Now Is The Time To Make Ourselves Into Something Different

We are all running, all the time, physically, mentally and emotionally. That is the life we are in. That is our reality. buddha’s idea of liberation is based on these four. It tells you how people get into it and how they can get out of it. In the Lankavatara Sutra, Buddha says:

Why are people running around and suffer so much?
Because they don’t get emptiness straight,
The nature of reality, what is really going on.
They don’t get the meaning of peace, [skt. nirvana] straight.
That’s why they are circling, life after life.

That is very important. Life after life, we’re continuously doing the same thing. We may think, ‘Well, I am okay, I am not doing anything terrible and miserable.’ In one way it is true. We are greater than many others. but on the other hand, we are not liberated, we are not free. That much we know.

For me, the goal of spiritual practice, spiritual work, is that first we have to liberate ourselves, then help liberate others. Liberate from what? From running around. The fear combined with confusion is traditionally called ignorance [Tib.marigpa], which might not be exactly ignorance as we understand it. This one beats us so badly. It takes shelter in one of the emotions—it can be hatred or obsession. We are running around within that.

If you watch carefully, it becomes clear to you whether what you are doing is okay or not. What is your mind really influenced by? Only for a very short time, you will find the mind influenced by positive emotions. Most of the time, however, the mind is influenced by negative emotions, such as dislike, dissatisfaction, fear. That is our problem. It causes misery and suffering and unhappiness.

Sometimes we think we don’t have this problem, and it may not look like we do. There is no one with horns and tail and fangs that says, ‘I am the problem.’ But it is there, occupying the individual subconsciously. Without our knowledge it controls us completely. These are the points Buddha refers to when he says that we are suffering. We do not necessarily have to be in a hot or cold hell, where you are either getting fried or frozen. Suffering is everywhere— mental, physical and emotional suffering.

Physically, we have tremendous suffering. Every one of us looks different from ten years ago. Just visualize what you looked like at that time, and then put a mirror in front of you. You won’t like what you see. Well, I don’t. That alone, is physical suffering, even without specific aches and pains. When Buddha talks about “khor,” and about suffering, that is what it is. Life after life, we repeat the same thing again and again.

Now is the time for us to stop that and make ourselves into something different. Get out of the circle of “khor,” get beyond. Shift from the first two Noble Truths, to the second two Noble Truths. Everything good and bad is included in those four. We have the opportunity, and possibility, and capability to make the difference now. It is the right time and the right opportunity. Whether we do it or not, is our choice and our business.

~ Gelek Rimpoche, GOM, 2005, p. 3


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