THE WINDOW OF RIGHT VIEW TO LIFE
by Lama Choedak
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.
* first published in the Clear Mind newsletter, No 8, May-July 1991. Copyright © 1991 Lama Choedak Yuthok Rinpoche, Sakya Losal Choe Dzong, Canberra, Australia.