Annual India Tours
These lectures were transcribed by T Vd Broek. Heartfelt
gratitude is offered for all the hours of work spent on this Dharma activity.
These talks are offered free of charge. They have been slightly edited.
Aug 18 1991
As our attitude is what establishes our experiences, then it is good to try to become conscious of our attitude, and if we can, to adjust it a little bit so we have more quality altitude than just having a mundane attitude or no conscious awareness of our attitude at all. And by attitude, it does not mean there is specifics, it just means our approach to life as a certain quality. ANd there are different levels of motivation, but it is always important to start from a basis which is authentic for yourself or elses your altruism, good intentions are not applicable or practical for your actual experience of life.
With that in mind, the easiest way to move into a more altruistic attitude which is more beneficial for you for the simple reason that the more broad minded, the more you think of others than just of yourself, the more you will have definite opportunity to have happiness and to avoid suffering. T qualify that a little, the reason why there is more opportunity to have happiness, if you are more broad minded, if you think of the way we become happy, we become happy on reliance with other people, other experiences which are external to ourselves. Therefore if we become conscious of the fact that actually our existence is very interdependent, then we appropriately change our attitude to be more in harmony with that, and we are definitely more in line with having a generally more happy and comfortable experience of life.
In this way, when you bring to mind your own attitude, to open a more broad minded attitude, the most authentic manner to do that, is to realize that just as I dislike being miserable unhappy and such, so . No one likes to be unhappy. In that way we have an immediate empathy with others, at least being able to appreciate that when someone else is unhappy, they do not want to be in that position. And certainly as much as we aspire to happiness, so does everyone else. Within that simple cognition of recognizing that oneself and all other people want happiness and do not want to suffer, then one has a reliable basis to move into a more altruistic position.
At this time, we have a very special moment, a time when we are going to consciously develop self awareness, try to identify our own attitude, try to gain some better realization of our own awareness or conscious experience, and so at this time it would be appropriate to become more broad minded, to become more positive. Within ones heart say I am not only striving for my own happiness, but also I can relate with others who want to be happy too! I certainly enjoy good friendships and such things, so therefore I am not going to work for my own improvement, but I am also going to be inclusive of other people, having a more universal mind, looking to a more universal attitude.
We are still dealing with the Noble Truth of Suffering. Often in the West there is an incredible emphasis put on that we should always be happy, we should always sort of ignore or in some way numb ourselves to suffering. Then we should then always be intoxicated with either the capitalistic system or the possibilities of what we might be able to do in the sense of setting us up to always desire to have better cars, better house, better style of living. That is the western approach to life. And there is nothing wrong with it, it is just that it has it's pitt falls if we completely indulge in that attitude.
The Buddha presented the noble truth of suffering because it is a basic reality. The reality is that we do have discomfort in our life. If you think of suffering, sometimes, you might bring to mind, I am not really suffering, I do not have a lot of problems in our life. The broader definition for it is, that there is dissatisfaction. The world is unsatisfactory. That if one relies purely worldly pursuits, one will have many opportunities to be dissatisfied and experience unhappiness or unfulfillment. So when the Buddha talked about the noble truth of suffering, in a deeper sense, the Buddha was identifying that fulfillment is something which comes from within. And, that reliance on the external world will not bring about fulfillment so one should recognize that as not a are liable place to put one's emphasis.
In that way, there are different ways one approaches the recognition of unhappiness and such. Or the dissatisfaction. And one tries to recognize it and then start shifting off reliance upon those things. If you go into your own mind, let's say you put a big reliance on someone you are living with or someone you care for, you want them to do well. Maybe this applies to your own children, that you have this aspiration that your children do well. So when the child does not do well, then you become unhappy and depressed. And when they do do well, of course, we can be very happy and extremely over joyed. Now, if we are unrealistic and have a very idealized mind or live in a very non real state, then what will happen is that when things go well we become very congratulatory and say wonderful things to our children, but when things go poorly, we get very depressed and maybe we don't talk to them well, maybe we just express our unhappiness. The more we live in an unconscious world, the more we project that. We can become very negative and make a lot of demands. So we put that energy out on the kids and also we are very unhappy.
The point is we are looking at relying upon this object, I can happy when it is happy and I will be unhappy when it is unhappy. It is the basic way we set ourselves up. What we should try to recognize is that to be basically supportive when things go well, but also be supportive when things do not go well. In a sense you withdraw emphasis on the success of your children. And more so, you recognize that if I fully put myself in that head space, I will be unhappy, it will not be satisfactory for me because who can say what your children will become. I'm sure that if each of you went back to your parents, have you met all your parents expectations? I am sure there are many times you made your parents unhappy.
This is one reasonable way of looking at the world, that obviously, how can we have big expectations on our own children. So the more rational we become, the more equal minded we become. But from a Buddhist perspective or approach, you recognize the world is unsatisfactory for reliance for fulfillment. Therefore you with draw that expectation from the world but you still place in the world a sense that I am going to be supportive, I am going to give my good energy, I am going to do all I can, but I am not going to invest that when my child is happy, that I am happy, and when he is not, I am going to be unhappy. That would not be appropriate. Rather we should be supportive in both scenarios.
The noble truth of suffering is to help you shift the emphasis off projecting onto the individuals around you or the environment or world, and withdrawing that and bring the energy back within yourself and recognizing that fulfillment is an internal thing. There is a Tibetan saying meaning as much as you have great desires, you will never know satisfaction. In that way if you are always desirous, as much as you live in that mind state, then you will always be dissatisfied. You will seldom recognize satisfaction. And when you have it, it will be something you will move off of, you will not recognize it if it does ever develop for you. So it is important to recognize how to live your life in a more realistic manner which will be more productive, stable and happiness for you.
For this evening I wanted to touch on that there was three basic definitions to suffering. There is the suffering of suffering, the suffering of change, and the suffering of pervasiveness. We will talk about the suffering of change because it is the one which most of us live within.
If we look at what we term as happiness, the way people look at happiness, is merely a fluctuation in the basic level of suffering you are experiencing. For example, we were in a hot room. We change it and it becomes a cooler room. If we turn on the fan too high, it would be too much and we are suffering again and we have to turn it down again. After awhile, it gets cooler outside and you have to turn it off. All you are doing is continuously adjusting to fluctuations of dissatisfaction. The room is too hot, I am unhappy with that. Let's change it a bit. Now the room is too much this, let's change it a bit. And so happiness, from a worldly perspective is merely the adjustment in suffering. And it applies to everything. Go in the sun. Stay there too long and it is too hot! So you move into the shade. Stay there too long and you have to have something else.
All there is is continually for a worldly person in a state of unawares a continuum of seeking for fluctuation when a particular situation you are in is too monotonous. Or too much of any one thing. Too much food, and it is uncomfortable. Not enough food, uncomfortable. And so on. And you can apply that to everything. Sit in a chair too long and you get stiff.
Obviously it is pointing out that moderation is the best way to live one's life. But what we need to do is to maybe recognize when we re-adjust ourselves, that we do not invest a bunch of our being into the fact that now we are going to make the situation so much better. And this really applies to householders, to people who own their own homes! Because I can tell you, the day you buy a house, from that day until the day you die, you will always be making changes to the house. And until you become so disheartened with the fact that they are always working on their house, or settle into saying this is good enough and become satisfied, they will continuously do changes to their house.
In talking about the suffering of change, the main point is to recognize that when you change the situation you are in because you feel uncomfortable about it, is to recognize the next situation you move into is not going to be the end. It is just a small step in the continuous process that I am experiencing dissatisfaction. Then your mind does not become extroverted in seeking continuously external stimulation, external thrills, external feedback. You become much more internalized, a more inner being versus an extrovert who is continuously looking for out outer satisfaction or stimulation. To recognize that the world, external worldly happiness is merely a process of continuously seeking change for any one situation what we term happiness. All one has to do is shift emphasis off of always having to have new toys into a more inner state of being where one is more in a state of satisfaction where basic needs are met and then if something better happens, let it happen, and if not, I am not going to exert myself in that regards.
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