The Intelligent Heart
A Guide to the Compassionate Life
7/55. Find liberation through both reflection and analysis.
Our minds have two related abilities: to look at things in general and to examine details. In Tibetan these are called tokpa and chöpa. The first is like identifying a forest; the second is like examining the trees in that forest. We should apply these faculties to understand our disturbing emotions. For example, if you notice that you feel upset, you can ask: Why do I feel upset? Because I have been insulted. What was said that made me feel so insulted? Why did that insult me, when it didn’t insult my friend? Examine the situation from all angles: from your point of view, from the other’s point of view, from the dharmic view, from the worldly view, in relation to the past, present, and future. Learn everything there is to know about the subject and get to the bottom of it. Once the light of your critical intelligence fully shines, it will be easy to free yourself by applying the Lojong practices such as tonglen. It’s important to do this practice systematically, going from general to specific, without skipping around. If you jump from one general theme to another, or from one detail to another, then you won’t learn much. You will be dwelling in vagueness. This process requires effort and may take you out of your comfort zone. But it is a process you can master, whether you’re an intellectual or an artist, whether you’re educated or uneducated. It’s a matter of using your innate emotional intelligence to understand your own experience. Learning how to apply these two mental faculties will make you feel confident and self-reliant. You will be able to understand the mind deeply from your own experience. In this way you will become a great teacher to yourself as well as a benefit to others.