Grasping at sense objects (a match-factory)
When the mind is directed to the illusionary outside world of objects, it is prone to grasp at these objects as it has numberless concepts to distinguish between them. The amount of them is endless. The mind is conditioned by society, personal experience and education to grasp, reject or to be indifferent towards them. The more it is under the influence of desire, the more it grasps. It wants to fulfil this emptiness left behind by the veil that covers our happiness, our true self, with the fleeting happiness created by the objects of desire. As the very nature of the sense objects is impermanent, suffering is inherent. This happiness is never lasting and we will never get the bucket full, no matter how much we grasp at desirable objects. As soon as the object is acquired, the happiness that is obtained by it is already fading away, even though the object might still exist. The magic of the moment when it became “mine” quickly fades and it then turns into a weapon faced towards us. It can now cause innumerable sufferings. It might get stolen, lost, leave us or increase our pride, hence become fruitful soil for hatred, anger, jealousy or suffering of loss. And finally, this whole process leaves permanently new impressions on the veil of our true self, covering it ever more and distancing us ever more from the true happiness we are longing for so hardly… our true self.
The only way to clear that veil, this dust on the mirror, on our true nature, is to let go and to observe… in silence. It is only by discriminative knowledge that we can meet the army of defilements of the mind. Then, through understanding the real nature of those illusionary outside objects, the grasping will naturally take an end. The veil made out of all those impressions covering our true shining self will slowly dissolve and true happiness will naturally be revealed. It might go very quickly for some of us, but I can also take many years. But the very motivation of reading about all this, even if it might be difficult to understand at the beginning, is already the first step into a wonderful story realizable in this lifetime, if you are really decided to do so.
Everything that comes together must fall apart. This is a law that cannot be avoided. It is a source of suffering that permeates our whole existence. As long as we cling to things we will suffer from being separated from them. As long as we build up something we will suffer from its collapse. Throughout history, we have repeated this pattern of union and dissolution countless times and it has generated so much unneeded suffering. Everything we can grasp with our senses will die. Nothing is permanent. The more we search for permanence, the more we will be disappointed and perpetuate our suffering. This perpetual search for permanence in this life has its origin in the ignorance of our true self. It is only by dying to the now that we might find something permanent in our life. But what are we really searching for when we try to perpetuate things? What do we expect? Is it happiness we are searching for? Can we really find happiness “outside”? Isn’t this impermanent happiness we try to find outside but suffering in disguise? Did you ever find lasting happiness that did not turn to suffering in the phenomenal world called Samsara?
Please do not simply read this. Go into it deeply and try to find a source of everlasting happiness “outside”. If you find a girl and you fall in love you might think that you have found happiness. But does this happiness not fade after several years? It might perhaps not but you certainly know how much suffering the death of a beloved one is causing and how much pain a separation is causing. And this is definitively unavoidable.
Have you ever asked yourself the reason for searching happiness? If we search something it is always something that we know. It is something that we have lost. If I search for my wallet or my keys, I know what I am searching for. Have you ever searched for something that you didn’t know, before you have searched for it? How would such a thought come about? It is very important to inquire deeply into this question. You might want to become something that you have never been before. You might want to become famous and you have never been famous. You might want to be beautiful if you feel ugly. You might want to become rich. But the very core of these longings is a quest of happiness. In the ignorance of your true self you search for happiness “outside”. You think that fame, fortune, beauty or social position will bring you happiness. And when you have achieved all that you wanted to, you still feel unsatisfied and you might have a lot of psychiatric medication in your cupboard to balance out the fears of loosing what you think you have achieved until now. And so the search and the suffering continues for the rest of your life.
The funny thing about that is that we all search for something that we have already and that we always had. We are happiness and we have never been separated from happiness. It is by dying to the now, by loosing everything that we imagine to have or that we long to get that we will eventually find true happiness. For happiness, as our true nature is beyond what is graspable, it is beyond what is perceivable and it is beyond words. We are what we are searching for and we have ever been what we have ever searched for, hence we know what we are searching for because it happens every night in deep sleep and we sometimes perceive it briefly during the day when the mind is very calm and aware in the now, but we have to die to it to really fulfil our deepest wish. Life is not possible without death, in the same way happiness is not possible without abandoning all those worldly concerns and dying to the self, dying to the now… simply being… and you will know that you have never been separated from the whole.
Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Can we cover the earth in leather so it’s soft wherever we go? What else can we do? Covering our feet in leather is equal to covering the whole world in leather. Likewise, enemies are as limitless as space. All enemies cannot possibly be overcome, yet if one can just overcome hatred this will be equal to overcoming all enemies. All that is unsatisfactory in this world all the fear and suffering that exists clinging to the “I” has created it. What am I to do with this great demon? To release myself from harm and to free all others from their suffering let me give myself away and love others as I love myself. If a problem can be solved why be unhappy? And if it cannot be solved what is the use of being unhappy?
— Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche – from the movie ‘The Cup’ – Commentary to Verse 6 / Chapter 5 of the Bodhicharyavatara from Shantideva
(image source: wikipedia.org)
Anthony de Mello
Happiness is our natural state. Happiness is the natural state of little children, to whom the kingdom belongs until they have been polluted and contaminated by the stupidity of society and culture. To acquire happiness you don’t have to do anything, because happiness cannot be acquired. Does anybody know why? Because we have it already. How can you acquire what you already have? Then why don’t you experience it? Because you’ve got to drop something. You’ve got to drop illusions. You don’t have to add anything in order to be happy; you’ve got to drop something. Life is easy, life is delightful. It’s only hard on your illusions, your ambitions, your greed, your cravings. Do you know where these things come from? From having identified with all kinds of labels!
— Anthony de Mello – Awareness
(image source: unknown)
Your joy is your sorrow unmasked. And the selfsame well from which your laughter rises was oftentimes filled with your tears. And how else can it be? The deeper that sorrow carves into your being, the more joy you can contain. Is not the cup that hold your wine the very cup that was burned in the potter’s oven? And is not the lute that soothes your spirit, the very wood that was hollowed with knives? When you are joyous, look deep into your heart and you shall find it is only that which has given you sorrow that is giving you joy. When you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see that in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.Some of you say, “Joy is greater than sorrow,” and others say, “Nay, sorrow is the greater.” But I say unto you, they are inseparable. Together they come, and when one sits alone with you at your board, remember that the other is asleep upon your bed. Verily you are suspended like scales between your sorrow and your joy. Only when you are empty are you at standstill and balanced.
— Khalil Gibran – Joy and Sorrow (excerpt) – The Prophet
(image source: wikipedia)
All your going and coming, seeking pleasure, loving and hating – all this shows that you struggle against limitations, self-imposed or accepted. In your ignorance, you make mistakes and cause pain to yourself and others, but the urge is there and shall not be denied. The same urge that seeks birth, happiness and death, shall seek understanding and liberation. It is like a spark of fire in a cargo of cotton. You may no know about it, but sooner or later the ship will burst in flames. Liberation is a natural process and, in the long run, inevitable. But it is within your power to bring it into the now.
— Sri Nisargadatta Maharaj – I Am That – Chapter 91
(Photo by Jozef Nauwelaerts)
We generally consider something beneficial if it promotes happiness. But when we ask ourselves, “Am I happy when I’m angry?” the answer is undoubtedly no. We may feel a surge of physical energy due to physiological reasons, but emotionally we feel miserable. Thus, from our own experience, we can see that anger does not promote happiness.
In addition, we don’t communicate well when we’re angry. We may speak loudly as if the other person were hard of hearing or repeat what we say as if he had a bad memory, but this is not communication. Good communication involves expressing ourselves in a way that the other person understands. It is not simply dumping our feelings on the other. Good communication also includes expressing our feelings and thoughts with words, gestures, and examples that make sense to the other person. Under the sway of anger, however, we neither express ourselves as calmly nor think as clearly as usual.
Under the influence of anger, we also say and do things that we later regret. Years of trust built with great effort can be quickly damaged by a few moments of uncontrolled anger…. If we could tame our anger, such painful consequences could be avoided.
— Thubten Chodron – Working with Anger