality isn't so rigid that one breaks apart with even the smallest thing. One becomes more capable of handling situations. So if your personality is opened and your sense of being is more capable, it means that when you approach situations you try to handle them, to work them through. This means in the positive sense that you have lots of patience with the situation. And rather than looking at it as he or she is very patient because they have wonderful great characters, in a different perspective, that person is very capable of taking situations and working through them as best they can.
I think often patience is seen as a negative trait. Almost as being wimpy. Someone if they are patient, then they really don't express their proper feelings. But the point is to get to a position where you feel that working with your personal reality, you feel more capable. You try to approach it in a more positive sense. To help one do that is to first get in touch with the negative results of anger. What does it really accomplish? Did the object of your anger really learn anything from it other than one, you had a lot of voice or an intensive method of delivery. Did it really help? Later on did you have to go through a bunch of emotional acrobatics to get back on the good side of that person, if that is what you wanted?
So identify the negative side of anger. Then identify the positive side of being able to handle situations. And in doing that, think about your own conscious being and how you express yourself. What it means when anger comes and grips hold of you. Your grip of reality is being bent. Think of it as personality. Your personality energy is what is crating your reality. In that way think about your personality energy and how it manifests itself. Can I do something to up grade my personality?
Like I said at the beginning, our personality is like a cloud formation. As we go along it is always changing, fluctuating and growing and shrinking and so on. So our personality is not a fixed entity. It is a constantly changing entity. If we had the capacity to see future lifetimes we would find that the energy that goes to the future lifetime is basically the way we have acted, the habit patterns we have gotten into. In that way there is just a new energy pattern again doing it's thing, fluctuating and changing. It is not the real essence of our being.
In that way try to refine or upgrade the way that you interact so that your energy is upgraded, that you are more in harmony with your inner being, you are more at peace with yourself and you feel good about yourself, a positive reinforcement.
Just touching on the positive aspects of anger. Anger is useful. For example, if you think of this as a large pool of water and there is a particular color. A drop of black ink into water and it turns into a cloud. It colors that part of the water. Now then, if you made it like this room is full of water and there is a person sitting there and they have a lot of problems. Maybe they are self centered and very obnoxious. Or in some way they are not in tune with reality. They are creating a lot of negative energy. Alright. You come into contact with them when you deal with that person you see that what you are going to do is just input energy into them. At that moment there is something that needs to be done. And it has to be done quite intensively if it is going to change the situation fast. That is where anger can be used in a positive context. It is trying to change the situation. So if someone is really out of touch with reality, you slap them in the face and stop them dead! That is aggressive. You could call that an expression of anger. It is really not. The intention is from a good side, the expression is quite aggressive though.
Or similarly, they say when you deal with children. Sometimes it is important to show a very heavy side because a child doesn't understand that there are certain limits which are good to be within. So you spank your child or deal with him in a more aggressive manner. Your intention is not to terrify the child, but to make the child grow to a positive position.
In that way anger has a positive context. Justifiable context. But in using that, it is always in proportion to the individual that you are interacting with. It is not because you are pissed off and you want to hurt the person. It is because you are saying, for this person in their situation, I am going to put in new energy and it is going to change them a little bit. It is going to stop them on the course then are on and direct them. In that way you can have positive anger. It deals with the situation in a positive manner in trying to bring about a good result. Sometimes it works, and sometimes it don't!
For the meditation, the most important thing is to have it in context to your self. So touching base with that your mind has levels of consciousness, the most subtle level of consciousness is your innate buddha nature. And that, if you can access it consciously would be your personal enlightenment. What stops you from accessing it is all the hangups you have, all the emotional blockages. So anger is one of the major blockages. Try to get in touch with that sort of mind energy is what obstructs you from becoming enlightened because every time some difficult situation happens, your mind turns to a lump in your head or chest. And by doing that you can not go beyond the situation and you get upset. That is the thing which is blocking you from becoming more enlightened. If you are becoming more enlightened, you don't get caught by external images. Just things. If you see someone handling something precious to you, and you are immediately uptight, brittle at that moment. The more enlightened you are, the more you are relaxed about it.
The point is to try to realize the mind's energy. And in mind energy, the more enlightened you become, the smoother and even that energy is. In becoming enlightened we need patience, to be able to handle situations better, to be more capable.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting
All Rights Reserved