You yourself must make the effort;
Awakened Ones only point the way.
Those who have stepped onto this pure Path
and who meditate,
will be free from all the ties of delusion.
Dhammapada verse 276.
You’re the problem!
One of the most counter-productive things we can do in our Dhamma practice is to take ourselves too seriously.
We must take our practice seriously, to apply ourselves to even the smallest detail, but not take ourselves seriously, do you understand?
When we reflect carefully we will recognize that it is ourselves who are the ones causing all the trouble in our own life. Our Dhamma practice itself is clear, simple and beautiful, with the loving instruction of ‘just do what you are supposed to do’, and so any difficulties we meet are always coming from us.
We wake up in the morning and go into the bathroom with a big baseball bat and start beating ourselves about the head with it all the while thinking, ‘life shouldn’t be this hard,’ when the simple answer is, life isn’t hard if we just stop doing that!
So, with a developing understanding we will recognize that there are no problems in life and that we ourselves are the problem because of our endless desires and aversions.
We may think that different situations ‘shouldn’t be like this,’ but until the moment that we actually arrive there, everything is fine. The moment ‘self’ appears with its list of conditions and demands we become the problem and the source of the difficulties in our own lives.
The way to resolve this situation is through Loving Kindness, not as some kind of external practice, but as the cultivation of the most profound fearless state. We allow the fears we carry, our desire to control and be in control, to gently fall away, until we see that in fact, they are all empty anyway.
Whatever we meet only has the power that we give it, and so our fears only have the power that we give them and if we don’t feed them, they can’t stay.
And that, in the end is the point: everything we meet and everything that is difficult for us needs our indulgence.
Without awareness, we empower the need to invest in the fantasy of a self identity and so make it real. This identification brings concerns, anxieties and unhappiness into our life, which we then gladly share with all those around us.
This is how we need to understand the ‘self’ nonsense that we fill our lives with.
May all beings be happy.
A monk asked Kegon, “Why does an enlightened one not return to the ordinary world?”
Kegon replied, “A broken mirror never reflects again; fallen flowers never go back to the old branches.”
Through the practice of Vipassana meditation and living, we begin to recognise that a metal state is only a mental state: something that comes and goes by itself and, in every moment and in every circumstance, only ever has the power that we give it.
From Vipassana – the way to an awakened life. By Michael Kewley