Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Dharma Moment

Three days ago I woke up with an idea. Each morning I would randomly open one of my many dharma books and scriptural texts and post the passage on a blog along with a short personal commentary (of sorts). Normally, I take time to actually follow through on impulses like this, but for some reason no resistance arose in my mind and I went onto Blogspot and created Dharma Moment, which can be found at
The first morning, I chose the Connected Discourses of the Buddha, and opened the book to one of my favorite passages, “The Fingernail.” The second morning, Ajahn Buddhadasa called to me. Lo and behold, the book opened to yet another favorite passage on clinging. This seemed auspicious. This morning I grabbed the Jewel Ornament of Liberation by Gampopa. And below is the passage I turned to with commentary. Hard to say how long this will continue, (all things are impermanent!) but I love being of service in this way. I will continue to write this more substantial blog for

“If you do not have patience and hatred enters into your mind, it is like a poisonous arrow piercing your heart. You will not experience joy, happiness, or peace because of the pain in your mind. You cannot even sleep well. Engaging in the Conduct of Bodhisattvas says:
            My mind will not experience peace
             If it fosters painful thoughts of hatred.
             I shall find no joy or happiness,
            Unable to sleep, I shall feel unsettled.
             In brief, there is nobody who lives happily with anger.”
The Jewel Ornament of Liberation, Gampopa
We all struggle with distressful states of mind such as anger and hatred that often arise without warning; triggering mind and body states of such ferocity. The taming of the mind seems almost impossible when we are swept away in a moment of anger. 
I once heard Joseph Goldstein, one of my most revered Buddhist teachers say, "Anger feels so good because of our clinging to the sweet taste of self-righteousness." I know this sweet taste very well. These are the moments when I find myself gripped so firmly in the need to be right, holding my hatred and anger like best friends rather than my greatest nemeses. When I feel anger or hatred, I try to turn my attention to find aversion, the root of all anger and hatred. Maybe I am not getting what I want, need, or expect. Maybe someone is treating me with unkindness, disrespect or judgment. Maybe I am faced with responsibilities or tasks that I would rather avoid. Any one of these possibilities is so human... and the fertile soil for aversive states of mind. 
The key is to awaken to the presence of aversion in the body, mind, or heart. And care for it deeply, kindly, and with compassion. Then turn that caring toward others who may be catalyzing hatred or anger within us or directing their own anger and hatred at us. With this we achieve the Bodhisattvic intention: liberation from suffering for all involved.