July 7 1991
On the series of talks we have been giving, the point of refuge in Buddhism is termed as turning one's mind to a more spiritual path, a path that brings more meaning to one's life, the most important thing is one's own mind. It is one's mind that will establish how one experiences things. To take for example the immediate situation we are in right now, if one has a positive motivation, one will obviously acquire positive energy by being involved in it. If one has not as clear a motivation, then the results of one's activity will not be clear.
For one's self generally, one should always try to motivate in the most positive way that one can so one will establish the relationship with whatever one's experiences are which cultivate a certain positive quality in one's self. So mind is of paramount importance, and the motivation is important too. Not just wishing for personal happiness, not just wishing for some temporal release of tension such as stress management, but one should try to motivate that one becomes a more spiritually evolved person, not for working for personal gain. Developing such qualities as generosity, kindness, patience, enthusiasm, meditative skill and wisdom are beneficial, but if one looks at those qualities, they are inner qualities related to the mind and attitude we have, so we should motivate with the most positive motivations we can rather than benefits for one's external existence in the outer world.
Regarding the object of taking refuge this is important in all the events we become involved with, the motivation. We have covered the qualities of the Buddha, teachings and spiritual community, but mostly that is for inspiration. So it comes back to one's own mind, it gains some conviction or stability in what it is drawn towards, therefore the mind develops itself, it has an interest to learn.
The most important thing in development, is that the person really looks at oneself. In the world we always look external in saying, I have a headache, where is the aspirin, I have a bad situation, where is my car so I can go for a drive. We do things like that. Always looking to external problems and look for external remedy, which is not always wrong. But we should always look at the principle cause of what we are experiencing. And if we were able to say it is always external causes and circumstances, then we should look to external remedies such as eliminating all of our enemies, destroy everything that is unpleasant for us, then we would have a wonderful world. But, that is why all wars happen, thus external remedies are maybe not the correct solution in all cases.
When we have problems arise for us, the main teaching of Buddha dharma is to look within one's own mind and one will find the causes which make our life miserable. We should be more conscious of that and make that the principle object of the teaching. So refuge is identified as not taking refuge in external philosophy, the philosophy is establishing a mirror in which you look at your own mind and realize your own creation of yourself and how you create the situations and different types of experiences for yourself. In this way, if we have that mirror in place, we can start to recognize where we make mistakes, how we set ourselves up in negative positions and therefore create a lot of suffering. Or, when we set ourself up in a position which is in reliance upon delusions versus reliance on clear vision. Because we rely on delusion, we create an incredible amount of suffering for ourselves and for others around us.
So we should look at how the mind is functioning, and recognize that when we have various delusions establish their positions or to take up being the principle way we are going to look at things. For example anger. When the world does not conform to our expectations of how we would like it to be, we often resort to aggression and anger. We get angry and pissed off, we ventilate about how things are not going the way we would like them to go. Well, that is our mind becoming completely consumed with anger. Therefore we suffer. We feel unhappy, the world around us becomes a very unhappy place, the world becomes ugly, and then we ventilate a great deal, become violent verbally and physically. So anger obviously doesn't always work. One of the nicest sayings in Buddhism is, if you can do something about it, why get angry, and if you can't do anything, why get angry.
Sop we should look at our mind and ask what we could do which is positive. If this situation is rather unpleasant, and if I can do something, I should try to do it in a way that is positive, creative, cultivate understanding or whatever is necessary. If I can't, I should accept it with patience because I have no control in this particular situation.
Or we could look at jealousy. Jealousy is where we look at someone else as winning more things and therefore we become jealous of that person, looking at them with a nasty mind, saying, they are getting what I would like to have. Because of that emotion, we become very bitter with what we are seeing around us. So we are bitter to the person we dislike, and we ventilate our bitterness, and even to the object that we want, sometimes we become very nasty or sarcastic in relationships where we look at someone else with jealousy and we start to allow that to become a predominant thing within our mind. With jealousy, we should recognize it as one of the worse things we could possibly allow ourselves to become involves with. It only makes ourselves unhappy and it makes everyone else around us unhappy. So it will never accomplish what we would like it to, it only sends everyone away. Therefore it is a bad thing to rely on for gaining success and happiness, and only makes our life unhappy and miserable.
Attachment. This is clinging desire, thinking that if we get one more thing or have the objects of our desire, that we will be happy. But if one has awareness, one can see how acquiring new toys and things to satisfy our desire, it never makes us satisfied. A Tibetan expression says, if one has great desires, one will never know satisfaction. One will always be yearning and wishing to be somewhere else or involved in attaining something new. So we should try to realize inner contentment and not have rampant desire for all we are trying to attain, desires which are maybe out of proportion. Certainly we need some aspiration, but we do not need to make it as a satisfaction for our central desire.
With delusion we can make a lot of suffering for ourselves. So we need to look at our mind. The teachings are like a mirror before oneself, and one then can see one's own face and in that way understand what one is doing with oneself.
The meditative technique is to develop tranquillity where one is able to observe without becoming involved with particular delusions which arise at different times. An immediate meditative technique we could develop is learning how to relax ourselves, not been grossed or caught by delusions which become generated within us. The easiest way is to work with awareness of the breath and use a simple statement such as things are impermanent to allow ourselves to go past or through a delusion which is arising for ourselves.
For this evening, the meditation will be on the conscious awareness of our conscious breathing. All we have to add to that is the awareness that all phenomena in the universe is an impermanent nature. Because they are impermanent, why should I cling to any one particular viewpoint which for example a negative perspective clings to entities as being very real and truly existent and never thinks of them as impermanent. If you have strong attachment for a person, that attachment might have nothing to do with reality, it is more a grasping or craving, whereas when we get the object, we realize that the object does not meet our expectations and therefore we feel let down.
The most important thing for ourselves is to try to develop detachment from delusions when they arise. So when a delusion starts to arise, we should be aware of our breathing. Just that awareness in itself relaxes the mind. But we need to develop awareness which makes ourselves stay there, not fly off into thought patterns and such, but come back and be aware of the breathing. As we develop that as a good meditative stable base, we can add to that an awareness of impermanence, just as my body and breath is impermanent, therefore this object captivating my mind is also impermanent, therefore why should I cling to any one thing. We are mature enough to realize that objects of attachment in the past are gone, so to cling to any one thing is ridiculous. We have gone though many attachment scenarios.
Jealousy. We have to go into a few times we have let ourselves get jealous and realize how miserable we are when we allow it to become the predominant thing in our mind. The last thing we want is to have jealousy. And we can work in a more powerful way by stopping death. It is a good way to stop jealousy in it's tracks. To realize we are going to die one day, do I want to die a jealous person, and you can stop jealousy very well with death.
Finally, anger, then ask why my expectations are the most real ones above everyone elses. We have to realize the world will still exist even if my expectations are not met. In that we can use awareness to allow our mind to shift into a position where we have stability and the ability to go through and beyond what is deluding our mind.
This is fundamental for the Buddhist teachings. So in our meditations we should try to work in this way as best we can. We will only help ourselves become a more happy and fulfilled person, certainly more in control of who and what we are.
Copyright 1994 Daka's Buddhist Consulting All Rights Reserved