A monthly series of talks and questions & answers sessions via Zoom, will take place every last Saturday of the month.
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From 1:30pm to 2:30pm EST, Tsony will give a talk on one of the themes requested by you!
From 3:00pm to 4:00pm EST, we’ll have time for your questions or sharing about your experiences regarding your practice.
Tsony’s Dharma Roadside Dialogue
Defeat the Klesha
Three angles of approach to the subject
1/By the determination to preserve the ethical commitments
Firstly: Assess the reality of suffering, and let go of the constant effort to deny it in an endless quest for the ideal object.
“Life swings like a pendulum backward and forward between pain and boredom.”
According to Schopenhauer, suffering is the basis of human existence: it is suffering to exist comes from the fact that man, this machine to desire, is ceaselessly disappointed with his satisfactions. As soon as a desire is satisfied, there come other desires, which must be fulfilled. It is the Will to live, in other words instinct, which makes us desire. But as soon as we kill desire in us, it is boredom that emerges, the emptiness of the heart. Thus, man is torn between this double threat, which constitutes a certain source of his misfortune.
Secondly: Rely on refuge and individual liberation vows (Pratimoksha) to break toxic habits while nurturing the virtuous spiral leading to enlightenment.
2/By unlimited love and compassion
Khenpo Munsel Tonglen Pith instructions
“Khenpo Munsel gave me many special oral instructions on tong-len that weren’t in the text. In tong-len, generally, we say that we are sending happiness out to others and taking others’ suffering in.
But for the actual meaning of tong-len, you have to understand the inseparability of self and other. The ground of our minds is the same. We understand this from the View.
In this context, even if there are many different types of suffering, there is only one thing called “suffering”. There is only one suffering, he taught. If there is really only one suffering then at this time when you, yourself, have great suffering, you should think, “The minds of the sentient beings of the three realms and my mind have the same ground.” However, the essence of the suffering of the sentient beings of the three realms and the essence of our own suffering is the same.
If you see them to be the same, if you see them as being non-dual, and then meditate on that suffering, in the mind’s natural state, that suffering goes away.
At that moment, you have been able to lessen the suffering of all sentient beings of the three realms, all at once.
The “len” of tong-len means “taking.” First, take in this way. “Tong” means “giving.” If you understand your mind’s nature, then you recognize the essence of whatever suffering and afflictive emotions there may be to be emptiness.
When suffering does not harm you anymore, the mind has great bliss. If at that time, you meditate, making self and others inseparable, then that bliss can diminish the self-grasping of all sentient beings. It can lessen the self-grasping.
The happiness that is being given is the bliss that comes from the practice of giving and taking.
This is how you should practice. This is very special. Others don’t explain it this way.”
3/By the depth of discernment
Turning Afflictions into Practice
Excerpt From: Shamar Rinpoche. “Boundless Wisdom: A Mahāmudrā Practice Manual.”
Although it is said that there are 84,000 afflictions, in fact they are beyond enumeration. Broadly speaking, they can be generalized into five groups: attachment, anger, ignorance, jealousy, and pride.
When you turn them into practice by recognizing their true nature, all 84,000 afflictions are resolved in an instant. At that moment, Buddha nature reveals itself spontaneously in the five forms of wisdom. That is the far-reaching result of turning afflictions into meditation. The fundamental nature of mind is pure wisdom. In other words, the five forms of wisdom are the innate nature of mind, commonly known as Buddha nature. When the mind is obscured by ignorance, these pure qualities are distorted, and they appear in us as the five forms of affliction. In reality, they are the five forms of wisdom. Thus, the true nature of all afflictions is in no way different from the true nature of mind. If we can only see that the mind and all its afflictions are intrinsically empty and unborn, ignorance will be eradicated in an instant.
Afflictions are sometimes known as poisons, while wisdom is described as nectar. For this reason, the instruction on turning afflictions into meditation is called the instruction on transforming poison into nectar.
The first of the afflictions is attachment. When the intrinsic nature of attachment is recognized as empty “and unborn, it reveals itself as discerning wisdom. In discerning wisdom, all things are perceived distinctly, as they truly are. This is as much as one can say about a Buddha’s wisdom, that a Buddha intuitively knows how and why things are the way they are. It is said that when a Buddha looks at the tail of a peacock, he can instantaneously tell what karmic causes and conditions have brought about all the different colors in each feather.
The second affliction is anger. When the true nature of anger is recognized, anger reveals itself as the wisdom of the expanse, dharmadhātu wisdom. This is when every experience is recognized as inseparable from emptiness, mind’s true nature. In the emptiness of mind, every experience is an experience of spaciousness. In the emptiness of mind, every arising phenomenon occurs within the all-encompassing expanse and liberating quality of awakening.
The third affliction is ignorance. When the innate nature of ignorance is recognized as empty and unborn, it reveals itself as mirror-like wisdom, sometimes known as all-knowing wisdom. There are no limits to knowledge in omniscience, neither “In enlightenment, pride is transformed into the wisdom of nondiscrimination, also called the wisdom of equality. You realize that in the emptiness of mind, all things are undifferentiated in that they are equally empty.”
The fourth affliction is pride, or ego clinging. It is the discrimination between self and others. In any given situation, we generally favor ourselves over others. In enlightenment, pride is transformed into the wisdom of nondiscrimination, also called the wisdom of equality. You realize that in the emptiness of mind, all things are undifferentiated in that they are equally empty.
The fifth affliction is jealousy. In enlightenment, jealousy is transformed into task-accomplishing wisdom, the wisdom of activity. A Buddha, knowing the wishes, capacities, and abilities of all sentient beings, is best able to help them. Here, the term Buddha is used in the broadest sense, and is not confined to a specific historical Buddha.
The afflictions are like poisons for as long as they are not transformed into wisdom. The technique for turning the afflictions into practice is exactly the same as for turning thoughts into practice.
First of all, be aware of the arising of an affliction and identify it; look at its nature. Then relinquish all attachment to the feeling. Finally, do not be apprehensive or hopeful regarding the outcome, but accept any eventuality with courage and confidence.
Be like a lion in the face of hardship and difficulties. Be as free from attachments as the wind blowing through the sky. Be like a madman, without false pretenses and artificiality. The same technique is applicable for all afflictions.
Among the five afflictions, some are easier to detect and identify. Anger, for instance, is usually easy to see. Jealousy and attachment are also not well hidden. However, when you are beset by pride and ignorance, you do not usually know they are there. To be self-centered in our thinking is such an ingrained habitual tendency that it takes both time and patience to eradicate it. When you are ignorant, you are not always intelligent enough to know it. However, once you have dealt with the more apparent afflictions, you will also be able to deal with the more hidden ones in the course of practice.
Sometimes a very advanced meditator has a great deal of difficulty in finding ways and means to further his or her practice and realization. So, after successfully turning the afflictions into meditation by recognizing their true nature, an advanced meditator may go further by deliberately generating even stronger afflictions in order to give impetus to his or her practice. In so doing, the meditator takes the practice to a higher level of realization. People may be understandably outraged by this person’s obnoxious behavior. The reason is that there is no way they can tell that a meditator with pure motivation is practicing the transformation of afflictions into higher realizations.
Marpa was a good example of a practitioner engaging in this kind of practice. Apart from being a great teacher and translator, Marpa was a landowner. People who had practical dealings with him considered him to be a very disagreeable person, proud and aggressive, with insatiable greed. However, the great scholar and mahasiddha Naropa once said to him:
“Other people see you as having very strong afflictions. However, in your mind, an affliction is like a snake twisted into a knot. It straightens itself out in less time than it took to tie itself into the knot.”
Some lamas in Tibet were known to behave like Marpa in the hopes of misleading people into thinking that they were on the exalted level where strong negativity of mind was fuel to their practice. They indulged themselves wantonly in loose living.
But without Marpa’s realization, their behavior was only harmful. It did not help their practice and certainly should not have been seen as an indication of high realization. They might have behaved like Marpa, but they were not highly realized like him.