May 18, 2018
All beings —since their first aspiration until the attainment of Buddhahood— are sheltered under the guardianship of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who, responding to the requirements of the occasion, transform themselves and assume specific forms.
Thus, for the sake of all beings, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas sometimes appear as their parents, their spouses and children, their kinsmen, their servants, their friends, their enemies, and even as devas or in some other forms.
—Ashvaghosa, The Awakening of Faith
The Buddha, having contemplated his mind, gave up the two extremes of practice – indulgence in pleasure and indulgence in pain – and in his first discourse expounded the Middle Way between these two. But we hear his teaching and it grates against our desires. We’re infatuated with pleasure and comfort, infatuated with happiness, thinking we are good, we are fine – this is indulgence in pleasure. It’s not the right path. Dissatisfaction,
displeasure, dislike and anger – this is indulgence in pain. These are the extreme ways which one on the path of practice should avoid.These ‘ways’ are simply the happiness and unhappiness which arise. The ‘one on the path’ is this very mind, the ‘one who knows’. If a good mood arises we cling to it as good, this is indulgence in pleasure. If an unpleasant mood arises we cling to it through dislike – this is indulgence in pain. These are the wrong paths, they aren’t the ways of a meditator. They’re the ways of the worldly, those who look for fun and happiness and shun unpleasantness and suffering.
The wise know the wrong paths but they relinquish them, they give them up. They are unmoved by pleasure and pain, happiness and suffering. These things arise but those who know don’t cling to them, they let them go according to their nature. This is right view. When one knows this fully there is liberation. Happiness and unhappiness have no meaning
for an Enlightened One.
The Buddha said that the Enlightened Ones were far from defilements. This doesn’t mean that they ran away from defilements, they didn’t run away anywhere. Defilements were there. He compared it to a lotus leaf in a pond of water. The leaf and the water exist together, they are in contact, but the leaf doesn’t become damp. The water is like defilements and the
lotus leaf is the enlightened mind�.
“Meditation is not just a rest or retreat from the turmoil of the stream or the impurity of the world. It is a way of being the stream, so that one can be at home in both the white water and the eddies. Meditation may take one out of the world, but it also puts one totally into it.”
~ Gary Snyder ~
The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive.
April 15, 2018
Whether we assign blame to others or ourselves, the negative emotion that accompanies blame is unskillful. Blame entails not only assigning responsibility for an unwelcome consequence, but also imputing malice or evil intent to the one performing the act.
The law of karma, as taught by the Buddha Shakyamuni, lies beyond all concepts of human morality, right and wrong, good and evil. It is merely the understanding that causes produce effects. Gravity does not intend for us to fall and hurt ourselves when we trip; fire does not intend to cause us pain when our skin is burned by a flame.
When water comes in contact with a surface, that surface becomes wet. We do not blame the water for making the surface wet –that is its nature. Similarly, when our wrong views (ignorance of the nature of self and all phenomena) and afflicted emotions (attachment, aversion, and indifference) lead us to act in unskillful ways, there is no question of guilt and blame.
The purpose of acknowledging the law of karma is instructive, not punitive. When we understand that there is a relationship of cause and effect between our actions and the consequences we experience, we are liberated from victimhood. We are no longer subject to a random universe where evil befalls us without rhyme or reason. We are free to make our own way.
We do not study the law of karma to learn the specific reasons ‘why’ something happens. That exercise is futile. We understand the law of karma in order to make the determination to place positive, skillful causes in the continuum of our experience from here onwards.
The law of karma, of cause and effect, is not meant to lead us to recrimination, guilt, and blame. On the contrary, it is the acceptance of our capacity to be free from suffering and the causes of suffering, and embrace happiness and the causes of happiness.