Why to have some sense for humor?

Category: Mahayana

Mind is ever on-going, a continuum. This on-going process cannot be adequately described with words. The mind moves forward on “tracks” derived from habits. When we let our consciousness drift away, we find ourselves following our habitual tendencies that are nothing other than our egos at work. We have developed these tendencies from past experiences. We need to realise that when we are not vigilant, we tend to drift toward jealousy or pride or any of the other emotions that are habitual. We can weaken these tendencies by modifying our reactions in a more balanced way, and we can slowly start to affect some changes in our habits. We can cultivate openness and benevolence if we have first noticed our habitual tendencies.

With practice, we will learn over time to see ever more clearly how, because of ego grasping, the mind reacts with pride, jealousy, greed, and so on. In our relationships with others, we are always expecting something. This is extremely important to realise, because our expectations cause conflicts when they are not fulfilled. Within our familial and work surroundings, we usually have a lot of expectations. We often pretend that we are acting for the welfare of others while at the same time harboring expectations which will then lead to frustrations. I expected from so and so… now, I am frustrated. I thought I was right. They have let me down. Either I was in the wrong, or, they did not come through!” We should be aware that everyone everywhere is like this, including ourselves. It is common to think like this, but nevertheless we need to be aware of it.

To be able to see this attitude with some sense of humor is helpful and necessary. Don’t imagine that there is a “quick fix” to modify it. The habitual reflex will change somewhat after having first noticed it, but we cannot force a change to take place. Ever since our childhood, we have been told: It is not good to be proud, not good to be jealous, etc.” What was not said is that these emotions, anger, pride, jealousy, etc., are generally what our minds are preoccupied with. The same mind experiences both greed and generosity. In fact, there is really no “bad” versus “good;” rather it is a mere mislabeling. This why it is so important to see and understand. The key is not to reject these emotions but to recognize them. What appears as pride can be changed into the energy of action. Insofar as it is recognized, it becomes a quality. jealousy can be transformed into the quality of perseverance, leading us to bodhicitta, to enlightenment. Anger arises when something goes wrong. The same anger could be a quality of lucidity able to help correct a situation and thus could be very useful.

Recognising our emotions does not mean that we should go against or get rid of them. There is nothing to reject, there are only different energies to be used in potentially beneficial ways. By being aware, it is possible to change the expression of the energy from negative to positive.

Buddha said, I can give you the means to liberation but I cannot set you free. I can give you the tools to reach the goal.” He also taught that it is not possible to free oneself without the “others.” Ultimate enlightenment is attained only through bodhicitta. We cannot develop qualities when isolated because, to overcome ego grasping our success depends on our contact with others. We can seize the chance to take advantage of our emotions when they arise in order to modify and change our habitual tendencies. Bodhicitta, or loving-kindness, is the antidote to apply to bring about the changes. There is no other way. We need to put ourselves in the place of others, be aware that they are unhappy, and see for ourselves that our own happiness depends on theirs. This also means that our view encompasses all points of view, so that our vision of any situation becomes more complete and thereby more precise. The immediate result of the application of bodhicitta is that we stop rejecting our responsibility for whatever is happening.

How do we develop the necessary vigilance and integrate it into our experience? The goal is to perceive the true nature of our mind, the true nature of both mental and outer phenomena. Slowly and gradually, we improve the way we live our lives and elevate ourselves by following the guidelines given in the teachings. Then we will arrive at a stage where we can take control over our existence. We embark on a spiritual path taking into account all the implications of the law of cause and effect. We make an effort to be aware of what is positive and negative while on the path to enlightenment. Unless we retreat into solitude, we will continue to lean more toward negative acts. However, if we are vigilant we can see through all the negativity. We will then have an opportunity to work with our negative perceptions through our practice and turn them into useful qualities. By being conscious, not only do we live with less suffering, but we are striving toward enlightenment. 

Source: excerpt from “Architect of ones life” by Lama Jigme Rinpoche, www.jigmela.org

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