Saturday, November 13, 2010

It's A War Out There

Since i mentioned the Tibetan Lojong (Mind Training) teachings the other day, and because the weather was bad this morning, i spent most of the late morning and early afternoon today watching a Dalai Lama teaching on the subject online. After that i decided to pull Pema Chodron's book Start Where You Are, which contains her teachings on each of the 59 slogans, off the shelf to read through bits of her wisdom, and found myself dilly-dallying on this quote:

"...[O]n the path of the warrior, or bodhisattva, there is no interruption. The path includes all experience, both serene and chaotic. When things are going well, we feel good. We delight in the beauty of the snow falling outside the windows or the light reflecting off the floor. There's some sense of appreciation. But when the fire alarm rings and confusion erupts, we feel irritated and upset.

"It's all opportunity for practice. There is no interruption. We would like to believe that when things are still and calm, that's the real stuff, and when things are messy, confused, and chaotic, we've done something wrong, or more usually someone else has done something to ruin our beautiful meditation. As someone once said about a loud, bossy woman, 'What is that woman doing in my sacred world?'


"This is where the heart comes from in this practice, where the sense of gratitude and appreciation for our life comes from. We become part of a lineage of people who have cultivated their bravery throughout history, people who, against enormous odds, have stayed open to great difficulties and painful situations and transformed them into the path of awakening. We will fall flat on our faces again and again, we will continue to feel inadequate, and we can use these experiences to wake up, just as they did. The lojong teachings give us the means to connect with the power of our lineage, the lineage of gentle warriorship."

Which reminded me of something i was reading the other day in the "Patience" chapter of Stephen Batchelor's The Bodhisattva's Way of Life the other day:

Having found its fuel of mental unhappiness 
In the prevention of what I wish for 
And in the doing of what I do not want, 
Hatred increases and then destroys me. 
Therefore I should totally eradicate 
The fuel of this enemy; 
For this enemy has no other function 
Than that of causing me harm. 

Whatever befalls me 
I shall not disturb my mental joy; 
For having been made unhappy, I shall not accomplish what I wish 
And my virtues will decline. 
Why be unhappy about something 
If it can be remedied? 
And what is the use of being unhappy about something 
If it cannot be remedied? 


Even when the wise are suffering 
Their minds remain very lucid and undefiled; 
For when war is being waged against the disturbing conceptions 
Much harm is caused at the times of battle. 

The victorious warriors are those 
Who, having disregarded all suffering, 
Vanquish the foes of hatred and so forth; 
(Common warriors) slay only corpses. 

The enemy, the real enemy, is inside. The battles are vicious, the trenches are mud pits filled with lies made of sugar, and the war is long and hard, but it can be won. It can be won.

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