Thoughts Penned by Teacher - Assume the Stillness of a Tree

There are times when one will flare up without reason or kick a fuss about something trivial; even retrogress so much as to become hysterical and have their emotions spin out of control.

At the ignition point, suffering surges and becomes difficult to suppress. At the time when everyone finds the situation unexpected and puzzling, we should first find ways to let him/her calm down.  Do share with that person that things are not as severe in actuality. It is not worth the extensive anguish and one should concede to bring a halt to such misery!  Never let a wounded heart bleed profusely by playing recursive thoughts of a particular incident, fall into irrational thinking and suffer unbearably.

In fact at this time, it would be inappropriate to remonstrate against the situation.  Instead, one should immediately treat the painful injury. Just as the Buddha said in the Parable of the Arrow, if one has been shot by an arrow, he should not waste time analyzing if it was made of wood, iron, steel or if it was smeared with poison.  Rather, he should pull it out straightaway.  When we are struck by the arrow of suffering, the important thing is to get rid of the arrow, let ourselves calm down and “assume the stillness of a tree”.

So, how does one pull out the arrow of suffering? If fortunate to be in the company of people who understand the situation and who know Dharma, then, listen to their advice and do not follow after our emotions too deeply.  It is best to “listen to the teachings and engage in substantive practice”, for you will be released with little difficulty from the fortress of afflictions.

If unaccompanied, one should fervently focus one’s mind on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with the earnest wish to gradually settle and quieten within.  It is necessary to adjust one’s breathing; put effort to breathe in deeply and supplicate.

Why let a single small matter brings us to an abrupt collapse?  Although the reasons are possibly aplenty like grass, on closer examination, underlying sources can be generally attributed as follows: -

1.     Recurrent buildup of irrational thoughts that go according to sentiments of self-centered despondency, injustice, resentment, non-forgiveness and other negative thinking —— afflictions that were not promptly addressed and had culminated in a disaster.  Perhaps, whilst others may feel that the above statements are unfair, my objective opinion is that the fairest thing is people should not suffer.

So, in order to achieve happiness and peace; to distance oneself from hurt, hate and resentment, non- forgiveness and so on; in order to become happier, give oneself the right to happiness, and even bravely pursue a life of happiness; to achieve these, we should specifically contemplate on the faults of afflictions and remedy them accordingly.

The Lamrim states in the chapter of The Origin of Suffering,

"The faults of the afflictions.   When an affliction arises, at first it completely afflicts your mind, causing you to err with regard to what you are observing, reinforcing your latent proclivities, and causing the same sort of affliction to recur.  It may harm you, others, or both; it leads to misdeeds in this life, in future lives, or in both.  It creates experiences of pain and anguish, as well as the sufferings of birth, and the like.  It takes you far from nirvana, your virtue is destroyed and your resources are depleted.   In society you feel apprehensive, joyless, and devoid of confidence, while your notoriety spreads in all directions and excellent persons such as teachers and protectors rebuke you.  You die with regret, your aims unfulfilled, and after death you are reborn into a miserable realm.

Furthermore, as the Ornament for the Mahayana Sutras says:

Through afflictions, you destroy yourself, destroy other beings, and destroy your ethical discipline.

After you have ruined your joy, you are shunned; your protectors and teachers rebuke you.

Disreputable, you will be reborn in a leisureless condition.

You suffer great anguish in losing the virtue you had or have yet to attain.”

2.     Perhaps, the body may be too tired and the four elements are out of balance.
 
3.     Failure to set a strong positive motivation first thing in the morning, an inadequate inner strength to protect our mind, or even a negative dream state will affect the day.  The residual influence of afflictions from our troubled dreams should also be treated accordingly.  If one is not yet proficient in the cultivation of one’s mind and is embroiled in a state of repetitive failure in every battle, this is not the occasion to retreat but to take on the attitude of a constantly defeated general! It is necessary to persistently learn from teachers, seniors and virtuous friends in order to align ourselves with the Dharma and thereby develop the habit of not immersing oneself in suffering nor stirring afflictions.  It would be best if at the first onset of afflictive thoughts, one right away uses the spear of correct view to strike and pierce through this assailant numerous times. This “spear” specifically cures the sphere of suffering.  It is imperative to put in long term effort, a lifetime of persistence, infinite lifetimes of relentless cultivation till one is skilled in subduing afflictions.

4.     If you are capable [of helping] and often come across people like this in your social circle, would you be compassionate and give him guidance as well as look out for him?  Presuppose the situation befalls on us instead. Firstly, do not be afraid, then, accumulate experience with each and every breakdown, and over time, find yourself a quicker way to exit the agony.  After all, grief and so forth will harm one’s health and waste one’s life away.  One should have the resolve to thoroughly crush, entirely destroy all self-cherishing thoughts, non-empathy towards others’ suffering and the failure to acknowledge the reasons to be grateful (for these are the causes of suffering and devastation). Put in effort to learn and diligently practice constant recollection of ethical discipline as well as the kindness of others.  Remember the immeasurable kindness of the Guru, Buddha, Dharma, the monastery where the Sangha resides, the kindness of our parents, all sentient beings, trees, flora, water sources, Mother Earth and so on, innumerable kindness. Through this cultivation, we will cause the strength of our grateful heart to become insurmountable akin to a torrential river. Even when we meet with unfavourable conditions, this precious sword of ours becomes further honed to cut off all our thoughts that deviate from remembering others’ kindness.
 
I have witnessed many people in such a situation and have given some help.  When they improve, I am really happy. However, at night, when in solitary quiet contemplation, the thought of many others who are undergoing such suffering in this world, struggling to escape with difficulty, coils my heart with agony and thus, prompted me to write this article.  I hope these words can fly to the side of those who are suffering. Just as fireflies emit some degree of light albeit so modestly, likewise, I merely wish my light can accompany and light up your lonesome journey in the darkness of the night, especially during the times when you are helpless and miserable.

Eng

老师随笔——如树应安住

某一时候,某人会突然莫明其妙发脾气,或小题大作,甚至歇斯底里、情绪失控。

痛苦在那个引爆点突然汹涌而至,难以抑制,在大家常觉得匪夷所思时,应该想办法先让其平静下来。告诉他,其实事情没那么严重,不值得痛苦成这样,应告诉自己痛苦到此为止!不能让心上的刀伤一直流血不止,一直回忆某件事,陷入某件事的非理作意中,痛楚不堪。

其实此时,不是应该一直控诉那个“境”,应马上疗治痛苦之伤。就像佛说如果中了箭,不该花时间先去分辨这箭头是木头、铁作的、钢作的、有涂毒否,应立刻拔出才是。我们中了痛苦之箭,应立刻拔出,让自己平静下来,“如树应安住”。

怎样拔出?有时幸运有知情懂法者陪伴,此时,应听劝告,不能太投入感受中,最好“听闻随转修心要”,少力即脱烦恼城。若只有自己,那应该猛烈缘念佛菩萨,以期内心逐渐平静。应调整呼吸,努力深呼吸祈求。

为何在一件小事上突然崩溃,虽然原因可能有草那么多,但究其源头,粗略如下:

一、平时积压的非理作意,以自我为中心的伤感、不平、怨恨、不原谅等负面作意——烦恼,未及时调整,累积成灾,一发而不可止。虽然这样说,可能令人觉得不公平,但是我认为最公平的是,人不该痛苦。

所以,为了得到幸福和平静,远离伤感、怨恨、不原谅等。为了越来越幸福,给自己幸福的权利,甚至勇敢地去实践幸福的人生,为此,应特别思惟烦恼过患,并予以对治。如广论云:“第四过患者。谓烦恼才生,先能令心杂染,倒取所缘,坚固随眠,同类烦恼,令不间断。于自于他于具损害,于现于后于具生罪,领受苦忧感生等苦。远离涅槃,退失善法,衰损受用,赴大众中,怯惧无乐及无无畏,一切方所恶名流布,大师护法圣者呵责,临终忧悔,死堕恶趣,不能获得自己义利。庄严经论云:“烦恼坏自坏他坏净戒,退损失利护法大师呵,斗诤恶名他世生难处,失得未得意获大忧苦。”

二、可能身体太累,四大不调。

三、晨起提正念不猛烈,防护自心的力道不够,甚或不好的梦境也会影响白天。梦境的烦恼余势也应予以对治。如果修心还不够熟练,处在屡战屡败阶段,此时不应退怯,要作常败将军!应坚持跟随师长善友学习调心,养成不泡痛苦、不搅烦恼的习惯。最好烦恼才生,即用正念之矛数数击刺。此“矛”专治泡痛苦。应长期努力,终身努力,最好生生世世精进不息,直至熟练调伏烦恼。

四、如果你周围轮番有人如此,如果你可以,能慈悲予以引导守护他吗?若自己如此,首先不要怕,在每一次崩溃中累积经验,在每一次痛苦中快快出离。毕竟伤心等是会伤身及浪费生命,应痛下决心彻底粉碎、彻底剿灭那些以自我为中心、不去体察他人痛苦及忘失他人恩惠的理由(因为那是痛苦和崩溃之因),花下时间学习并刻苦修练常念戒、常念恩:念师恩、佛恩、法恩、常住恩、父母恩、众生恩,还有树的恩、花的恩、水的恩、大地的恩等数不清的恩。令念恩心如滔滔大河势不可挡,纵遇违缘,有如宝剑越磨越利,痛斩一切不念恩心。

我曾目睹很多陷入此种状况的人,也有帮到一些忙,看他们好起来,真的很开心。但静夜独思,想世上还有多少人正受此困扰,挣扎难脱,每思及此,痛苦萦心,特写此文。希望这些文字,飞去那些痛苦的人身边,纵只有萤火微光,也期望将黑夜独行的你照亮,在你痛苦无助的时候,能伴你身旁。