by Lama Choedak

[reprinted with permission from the CLEAR MIND QUARTERLY NEWSLETTER No 8,
May-July 1991]
Copyright 1991 (c) by Lama Choedak Yuthok, Sakya Losal Choe Dzong, Canberra

If you live in a house from where you have a nice view, you are probably happy
as far as the location of your house is concerned. The happiness of living in
the House of Life depend on what kind of views you have to your life. In this
issue you will read my thoughts about ways of applying one's understanding of
the Dharma and meditation practice in everyday life by developing the right view
to life. Those who have genuinely taken refuge in the Dharma and have developed
self-discipline through meditation would have discovered a view which provides
a clear understanding of what is going on in their lives and why. The
teachings of the Dharma makes lot of sense as it shows how to see things in a
correct manner without being obscured by any distorted views of life's
confusion. The Buddha taught about eight interrelated techniques that were
essential to provide as a guide to sustain one's spiritual inspiration and
practice. Practising the Dharma according to its teachings depends on how much
understanding we may have of the Eight Noble Paths. Just as we use the
prescribed ingredients to prepare a meal according to a recipe, we must combine
and integrate correctly all the eight skillful techniques. In this issue we will
discuss two Buddhist principles which constitutes main factors to develop the
right view.

To understand anything and life as a whole, one must not be influenced by any
narrow and limited views. If you have strong views, they will bring problems
whether you believe them to be right or wrong. The views we hold have no
substance in themselves for any change of the circumstances upon which the views
were based will prove them unsubstantiated. While we don't like to be misled
by others we do not want to be troubled by our own wrong views. Wrong views
produce frustration and bring pain and suffering upon those around us. In fact
all the sufferings are caused by our own ignorance. Our views or perceptions of
any event or our existence in this world mold our attitudes, behaviours and
experiences. Regardless of the correctness of our views, they create deep pain
as long as we cling to them. So, it is essential to cultivate the right view.
If we can associate ourselves with the following principles, we will live a full
and wholesome life. In order to be able to see things in a correct manner, one
must not forget the four basic and universal principles which constitute correct
Buddhist views:

1) All living beings are subject to experience pain and dissatisfaction
2) Everything is impermanent
3) Everything is empty of inherent existence
4) Nirvana (Going beyond suffering) is peace

It is important to understand sufferings and difficulties of living since they
are part of your every day life. If you can fully understand the meaning of
pain, you will not reject it. The best way to overcome pain is by accepting it.
The non-acceptance of pain makes you to believe that you are the only one who is
having a hard time and cannot have concern over other people. Skillful means of
handling sufferings gives birth to compassion but struggle against it
intensifies sufferings. The pain of non-acceptance is far more detrimental
than the actual pain itself. It may sound unfair to have only pain and
suffering when every effort of your life is made to not to have pain. It is
natural for everybody to expect happiness, but it is unobtainable by merely
avoiding pain. The destruction of pain can be fully realized when you overcome
the fear of pain. The purpose of life remains confused until you overcame the
fear of pain. The reason why people find difficult to accept pain is, just
because they think it is bad and so they shouldn't have it. If there is going
to be pain whether you do this or do something else or do neither, the very
purpose of any action, is to accept its consequences. Being responsible for
what you do and being able to accept its consequences makes a harmonious and
productive life. Do not think that you did something wrong when you were
undergoing some unexpected difficulties. What would have happened if you
didn't do it at all? You would have had a problem of a different kind. Do not
consider yourself to be unsuitable to whatever you are doing when difficulties
persist, but remember the saying: No pain no gain. Try to cultivate a positive
view of pain and its benefits. Do not reject pain for it is there for a reason.
Your seriousness and sincerity of engaging to do something is being tested when
you face difficulties which derives from your own effort and you are not going
to blame your effort. The meaning and purpose of the difficulties seldom become
clear until you learn to accept it. Rejection of pain and fear of it give you
real trouble and you will not find freedom. This view that the pain is
unavoidable and it is a fact of life, is one of the most crucial element in
being able to maintain the right view even in extreme conflicting conditions.
If you fail to accept things that are at hand, you will become unable to control
your thoughts and speech, and will commit unskillful actions which you will
regret later. Even if you meditate every morning, you must not forget this
principle that suffering is very nature of existence. Sustaining this view
prepares you to cope with the problems and can remain at ease. Learn to smile
in times of trouble to prove changeability of the trouble and let go of
attachment to happiness. Even if you found what you were looking for, it does
not last long, so be prepared to let go. Even if you can make it seem last
longer due to attachment, you will not be happy by holding onto a thing that
will inevitably part you anyway.

Suffering will not go away unless you honestly accept that parting is the
ultimate outcome of all meetings. Basic acceptance that pain is the nature of
life enables you to lighten your mental worry and anxiety by reflecting on the
impermanence of all things. You were born alone and will die alone. You will
also have to learn to stop blaming others and be responsible of your experiences
since they are result of your own making. If you have a good recollection of
past after so many years, why don't you try to remember some good and happy
experiences derived from such meetings and then see whether it is going to be
the same experiences of the past that you were so upset about. If you do this in
relation to sufferings, you will find that you yourself are creating the
sufferings based on your inability to let go of the past without having any of
the circumstances under which the past suffering arose. So do not trace the
past, unless you wanted to go that way. You will not be aware of the best
moment of here and now if you are anticipating future. Even if you have obtained
something pleasant without facing some pain, examine how long would it last.
Appreciate everything when it occurs before it vanishes and do not expect things
to stay unchanged as you want them to be. The acceptence of the law of
impermanence will enable you to free from clinging and it provides a swift and
smooth parting into freedom. You do not have to make deliberate attempts to
change things but accept the changes that are occurring in and around you
effortlessly and respect this course of nature's law. Do not try to stagnate
your growth by holding onto things that are no longer part of you. You cannot
have control over other people's actions to make you happy if you have
difficulty controlling your own. Set yourself free from clinging, bitterness
and unforgiveness as soon as the parting takes place, and do not wait to occur
anything that is not yet due. Although it may not be obvious, parting is not
only inevitable but it is extremely necessary as much as the meeting. Learn to
see the movement and change of things when they occur and do not assume what
should or should't happen to it. Do not be hard on yourself, take care of
yourself. Do not appreciate only when good things that come to you but also
when they go away from you so that you remain receptive. You will also set him
free if you would let him go. Observe the fleeting nature of your own thoughts
and attitudes which projects things on to changeable objects and yet you are
trying to make them stand still. Do not have doubts of the result of an action
if you are doing it right. Even if you did something wrong, why should you be
upset if you can understand that it is not happening now and will not happen
again. If you have helped somebody in the past, do not think when and how they
should repay you since he or she may be busy helping someone else. If friends
have become what they were not, check what the foes will become if you don't
hold them to be so. When trees grow taller to provide you shade, energy and
coolness, examine what are you giving to the world as you grow older. When
the busy hours of a worker's day turns into nothing more than a sleepy night,
let him sleep soundly for it may be the only thing he can enjoy for himself and
so that he can be ready for another hard day. When chopping woods, do not hold
an axe tight unless you do not want to use it again. Do not try too hard in
the beginning, for you may loose interest in your goals. Do not speed for a
short distance as in a race to exhaust yourself but walk slowly and steadily to
energize yourself wherever you might be going. Just talking to myself.