How to behave during happy and suffering times
A teaching by Khenpo Kalsang Nyima given on the 10th of May 2016
Greetings to all the dear Dharma friends Due to great business at work I didn’t have much spare time to explain the Dharma to you, I am sorry about that.
In our human lives, at times, we get happiness such as having good name and fame, financial wealth, deep loving and affectionate relationships with friends and our family and relatives are harmonious and all are well. During these situations and others, we have a happy feeling and the body and mental state are well all over.
At other times, when we lose our jobs, separate from friends, relatives and close ones, disharmony occurs between family members and relatives, we get sick, have ailments, lose our work and because of other such situations we meet suffering and difficulties in our lives.
Think from the perspective of a Dharma practitioner, during these times, it is very important not to fall under the influence of the afflictions. Fundamentally speaking, all our happiness and suffering in this life has arisen in dependence on a collection of many causes and conditions. It hasn’t arisen just depending on one cause and one condition. Especially, it has a great connection to our motivation and conduct. Therefore, the Buddha Shakyamuni taught that everything arises interdependently on cause and conditions. The Buddha taught in much detail and profundity the principle of Karma, the law of cause and effect.
The happiness and suffering of this life has a great connection to factors such as our mental intentions, actions, country of dwelling and place of birth. In addition, the joy and sorrow of this life arises in dependence on the power of actions from our previous life. If you consider and trust the principle of Karma, finally the practice which you perform becomes the Buddha-Dharma path. Due to these reasons, since naturally we wish ourselves and close ones to be well and happy, we need to uphold the cause of well being and happiness as important and precious while trying to the best of our ability to abandon and eradicate the cause of suffering and problems. This is the most important thing.
Therefore, when well and happy, if we are not careful “oh I am extremely capable, I possess wondrous qualities, I am unique” thoughts such as these generate pride and arrogance. During this state, attachment and grasping to your power, fame and wealth is generated and in dependence on that, despite having attained happiness, you are accumulating many causes for suffering. Hence, while being happy don’t have much attachment and grasping to that state. When you experience well being and happiness remember that it has been achieved because of a previous accumulation of wholesome actions and conditions such as advice and guidance from virtuous spiritual friends, who in turn have come from the blessings of the lineage masters respectively. That too, has ultimately arisen due to the Buddha Shakyamuni turning the wheel of the Dharma teachings. Similarly, the fact that you know that engaging in virtue is the cause for well being and happiness is due to the kindness of others such as wholesome friends and your spiritual guides. Thus, it is important to remember their kindness and continuously make effort in the method of accumulating wholesome virtuous actions, and not perform unwholesome non virtuous deeds nor fall under the control of pride and arrogance. Especially, if you wish to found a big company or fulfill properly your aims whatever they might be, since every group depends on many members, every group depends on support of many people, and it depends on many factors in the surrounding, there is no way what so ever that only oneself alone will achieve success. By remembering the kindness of others, it is important to be kind and loving towards others rather than falling under the power of pride, arrogance, greed and hatred. Because if we do become controlled by these delusions, then due to such an unwholesome non virtuous cause, despite experiencing some happiness at present, in the future we will be compelled to face hardships.
Similarly in our life we encounter much trouble and difficulties. Most people think that these situations occur only by fault of another; other’s jealousy, humiliation and disdain towards oneself. Consequently, they accumulate negative deeds such as having anger towards, fighting with and harming other people. But if we think properly, the trouble and difficulties which we experience are a result of one’s own disdain and abuse of others created in this and previous lives, which is a bad ripening at this current moment. By this experience the negative fruition is exhausted and one has the opportunity to purify negative ripening actions. In this way, “the suffering and difficulty has arisen due to unwholesome non virtuous deeds. This mistaken activity of mine is not that good. In the future, I will abandon this non virtuous cause of negative actions”. Thinking like this will prevent falling under the power of afflictions such as hatred and anger.
In particular, in the Great Vehicle, the Mahayana, there are the uncommon mind training practices; Suffering arising as joy, the practice of being able to carry suffering onto the path of the Buddha Dharma and the practice of whatever suffering whatsoever arises is an opportunity to purify negativities and gather the accumulation of virtue. Having thought about these, at a time when you face trouble and difficulties, bring to mind that sentient beings are facing suffering like this and cultivate immeasurable compassion. Think that on top of my own suffering and difficulties I am taking the suffering and difficulties of all beings. May the suffering and problems which I have to experience, become worthwhile by freeing all beings from suffering and its causes. If you perform this practice of Tong- Len, Giving and Taking meditation, you get the opportunity to purify a lot of previously accumulated negative deeds. By not being controlled by attachment and anger which are in your mind, you get the opportunity to pacify the suffering and trouble in your mind. By training your mind like this you will attain peace and well being and won’t become discouraged in your activity. Instead, you will gain new enthusiasm and courage.
It is crucial to turn to such a tremendous mind training practice, while facing suffering, trouble and difficulty, which purifies the negative actions and obscurations and transform adverse conditions into virtue. Yet, for this practice to succeed during a time of turbulence, to suddenly generate a virtuous mind is difficult and even if it does arise, it doesn’t have much strength.
Therefore, the main thing is to make effort to practice the Dharma every day, at a quiet time at home, early in the morning. Then, when returning back home in the evenings before going to bed, to remind oneself of the Dharma practice. If during a relaxed and quiet time you practice the Dharma, prepare the mind and habituate yourself, then when suffering arises directly, or alternatively, when you become well known and famous, the potency of the practice is expressed. During these times whatever it is, joy or sorrow which you face, you will not fall under the power of the afflictions such as attachment, anger, ignorance pride and jealousy, which are suffering and the causes of suffering. You will be able to reduce vice, repress it as it comes up and finally not accumulate vice at all.
All of you, please always concentrate intensely on making effort to practice the Holy Dharma.