Dharma Blog - all posts

Our suffering can range from being very mild confusion to very intense emotional distress. But we always have two choices, either to just “grin and bear” it, or to understand what is happening in our mind. We can either take charge of our own mind, or we can behave like it's happening from outside of us, out of our control. Although circumstances have caused the suffering, and many people will agree with you, nonetheless whether you blame the circumstances outside or not, your suffering still continues inside. Taking responsibility for your suffering and the cause of your suffering means becoming more self-aware of your ego and how it manifests from a small spark to a raging forest fire that burns us alive. To understand the cause of our suffering means to objectively observe how that happens in our experience, through the technique of meditative self awareness.

Many say Buddhists are so pessimistic—always talking about samsara and impermanence. We do not have to feel guilty about enjoying life. That is a misunderstanding! This is all about making things better by working with where we are now—bringing our intention and action together - by having a far-seeing view and not losing heart over the trivial things that are happening in the short term. There is no such thing as an insignificant bodhisattva, or a small bodhisattva. This is not only about being of benefit in some future time. We need the courage and willingness to make life better here now! You need to believe in yourself, right now!

When we are able to acquaint ourselves with others and sensitize ourselves to the pain and pleasures of other beings, that is truly the starting point of our spiritual development, and it is the true practice of all religion. The significance of the life release practice is that it truly responds to that call to do something for another being whose life is in grave danger.

Often times we don't want to live up to our responsibilities in life, we feel a sense of "burden" and "intrinsic-ness". But the process of meditation is not like carrying a backpack of rocks all day long. It is actually a huge un-burdening! Most of the time, the rucksack, the rocks, the day, and the journey, are all seemingly very real. The sense of burden and suffering actually comes from that feeling of realness. I encourage you to appreciate your lives, as well as the duties and responsibilities to serve others joyfully. It is your stepping-stone to being a bodhisattva. In this way, being a bodhisattva in the world becomes easy.

Part 3

Part 2

There’s not much point to recognizing your suffering if you have no path to work with it. If holding on won’t affect the outcome, if a situation is destined to go in a particular direction, then such hanging on is useless and misguided. First you must face your own mind and emotions before you face one's situation. In doing so, a sense of acceptance and willingness to face situations will arise, along with mental stability.

When we can really accept ourselves as human beings with similar needs, similar conditions, and similar basic experiences as all other humans, then we can think of our suffering as human suffering rather than as my particular suffering. When we can learn to think in this way, we can really relax.

By cultivating a detached awareness to our emotional reactions; by not viewing the emotions as “black and white". We gain a balanced perspective. We no longer feel a need to react aggressively or judge our own behavior. By remaining present with our sensations that are based on our emotional reactions, we stay connected to this wakeful energy. Sensations don't become such a big deal. So don't be so afraid of allowing sensations to occur.

As we develop a capacity to work with the mind in a mature way, we can discover how to relinquish the need to react, as well as the need to suppress our emotions through a sense of self-judgment. When you get rid of the grasping, the attachments, the rejection you start to feel an incredible sense of energy inside. Even though you began by feeling horrible, it’s almost as if you begin to feel like a mountain or a warrior.