Tuesday, August 05, 2008

No Time to Lose: Chapters 6-7

Chapter 6
Working with Anger: Patience

Good deeds can be negated by a "single flash of anger." Such deeds lacked depth to begin with...think of the Sopranos giving money to the church. Giving to gain merit increases self-importance, and does nothing to prevent anger.

Patience is the antidote to anger. Patience allows us to understand the complexity of any situation, and gives an opportunity to lessen the gap between self and other. Suffering can help bolster our capacity for patience with the right attitude. It can "drive out pride," foster empathy, and make good deeds more appealing. In my experience pride leads to anger because of that sense of entitlement.

When we encounter others who cause us or others harm, they are opportunities for patience. The worldly way is to feel they deserve retaliation. The bodhisattva way is to recognize that they too are suffering, and they too are the stuff of Buddhas.

The great compassionat lords consider as their own
All wanderers--of this there is no doubt.
Beings, then, are Buddha's very self.
Thus how can I not treat them with respect? ~Shantideva 6.126
Chapter 7
Enthusiasm: Heroic Perseverance

The opposite of enthusiasm is laziness. There's the laziness of using comfort to avoid pain or uneasiness, the laziness of despondency, or indulging in discouragement, and the laziness of a despondency of self-contempt. Pema says this is "much more stubborn and bitter than merely losing heart."
Do not be downcast, but marshal all your strength,
Take heart and be the master of yourself!
Practice the equality of self and other;
Practice the exchange of self and other. ~Shantideva 7.16
Putting attention toward others and their connection to one's self helps pull a person back from the self-involved nature of complacency and despondency. This attention helps muster that needed perseverance. In my experience too, it helps to focus on the equality of self, to seek out why that little self doesn't big enough to find that strength.

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