May 8, 2011

When a Cloud Covers the Sun

“My life,” says the Dalai Lama, “has not been an altogether happy one; I have had to pass through many difficult times.” Of course hard times include losing his country to Chinese Communist invaders, and trying to promote and  preserve Tibetan culture in exile. “Yet, he continues, “I regard these difficult periods as among the most important times in my life. Through them, I have gained many new experiences and learned many new ideas.”

From His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s new book, How to Be Compassionate: A Handbook for Creating Inner Peace and a Happier World (translated from oral teachings and edited by Jeffrey Hopkins) :

Consider the so-called enemy this way:

  1. Because this person’s mind is untamed, he or she engages in activities that are harmful to you.
  2. If anger—the wish to harm—were part of the basic nature of this person, it could not be altered in any way, but […] hatred does not reside in the nature of a person.
  3. Even if it were the nature of a person to hate, then, just as we cannot get angry at fire because it burns our hand (it is the very nature of fire to burn), so we should not get angry at a person expressing his or her nature.
  4. This said, hatred is actually peripheral to a person’s nature. When a cloud covers the sun we do not get angry at the sun, so we should not get angry with the so-called enemy, but instead hold the person’s afflictive emotion responsible.
  5. We ourselves sometimes engage in bad behavior, do we not? Still, most of us do not think of ourselves as completely bad. We should look on others the same way.
  6. Therefore, the actual troublemaker is not the person, but his or her afflictive emotion.

When we lose our temper, we don’t hesitate to use harsh words, even to a close friend. Afterward, when we calm down, we feel embarrassed about what happened. This indicates that we, as persons, do not really want to use such harsh words, but because we were dominated by anger, we lost our self-control.
[W]e can learn to separate a corner of the mind from strong emotions like hatred and observe the mind from this vantage point; this indicates that the mind and hatred are not one, therefore the person and hatred are not one.

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