Be a Dharma warrior, not an ostrich

13 October 2010 - 9:17pm Comments Off

Facing our faults is falsely identified as failure. To do Dharma we have to face our insecurities, and overcome, not ignore or avoid them. Then things become light. Remember that.

H.E. Tsem Rinpoche

On our journey to Enlightenment, we need to proceed in an organised and efficient manner. Mount Everest cannot be conquered overnight; we need to prepare well so that we do not slip or go backwards too often. In the Mahayana tradition, this first stage of our practice is called the path of accumulation. This path is a two-fold practice involving purification of one’s negativities and the accumulation of merits.

The Buddhist way to a true cure is to first identify the real culprits – the causes of our problems and experiences of suffering. Because of this, Buddhism’s teachings on suffering have often been labelled as pessimistic. However, the Buddha’s approach to dealing with problems is neither pessimistic nor optimistic. It is simply realistic.

The causes of our difficulties lie not in external objects which are only the environmental and supporting conditions. It is within our mind that we experience suffering and happiness. The causes of our suffering are our afflictive emotions or delusions, which arise from the three roots – ignorance, desirous attachment and hatred. If nothing is done to overcome these three roots, we will engage in negative actions of body, speech and mind which will trigger the endless cycle of suffering.

The most poisonous substance in this world can only harm us once. However, the poisons of our mind destroy our happiness for countless future lives.

After conducting such a reality check, the definitive conclusion that we need immediate help will arise in our minds. Acknowledging and accepting that we are sick is the first step towards recovery. It takes a lot of courage and humility to admit this.

This exercise would be futile, a failure, if there is nothing we can do about our suffering. Fortunately, we have the assurance from Lord Buddha that there is a cure for all of our ailments. There are no pills to swallow, no injections, no messy tubes stuck in our nose or stomach, or any surgical procedures. It is a very simple method – just train our mind.

This first step involves putting effort into going through the process of purification and accumulating merit (like going for detoxification and taking tonifying medicine), understanding how it will benefit us. In addition, we need to have discipline and, with strong faith, practise wholeheartedly according to our Spiritual Guide’s instructions.

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