It goes something like this;
If you are involved in an inter-religion soccer competition and you have the choice, challenge the Buddhists first, they are the ones most likely to offer you the victory. Intended as a joke it conveys a misunderstanding that suggests that they are the easy beats and, in some way, soft and weak. This misapprehension needs to be addressed so a more accurate understanding that Buddhism is tough may be recognized. This toughness is based squarely on the teachings that prescribe the most searing of investigations into self, framed in the unrelenting reality of the situation of our lives.
The Buddhist study demonstrates what at times appears to be contradictory lessons. How can an enhanced familiarity with death improve the quality of our lives, how can a knowing of impermanence improve our enjoyment and how can the act of giving enable true receiving?
The first teachings of the Buddha are the Four Noble Truths, the first of these speaks directly to the suffering nature of our circumstance.
That we are born, age, and suffer sickness and die, a death that will inevitably occur and that its timing is unknown, therefore we are faced with a fundamental uncertainty. This uncertainty underpins every waking moment and with understanding has the potential to enhance that moment, such that it is valued and truly appreciated. How fortunate are we to have such excellent circumstances?
The second of the Noble Truths speaks to the cause of this suffering and for this we must accept responsibility, that it is our misdeeds that give rise to our unhappiness. This immediately strips us one our most preferred defences, that is blame. The family violence perpetrator blames the victim’s behaviour as the cause, the gambler blames bad luck and the protestor blames the other for all manner of suffering. The acceptance that we are responsible enables the consideration of transforming behaviours to better achieve happiness.
The teachings on impermanence is yet another example of how a deeper understanding of the true nature of our circumstance can improve the quality of those circumstances.
To purchase a new item is fraught with misunderstanding, the whole concept of new, a misapprehension. What component of the item is new and how quickly does it cease to be new? Our acceptance that all things deteriorate, a deterioration that commences immediately enables us to appreciate the item as it changes, not to be at some time shocked by its deterioration. The new flash car ceases to be new in the misdirected perspective only when it’s scratched or damaged. Once again, the greater the understanding of the true nature of us and the things we surround ourselves with the greater our capacity to find happiness.
The next aspect for consideration is the insistence that the Buddhist practice is elaborated by introspection, an honest look at self. The self that is self-centred, discriminative and is infused with feeling, such that every awareness registers as happy, unhappy or neutral and our responses to the feeling that can provoke love, consideration or envy, anger, jealousy and a whole range of thoughts, speech and behaviours.
What makes Buddhism tough is the honesty of looking and adjusting to live in the real world, that sees our reliance on all others and one in which we take responsibility for the consequence of our actions. Working to make the intention of those actions to benefit all others so we experience a more enduring quality of happiness.
by David Mayer
Drol Kar Buddhist Centre was initially established in 1999 by Geshe Sonam Thargye and a group of his students in Geelong. It is a not for profit Incorporated Association with the sole purpose of providing Tibetan Buddhist teachings, dharma practice, meditation and study, in the Mahayana tradition.
Drol Kar Buddhist Centre
Telephone: 03 52661788