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Buddhadharma : Fall 2010
19 FALL 2 01 0 buddhadharma: the practitioner’s quarterly Some think that they will experience supreme liberation from suffering by means of a special practice such as observing all the moral rules, learning all the sacred texts by heart, gaining deep concentration, spending all the time in solitude—but none of them can experience that liberation without first com- pletely destroying the unwholesome roots, the mental defilements. Therefore, in addi- tion to their practice they also must remove the unwholesome roots in order to experience the bliss of emancipation from all kinds of suffering. What is missing in focusing total attention on one single object all the time is wisdom (pañña). Total attention should be coupled with wise attention. What is wise attention? It is attention accompanied by the three whole- some roots. What are the wholesome roots? They are nongreed, nonhatred, and nondelu- sion, or, in other words, generosity (or letting go), loving-kindness, and wisdom. This means that when you pay attention to something, you always try to pay attention without the unwholesome roots of greed, hatred, or delu- sion. So you don’t let your mind be affected by those unwholesome roots, and let thoughts of relinquishing, loving-kindness and wisdom dominate your mind. From the BuDDhisT PuBliCaTion soCieTy newsleTTer, no. 62 The Wisdom oF exTremeLy young chiLdren Messes, tantrums, and dangerous escapades are just some of the helpful teachings Dustin LindenSmith has received from his young sons. I realize that the greatest frustrations in my day-to-day life arise from my children not act- ing according to my expectations. Even when nickLu my expectations are reasonable—say, not climbing onto our gas-fired stovetop to inves- tigate the contents of a boiling pot—these boys still manage to dash them just by acting upon their utterly normal, curious impulses. When they erupt in tantrums because I’ve yanked them away from the computer keyboard that they’ve just decorated with a permanent marker, I have come to understand that their angry outbursts are a natural response to what they perceive as an unwanted and abrupt halt to their investigations of the world around them. In their minds, I am the one with a problem, not them. The wisdom of extremely young children is that they always live in the present moment, never concerning themselves with what hap- pened an hour ago or what might happen an hour from now. Whenever I successfully align my own expectations with that kind of time frame, I find myself instantly living more har- moniously with my sons. I turn my attention regularly to my breath and on bringing my awareness back into the moment. I can imag- ine what it must feel like to be them: to be sur- rounded by giants who have control over their every move; to be forcibly removed from the only activities and places they haven’t yet fully explored; and to have little or no language skills with which to express their true desires at any given moment. When these glimpses of realization occur, the compassion I feel for my boys stops me in my tracks. It makes me squat down to their level to find out what they really want at that moment. It makes me realize that I can hold off washing these dishes for a few minutes to play a short game with them. It reminds me that I can even let them help me measure out the ingredients for that night’s meal, accepting that it’ll mean extra cleanup. In short, I see the need to suspend my own expectations, replacing them with acceptance for the way things are. It’s a profound spiri- tual teaching, and I simply picked it up in my own kitchen from my very own toddler gurus. From The Banner, the newsletter oF the haliFax shambhala center, aPril 2010