I don’t know you guys, but I need reminders. Yes, reminders of dentist appointments, of teacher-parent conferences, of seminars…but above all I need reminders of who I really am. That is why I constantly read and listen to the teachings of those that have the knowledge and the knowing of the ways of the Universe. I am forever grateful to those teachers, they connect me back to the Source, they keep me sane.
Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche is one of those teachers. His book “The Joy of Living” is a beautiful presentation of western science, neurology, and buddhist philosophy . It is fascinating to read how these two once-thought irreconcilable fields are basically saying the same. To my western trained mind and my ancient lived soul this is simply great!
I will comment on a particular teaching: “Mental afflictions”. According to Mingyur Rinpoche there are mainly three primary afflictions that are the basis that inhibit our ability to see things as they really are. And don’t we agree that we see our world according to our perspective, personal stories, education, ethnic, gender, age etc? The three afflictions are “ignorance, attachment and aversion”.
He calls “ignorance” to the fundamental inability to recognize the infinite potential, clarity and power of our own mind. When we are ignorant we think of ourselves as small, limited, vulnerable and start looking at the exterior, at other people, at material objects as potential sources of happiness and unhappiness. Sounds familiar? Yes, that is the “ignorant” human struggle to reach happiness by means of getting the dream job, or the perfect partner or the right house or…and it never ends because as soon as we get one thing we start looking for another. We are never satiated, complete. We get caught in a cycle of wanting, yearning, unhappiness. This struggle is what is known in Sanskrit as “Samsara” which means circle or wheel. The chasing of happiness by going in a circle and doing the same but expecting different results, crazy isn’t it? But we all do it!
And the opposite is “nirvana” which in Sanskrit means “extinguishing” and is interpreted as extinguishing the ego. Another more “practical” interpretation is that nirvana is the adoption of a broad perspective that admits all experiences, pleasurable and painful as aspects of awareness, as aspects of creation. Accept it all. Be in AWE of all, the high points and the low points, the light and the darkness. How can we know what is happiness if we have never experienced unhappiness? How do we tell is day time if we have never seen night?
Samsara, therefore, is based on looking at the unpleasant or painful experiences and Nirvana is a state of mind in which we accept the experience without judgment. This opens the potential of seeing solutions that we could not see before, not just for our self but for the survival of all sentient beings.
After reading and meditating on these concepts I will say that I practice the non-judment idea. I don’t want ignorance. So… lets see, this experience is neither good nor bad if I don’t call it, classify it, judge it good or bad, it is what it is. It is truly liberating!
This is a good reminder.
Next, the Attachment issue.