Attachment and anger

The root afflictions: Part 1 of 5

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Part of a series of teachings based on the The Gradual Path to Enlightenment (Lamrim) given at Dharma Friendship Foundation in Seattle, Washington, from 1991-1994.

Understanding attachment

  • How the afflictions develop
  • Overview of the six root afflictions
  • How attachment exaggerates and projects
  • Attachment keeps us enmeshed
  • Attachment and resistance
  • Attachment and the three characteristics
  • Identifying attachment
  • Understanding our attachment explains our unhappiness

LR 048: Second noble truth 01(download)

Distinguishing between attachment and other mental states

  • Attachment and love
  • Attachment and aversion
  • Positive feelings
  • Looking deeper

LR 048: Second noble truth 02 (download)

Anger

  • Recognizing anger
  • Manifestations of anger
  • Individual anger responses
  • “Reasonable” anger?
  • The dimensions of our anger
  • Creating anger
  • Reflecting
  • Having compassion

LR 048: Second noble truth 03 (download)

Now, when we determine to free ourselves from cyclic existence, what is it that we are trying to be free of? Obviously the unsatisfactory conditions, but we also have to look deeper and want to be free of the causes of the unsatisfactory conditions. So it is not just that we want everything around us to be wonderful and leave it at that. We want a route out and to eliminate the causes for all these unsatisfactory things so that they can never re-appear again. This moves us into the next part of the outline, which is the causes of the unsatisfactory conditions. We are also moving from focusing on the first noble truth, that of the unsatisfactory conditions, to the second one, the causes.

Actually in your lamrim outline, the overall heading is “Becoming convinced of the nature of the path to liberation” and within that, the first heading is “Thinking about the causes of suffering and how they place and keep you in samsara.” This is just recognizing what the causes of suffering or unsatisfactory conditions are and how they function, how they keep us trapped and how they keep us bound. This is important because instead of the cause of our pain and suffering being external, we are at this point ready to admit that the principal cause for everything lies within our own mind.

How do the negative mental factors in our own mind keep us continually befuddled and confused so that even though we want happiness, we continually create the cause for more problems? We have to come to a real clear understanding how these afflictions1 work, how they create karma and how the two things (afflictions and karma) together generate one rebirth after another rebirth.

How the afflictions develop

Under this we have the next point in the outline: “How the afflictions develop.” First we have to recognize the afflictions. The reason they are called “afflictions” is because they disturb the harmony and tranquility of the mind. Whenever these things arise, they make the mind off balance and bent out of shape. When you feel bent out of shape and you are not really there and something is bothering inside, that is the meaning of the term afflictions. They disturb the peace of the mind. Within the afflictions, of course, there are different classifications. There are the root afflictions and then there are the auxiliary afflictions. There are six root afflictions. These are called the root afflictions because they are the root of cyclic existence and the root of samsara in that they are the principal causes of samsara. They are also the root of the auxiliary afflictions.

Some time later, we will study one text called lorig; it means mind and awareness. It goes into great detail about all these different mental factors; about the six root afflictions and twenty secondary afflictions, the eleven virtuous minds and so on and so forth. Right now, we will be taking some of the material about the six root afflictions from that text. I will not be going into it as much in depth as I will later on when we actually study this text, but it will get you going. Actually Geshe Rabten did a book called Mind and Its Functions and the second part of it talks about some of these different mental factors. It is a book on Buddhist psychology and is quite a bit of fun to study.

The six root afflictions

The six root afflictions are: attachment, anger, pride, ignorance, doubt and wrong views. Then “wrong views” is actually broken up into another five. Sometimes, they just say ten altogether, but sometimes they just say six and the last one is broken into five. If you are wondering why they do not say eleven, it is because when they count ten, they do not count “wrong views” as one of the ten; they just count each of the five within. Let us start going through these.

Attachment

Attachment exaggerates and projects

The first root affliction is attachment, which is our favorite one. This is a mental factor that, when referring to a phenomenon, exaggerates its qualities, or projects qualities that are not there. Then it exaggerates the attractiveness of that phenomenon and wishes for it, takes a strong interest in it, clings to it, craves for it, is stuck to it. This mind is really the elephant glue to samsara. It functions to produce continued discontent and continued suffering in samsara.

When you have attachment you never have enough, or you never have it good enough. There is always discontent and dissatisfaction. This is helpful to know during those days when you are sitting at home feeling discontent, dissatisfied and ruminating. During those moments just recognize, “Oh, there is attachment functioning in my mind right now”.

Then you have to ask, what am I attached to? What am I discontented about? Explore your own mind. You might be discontented because you do not live in a nice enough house, or because not enough people like you, or because you do not have a high status in your career, or because you do not like the way you look, or something like that. The mind is stuck: it is exaggerating something and then craving for it, clinging to it, being tremendously dissatisfied because it does not have it. Often when we can recognize that we are dissatisfied, identify what we are attached to and recognize that there is no sense in being attached anyway, then at that point we can really let go of the attachment and also the dissatisfaction.

Attachment keeps us enmeshed

I explained before how attachment is the driving force behind cyclic existence. It creates attachment, creates constant dissatisfaction. It also creates constant rebirth in cyclic existence. We arrive at the time of death and what do we want? We want another body. We want more pleasure and we have got to have another body, got to have another rebirth. Then we get that rebirth and body and think, “I’ve got to have this, I’ve got to have that and I’ve got to have these other things.” You get all those things and you are still not satisfied; you always want more and better. So the attachment just rolls on and on and just pushes forth one rebirth in samsara after another. It functions to keep us totally enmeshed in our difficulty.

The thing that is so tricky about attachment is that it looks like it will bring us pleasure because we are taught that we are supposed to want things. Especially in America, we are supposed to want all these things and we are supposed to want them because they will make us happy. We are taught that to be a good child and a good citizen, it always means wanting, wanting, wanting. But we cannot blame it on society. We cannot say, “Oh, society taught me to have so much craving.” Society has its thing, but there is something in us that resonates with it.

There is something in us that, from the time we were born said, “I want! I want! I want!” If you look at babies, they want. They want a lot of things and then, of course, what we want becomes more sophisticated as we grow older. There is a perpetual seeking as if there is a hole inside of us and this feeling of being empty so we are always seeking something else from outside to fill it. We spend our whole lives like that. Even though we get many things, it never fills the hole.

Attachment and resistance

Audience: Sometimes I find it hard to make myself practice, is attachment somehow involved when we are resisting practice?

Venerable Thubten Chodron: So the question is about resistance to actually practicing. That part of our mind that cannot get itself on the cushion, or cannot do whatever is necessary to counteract an affliction when it is coming up.

It is different in each case. Sometimes the resistance is a very active attachment and is like “I don’t want to sit because I’d much rather read a magazine.” It is not that reading a magazine is so wonderful, but somehow I am attached to the idea of sitting in a chair and relaxing and just spacing out. To turn on the TV, read a magazine and just space out at some level feels very desirable even though intellectually we know it is a total waste of time. So, underlying that, there is some kind of attachment that is finding something desirable in that.

Sometimes resistance is like that. We’d much rather do something else. “I’d much rather go to the movies; I’d much rather go out to dinner; I’d much rather call up a friend and talk; I’d much rather do something fun! But meditation—my legs hurt, my mind is wrestling, it is not fun! I want pleasure!” So there is a very active attachment to some kind of pleasure, even though it might not be real specific as to what we want. But we will think of something pretty quick.

Sometimes the resistance is there because of habit. It is as if we can look and know that something is stupid: “I sit and read one magazine after another, I watch one TV program after another and I know it is not getting me anywhere and I really don’t want to do it,” but there is a force of habit at work. We are very much creatures of habit and we have to break one habit by making new habits. So it takes some level of real understanding that something does not make us happy now or in the future. It also takes a little bit of discipline to get us to shift gears, but we cannot be militaristic about this whole thing and say, “I’m never going to do this again. I’m just going to practice.” If you try and squeeze your mind and you do not have very much understanding, then you are just going to get real tight and not get anywhere in your practice. You have to gently nudge your mind.

I have one friend who has a very good technique. When she wants to meditate and her mind is being resistant and thinking of all these other things that she really should do which, of course, she does not want to do, she says, “Yes, I know it would be nice to do that, but that is not what we are going to do right now.” [laughter] She actually talks to her mind as she would talk to her child, “Yes, I realize that is what you want to do but that is not what we are going to do now. We are going to sit and meditate.” She says talking to herself and acknowledging that there is a part of the mind that wants to do something else, but also saying, “That is not what we are going to do now; there is something else we are going to do,” works quite well.

Attachment and the three characteristics

Permanence: It is very interesting how the attachment functions because it is based on a whole lot of other preconceptions. Remember we talked before about the three characteristics of transience, unsatisfactoriness, and selflessness? What attachment has underlying it are things that are the opposite of those three. What underlies attachment is a mind that sees things as permanent. So whatever it is that you are attached to, you are seeing it as lasting, as permanent, as if this relationship is here and it will always be here. As if it is always going to be and will never change. So there is this underlying feeling of permanence, of lastingness in something.

Unsatisfactoriness: There is also a feeling that it is going to give happiness. Underlying attachment is the view that this thing is not unsatisfactory by nature but rather, it is pleasurable by nature. So I want it. It has pleasure in it. It has happiness in it. When you look at chocolate cake, it has happiness in it, does it not? You try to put that happiness of the chocolate cake in your mouth. When you eat it you are trying to put happiness inside of you.

Attachment is why you want to be with your friends. They have happiness inside them and when we get them close to us, we are getting that happiness. Underlying the attachment we are seeing the people and things as permanent and not as changing in nature. We are also seeing them as pleasurable in nature and not as unsatisfactory. So when you are attached to a person, you have a lot of desire for that person coming up. You are not looking at that person’s body and saying, “This is a bag of flesh and bones.” Rather the mind is seeing it as something pleasurable, something wonderful.

You are not looking at the person’s mind and saying, “This is a sentient being that has ignorance, anger and attachment.” Rather you are looking at that person and saying, “This person is wonderful and fantastic. They are so sensitive and intelligent.” So with attachment we are seeing pleasure inside things that really are not like that at all.

Selflessness: Also underlying the attachment we are seeing things as being solid and concrete as if they had a self and as if they had an essence and identity and something that is “them.” So because there is something that is “them,” there is definitely something there to be attached to. I am not attached to empty space. I am not attached to illusory-like things. I am attached to this body—this is real! So you can see that underlying the attachment, there is the grasping at permanence, the grasping at pleasure and the grasping at self. When you really look at it, you can begin to understand how attachment is totally inaccurate and how when we are attached, we are hallucinating in abundance. You do not have to take any drugs to hallucinate. As Lama Yeshe used to say, you hallucinate all by yourself [laughter], most of the time we are hallucinating in this way.

Identifying attachment

It is really important to begin to identify what is attachment and not just identify intellectually that attachment is a mind that exaggerates, projects and so on. But rather we need to ask, “What in my mind is attachment? When am I attached? What does it feel like when I am attached? What are the things to which I am attached? When I am attached to something, what happens afterward? When I am attached to something, what happened before that made me attached? When I am attached, what does it feel like?”

We need to identify this part of ourselves, that is why we keep coming back to the idea that these teachings are not just intellectual material, but are things that are pointing ways for you to understand yourself. What you are getting in the teachings is just the basic tools, but then you have to go home and think about it. You have to discuss it with other people. You have to meditate on it so that you can really start getting to know yourself better and understand how your own mind works.

Understanding our attachment explains our unhappiness

I think the more we understand our own attachment, the more we will understand why we get so unhappy and confused. Sometimes unhappiness and confusion just seem to come out of nowhere. But the more we understand the attachment, the more we begin to see our mental patterns and mental ways of conceiving things. We begin to understand why different things arise in the mind. We begin to also be able to see through them and not take them so seriously and not buy into them.

By the force of habit, the mind might still say, “You really need to get this; you really need to do that.” But because we have thought about it enough and the wisdom is strong, the wisdom could say, “Oh yeah, this is attachment, isn’t it?” It is habitual attachment. There seems to be pleasure in this thing but actually I know now, that even if I pursue this thing, it is not going to bring any pleasure. I am going to create a lot of negative karma by how I act and think if I do that and I am going to be left with sand having fallen through my fingers at the end of the day and nothing to show for it. So your wisdom becomes quite powerful and it does not buy into the story of the attachments showing.

Of course this change does not happen all at once. Do not expect yourself to hear this teaching, go home tonight, identify all your attachments, understand completely how attachment works and by the day after tomorrow at the latest, abandon all your attachments. [laughter] I wish it were like that. It does not work like that. All these teachings are things that you are going to understand in degrees. That is why it is important to hear the teaching, but also to do purification practice and to also create a lot of positive potential because those enable your understanding to deepen and deepen and deepen.

Attachment and love

In terms of personal relationships, differentiating between attachment and love can be quite confusing for us. One part of our mind tends to say, “This teaching is ridiculous. I don’t want to hear about attachment because if I have attachment, I have to give up attachment, then I won’t have affection for anybody anymore.” So the mind pushes away the teaching. Then another part of the mind really buys into it, “Oh yeah, everything I feel towards every person is attachment. Therefore, I just have to completely isolate myself from all these people because they all bring up my attachment.” So, we kind of tend to blame the people that we are attached to. “You make me attached, so go away.” It is very easy to do that.

What we have got to understand here is that giving up attachment does not mean we push other people away. It does not mean we isolate ourselves from other people. It means that we give up the fantasizing mind that is making stories where there is nothing. That gives us the space to really see people for what they are, really become fond of them and have love and compassion for them without this sticky, clingy, wanting mind. It takes some time to do this. It takes years to differentiate between love and attachment.

In many of our relationships, we might have a lot of love and attachment mixed up together. It might be a ratio of 90:10; it might be 60:40; or it might go to different balances at different times. It is not a thing of just being able to look at attachment, draw a little line around it, isolate it and think we have everything in our relationships figured out. We have to give ourselves a lot of time and energy to understand how attachment works and all of its different aspects.

Attachment tends to be very partial. Attachment is towards a limited number of beings. “I am attached to you, you, you and you. Who cares about everybody else?” But love is something that is much more widespread and can go to many more beings. Attachment only goes to a few. Love can be much more impartial. Attachment is also contingent on how the person acts and what they have and what they do, whereas love is not contingent upon how they act toward us, what they have, what they do, or anything like that.

Attachment and aversion

Attachment arises usually because we see certain aspects in people, overestimate those aspects or the importance of them and we cling to the person as being unique, desirable and we have to be with them. And as long as they have those attributes, that is the case. But then when they do not have those anymore, when they get ugly, when they lose their job, when they become senile, when they lose all the things that made us attracted to them in the first place, then all of a sudden we do not want to be around them anymore and we do not see anything desirable so instead of attachment, we now have aversion.

Attachment tends to be very conditional—as long as people are a certain way, there is an attraction towards somebody. As soon as they are not that way, then we drop them like a hot potato. Attachment tends to have a lot of expectation with it because it is conditioned; we love people because they have x, y, and z qualities. Then, we have a lot of expectation that in the future, they are going to continue to have x, y, and z. When they do not live up to our expectations, we get very upset and very disappointed. We feel betrayed, lost, disillusioned because here was this wonderful person and they were this, this, this, and this and they were going to bring me all these happiness and now look what happened…

[Teachings lost due to change of tape.]

…But with love, even when a person changes or acts differently, the love can still remain because we are not expecting them to be something for us.

Attachment often comes with a very needy mind. I need this and you kind of fill the job qualification. We are not quite that gross, but at some level we almost are that gross [laughter]. It is as if we hire somebody because they have the right qualifications and then when they do not have those qualifications anymore, we say something like, “Excuse me. I expect to have a lot of pleasure from this relationship and I am not getting it. So, what is happening?” That is an outcome of attachment, when we get to that point.

Positive feelings

However, we do not want to make the mistake of thinking that every time we have a positive feeling towards somebody it is attachment. That is very easy to do and I have done it myself. I have seen other people do it too. It is as if we do not want to get too close to people because we will just get attached. So, we pull away thinking that then we will not be attached.

We think that every time we have a warm feeling it is attachment. It is not helpful to get into that kind of cold, aloof stuff. If you look at the meditations on bodhicitta, it is definitely about a warmth and an openness and an engagement. We should not use the teachings on attachment to develop our American extreme of isolation, alienation and individuality. It is very easy to do it. It is incredibly easy to do that. We can take the Dharma and turn it around so that it actually fits our afflictions.

Looking deeper

[In response to audience] Transience, unsatisfactoriness and selflessness are the three characteristics of phenomena in cyclic existence. But our mind perceives the opposite of those three and that acts as the basis for the arising of attachment. So it is good when you notice that you are attached to something and notice how your mind is thinking of it as permanent. Of course your intellectual mind will say, “I am not thinking that Arthur is permanent. I know it is going to end.” But look deeper [laughter] and look at what is really going on in your mind.

Look at how on one level, if we are really truthful in our hearts, the way we are seeing it is that it is not going to end; it is always going to be like this. We might intellectually say, “Yes, it is going to bring pleasure,” and then when we look deeper we say, “Yes, it is going to bring pain.” But when we look even deeper there is actually part of our mind that is convinced it is going to bring pleasure. Again it is a matter of going beyond just words to understand and look at what is happening inside of us and not just intellectualize about it. We need to give ourselves time to understand ourselves and put in the effort. But we also need to recognize that this effort has to be put in for many, many years.

Anger

Now we can go on to the second affliction: anger. Anger is a mental factor that exaggerates the undesirable qualities of someone or something. Then it agitates the mind through being unable to bear that person, or that object, or situation. It also agitates the mind through wanting to harm back or reject, or in seeking to dispel something. So it is an exaggerated state of mind.

Recognizing anger

Both attachment and anger definitely cause physiological changes in the body. This is something that comes up when I talk to professionals. They say, “No, anger is not a state of mind. Anger is a feeling in your body.” That is the way many people actually experience anger. It is like they are not in touch with themselves. So the way they first experience anger is through recognizing that their body is agitated.

Sometimes we will notice that our stomach is tight, that our breathing rate has increased, that there is a lot of tension in the muscles, or that there is a lot of stiffness in the neck. This is the way we actually recognize our anger. We recognize it first through physical symptoms. But it is not that the anger, or the attachment for that matter, is the physiological state of the body. It is the mental state that then has a physiological affect on the body.

So if you can catch the attachment or catch the anger when it is small before your adrenaline gets pumping, it is going to be much easier to control. But if you cannot identify the anger when it is small and the only way you can identify it is after the adrenaline has gotten going, then you not only have the big mental factor of the anger, but you also have your physiological reaction to deal with. That makes it doubly hard to control the anger. That is why it is always good to catch it when it is small.

Manifestations of anger

Audience: Where does resentment come into all of this?

VTC: Actually, we will get to resentment when we talk about the auxiliary afflictions; resentment comes in there. You see, attachment, anger and these things are not monolithic because when you start to dissect them, there are always different manifestations. With anger, what do we have? We have irritation, annoyance, resentment, holding a grudge, hostility, belligerence and rage. There is an incredible dimension of different feelings, but they are all rooted in anger. Anger is unable to bear and wants to push away, or harm, because it has exaggerated the negative qualities.

Similarly, with attachment, when you look closer, there are also ramifications. Attachment is like an octopus with different tentacles going out; there is sexual attachment, lust, emotional dependence, a subtle kind of stickiness and grasping, fantasizing and day-dreaming. So again there are all these different aspects of how attachment works. Anger is the same in that respect.

Anger functions to make the mind disturbed and rough; I think we know that. It is the basis for tormenting our own self and others. When we are angry, we not only feel tormented by the heat of the anger inside —we are very unhappy when we are angry—but we also inflict a lot of pain and misery on other people when we are angry. So it is the basis for torment both internal and external.

It can be a basis also for a lot of misconduct. A lot of our negative actions arise out of anger. So it is the basis of the creation of a lot of negative karma. We can be angry at a number of things. We can be angry at people, physical objects, situations, or at ideas that we do not like. We can be angry at being sick, or at the situation of being sick. We can be angry at an inanimate object like a telephone, or a car when it does not work. We can be angry at the person who harms us and we can be angry at an idea that does not agree with our ideas.

Individual anger responses

[In response to audience] Different people have different ways that the anger comes out. Some people are very patient with other people, but with objects and situations—they cannot handle that. Other people, if their car does not work, they are fine and if there is a traffic jam, they are fine, but as soon as somebody criticizes them, they are gone. Other people might be very good at handling criticism and react very well if they lose their job or something like that, but when they get sick they fall apart.

Just as different people have different things that they are attached to, we also have different things that we get angry about. And the things that we are angry about, there is a linkage with the things to which we are attached. That is why the people we “love” the most sometimes become the people we hate the most. The people we are attached to the most may later become the people we hate the most. This happens because we are so attached that we expect a lot from them. They gave us so much pleasure in the past that now, when they are not giving us pleasure and living up to our expectations, we become enraged and feel betrayed.

“Reasonable” anger?

[In response to audience] In America righteous indignation is like a cornerstone of our culture. After all, it is in the Bible, isn’t it—to be morally indignant, self righteous, take an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth and all this kind of thing? If somebody is breaking God’s laws, “By God, you have to go in there and do something about it!” So, we take this and use it as a justification for our anger. “I am not being unreasonable. That guy is being an idiot! My anger is quite reasonable, quite rational, quite justified, it is good that I am angry.” [laughter]

The dimensions of our anger

[In response to audience] Sometimes we have this big thing about “Let’s be honest.” I think it is great to be honest, but we use honesty as an excuse for dumping our anger onto somebody else. You want me to be open and honest. Well, here I am [laughter] and I am going to tell you off. [laughter]

Anger can be about things in the past. Somebody harmed us in the past. Somebody disappointed us in the past. Or it can be about something that is happening now that we get angry about. It can also be about something that might happen in the future. Look at all the different dimensions our anger takes, “I am angry because when I was five years old, they took away my teddy bear.” [laughter]

In the first purification retreat that I did, I remember I was sitting there trying to say Vajrasattva mantra. All of a sudden, I remembered being in second grade and I realized I was mad at my second grade teacher because she would not let me be in the class play. I was still mad at her because of that. She would not let me be in the play because I did not do my homework. The homework was so dumb and boring and I knew it already anyway, so who wanted to do it? I can even remember her name. [laughter] It is incredible. We have things from the past that we have decided we are going to still be angry about and that person may not even be alive. The situation definitely is not happening now, but all we need to do is to think about it and we are angry.

It is interesting when you start to do retreat. You start to see how powerful the conceptual mind is. All you need to do is remember something that is not happening now, that is nowhere existing, but still you can have so much incredible emotion about it. It is incredible how our mind works. Especially with a lot of past anger, we can immediately bring the image into our mind and we get angry.

Creating anger

Or we can get angry at things that are happening right now. It is too hot, it is too cold, somebody is criticizing me, somebody is not taking responsibility, blah blah blah. Or we can get angry about something in the future. I am angry at that person because I am sure that they are not going to come true on their side of the deal. I am sure that this other country is going to attack us and I am really ticked off at it. It is like our suspicious mind makes things very solid and becomes indignant about things that are going to happen in the future. You can see how this is very much a manifestation of our own fear.

We can also get angry at people who harm us or at situations that harm us. We can get angry with people who harm our friends and we can get angry with people who help our enemies. There are all these different classifications of people to get mad at too. You start putting these three together and we can get angry at the people who harmed us in the past, who are harming us now and who might harm us in the future. We can get angry with the people who harmed our friend in the past, are harming them now and who might harm them in the future. We can get angry at the person who helped our enemy in the past, who is helping our enemy now and who might help our enemy in the future. We are so creative in the number of things that we can get upset and angry about.

Reflecting

It is good to look at this and look at all the different variations of anger. Of course, the really strong anger is very easy to notice. You might start by looking at the times when you have really lost it and the times when you are clearly angry. Look at those things and understand them.

As time goes on, begin to look at other kinds of anger. Look at irritation and when you just feel irritated, or feel like you are gritting your teeth, or just feel bugged, annoyed. Start looking at that.

And then look at the patterns in your anger. Is there a certain thing, situation, or person? Are you the kind of person who gets mad at things in the past, or the present, or the future?

Why is that? How are you thinking? How is that working?

His Holiness is always saying that our laboratory is inside of ourselves. This teaching is just a framework. It is just a tool. To really understand anger, you have your own lab right there with you and you need to do the lab work. Your lab comes around with you and you just explore in your lab. You do research about what is going on inside of you. It is quite interesting, because the more you understand your own anger, the more you are going to tune into where other people are at and how they feel and about what could be going on inside of them. The more you understand yourself and begin to have some compassion for yourself, the more you will start to have compassion also for other people who are just as uncontrolled.

Have compassion

When you see how your afflictions run your life, how out of control you are and how in control the afflictions are, instead of getting angry and thinking, “My mind is so uncontrolled, how can I be like this?” have, instead, a sense of compassion for yourself. We are trying to be happy, trying not to have pain, but look at what the mind is doing. It is just constantly creating the causes for more and more pain and confusion. This is sad, so have a sense of sadness and a sense of compassion for yourself and wish yourself to be free of that.

Have a sense of tenderness, understanding, and patience with yourself because you know you mean well, it is just that you get overpowered by the afflictions. The more you can have that kind of tenderness and patience with yourself, instead of coming onto yourself with the judgment thing, then the more you can start to turn that same tenderness and compassion and patience towards other people when you see them being angry or acting destructive.

I think that is enough for tonight. Go home and think about all the different points. Do a review session of yourself. Work in your inner lab and notice what is there.

Let us just sit quietly for a few minutes and do some meditation.


  1. “Afflictions” is the translation that Venerable Thubten Chodron now uses in place of “disturbing attitudes.” 

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