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Buddhadharma : Spring 2006
spring 2006| 48 |buddhadharma sider who made the appointment. Some people, not finding instant results, or quick results, wander off and look somewhere else. But those who stick around for a while begin to notice some relief after a year or two, as Guy said. Guy ArmstronG: Westerners aren’t used to a system that looks at things over long periods of time. So as teachers, it’s helpful for us to adjust our aim a little bit. Instead of pointing students to the removal of the kleshas from the very beginning, we need to focus students on being unbothered by the kleshas. The true sense of equanimity is not that the emotions go away, but that when we meet any emotion, we find that we have the capability to be with it – without being afraid or running away, or without letting it force us to do foolish things. blAnche hArtmAn: The important thing is to learn to become aware of the klesha arising and not to jump immediately into acting it out. rinGu tulku: If at first we cultivate that kind of relaxation and refrain from creating too many nega- tive situations, we get into less trouble. Then we can try to cultivate the opposites of the kleshas a bit. The Buddha said do no evil and try to do positive things, and then tame the kleshas in your mind. Although the klesha is that which generates the negative actions, it has to be worked on gently, step by step. Guy ArmstronG: When kleshas are directly experi- enced in our practice and our life, the energies that they bring up are quite frightening to the untrained person. To feel that one is in the grip of anger, or in the grip of fear or strong desire, scares us. Our culture hasn’t trained us how to be with them, so we need a lot of guidance and support in opening and softening, in realizing that we can feel these energies within our minds and bodies and hearts without their actually damaging us. Little by little, we can become more comfortable with feeling the energies directly. Therefore, the mind can remain undisturbed even when the klesha is present. these habits. But that doesn’t mean that I could immediately let go of them, or that I have let go of all of them even now, after thirty-six years. Guy ArmstronG: I agree with Blanche. Most people do come to meditation because of disturbances in the mind. But over the first few years of practice most people report feeling a lot more confident working with those disturbances and perceive an actual reduction in them. At certain times in prac- tice, they can also feel the kleshas increase and get stronger. That seems to result from having greater awareness of the kleshas and paying more atten- tion to them, because you see more clearly what was covered up. rinGu tulku: It helps to appreciate how difficult it is to uproot kleshas and just how long it could take. To totally uproot the kleshas is supposed to take a very long time, according to the Buddhist tradition. Sometimes it is said that to become totally enlightened takes countless eons. On the other hand, the main purpose of meditation, as well as all the practices related to it, is to uproot the kleshas. If nothing happens to the kleshas, the practice isn’t working. At the outset, however, perhaps it is best if we don’t think in terms of the kleshas, but more sim- ply in terms of making our mind a little calmer. After all, when we first start to practice, we experi- ence our mind like a waterfall, which can be over- whelming. We might feel we are worse off, but we are actually better off because we are aware of the waterfall. For once, we know what’s going on. buddhAdhArmA: When we hear of “countless eons,” it can sound almost mythological, particularly if we get upset sitting through two cycles of a traffic light. It doesn’t give us much encouragement. blAnche hArtmAn: Suzuki Roshi used to call this “the instant age.” We expect instant everything. We come with all kinds of expectations, and one of the things we learn early is that with expectation comes disappointment. As someone said, when you find yourself disappointed, you might con- Not buying into the kleshas is a very key point. To begin by being aware that “Oh, this is anger” can give us space so we don’t erupt and cause all the karmic consequences that involves. — Blanche Hartman