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Buddhadharma : Spring 2011
buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly spring 2 0 11 58 to the criticism, then this can be a wonderful learning opportunity. If we truly listen and examine the criticism and find no merit in it, then what harm has been done? We have had an opportunity to listen to another person’s view of the world. This again reminds us that we all create the worlds we live in, no one person’s perspective is going to always com- pletely accord with another’s. This is a helpful opportunity to see the cracks in what we usu- ally perceive as being some kind of uniform reality that we all participate in. The Importance of Adversity In his commentary on Atisha’s slogan, Be grateful to everyone, Trungpa Rinpoche discusses how important it is to have these moments of adversity in our lives. “If every- thing was lovey-dovey and jellyfishlike, there would be nothing to work with,” he says in Training the Mind. “Everything would be completely blank. Because of all these tex- tures around us, we are enriched. Therefore, we can sit and practice and meditate.” By having these moments of discord, our mind’s habits are illuminated; we see the ways in which we are attached, what we want, and what we want to avoid. When someone offers a negative view of our actions, it challenges our carefully constructed self-image. We clearly see where we get stuck, what makes us angry, and where our patience, compas- sion, and skillfulness are limited. In this way, if we bring such moments of difficulty to the path and use them to discover more about ourselves, then they are a great gift. Light Touch On the other hand, some of us overly fixate on the blame and criticism we receive from oth- ers. We replay it in our minds over and over again, and it keeps us awake at night. If this occurs, our view needs to be broadened. We have become too focused on this one instance, carrying it around with us wherever we go, long after the discussion has finished. Trungpa Rinpoche advises: “Whatever takes place... The Nine Things to Understand In this song of realization, the great yogi Milarepa reminds us that wordly concerns are empty of true existence. All you fortunate genuine people, I’d like to ask you this: This life is deceiving, don’t you understand? And material things are illusion, don’t you understand? And samsaric existence is peace, don’t you understand? And all happiness is a dream, don’t you understand? Criticism and praise are echoes, don’t you understand? Appearances are your mind, don’t you understand? And your own mind is Buddha, don’t you understand? And Buddha is Dharmakaya, don’t you understand? Dharmakaya is Dharmata, don’t you understand? And when you realize this, whatever appears is mind. Throughout the day and night, look at your mind. When you look at your mind, you don’t see anything. When you don’t see anything, let go and relax. — Translated by Ari Goldfield do not take [it] all that seriously. Whatever comes up... do not regard [it] as the ultimate, final problem, but as a temporary flare-up that comes and goes.” In such moments, it is worth expanding our view, recognizing that we can’t please everyone all the time. We are always on this shaky ground in samsara; we can never get things quite right, we can never make everyone happy. What one person appreciates, another dislikes. As Milarepa sang to one of his main female students, Sahle Ö, “Trying to make others happy is endless.” While it is good to examine the feedback we receive, at the same time we do not want to fixate on it. If there is something to learn, we can learn it, but then we should just let the experience go. This one moment does not define the totality of who we are. As we know from the foundational teachings of Buddhism, there is no truly existent self to be definitively characterized in any way at all. We all are like