How to Endure Suffering
To find faithful people in these studies is difficult. All those who enter into Gnosis want to develop occult powers immediately; this is grave. People believe that the path of the realization of the Inner Self is like playing football or like playing tennis. People have still not learned how to be serious. Commonly, people enter into these studies with the longing of acquiring powers within a few months. However, when they realize that they need patience and hard work, they then desperately leave in search of another school. Thus, this is how they waste their life away, fleeing from one school to the next, from one lodge to another, from institution to institution until they get old and die without ever having achieved anything. Thus, this is how humanity is. One can count those who are truly serious and truly prepared for the practical Adepthood, on the fingers of the hands.
Beloved disciples, you need to develop each of the twenty-two major Arcana of the Tarot within yourselves. You are imitatus, or rather, one who others have put on the Path of the Razor’s Edge. Exert yourself to become Adeptus, one who is the product of one’s own deeds, the one that conquers science by his own, the child of one’s own work. - The Esoteric Course of Alchemical Kabbalah
And there was a day when his sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them: And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother's house: And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee. Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped, And said, Naked came I out of my mother's womb, and naked shall I return thither: the LORD gave, and the LORD hath taken away; blessed be the name of the LORD. In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. - Job 1.13-22
The story of Job is a story of initiation. Job, in the bible, is a character who teaches us about this paramita, or perfection, of patience. But this paramita, or conscious attitude, is not patience in the sense of being passive. Or patience in the sense of letting people do whatever they want to you. Patience is a very active force and takes great strength. Another word we can use is forbearance, or endurance. And these alternate terms more accurately describe the basis, the function, the feeling, of the paramita of patience.
In our analysis of the paramitas thus far, we have already looked at two in some detail. The first one is generosity and the second one is discipline, or ethics. And these are conscious attitudes, or in other words, qualities of mind. They are not aphorisms or golden rules that we repeat to ourselves or remind ourselves of; these are states of being that are inherent in the nature of mind, but that have become obscured by our own ego, by the nature of our own subjective psyche. So to fully experience, to fully develop, to fully activate these attitudes or conscious qualities, we have to remove the obscurations, the filters, the bottles that imprison the consciousness.
When we talk about the paramitas in terms of Bodhisattva levels, or bhumis, these three would then be called:
- Generosity: perfect joy
- Discipline: immaculate
- Patience: luminous
Luminous means "light, enlightenment, something that gives light, something that provides light or radiates."
The first paramita, generosity, is the intention of the Bodhisattva, it is the very nature of Bodhichitta, which is "the awakening mind of compassion and comprehension of Emptiness." The generosity of the Bodhisattva is that loving kindness, the compassion combined with wisdom, which sets up an intention; it is a way forward, it is a sense of direction, a purpose, a goal, a reason to be.
The Bodhisattva, as the term defines it, is the incarnation or the essence of wisdom, the vehicle for the light of Christ. So a Bodhisattva is the one who expresses the will of God in all their actions. And that expression must come through a clean and clear mind, something that has no obscuration, in order for that expression to be perfect. The motivating drive of the light is love, generosity, love for all beings without distinction, without restriction. There is an old, very old ancient prayer:
May all beings be happy. May all beings be joyful. May all beings be in peace.
This doesn't say "May all beings be happy, except... my boss, my enemies, my neighbors." It is all beings without exception. This is the intention, the will, that drives the light of Christ, the wisdom that illuminates all the Buddhas, all the Angels, all the Gods. And that light - expressed - becomes the path, becomes Bodhichitta.
So as an aspirant, as someone who intents to incarnate that, we have these steps, the practices, the processes that we have to go through. The first is this generosity, to start to cultivate the attitude of Bodhichitta. And remember that attitude is compassion for all beings without exception and comprehension of Emptiness; it is both. To comprehend the inherent Emptiness of all phenomena is critical. And for us to accomplish that we need the remaining paramitas. When that intention is built, when we start defining ourselves and saying "I want to cultivate that quality of love," so we start with that inspiration, that intention. And this is the first paramita, or in other words the first factor, but that factor is in need of being managed, because we have obscurations, we have problems in our mind, we suffer. We suffer from pride, from fear, from envy, from jealousy, gluttony, uncertainty, doubt, and because of that we have to learn discipline, which we talked about in the previous lecture. This is the second factor, this is in other words how we learn to discipline our mind.
When we look at these two forces, we need to consider it in light of the three forces that we study in Gnosis. These three are symbolized in the form of a triangle. We have three triangles in the Tree of Life, and each of these is an expression of the Law of Three. It is the balance of the Law of Three that creates; when three factors are in equilibrium.
The first force is the intention, the idea, the will; this is the first Arcanum of the Tarot, which is called the Magician, and the magician is the "magi," the priest, the Being, the consciousness, that expression of Christ, love. So in the case of the paramitas, the first Arcanum, the first factor, the first force would be the generosity, love, the intention to become a Bodhisattva. But there are factors which oppose it: factors in us. We may have the intention, but within our own mind is a lot of resistance to that, opposing forces to that intention. And those opposing forces you know of as anger, pride, shame, fear, and all of the multiple, diverse entities that exist within our own mind. All of these factors oppose that intention, the pure intention to become a Bodhisattva. We can also have egotistical intentions to become a Bodhisattva, because our pride wants to be admired, wants to be special, wants to be different. That egotistical desire to be a Bodhisattva is actually an opposing factor to the real, sincere, heartfelt intention to cultivate Bodhichitta.
So put this in your imagination, these two opposing factors:
- the intention
- the resistance
The resistance is your own mind, your ego. This is why we apply the second paramita: discipline. Discipline is there to control the opposing factors, which are our own psyche. But with these two alone, there is only conflict, and you will notice this in yourself.
When you develop an idea to do something, immediately there springs up, as if by magic, all the opposing forces. Let us say that you need to get a job, and as soon as that intention is there, the idea is there, then all the difficulties arise, all of the things that you have to overcome in order to actually get the job you need. There will be difficulties depending on the circumstances, on the Karma. In order for you to successfully complete your goal, the mere intention to do it is not enough. You need discipline and you need endurance, you need forbearance, you need patience. Again, remember, patience is not passive, it is active. So if you need a job and you want a job, but you see all the opposing difficulties, let us say the career you are looking at is very competitive, there are not many jobs available, but there are many people trying to get those jobs, then you have to compete against all of that, plus you will have your own pride who may think you deserve a better job than the ones available, you may have your own laziness who doesn't really want to prepare your resume, who doesn't really want to deal with the interview process, who doesn't really want to deal with the commute. All these are forces of resistance. If you simply have the intention and you saw those forces of resistance, you would stop, you wouldn't even try. So to accomplish it, you have to discipline yourself to do the things you need to do; this is the second paramita. But then you need endurance, to accept those difficulties and to work through them, to overcome them. That is the third force, patience, forbearance, endurance.
In other words patience is the capacity to overcome and transform difficulties. Patience does not mean that you simply receive suffering, and suffer. It means you transform suffering to your advantage, and there is a very significant distinction between those two. The difference is will. What we are really discussing when we discuss endurance, forbearance, patience, is willpower. Each of these three forces involves willpower.
Returning to our example, we have the intention to get that job. And then we have the discipline to control our own mind as our mind fights with us to stop trying to get the job, to give up or to complain. And then we have the will to be patient and to finally succeed.
We have this idea, somehow, when we see great works such as the symphonies of Beethoven, or a great painting, like Botticelli, that that was easy for that person to do and we wish we had that capacity. But truthfully, nothing worthwhile is easy; nothing. The great Masters who produced fantastic, immortal works of art, did not arrive at the moment of creating that work just by happenstance, just by gift of God; they worked, they practiced, they had discipline and they had endurance.
Yogananda gave a really good example of this; he said that we all admire the skill of a concert pianist, and it is true, if you really watch someone who is a very skilled classical pianist, they make it look so easy, and we wish we could do that. But we want to just be able to sit down at the piano and do it without having worked for it. We forget the fact that to arrive at that level of skill, that person has been practicing for eight to ten hours every day for years; they did not just get that out of nowhere. Everything is based on causes and conditions, everything has root causes that produce results. So someone who has the skill to play an instrument in that way has had to practice, has had to study. They have the desire, the intention, the motivation to learn it, and they have all their own resistance, they all have their own laziness, they have the difficulties of life, difficulties to survive financially doing a type of career like that, but that patience, the endurance, the forbearance comes into play. "So how much more true is this," Yogananda says, "of meditation?"
We would all love, as students of this teaching, to be Masters of samadhi, as the Master Samael states. But we want it to be easy, as if we can read a couple of pages of a book, and go meditate, and "boom," we have mastery of samadhi. But reality is not like that. To acquire mastery of samadhi requires mastery of your own mind, and this is not arrived at by snapping your fingers, or reading a book; it comes through endurance, forbearance.
In Buddhism, this paramita of patience, or endurance, is seen as having three primary forms, or there are three ways that it is analyzed in order to be understood.
- Endurance when one is being harmed.
- Endurance to face hardships / suffering.
- Endurance with certainty in nature of phenomena / reality.
Endurance When Being Harmed
This refers to having the ability to maintain control over the mind, control over tension, to maintain mindfulness, conscious awareness, in those moments when somebody is harming us. For example, if someone is criticizing us, we should be able to maintain the generosity, the first perfection, to maintain the discipline of the mind, and manage those two with willpower, with endurance. So you see how these three interrelate? The quality of patience or endurance is there and is necessary at this stage, because we have already established some degree of generosity, the motivation, and to the discipline. The endurance is there to help us manage those, to sustain them, to protect our Bodhichitta.
Once we have the intention to become the vessel for Christ, to become a vehicle of wisdom in order to serve suffering humanity, we need to cultivate Bodhichitta and we need to protect it. And the discipline is part of how we protect it; we have to protect our Bodhichitta, our own kindness, our own patience, our own love, with our discipline, but we also need to be patient.
Patience in this sense, or endurance, does not mean that we seek to eradicate harmful or difficult circumstances. We have the intention to eliminate suffering, yes, but there is no way that we can possibly eliminate all the harmful beings that exist, and in fact, that is not our goal. Our goal is not to eliminate harmful beings, it is to eliminate suffering; this is different. Some teachings present the point of view that we have to "eliminate the enemies, the infidels, the unbelievers," and this is a wrong way of thinking, to think that we have to eliminate other people, other beings; this is not true. We have to instead look at life in terms of Bodhichitta.
All beings are like you and me want happiness, and we are all naturally attracted to states of happiness and states of joyfulness. The Dalai Lama points out that if we hear of a heavenly realm, or a heavenly place, where there is no war, there is no poverty, there is no starvation, no rape, no abuse, but instead there is serenity, peace, joyfulness, acceptance, cooperation, friendship, love, all of us want to be there, without exception. And if we hear of a place where there is warfare, pain, violence, destruction, abuse, rape, death, we do not want to be there. This illustrates a fundamental aspect of the nature of our own psyche, which is that we all want love, and peace. Therefore, we have to understand that we all share that longing, and the goal of Bodhichitta is to provide it. It is not to eliminate beings, it is to provide them with happiness.
When we are being harmed by others, this is an important teaching to use in order to train the mind. Remember that the person who is harming us is a being like us, but that person who is harmful, is simply identified with their anger, with their resentment, with their hared, with their pride. Our job in that case is to transform our mind, to transform our reaction.
When we analyze someone who is angry, we see that the person is suffering; anger is not pleasant in any way. And when you experience anger, you can taste that for yourself. The purpose, the intention of anger, is to harm. In that way, anger can be seen as the opposite of Bodhichitta, the opposite of love. Anger is really hate, and it is a quality, or a negative emotion, which seeks to make people suffer, to make beings suffer. Not only that, but when we experience anger, it makes us suffer too.
So what is the good of anger? What good can anger ever provide? Unfortunately in these times there are some who argue to protect anger, to encourage anger. And this is clear when you look at tv or movies, that anger is glorified, anger is shown to be something admirable. But in reality it is not: anger is a form of suffering, and it is a very painful form of suffering. And yet we persist in feeding our anger, and this is because we ignore its roots; we fail to grasp what anger really is, and thus we perpetuate suffering.
Of course, the basis of this teaching is to learn how to observe ourselves and change. If we learn to really look at anger, to observe anger, we will find that it is a very agitated form of energy. When we get angry we cannot sleep, we might lose our appetite, we become obsessed. The mind becomes so fixated on what it perceives as the source of anger, that the mind becomes a beast, an animal, out of control. And someone who is really identified with their anger, fully becomes that beast and is capable of extreme violence. We can see this in cases of people who otherwise would be quite pleasant, quite attractive, even sweet. But when anger comes into their mind and they do not have the capacity to control it, that sweet person has the capacity to kill. Each of us has that sweetness inside. But we also have that anger, the capacity for violence. It may be that we have not tasted it yet, maybe we have not been in circumstances that bring it out, but what if we are? What if those circumstances come? They might. It is important for us to learn to guard the mind, to discipline ourselves.
When we really look at anger, someone who becomes angry begins to behave like a lunatic. Someone who becomes enraged even has the capacity to harm those that they love. And this is really the great tragedy that our society in these times fails to realise the extreme danger of anger. And this is why when the various Masters of different teachings look at the root causes of suffering, anger is always one of them. In the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna identifies three doors to hell, and anger is one of them. In the writings of Samael Aun Weor, he identifies three doors to suffering, and anger is one of them. We cannot be loose with anger. In the Tibetan tradition they have a saying that says, "don't even allow in a needle, because it will demand more room." So you know how small a sewing needle is? We have to have our attention so focused and refined that we do not even allow something like a sliver of negativity into our mind, because that sliver can corrupt the entire thing, it will wiggle its way around and destroy. And really that is all anger wants, is destruction. Anger wants to harm, nothing else. So when we look at anger, we need to look at what it is coming from in ourselves, when we experience something difficult, painful, frustrating, and we become angry, analyze that: why do you become angry?
I have heard some teachers state that anger arises because of pride or fear, and from my own experience I would disagree; I would say this is not the whole picture. From my experience I would say anger arises because of desire: frustrated desire. But that frustrated desire can come from any number of aggregates in the mind, not just pride or fear. You can find this out for yourself if you travel. Travel is very frustrating, especially if you travel in a country or a part of the world that has fewer amenities. Say for example you go and travel, and the nature of your experience on that trip prevents you from having access to food - which will easily happen depending on where in the world you travel. You may not be able to find something good or safe to eat for a day or more. Don't you think you will become angry? How easily do we become angry because of a meal? If we are a little late to get our lunch or our dinner, some of us become enraged. And who are we angry with? And this is the most interesting thing of all: who do we become angry with? Everybody else! The whole world comes to blame, because we are hungry. And this is a good experience for us to have if we transform it, because it demonstrates the weakness of the mind. The mind we have is very weak. We need will to dominate that mind and train it.
What if for example you are preparing a meal and you cut yourself with the knife: who do you become angry with? Yourself or the knife? Or what if you shut your finger in the door of a car? Who do you become angry with? I have seen people do that and get angry at the car and kick the car. It is not the car's fault, it is the stupid person who wasn't paying attention. But they don't get mad at themselves, they get angry at the car. Either way the anger serves no purpose, it doesn't solve anything. What does it fix? If you have shut your finger in the car door and it hurts, what is anger going to solve? The harm is done. So why become angry?
If someone criticizes you, attacks you, says something very hurtful, then in this case it is easy to become angry with them; it is a very habitual reaction to reply to a harmful remark with anger, but it does not help anything, and it demonstrates a lack of comprehension, a lack of understanding. It is important for us to closely analyze our experiences of anger.
Let us look, just for an example, at a given experience, and we make it kind of crude. This example is given by Shantideva in the Bodhicharyavatara, which is of course "The Bodhisattva's Way of Life" which we are discussing. In this book he outlines and analyzes the case of when someone strikes us with a weapon. Usually when we are hit or harmed we become angry, and our anger is directed at the person who delivered the blow. But we need to analyze. What actually causes the harm is the interaction between the weapon and the body. The suffering that we feel is actually in the body, so why do we not become angry with the body? The pain is there. The body is the one producing the pain, so why are we not angry with the body? Another step: the weapon struck us and caused pain, so why are we not angry with the weapon? Instead we get angry with the person. But did the person really bear full responsibility for that? If we were not there, then we would not have been harmed. So we are we not angry with ourselves? We put ourselves there, we are partly to blame. Not only that, but there are also the surrounding circumstances, the whole picture, all of the given factors that brought about the conjunction of these various elements. Why are we not angry with all of that? So this example is given so that we can analyze the short-sightedness of anger, the ignorance of anger, the foolishness of anger.
Anger is not logical, it is a form of passion, it is not smart. And we have this problem of becoming victimized by our own anger. The anger arises and it has its own thoughts, it has its own feelings, and it has its own intentions, so we need to look closely at those. When anger comes up what does it intend? We need to have self-awareness, mindfulness, and analyze that intention. The anger that we feel, what does it want? When you do this self-analysis, be sincere. When you feel anger, is anger really justified?
Does anger exist in harmony with our real intention, which is Bodhichitta? And the scriptures say no, and the teachings say no. There is not one case where anger is justified, ever. Now your mind is probably thinking, "What about Jesus getting angry with the merchants in the temple? What about those fierce Gods that we see? The ferocious deities in the different traditions, who appear angry?" But let us not confuse ferocity with anger. Anger is an ego, is a defect, it is a form of suffering. And ferocity, or fierce nature, is not. Anger is a state of suffering and if we can analyze it as such, we can begin to free ourselves from its influence.
When we experience a state of anger, a very good thing to keep in mind is that the anger is temporary, so let us just be patient; don't act. When the stimulant of anger is there, stirring up your mind, making you agitated, the best thing you can do is slow down. This is why the psychologists these days always tell you, "Count to 10!" When you get angry, "Count to 10!" It is good advice, very good advice: slow down, control your mind, don't act, wait. The anger, you will notice, stimulates you to harm others and that is all it will ever do: intend harm. So if you are serious about your intention to develop Bodhichitta, to develop the compassionate mind, you have to be very strict with the enemy of anger, and not allow it even a needle of space to move, to be very strict.
When we are dealing with someone who is angry, this is also very challenging. Our tendency is to get angry in return, right? If someone comes to us enraged and angry and blasting us with their words and with their emotions, our normal reaction is to also get angry. We may not get angry outward and express it, we may internalize that anger back into ourselves. That becomes depression. Depression is anger internalized, that is all it is. People who are depressed are angry, but they don't deal with their anger. So the best thing to do when someone is coming at us with anger is to slow down and look at that person, and remember how they suffer, look at the suffering they are undergoing, how much their anger is causing them pain; so we should have compassion for them, we should have love for them, because they suffer, they are in pain.
If our child was in pain, was suffering, we would not get angry with them. If as a doctor we have a patient who comes to us, who is in great pain, we would never get angry with them, we want to help them, we want to help relieve that pain. Anger is just an illness. Anger is a sickness; it is a disease in the mind, the heart. So when we encounter anger, we should remember that: the person who is suffering with anger is sick. Getting angry at them is only going to make it worse for both of us.
When you have experienced anger, it has a quality of fire, right? A very fiery, passionate feeling. What happens when you add fire to fire? ....more pain, so getting angry in return serves no purpose.
The best thing you can do is reply with sweetness. Not sanctimony! Do not fake sweetness, because this will make them more angry; be sincere. Sweetness is the greatest power to overcome anger. Nothing has more power than sweetness, and if you work with it you will find that for yourself.
Dealing with your own anger first, when your own anger arises be disciplined, but be sweet with yourself, be patient with yourself. When someone you love is angry, be sweet with them, be patient with them, be tolerant, and you will discover that the natural sweetness, the natural love, can completely transform not only your own mind, but the mind of another person. When they discover that their anger is not affecting you, their anger can dissipate, and then you can really solve whatever the problem is. But as so long the anger is active, the problem can never be solved, because the anger will not be satisfied until it hurts someone.
They say to never go to bed angry; this is a true thing. And this is because when you go to sleep, your state of mind at that time sets up the quality through which you will enter into the world of dreams, and if you are angry, agitated, and upset when you go to sleep, you will carry that emotional baggage into your dreams, and that is what you will experience all night: the Klipoth, the world where anger resides, the submerged levels of mind, hell, where you have nightmares. The best thing to do if you are angry in the evening is to meditate, relax, give yourself some good psychological food, and listen to some beautiful music, read poetry, do some artwork, make art, take a walk, do something to clear your mind.
So when we are dealing with angry people, we have to realize that that force of anger is very projective. When we learn to receive that impression, the energy, with sweetness, we can dissipate that force. And this is why in the books of the Master Samael Aun Weor he says:
"We have to learn to receive with gladness the unpleasant manifestations of our fellowmen."
Whatever people do to us, we have to receive it with patience and tolerance, and not respond with anger. And we can look to the life of the various Masters to inspire us in that way. Jesus was tortured, whipped, beaten, spit upon, and ridiculed, yet he did not become angry. And this was not faked, he was not faking sweetness like so many so-called "spiritual" people do; his attitude when facing these sufferings was natural to for him because he had trained himself to such a degree that there was no anger left in him. Therefore, when the weapons struck, there was no "I" to reply with anger, there was no ego to can react, there was only Bodhichitta, which is that compassionate mind.
The Master Samael states that if someone criticizes us, we can consider this like a bank check; if you write a bank check but there is no money in the bank, the check is worthless. The same is true of criticism. If there is no "I," the criticism is worthless. People can say what they want, but there is no "I," there is no "me," there is no ego, no pride, to react. But this is something we have to work towards: right now we are not at that level. It is good to remember this in the moments when we are criticized, when we are attacked, when we do face difficulties. We remember it because we need to discipline our mind. You have probably heard another saying that says, "Only the guilty feel the accusation." So when somebody criticizes us and it hurts, we should be happy. Because in that instant we have discovered an ego in our mind, and this is the greatest joy for the Gnostic. The ego is that which causes suffering. If you cannot find it, you cannot eliminate it, and thus suffering continues. But when someone criticizes you and that pain is there, then you have something you can work with. So in reality you should be grateful to that person who criticized you. They have done you a favor: they have shown you what you need to change. This is the greatest thing.
In Buddhism they talk about two fields within which the initiate works. So it is like the way a farmer works in a field, right? In the first field are all the Buddhas and in the second field are all the other beings that exist. The Buddhas cannot help us to develop patience. The Buddhas cannot help us to develop endurance, tolerance. The Buddhas can teach us the path, and we need that; they can provide assistance, and we need that. But the only ones who can teach us how to be patient, how to be tolerant, how to have compassion, are those beings who are hostile towards us. So in reality we need both in order to achieve liberation. If there were only Buddhas, they would only treat us with love, with sweetness, with compassion, and thus we would never see our defects, and thus we would always remain in our level, in ignorance, in suffering. But fortunately, we have a lot of hostile beings around us. It is fortunate in the sense that we can take advantage of circumstances, and this is the basis of Tantra: to transform energy, to take energy and make it something good, make it something useful, transform it by will. So when people are angry with us, when they are criticizing us, attacking us, pursuing us, it does not mean that what they are doing is right, it does not mean that we should allow them to do wrong things to us, what it means is that we should cultivate the quality of mind that does not become angry, that instead receives that impression, that circumstance, with happiness, because in that circumstance is an opportunity for us to change, and we need that. In this way you could say that these times in which we live are profoundly ripe for transformation, for us, because these are very difficult times, there are a lot of hostile beings in the world, there is a lot of difficulty, there is a lot of suffering, there is a lot of ignorance.
When we encounter ignorance, when we encounter harmful people, we should learn to transform our mind and treat them with compassion, with kindness. In truth we should treat the beings and the Buddhas in the same way: with respect. This is the nature of tolerance. Conscious tolerance treats all beings the same, even demons. In these teachings we talk about demons sometimes, we talk about black magicians, sorcerers, and by these terms we mean people who intend to harm, and there are a lot of people like that. Some may even have good intentions in their mind, but because of their ignorance they harm people. There are some who think they are doing good, but who are actually harming.
The Buddhas treat all beings in the same way. An Angel treats all beings in the same way: with respect, with love, and tolerance. But that does not mean we condone crimes, it does not mean that we agree with what harmful actions are being done, and it does not mean we allow it to continue.
When we observe harmful action, if we can do something to stop it, we should. In Tibet, when the Chinese invaded, and they were raping nuns, some monks stood by and allowed it to happen, because they thought it would be wrong to harm the Chinese. But this is a mistake. These monks thought that non-violence was an absolute law, and this is a mistake, and the Dalai Lama said that. We have to weigh the circumstances. Those monks should have fought to protect the innocent, to stop the harmful beings from performing wrong action. This is a compassionate act not only for the person who was going to be hurt, but for the person who was going to apply the pain. If you have two children, and one child wants to hit the other one, you should stop the child from hitting. We should not stand by and "be patient." This is not a solution. Patience does not mean passivity. We have to be active.
So in our effort to deal with other beings, to be tolerant, to be patient, the basic thing that we need to learn is how to transform those circumstances for the good of everyone. Not only for our own good, but for the good of the harmful beings as well.
In the Gnostic tradition we have different types of prayers and practices that we can use to protect ourselves from beings who would try to harm us. But unfortunately, there are some students who somehow get the idea that we should be very wrathful with other beings, with harmful beings. So for example if they believe that a given person is a black magician, or a witch, or a sorcerer, then these students think we should be very ferocious, fierce, angry with these so-called "black magicians," and this is wrong. There are stories of so-called Gnostics who catch witches and beat them. This is wrong. You cannot combat violence with violence. You cannot dispel darkness with hatred, only with light, with truth, with sweetness, with love.
Let us remember that great persecutor of the Gnostics, the man who was killing Gnostics. If he had been treated in kind, eye for an eye, we would not have a great portion of the bible which is so important to us now. Paul became a great Gnostic because he was given light in exchange for his violence, and it taught him, and he was changed.
So whenever someone is doing harm to us we should remember: "This is a chance for me to learn patience, this is a chance for me to practice." We should be grateful.
Now this brings up the point that there is also a quality of mind that is very prevalent in these times, which is the tendency to see other beings as enemies. And this is cultivated to a large degree by the types of psychological food that we take in, like the news and movies. We tend to see other beings as our enemies, we have this feeling that people are out to get us, that we cannot trust people. And we have a fear, or a resentment, against society, against our own family, and even against friends; we may have friendships to a certain level, but at certain moments perceive our friends as enemies. It is good for us to analyze that state of mind. Regarding this, the Dalai Lama said something very useful:
"If the love within your mind is lost and you see other beings as enemies, then no matter how much education or knowledge or material comfort you have, only suffering and confusion will ensue."
It is good for us to learn transform our mind, to see other beings as a being like us. We all want happiness, we all want to be accepted, we all want to be treated with patience, with kindness, with respect, we should do that too. Gandhi said:
"We should be the change we want to see."
If we want other beings to be patient, to be kind, to be tolerant of us, we should be so, we should treat others in that way. This is actually the surest way to overcome those that we actually do have as enemies. When you can really look at an enemy, someone who is actually doing something to hurt you, you can comprehend that it is not the person who is your enemy, it is their ego (which you have too). It is their anger that is your enemy, but it is also their enemy. Think about that! A person who is doing harm to you is hurting themselves also, because they are listening to their own enemy inside, so we should have compassion on them, we should be patient with them. When we can really be sincere with that feeling, to look at someone who we would normally see as an enemy and realize that they are suffering, and that they are a victim of their own inner enemy, we can really have compassion for them. Not only that, they could become our friend, easily.
When you look at life on a longer scale, you realize that this physical body that you are in now is not the only one you have had, there have been others. And throughout each existence you have interacted with a certain group of people in a cyclical kind of way, and you realize that people that are now your friends may one day be your enemies, and people that are now your enemies may one day be your friends. You may find that the people that are now your enemies may have been your parents before, may have been your children. And this kind of perspective is very healthy. It helps to bring you out of the narrow-minded focus of the ego, which is looking at very restricted point of view of circumstances, like our example with the weapon. When we are angry against the person who is hitting us we fail to realize we put ourselves there, those circumstances are what brought that, all those elements together. The same is true with people we perceive as enemies or friends. So it is really senseless to become angry.
Endurance When Facing Hardships or Suffering
The second form of endurance or patience is regarding facing suffering in general or hardships in general. To be patient or tolerant with hardships is really related to understanding our own goals. When we set out to study this type of information, to study this knowledge, it is because we have the intention, to some degree, to awaken the consciousness, to develop ourselves as a human being, to experience those things which are beyond the flesh, the realities that are beyond the five senses. But those experiences do not come without a price; we have to work, we have to earn those things, we have to develop capacities in ourselves which right now we do not have. This takes effort. That effort is the tolerance, the endurance, to overcome the hardships that we have to face.
To become a Master of Samadhi, we have to meditate, and meditation is not easy. It is not easy because of our mind. In its essence, meditation is extremely simple, because the nature of mind is luminous and clear without complication, therefore it is easy. But to arrive at that experience is difficult, because our mind is so filled with obstacles. So it takes endurance to move past those obstacles, to overcome the difficulties.
The hardships that we face are the payments that we make in order to earn that which we need, that which we want.
Kabbalah is not easy; the studies of Kabbalah are very difficult, because they are a knowledge of the consciousness, which is beyond the capacities of our sensual mind, of our intellect. We have to work with the inner mind, the abstract mind, which at this point we barely know even exists. So to really understand the Tree of Life, to understand the Tree of Knowledge, requires a lot of work, it is not easy.
This is why Jesus said that the path to the door is narrow and difficult, the way to destruction is wide and easy. Unfortunately there are some, even within the Gnostic movement, who say that Kabbalah is not necessary, that learning all these different practices is not necessary, and this is very sad, because it demonstrates a complete lack of understanding of the teaching.
The Kabbalah expresses the language of the soul, the language of the consciousness, which is a symbolic language, which is an abstract language. It is a very beautiful language and very subtle, and has an enormous amount of depth. It seems that in those cases where students reject the study of Kabbalah, it is because they are lazy, because they do not understand and they do not want to understand. And so they believe that they can go on without it. This is like trying to go to some place you have never been and not having a map. It is foolish. If you want to go to some place you have not been, you need a map. The map is here: the Tree of Life, the Kabbalah. The map is in the consciousness, and we discover that through study and through work. And this requires that we have the diligence, the endurance to overcome the difficulties.
When we were children, school at certain times can become very difficult, and we do not understand why we have to go, and we do not want to go, we would rather stay home and play. But let us not be students like that now. The studies of Kabbalah are essential to successfully navigate the interior worlds.
If you go to another country and you do not speak the language, you can be easily manipulated or become very lost, right? If you go to Asia, if you go to China and you do not speak Chinese, what is going to happen to you? Can you eat? Can you get a place to sleep? How can you, if you canot read any signs or ask any questions? How can you do anything if you cannot understand what the beings there are saying to you? And even if you do speak a little of the language, only if you are lucky will you find somebody who will help you and be sincere about it. But if the vultures who are there discover that you do not speak the language, they will take you for everything you have. I am not saying this about China specifically, I am saying when you go to another country, some other place, you are exposed to a certain amount of risk, the more you know, the more safely you can navigate that terrain. This is especially true of the mind.
The Kabbalah is a map of your own mind, your own consciousness. When you have experiences in meditation, when you have experiences out of the body, this map is your guide. So it is not enough to just put it in the intellect, you have to know it in your consciousness. Kabbalah is important, but it is not easy to learn.
There are many other hardships that we encounter to awaken the consciousness, many difficulties. The fundamental purpose of Gnosis is to awaken the consciousness, to overcome suffering. Suffering exists because we have an ego, we have an "I," we have pride, lust, greed, envy, gluttony, fear. Therefore to conquer suffering is to conquer our own mind, our own self, false self. But we cannot conquer that unless we see it, and to see it is painful.
We have the tendency when we see something painful in ourselves, or contradictory within ourselves, to run away, we do not want to see it. When somebody says something about us, such as, "You are too impatient, you are too angry, you are too proud," we do not want to hear that, we do not want to be criticized, we only want to be praised. But do you know that praise is poison for your work? And do you know that criticism is the best thing you could get?
Praise is toxic for spiritual work, because it builds pride in you, and it builds jealousy in others. People see you getting praise, they become very envious and jealous, so they turn against you. You build pride, so you become inflated and fat. What good does praise do? When someone criticizes on the other hand, it is good: criticism breaks down pride, it shows you your own faults and gives you a place to work, and this is good.
It takes an enormous amount of endurance, patience, to overcome the difficulties that we inevitably must face if we want to face ourselves, to truly face our own inner contradictions, our own filth. If you have ever trained a dog, you know when you are trying to train them to go to the bathroom on the paper, it is not an easy thing, it takes patience, tolerance, but if the dog makes a mistake and goes to the bathroom somewhere else on the floor and you want to show them that mistake, they don't want to see it, right? They resist, they fight, they don't want to go there, they don't want to see it, they don't want you to put their nose in it, they whimper, they cry... we are like that. When someone wants to show us our own filth, our own mistakes, we don't want to see it, we want to justify, "Oh I didn't know, oh I meant to do something else, ohh... that wasn't me."
If you persist in that attitude, your work will be slow. Transform your mind. Look actively for your faults. Look joyfully for your faults. Transform your life.
There are also sufferings related to practice. Meditation practice is difficult. It is uncomfortable physically in the beginning because we are not accustomed to sitting still and concentrating the mind, and then when we get past that obstacle, then it becomes uncomfortable because we start seeing our own filthiness, and this also becomes very uncomfortable. It is a kind of suffering, and it takes endurance to sit and analyze our own mistakes without justifying them, without excusing them and also without condemning them, but to see them as they are and learn how to change.
We complain about meditation because our own mind makes it hard to learn; we want an easier practice, we keep searching for different practices, we want someone to explain this and that. Meditation is not easy because of the mind. The sooner we become serious about disciplining the mind, not just in the meditation practice, but all day long, then meditation becomes easier. But you have to have the discipline to sit, you have to have the patience to keep trying.
It says in the Bible that we have to accept difficulties, we have to expect them. To win a race requires effort. It is good for us when we are doing our meditation practice to really put it in perspective: what we are doing when we meditate is creating merit, creating benefit for ourselves and for others. And really how much suffering is it to meditate for ten minutes? We complain and we resist it, but how much suffering is that really? When you sit to meditate, or let us say for example you don't even want to because you are resisting the suffering of meditation, remember this: the athletes of meditation meditate 24 hours a day without stopping.
Lamas in Tibet go to three year retreats. Those retreats are not what we think of retreats in the west. For us, a retreat is to go out in the woods and barbeque, listen to birds, swim, relax. That is not the kind of retreat I am indicating. The three year retreat traditionally in Tibetan Buddhism requires that you go to a very isolated place, usually a cave, and you stay there for three years, and you never come out. Not only that, all you do is meditate. There is no tv, no video games, no books, no magazines, no stores, no shopping, no telephones. All you have is your meditation box - and you are thinking "box!? What is a meditation box?" A meditation box encircles your legs as you sit cross legged on the ground, so you cannot lie down. The practitioner who is on a three year retreat does not sleep, not even at night. They meditate all night long, sitting upright, just as they have meditated all day long sitting upright. Periodically, they do other practices; they practice yantras, which are yogic practices, they receive instruction from their teachers, and they eat a little bit once a day.
So just remember this when you are on your nice comfortable bed, your nice comfortable couch, and you are safe in your warm home with your incense, candles, and music, and you are complaining. Put your practice in perspective.
This brings up something also in my memory about the hardship of practice. In traditional monastic practices, the monks do not cook for themselves. In fact, in Asian traditions they beg for food. Once a day they go to the neighboring houses with a bowl, one little bowl, and they take whatever food they are given, and that is their food for the day. They cannot say, "Oh can I have fries with that? Or can I have less salt? Ehh.. I don't eat pork. Umm.. I don't like eggplant." Whatever they are given, they eat gratefully, and that is it. I mention this because we are very spoiled, we are very lazy, we want everything "just so."
At this moment, we have no capacity at all to endure hardship. We have to train ourselves now while we have the opportunity. Things will not always be as they are now. What if you become sick? What if you become ill? Very sick? You will lose your opportunity to practice. What if you die? What if we have a war? Here, in your country. How easy will it be to practice then? Think carefully on these things. I am not saying these things to scare you: I am saying them to motivate you to be serious. All things are impermanent and the Karma of humanity is very heavy. Difficulties are coming, not only in our individual lives, but in our collective environment. We need to train ourselves to handle it.
In the book Revolutionary Psychology the Master Samael Aun Weor points out that we all boast and strut around like peacocks as if we are very powerful, but when we get just a little stomachache we become miserable lunatics, complaining, whining, moaning. And he says if you take one of us and put us out in the desert alone with nothing, you will see exactly how weak we are. And this is true: we are so boastful and proud and conceited, but we are actually very weak.
The suffering that we are receiving now is something that we can take advantage of in order to train ourselves to become strong. This is the nature of the path of the Bodhisattva: to transform suffering into benefit, to become strong.
You can look at it like this: when a parent teaches a child how to walk, how to ride a bicycle, the parent will give the instruction and then be there to hold the hand of the child or hold the bicycle upright as the child tries it. But at a certain point the parent has to let go. The child has to learn how to do it under their own power, and they fall, and they get hurt, and they cry. If that parent does not allow the child to do it on their own and to experience that suffering, the child will remain weak and ignorant. They will not learn to walk, or they will not learn to ride the bicycle. The parent who has discipline, who knows what is best for that child, will stand by even though it is painful and allow the child to ride the bicycle and maybe fall, and maybe get hurt, and maybe cry, but knowing that the child needs that experience in order to grow. The Bodhisattva does the same thing with their own mind. We receive these teachings as guidance in order to give us the basic instructions of how we need to cultivate Bodhichitta and discipline our mind. But then we need to experience life, we need to be in the circumstances and doing it, riding the bicycle, and sometimes we fall, and sometimes we get hurt and it is painful, but let us get back on the bicycle and keep going. This is patience, the capacity to endure and keep going.
It is very sad when we see students who as soon as they encounter some circumstance that shows them their own weakness, that shows them their own pride, their own lust, their own fear, that they leave, that they run away from Gnosis. This is very sad, because that soul is too weak to face themselves, to face their own reality; this is very sad. We should have a lot of compassion for those people, because that pain is tremendous. And we should do what we can to inspire them to try again, to get back on the bicycle and keep trying to learn to discipline the mind. Anyone can learn it if they have the will to do it.
Another example that I remember about hardships of practice: there was a monk in Tibet who was imprisoned by the Chinese for a long time, and he was tortured and abused. He eventually got out and he escaped to India, and went into a long retreat, and was there practicing in retreat. And one time His Holiness the Dalai Lama came and spoke with the monk, and the monk said, "You know, it is harder to practice here in retreat than it was in the Chinese prison." And this is true. If we have a very easy, comfortable environment, we have no inspiration to practice; to practice is difficult in that case. If we have no one being hostile towards us, we have no opportunity to learn patience, to learn tolerance, to learn sweetness. Therefore when students complain about their difficulties, about how hard life is, about how cruel their spouse is to them, this is also sad, because that student is missing an opportunity to take advantage of those circumstances, transform them for the benefit of everyone.
When we learn how to accept the hardships, then suffering becomes manageable. A good example of that is when we go to the doctor. The doctor is always poking us with needles, may have to use surgery, cutting us up with a knife, and we accept that; that is a form of suffering, but we do not get mad at him. But if somebody else came and poked us with a needle and start trying to cut us with a knife, we get really angry. The only difference there is a fundamental shift of attitude. We can develop that same attitude towards all circumstances, to recognize that criticism, harmful beings, harmful things that are being done, actually can be transformed by us, there is no cause to be angry.
Patience with the Nature of Reality
If fishermen, hunters, and farmers,
Thinking merely of their own livelihood,
Endure the sufferings of heat and cold,
Why am I not patient for the sake of the world's joy?
- Shantideva, Guide to the Bodhisattva's Way of Life 4.40
He who endures to the end will be saved. - Mark 13.13
The third form of patience or tolerance is related to having patience or tolerance related to the nature of phenomena, the nature of reality. I saw a man who went out to his car and there was a lot of snow packed around the car, and this guy was cursing, and angry, he was so mad, it was like a stream of foul language flowing out of this guy, and I thought to myself "This is actually a beautiful thing to see before this lecture," because he demonstrated exactly how not to have tolerance with the nature of reality. Why was he angry at the snow? I am sure if I asked him that, he would have realized the futility of all the energy he wasted, because that is really all he was doing: he was just wasting energy.
Life is suffering. Life is suffering. Whether we are on this path or not on this path, circumstances will be painful, life is going to be painful, because that is the nature of life. This is the first noble truth taught by the Buddha.
We do not enter into the path to awaken the consciousness in order to eliminate negative circumstances or painful circumstances; that is not the goal, because it is impossible, you cannot. Unfortunately, many of us have this idea, because we have that attraction to heaven, to nirvana, and we think, "Ah let me just get out of this place. If I could die I would die. Let this suffering end." Death is not an answer and you know what? Neither is nirvana.
Nirvana and Samsara are both impermanent in the sense that the planes of nirvana, the worlds of nirvana, are states of consciousness that we can experience for a period of time, but as long as the ego is alive in us, nirvana will be temporary, our stay there will be temporary. So regarding having the idea or the goal that we want to enter nirvana forever, do not be fooled, do not be fooled by this desire, it is a desire that really just wants to be free of suffering. But suffering will persists as long as the ego is alive.
The very desire for nirvana is the desire that produces suffering, because it is a desire for something you don't have. And when you don't have something that you want, you suffer. When we see that brand new computer that just came out and we want it, that is suffering. When we see the big house down the street and we want it, that is suffering. And when in our mind we think of nirvana, of liberation, and we want that, there is a kind of suffering there, because it is a craving for something that we don't have.
Let us be realistic. Suffering exists because of desire. If you remove the desire, the suffering is gone. This is why the path of the Bodhisattva is not a nirvanic path, it is not a path to take you to nirvana: it is a path to take you beyond nirvana. There are some in Gnosis who use the Gnostic teachings in order to teach the nirvanic path, because that is what they practice, and that is fine, but that is not the Bodhisattva path, that is nirvanic. The nirvanic path takes you to having the capacity to exist in nirvana for a period of time, but that is all. If the ego is still alive, that means part of your psyche still belongs to the Klipoth, to hell, and that means suffering will continue. This is the nature of reality, and there is a kind of suffering when we fail to recognize the nature of reality.
You have probably heard of the serenity prayer? It is very famous now because of things like AA. The prayer goes something like:
"God give us the grace to accept with serenity the things that cannot be changed, and the courage to change the things that should be changed, and the wisdom to distinguish one from the other."
That prayer is a perfect explanation of the quality discrimination that we need in order to develop this form of tolerance.
Today there is a lot of snow on the ground, and ice: why should we get angry? We cannot change the weather. We should discriminate between the things we can change and the things we cannot.
In the Bodhicharyavatara, Shantideva writes a very beautiful statement that we can use in every case of trying to develop patience, and I want to read this to you, so you get the full taste.
"If something can be remedied, why get into a foul mood over it? And if it can't be remedied, why get in a foul mood?"
It is simple right? If we face a problem, or a conflict, or a form of suffering, and there is a solution for it, then there is no reason to be angry or upset, because there is a solution, but we just need to apply the antidote, apply the solution. Yet if we face suffering, or a problem, or a conflict, and there is no solution, then why get upset? There is no reason, there is nothing we can do.
I would add to that one more factor: if we face a problem, or a difficulty, and we do not know the solution, then we should be happy, because there may be one, so find it.
So in synthesis, there is no cause for anger, there is no reason to be angry, there is no reason to be upset. If we get upset, or angry, or frustrated, it is because we have become identified with a desire. We have become identified with some kind of wish that is not being fulfilled. So in this way we can understand that patience, or endurance, is really equivalent to serenity, the capacity to be serene.
Only the one who knows how to be serene, to work and to be patient can be saved. - The Pistis Sophia Unveiled
There is another line in Shantideva's writings that is also good, he says:
"If I am unable to bear even this minor suffering of the present, then why don't I ward off the anger that would be the cause of hellish pain?"
And we can extend that to all the egos. When we recognize that the ego is the producer of suffering, and all of it produces suffering, then we need to eliminate it. The Master Samael said in the Pistis Sophia Unveiled:
Initiates must learn how to live serenely and gently within the terrors of the abyss at night.
We have to learn to be serene and gentle within the abyss of our own mind, and within the night, the spiritual night, the darkness. This is something we have to learn, like disciplining our mind, like training ourselves in patience. The process of doing so is the process of initiation.
To learn serenity is to learn to discipline the mind. When our mind is agitated, we have no serenity, we have no peace, therefore we cannot solve our problems. An agitated mind cannot solve any problem, ever, it can only make it worse. Therefore if our mind is agitated, the first thing we have to do is calm the mind, relax the mind, become serene.
This is easy to see when you understand the nature of the four ethers. These ethers that we have in our ethereal body are like mirrors, like the surface of the water, like a lake. And they are used to transform and transmit energy. We perceive by means of the ethers of the vital body; everything we perceive is reflected by them in the same way that a mirror reflects images. If their surface is distorted with waves, if the mirror is undulating with waves and is very chaotic, the picture you see is distorted. So you cannot see the original image in the way it really is, because the image is distorted by the waves. This is what happens when your mind is agitated. The waters are moving too much, so let the water settle, let the mind settle. When the mind is calm and serene, then you can see a perfect reflection of anything that you need to see.
This becomes especially important when you recall the name of this bhumi. We are talking about the third paramita, patience or endurance, and the bhumi is called "luminous" in the Buddhist tradition. We are talking about the luminous ether as well, related to our ethereal body. The luminous ether is that aspect of the ethereal body that manages perception. Do you see the link? Do you see the connection? To develop patience or endurance is to develop serenity, which is develop a calm and stable mind, and that is calm and stable Bodhichitta, the ethereal body.
The Master Samael says that the greatest obstacle to clairvoyance is anger. And that is because anger is a passion that stirs up all the waters and agitates the mind. But anger is not just that overt outward expression of foul language or violence, it is also resentment, it is also depression. Anger has many forms, but in all its forms, whether outward or inward, whether overt or inverted, it distorts and disturbs the mind. This is why in Gnosis when we teach how to develop objective clairvoyance, the capacity to see beyond the physical senses but objectively, clearly, without obscuration, the clearest antidote, the clearest solution, is to work on anger, to comprehend and eliminate anger, frustrated desire.
So if you have a frustrated desire related to meditation, that is your obstacle, that is the thing that you need to work on, because if you are frustrated with meditation, then you will not be able to meditate. If the mind is frustrated, that is anger, that disturbs the water, thus there is no clarity, there is no serenity and the mind is agitated. So comprehend that frustration. Learn how to transform that, to learn from it.
The place of this bhumi, or level, and the place of this perfection, or paramita, is absolutely definitive in its structure in relation to the others. Without serenity, without patience, without endurance you cannot go further, it is impossible. It is the same as the other paramitas we have already discussed. If you do not have generosity, if you do not have that intention to develop the compassionate mind, you cannot enter the Bodhisattva path. If you have the generosity, that generous spirit, loving kindness, you have the intention, then you need the discipline to manage the mind. But if you do not have that, you cannot enter the path. But if you have the generosity and you have some discipline of the mind, then you need serenity. And if you do not have serenity, you cannot go further.
So look at your own mind and work on these factors, these three forces. These three forces create: generosity, discipline, patience. These three create the path. If you take one of these three out, there is no Bodhisattva path for you, there is no way that you can work in this path. You must have these three qualities in development, balanced with each other, harmonized, synthesized. And this is because of a very clear cause, and we get to that in the subsequent lectures.
To close I will read to you a little bit from the book of Romans from the New Testament. This book is a very clear document written for Bodhisattvas, and the writer, Paul, explains that very well, very clearly in the first few lines of Romans eight. But the part I want to read to you is the end of Romans eight, and this is some advice for us to help develop tolerance, the ability to endure suffering, to take what life gives us, and accept that, and take advantage of it.
Who shall lay any thing to the charge of God's elect? It is God that justifieth.
Who is he that condemneth? It is Christ that died, yea rather, that is risen again, who is even at the right hand of God, who also maketh intercession for us.
Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?
As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him that loved us.
For I am persuaded, that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor powers, nor things present, nor things to come,
Nor height, nor depth, nor any other creature, shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ.
In synthetic terms, the Bodhisattvas have Christ incarnated, and nothing can separate that from them, except themselves. No matter how much suffering, no matter how much difficulty, no matter how much pain, the Bodhisattvas have Christ inside, and if they learn to rely on that, and cultivate their relationship with that Bodhichitta, nothing can stop them. And that is what Paul is saying. This can inspire us. We may not be on that path yet, but we do have the essence, we do have the consciousness. And that consciousness is our connection to our own inner Being, who can help us, who can guide us, who can give us all the elements that we need to grow. But remember something: he as that parent cannot hold on to our bicycle, if we really want to learn to ride it. Meaning that our Being will let us suffer so that we will learn, so that we will grow. If we fail to take advantage of those experiences in order to improve ourselves, then we will remain weak like babies, who never learn to become self-reliant. The Bodhisattva becomes perfectly self-reliant, but that self that they rely on is Christ.
Question: Is patience become passive, sort of .... how do you transform the initial event? I give you an example, every day society...
Answer: Well, you bring up a lot of things with that. The first thing I would say is there is no such thing as a repeated event. No event repeats exactly the same, ever. You cannot say that one things happens again and again, because each time it happens, it is different. This is a very important thing, because the nature of our mind is to go so sleep, and it goes to sleep because of habit, and we have the habit of thinking, "I have already been in this room, so I don't need to pay attention to it." So then we have this sleepy kind of half- or not even at all aware state. We need to recognize that nothing is the same, ever; things are always changing from moment to moment. So even if you are driving to work on the same road every day, you have to really pay attention, because that road is not the same, that trip is not the same, all those cars and all those people are not the same, there are differences; you are not the same. So I point that out to you first.
Second, just because your reaction to a circumstance has changed, does not necessarily mean that you have gotten better. It just means that your reaction has changed. Sometimes we experience a certain thing a few times, we become habituated to it, we become used to it. It does not mean that we stop suffering whenever we are consciously transforming that. Some people the first time they ride in a car, it is very uncomfortable for them, it is scary, it can be very uncomfortable, but then after a while they get used to it and then they do not pay attention anymore. It does not mean that they transform the element in their mind that was reacting that way in the beginning. That element is still there, it is just not reacting in the way it was before, or some other element is now reacting. So we have to be very careful with observing how we react to situations, particularly when situations come up that are similar to others.
You may know somebody who has a very sarcastic attitude, and always comes to you and says sarcastic things in a joking way, and at first it hurts, but after a while you don't really notice it anymore; it does not mean that you are transforming, it just means that you have become accustomed to that pain. So you have to observe carefully.
If you are really working to transform something, what will be new is your comprehension of it; when you understand that, then you can say something is different. Like for example your example of the honking horns. Your first reaction when you hear all the horns is you get agitated, right? Angry. But then when you saw the old lady who is lost, then you cannot be angry at her. And that is a good thing for you to see, because it helps you show the futility of your own anger. That becomes a jumping point for any other experience like that where you become frustrated, then you would say, "Ah I don't know what is happening here. Why should I get angry? There might be a very good reason for this to be happening."
A good case is a story I heard one time about a car accident. The story basically is that there was a big car accident on the freeway and all the cars were blocked and backed-up on the freeway, and all the people in all the cars were angry, but one person was not. And they just figured maybe there was an accident or something bad so they didn't get upset. Later that person got a knock at their door, and this person came to the door and said, "I just I found you, because I was in the car accident, and I was out of my body, and I could see all the anger of all those people, but I saw one person who wasn't, and I remembered your license number, and I came to thank you." Maybe that is just a folk tale, but it does demonstrate something, that a quality of mind has an impact on other people.
Answer: Yes of course. Suffering can impel us to behave properly, if we take advantage of it. A trauma or a bad situation can inspire us to act properly. If we see somebody hurt, physically hurt, we will leap to help them, even if before that moment we thought they were an enemy, right? You could be having a terrible argument with somebody, really angry, but if some accident happens and they get really hurt by something, all the sudden we will want to help them. That shows the futility of the anger, the superficiality of the anger and our root intention, which is actually good. So we should actually learn in advance of that, to not have to go through such traumatic situations in order to learn that. We can discipline ourselves without having to go through that kind of suffering. Any other questions?
Answer: That is a big problem and actually that becomes really significant in students of Gnosis. We learn these teachings and then some students start to get this idea that they need to go around telling everybody how Gnosis says they should be. And this is actually not a good habit. The best way for you to deal with other people when you see them performing something you believe is wrong or harmful, is to restrain yourself and look at yourself from their point of view. Try to look at yourself through their eyes, to understand how they see you, to look through their eyes.
Actually, this is the measure of a good teacher. A good teacher can really understand the mind of the other person, and what they can and cannot receive. Most of the time when we go around telling people what they are doing wrong, or what they should be doing, it will be received in the wrong way, because most of us are too proud to take that kind of input from another person. So it depends on your relationship. If you are a parent and child, then yes you need to tell them, as a parent you need to tell your child, right from wrong, and give them your advice. But a child cannot necessarily do that with a parent, and two equals can't necessarily do that, it depends on their relationship. So you have to be careful. The intention to help can actually harm.
When you try to give someone advice, you might actually turn them against you without meaning to. So this takes a lot of skill. Sometimes a good way to do it is to do it in a round-about way without manipulation and without pride. Maybe give an example about yourself without telling them why you are doing it, but to do it in a way that is really for their benefit and not your own.
And that is the other part: sometimes when we want to tell it other people how to behave or what they are doing wrong, it is because we are proud of ourselves and we feel superior to them, and if you feel that, do not say a word; it is better to transform your mind. And when you do say something, say it because you sincerely are concerned for them, or care for them, but be careful how you say it, especially if somebody is really identified. You know well if you approach an alcoholic to tell them they are an alcoholic and they need to quit, usually they will get angry unless you get them in the right moment, and that takes skill to know that. And we are like that about all of our other defects, pride, and anger, and fear, so when we are acting in wrong ways we are addicted to those things just like an alcoholic. So it is very difficult to communicate that.
Question: You mentioned harmful beings, is that a contradiction...
Answer: No no, by "beings" I was just indicating other people, other creatures. You know, a harmful person, a harmful entity of whatever kind, because there is more than just human beings, there are other kinds of beings in the world, that is what I am addressing.
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