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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
buddhadharma| 51 |spring 2006 buddhAdhArmA: What about the chain reactions you set off when your klesha activity manifests? Suddenly you have people responding with their own klesha activity. blAnche hArtmAn: That’s how you learn that it’s not a free ride. If you’d like to relieve tension by blowing off steam, you’re going to get burned too. It’s going to bounce back. That’s why Zen train- ing occurs in a close group situation, where you live, sit, chant, and work together. You’re always bumping into each other and that brings up stuff that could stay buried for a while if you didn’t have constant interaction. Suzuki Roshi’s son used to call it “potato practice.” You dig up some pota- toes and they’ve all got dirt on them. But you don’t have to pick up each one and scrub them; you put them in a bucket with some water and you stir it, and they bump into each other and clean each other up. Bumping into each other really helps you to deal with things in your everyday life, because at that point, your everyday life is happening in the middle of the retreat. buddhAdhArmA: If you can work with kleshas in the immediate sangha, there’s more possibility you could work with it in the mahasangha. blAnche hArtmAn: Yes, I think so. The immedi- ate sangha brings it into stronger focus, because you’re so close together. rinGu tulku: Once we see the kleshas, it is very important that we stop thinking they are good for us. Usually we think a klesha is something use- ful. For example, if we get angry, we think we are being righteous and protecting ourselves. We need to see very, very clearly that that’s not the case. If I am angry, it’s neither good for me nor for oth- ers. If we don’t have this basic understanding, we will not have the incentive to really work on the defilements. buddhAdhArmA: Is karma – cause and effect – an indispensable teaching, then? KicKing the KleSha haBit the problem isn’t kleshas, explains the Dzogchen Ponlop rinpoche, it’s the self that hangs on to them. on the basis of self-Clinging, we create suffering not only for ourselves but also for others. it is said in the Pramanavartika, or Commentary on Valid Cognition, a classical buddhist text by the great master Dharmakirti: If one conceives of the existence of a self, one will conceive of an other. From self and other arise clinging and aversion. Through thoroughly engaging in these, all faults arise. “all faults” refers to suffering and mental afflictions. first, we have self-clinging and from there we have duality; the concept of “others” is automatically pro- jected. next arise the mental afflictions – aversion, attachment, anger, jealousy and so on – and from there we have suffering. this is evident in our own immediate experience. for example, we can easily see how much suffering we experience when we have strong anger or when we have very strong attachment. we can see how much suffering we create as a result of the mental afflictions of jealousy or pride. we can also see that this doesn’t happen only once and then pass; rather it happens again and again and again. this is what we call samsara, which has the connotation of a vicious circle. engaging in repetitive actions involving mental afflictions habituates us to these states of mind. it becomes so natural, so normal, to arouse anger. Certain envi- ronments create the conditions for us to give rise to strong anger. the first time we experience anger as an irritation and feel just a little uncomfortable. the next time anger occurs, it becomes a bit stronger, like a small spark. then it gets bigger and bigger and becomes like a flame to which the environment adds oxygen. the next time we find ourselves in the situation, our anger is very strong and we are ready to punch someone. the point is to see how the anger grows, especially when we become habituated to it over time. such habituation is our main problem because it creates a pattern. in fact, the main thing we are trying to transcend is our habitual patterns and tendencies. as for the mental afflictions, or kleshas, themselves, there is actually nothing to transcend. they are already gone. they come and they go. what we actually have to transform is that which is hanging on to all these kleshas – our habitual tendencies. we have to watch out for the habit of self-clinging. from Bodhi magazine, Volume 7, no. 4., published by nalandabodhi.