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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
44 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2 0 1 4 Dwelling in the mountains of wrong views of selfhood, Puffed up with holding itself superior, It claws other beings with contempt: The lion of arrogance—please protect us from this danger! Just as lions strut in mountainous areas, our arrogance dwells in wrong views concerning the nature of the “I” or “self.” Although the “I” is dependent, ignorance apprehends it as existing independent of all other factors. This wrong view is the root of our suffering in cyclic existence. Holding an unrealistic view of how we exist, we then compare ourselves with others, becom- ing puffed up over those whom we deem inferior, jealous of those we consider superior, and com- petitive with equals. Our arrogance begets con- tempt, which, like a lion’s claws, causes harm. These harmful actions perpetuate our rebirth in unfortunate states of existence. Meanwhile, our arrogance prevents us from recognizing our pre- dicament in cyclic existence. The wisdom that realizes the emptiness of inherent existence is the ultimate antidote to all eight inner dangers, for it sees the true nature of the self—that it is empty of independent or inherent existence. However, since this realiza- tion takes time to generate and is difficult to gain, we use other, easier antidotes in the meantime. These temporary antidotes correspond to each particular affliction. In the case of arrogance, we contemplate a difficult topic, such as the twelve sources or eighteen elements, which is essential to understand but difficult to comprehend. Rec- ognizing how limited our current understanding is makes us less arrogant. Another antidote is to reflect that everything we know and every talent and ability we have comes from the kindness of others. People taught and coached us; they encouraged us in all areas. Seeing this, how can we be arrogant, thinking we are so special? BHIKSHUNI THUBTEN CHODRON is the founder and abbess of Sravasti Abbey in Newport, Washington, and the author of Don’t Believe Everything You Think. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 and received full bhikshuni ordination in Taiwan in 1986. Bowing to the three jewels further helps coun- teract arrogance. While bowing, we contemplate the qualities of the three jewels so respect and admiration grow in our minds. Physically lying on the ground with our face on the floor induces humility and the relinquishing of ego, making us receptive students. Our heart becomes lighter; we are able to laugh at our foibles, and we are no longer fearful of others “finding us out.” Untamed by the sharp hooks of mindfulness and introspective awareness, Dulled by the maddening liquor of sensual pleasures, It enters wrong paths and shows its harmful tusks: The elephant of ignorance—protect us from this danger! Powerful and out of control, a mad elephant terrorizes all in its path. Similarly, uncontrolled emotions, which stem from ignorance, lead to a chaotic life that lacks clear priorities. Intoxicated by ignorant attachment to sense pleasures, we do whatever is necessary to procure what we seek. Ignorance takes us down wrong paths that lead only to confusion and suffering. When petitioning Tara for protection, we call forth our own powers of mindfulness and introspective awareness, two active mental fac- tors that perform special functions in the mind. Like a tamer who knows how to subdue a wild elephant and harness its energy for constructive purposes, these mental factors lead us to ethi- cal behavior and meditative concentration. The Sanskrit word that is translated as “mindful- ness” can also be translated as “remember” or “memory.” So with respect to ethical conduct, mindfulness remembers our precepts and holds our values, and introspective awareness enables us to see if we are living within them. In the con- text of meditation, mindfulness is what focuses on the object of meditation and holds it so it is COURTESYOFSRAVASTIABBEY