When you clearly understand that your own clingings and the things you cling to are all capriciously changing, and none of them can last forever, your mind will naturally relax, and relax again, and finally you will be as comfortable and pleased as if you are lying on the green grass in the warm sun. Then you will not feel that you are living such a fatiguing life, and you will be able to face this world and the things you go through, calmly taking things as the come. Then you will finally be truly solid and unbreakable.
When you are in the state of empty, still clarity, you will discover that all kinds of experiences pass. Once they pass, they are all just recollections. If you cling to a certain painful experience, your recollection will prolong the harm it did to you. If you do not concern yourself with it, then it is no more than a dream, an illusion, a bubble, without any substantive difference from the experiences that made you happy. These are just some fragments on your road of life, transient and fleeting, and together they form traces and evidence of your life.
Thus we say that people who cling to personal gains and losses will always generate afflictions and sufferings more easily that people who are unselfish. This is because they always have too many desires and cannot satisfythem. They care about how other people see them, and they care about the world’s attitude towards them. They care about whether or not they will get paid back for the efforts they expend. They always hold tight to too many empty illusory forms, and are unwilling to let go of them. They always think that this is a way of being shrewd and lucid, and they do not think it is worth reflecting on whether this may be another kind of fallacy. But they do not understand that the source of pain and suffering is precisely all this concern and this shrewdness. Since they cannot see through this, of course they are not really people who are lucid, and they are not people who really love themselves, nor can they understand how to love others. They may manage to achieve much worldly success, or they may not, but what is certain is that, adept in calculating as they are, they are sure to lead very fatiguing lives.
If you want to resolve afflictions, or not give rise to afflictions, then you must remember that when all the entities in the world are appearing in your mind’s nature, your true mind must be forever sensitive and clear, and must not become dimmed and muddled. That means that when you are facing the world, you must constantly maintain tranquility and lucid awareness, and focus on and observe every thought of the inner mind. Do not let things with their many complex changes drag your mind off. Do not let yourself go and sink down into certain emotions. Do not fall into oblivion, so there is no responsiveness at all. Only then will you no longer be controlled by false thoughts like concepts, experiences, desires, biased perceptions, and so on.
Of course, this is simple to describe in principle, but relatively few people can truly manage to do this. People who can truly control their own minds, accept impermanence, clearly understand the world’s illusory transformations, and not be controlled by false thoughts – only these are the genuine people of wisdom. Only the genuine people of wisdom can treat themselves well and treat other people well.
“Treat yourself well and treat other people well” and “Only when you learn how to love yourself will you be able to understand how to love other people” – do these mean the same thing? They do, and they don’t. Treating people well is a kind of love, because only when you have love and compassion in your mind will you be able to genuinely treat yourself and other people well. So from this perspective, the two statements do mean the same thing. So why is it also true that in a sense they do not mean the same thing? Because “love” is a word that is very easily misinterpreted.
What is it to genuinely “love oneself”? To say what you want to say, to buy the things you want to buy, to do the things you want to do, to be faithful to your own opinions and viewpoints no matter how wrong they are – is this loving yourself? For some people, this may be what love is, but this is a self-centered love. This kind of so-called love is very selfish, and as for its basic substance, it is just a kind of strong desire. People who believe in this kind of love will always use the petty self as the criterion for assessing things: What will I gain? What will I lose? What can’t I get? Will this world satisfy me? Will I feel despair or not? Will I feel isolation and loss or not? The contradiction is that resources are limited: if someone gets something, then someone cannot get it. If you always take satisfying yourself as the criterion, when conflicts of interest arise, will you be able to genuinely love someone else? When you encounter setbacks or even problems, you will feel resentful and full of affliction: is this genuinely loving yourself? If you try to love in this manner, it will be impossible for you to genuinely love other people. For example, when someone praises you or smiles at you, you will certainly be able to respond to that person with a friendly attitude. But if another person refutes your point of view in a group meeting, and does not think the results of your work are right, and even slanders you, then how will you act? Will you still love him? Of course, the love I am speaking of now is more a kind of great love, and not the emotional love between men and women.
Thus it is said that if we are unable to face “loss” with the state of mind of accepting “gain,” then it will be hard to avoid being tied up in negative emotions like fear, a sense of loss, a sense of isolation, and so on, and fall into empty illusory pain and suffering. Some people cannot get out of the shadow of pain and suffering, and so they kill themselves, or they use violent means to protest against the world or get revenge. But no matter what basic cause it comes from, those who commit violence ultimately will taste the evil fruit which they have planted the seeds of with their own hands, and what is awaiting them is still endless pain and suffering. Is this pain and suffering something that the external world imposes on us? It is not. The various kinds of things that the external world gives rise to are all the results produced by the coming together of many conditions, and they themselves are not fixed and unchanging. Because of this, no fixed attributes exist either, including our views and feelings toward people and things.
Everything in the world, and all that appears, first affects our minds, and then what appears from our minds we term “the myriad forms of being are manifestations of the nature of mind.” This means that the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and conceptual mind perceive forms, sounds, smells, flavors, touches, and conceptualized phenomena, and then give rise to the visual consciousness, the auditory consciousness, the olfactory consciousness, the tongue consciousness, the body consciousness, and the conceptual consciousness. These six kinds of information form all our perceptions and judgments toward the world. In other words, our consciousness of the world is formed from what we see, what we hear, what we smell, what we taste, what we touch, and what we think. In this, the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and conceptual mind are called “faculties,” [in Buddhist Chinese, rendered by the word “roots”] because they are like the roots of a plant, from which things can “grow forth.” However, the things they put forth are not visible to the physical eyes, but are rather a kind of information. This kind of information is termed “consciousness,” and it is not the same as the corresponding “root” on which it is based, and this is classified into six categories: the visual consciousness, the auditory consciousness, the olfactory consciousness, the tongue consciousness, the body consciousness, and the conceptual consciousness. The objects that the sense faculties perceive and think about are called “the sense objects.” They can stimulate our minds and spirits, and make us produce desires, and defile our original purity, and so they are also called “the dusts.” These include all the people and things of the external world and all apparent forms, and they are classified as forms, sounds, smells, flavors, touches, and conceptualized phenomena, distinguished by what is perceived by the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and conceptual mind.
It is evident that all the ways we look at and perceive the world are in reality false states of mind. That false mind is the result produced by your six sense faculties and six sense consciousness coming together as one with the external world. For example, your eyes see a woman, and you feel she is very pretty, and this give rise to the false mind, and you want to make her your girlfriend. This is the result of the functioning of the sense faculty of the eye, and the visual consciousness, and external sense objects. Differences in the mind determine the content of consciousness, and external sense objects themselves are changeable, so this result is constantly changing. For this reason, I always say that “when the mind changes, then the world changes.”
I will give a simple example. When a young man clings to and is attached to conventional worldly sentiments, he may fall in love with a young woman at first sight, then abandon his dreams, and abandon everything to pursue her.
One day he may go through an experience like Khyungpo Naljor, the great teaching master and cultural master who is the protagonist of my novel The Deathless Diamond Mind. Khyungpo Naljor gave up everything and went off to India in a quest for truth; later he brought the truth and the teachings that he had found back to his homeland, the snowy regions of Tibet. He carried out a role in the history of the transmission of Buddhist culture that cannot be overlooked.
The young man in the example now feels that the woman’s beauty is far less important than he great aspiration and his direction in life, and so then he gives up his worries about and attachments to the woman, and continues his quest for his dreams.
If you clearly understand this point, the burdens on your mind will gradually lessen on their own, because you will discover that even these so-called burdens are empty and illusory. The reason they can torment you is entirely because you see them as very real. When you clearly understand that your own clingings and the things you cling to are all capriciously changing, and none of them can last forever, your mind will naturally relax, and relax again, and finally you will be as comfortable and pleased as if you are lying on the green grass in the warm sun. Then you will not feel that you are living such a fatiguing life, and you will be able to face this world and the things you go through, calmly taking things as the come. Then you will finally be truly solid and unbreakable.