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Buddhadharma : Fall 2014
80 BUDDHADHARMA: THE PRACTITIONER’S QUARTERLY FALL 2014 The mind of attachment is narrow and limited. We become obsessed with the object of our attachment; we worry about not getting it and fear losing it once we have it. Drowning in the flood of attachment, we are unable to abide in satisfaction and peace. We need a guiding star to find our way across the dark seas of the disturbing emotions. The Sanskrit noun tara means “star,” and the verb trri means “to guide across” or “to cross over.” The dharma is our raft, and Tara is the star guiding us across cyclic existence to the other shore, nirvana. But Tara can’t do it alone. We must listen, reflect, and meditate on the teachings and transform our mind. Contemplating our transient nature is an excellent anti- dote to attachment. Seeing that the things we cling to change moment by moment, we know that they will not last long and thus are not reliable sources of happiness. Turning away from their deceptive lure, we have more time to familiarize our minds with bodhicitta and wisdom, progressing along the stages of the bodhisattva path to buddhahood. Reflecting on the disadvantages of cyclic existence is another antidote. If a prisoner believes that prison life isn’t that bad, he will have no interest in freeing himself. Simi- larly, as long as we believe cyclic existence to be comfortable, we won’t seek liberation. For this reason, in the four noble truths, the Buddha asked us first to reflect on the unsatisfac- tory nature of our existence and its causes so we might seek their cessation and the path leading to that state of peace. Roaming in the space of darkest confusion, Tormenting those who strive for ultimate aims, It is viciously lethal to liberation: The carnivorous demon of doubt—protect us from this danger! There are various types of doubt, and not all of them are obstructive. The doubt that is curious and open-minded pro- pels us to learn, examine, and clarify the meaning of a teach- ing; it aids us on the path. However, the doubt that dwells in confusion and leans toward wrong views causes our mind to spiral in circles of its own making and immobilizes us spiritu- ally. Resembling a carnivorous demon, it destroys our chance for liberation. If our mind is spinning in skeptical doubt, when we start to do a practice, we doubt its efficacy and quit doing it. Listening to teachings, we doubt their authenticity and stop attending. We doubt our ability to practice, the ability of our teacher to guide us, the possibility of awakening. Unable to resolve our doubts, we remain stuck and tormented. This demon of doubt obstructs our chance to attain liberation and full awakening. To counteract doubt, we must first stop the flurry of con- tradictory thoughts and calm our mind. Meditating on the ➤ continued from page 46 ➤