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Buddhadharma : Winter 2013
WINTER 2 0 1 3 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 27 ourselves and others as equal, exchanging our- selves and others, and caring for others more than for ourselves. Implementing the paramita practices in the field trips of your immediate life situations will help you greatly. Generally we speak of six paramitas: generosity, discipline, patience, diligence, concentration, and wisdom. All of a bodhisattva’s wisdom and skillful means are included within these six practices. Normally we begin by discussing the paramita of generosity. If you can train yourself to be generous, to be less attached and more openhearted, it’s easier to be morally disciplined—not harming others, benefiting them, and thereby accumulating vir- tue. If you’re a disciplined person, it’s easier to become patient. If you’re patient, then it’s easier to be diligent in whatever you do, on the spiri- tual path or elsewhere. And if you are a diligent person, it becomes easier to concentrate. Once you have good concentration, it’s easier to con- template deeply and develop wisdom. Therefore, since the first paramita helps the second one and so forth, the order was established and taught in this way. But we don’t have to practice them in this order. In any particular situation, it’s likely that all of the paramitas are required. It can be helpful to begin with the paramita of wisdom, which I think relates poignantly to our personal field trips. Nagarjuna stated in his Letter to a Friend that the Buddha’s most important wisdom teaching is the view of inter- dependent origination. You have to relate this view to your own life and see how this wisdom is meaningful in the context of your specific prob- lems. When you perceive a problem, determine where you have attachment, aggression, jealousy, or arrogance—in your mind, your emotions, your speech, or your physical activity. Realize that your mind must be operating in a state of confusion and ignorance. Why? Because at the moment of defining someone or something as a problem, you are seeing the person or situation as singular, permanent, and existing objectively on its own. If you see that a person or situation is not singular—that it has many parts to it—which part will you become attached to? Which one will you become aggressive toward? Which one will you be jealous of? Which one will cause you to feel arrogant? It helps to investigate this and understand that nothing in this world is singular. Everything is made up of parts. If you’re going to get angry at someone, you need that person to be a singular person. If you focus on the person’s head, neck, shoulders, chest, tummy, legs—all separately—you won’t discover a “person” to get mad at. If you divide the person into trillions of atoms, which atom will you choose to get mad at? You can’t even see an atom. This is the reality. Perhaps you think it’s the person’s mind you should be angry with. But that mind has many aspects. There are thoughts, feelings, and per- ceptions. Which will you choose to get mad at? If you get mad at their thoughts, consider that thoughts come in chains. The past thoughts have vanished, and the future thoughts haven’t arisen. Only the present thought is there. But the pres- ent thought also has a beginning, middle, and end. Which part are you going to be angry with? There won’t actually be anything to get mad at. Also, when you examine any situation, you will find it has many parts. You can’t find a single thing without a center and edges. Center and edges go together: the center creates the edges, and the edges create the center. Even an atom has a center and edges. So everything can be bro- ken down. This is not something that you cause; it’s just how things are. You’re only becoming aware of it through your analysis. By investigat- ing, you discover that things are not as singular as you perceive. In other words, you find no fixed object to react to emotionally, and this helps you tremendously. We also think that things are more or less per- manent, that somehow yesterday’s person was the same as today’s, or yesterday’s situations and problems were the same as they are now. But actu- ally nothing remains static. Everything is chang- ing. Since yesterday, this person has changed a million times over. So has this situation. Every split second is a fresh moment. Therefore, yester- day’s problem and today’s problem could never be the same. They only appear the same based on our holding the situation to be permanent in our mind. If we can recognize how things are chang- ing moment to moment, we won’t find anything to get upset about. In order for something to be upsetting, it has to be singular and permanent. Without these properties, there is no object to upset us. In addition, we think things exist indepen- dently, from their own side. That’s why we’re convinced they’re intrinsically real, and we react DZIGAR KONGTRUL RINPOCHE is the spiritual director of Mangala Shri Bhuti (MSB), based in Crestone, Colorado, and the author of Light Comes Through and Uncommon Happiness. This article is adapted from a set of teachings he gave on the modern-day bodhisattva, which were published in MSB’s magazine, Crucial Point. SASHAMEYEROWITZ