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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
FALL 2 0 1 4 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY 45 not forgotten, and introspective awareness is like a spy—a corner of our mind that investigates whether distraction, dullness, or excitement has set in, interfering with our meditation. Driven by the wind of inappropriate attention, Billowing forth swirling smoke— clouds of misconduct, It has the power to burn down forests of goodness: The fire of anger—protect us from this danger! Like a raging fire, anger begins with a tiny spark. Fueled by the wind of inappropriate atten- tion that focuses on the negative qualities of someone or something, often exaggerating them, anger flares up. Blazing, it destroys merit and cre- ates destructive karma that ripens into suffering. Fortitude, the ability to remain internally calm when confronting harm or suffering, is the anti- dote to anger. Fortitude does not entail passively giving in or foolishly condoning harm. Rather, it enables clear thinking, mental stability, and creative problem solving. We consider various courses of action and choose one that will bring the most benefit and least harm to everyone in the situation. With fortitude we act firmly, some- times with peaceful strength, other times with assertive compassion. Lurking in its dark pit of ignorance, Unable to bear the wealth and excellence of others, It swiftly injects them with its cruel poison: The snake of jealousy—protect us from this danger! Jealousy, like other disturbing emotions, stems from ignorance of the nature of reality. Like a snake whose venom kills a healthy person, jeal- ousy poisons the happiness and goodness of our- selves and others. Overcome by jealousy, we try to demolish the happiness and success of those we envy. But ultimately such behavior is self- defeating, because even if we succeed, we do not feel good about ourselves when we undermine another’s well-being. Such spiteful jealousy not only lessens our own self-respect, it also suffo- cates our mental peace. Rejoicing in the happiness, talents, fortune, and good qualities of others is the antidote to jealousy. When others are happy or have good qualities, we might as well rejoice! There is so much suffering in the world; it would be foolish to wish that others be deprived of whatever hap- piness they have. Rejoicing is the lazy person’s way to create great merit. When we rejoice at others’ virtues, we accumulate merit as if we had acted in those beneficial ways ourselves. Rejoicing spurs us along the path to awakening and also brings us immediate happiness. Roaming the fearful wilds of inferior practice And the barren wastes of absolutism and nihilism, They sack the towns and hermitages of benefit and bliss: The thieves of wrong views—protect us from this danger! Just as we protect our treasured possessions from thieves, we must take care that our right views on important spiritual matters are safe- guarded. Adhering to wrong views causes us to engage in practices that purportedly lead to awakening but actually do not. They leave us impoverished, stranded in a spiritual desert. Enlightened beings cannot take our defilements away, like pulling a thorn from our foot. Nor can they give us their realizations, like pouring water into an empty bowl.