Gomchen Lamrim review: The truth of dukkha
Gomchen Lamrim review: The truth of dukkha
- The four truths are not abstract principles but specific phenomena
- The three types of dukkha
- The eight sufferings of human beings
- The six sufferings of cyclic existence
- Guided meditation on the sufferings of beings in the six realms
Included here is the meditation that Venerable Damcho led at the end of the teaching:
- Bring to mind a time when your mind was overwhelmed by fear and aggression. Imagine this mental state being so strong that it completely colors your entire environment and the kind of physical experience you have, the body you take. When our mind is overwhelmed by anger, we see everything through that lens. Think that this is what it is like to be in the hell realms, to have a body and mind that are overwhelmed by fear, rage, fury. That’s your entire experience. You can generate the wish to free your mind from such a state. Now think too that there are many beings experiencing this. Extend that wish to them too, to be free from the suffering of the hell realms.
- Bring your mind to a time when the mind was completely overwhelmed by craving. You were separated from something you wanted and no matter where you looked, it was never enough, couldn’t find any happiness. So overwhelmed by the craving that you couldn’t enjoy anything. Again, imagine that this overpowering dissatisfaction consumes your entire body, shapes your entire experience of the environment, how you see the world. This is what it is like to be in the hungry ghost realm. Generate the wish for yourself to be free from being in a state like this. Now extend that wish to all the beings in the same situation, wishing for them and yourself to be free from the suffering of the hungry ghost realm.
- Bring to mind a time when your mind was clouded by ignorance and confusion. When you were unable to think clearly, couldn’t seem to access your wisdom, just in a daze or fog. Again, imagine that this affects your entire body, the way you see the world, your entire environment. Think that this is what it is like to be in the animal realm where your main focus is getting food, protecting yourself, protecting your children. There is a lot of fear of being eaten, you have to eat… your whole life revolves around that. Wish for yourself to be free from the suffering of the animal realm and also extend that to all beings.
- Now let’s turn our minds to the types of suffering humans experience. At this very moment, beings are going through the 8 sufferings, including ourselves: babies being born, people in the process of aging, struggling with illness, dying right now, people grieving, struggling with difficult problems, being separated from those they love, not getting what they want. This is our common experience from having this body and mind, overwhelmed by ignorance, karma, and afflictions. Generate the strong wish for you and the other beings in the human realm to be free from suffering and its causes.
- Now think of a time when your mind was so satiated with pleasure, that that was all you could think about: ME and MY pleasure. You were so distracted by this pleasure that you couldn’t focus on anything. What others are going through doesn’t matter. Again, imagine being so overwhelmed by this kind of pleasure that it shapes your entire body and environment. Imagine that this is what it is like in the celestial realms, completely self absorbed in having everything you want. Too, see that this is suffering. It completely closes our hearts to other beings. Again, wish for yourself and all beings in the celestial realms to be free of such suffering and its causes.
- Just reflecting on how there is no safe place in any of the six realms that is free from the suffering of cyclic existence and looking at how these are produced by our ignorance and afflictions, we can generate a very strong wish in our mind to be free, knowing that this is the most compassionate thing we can do for ourselves and others, to transform our minds and stop the cycle of rebirth.
Venerable Thubten Damcho
Ven. Damcho (Ruby Xuequn Pan) met the Dharma through the Buddhist Students’ Group at Princeton University. After graduating in 2006, she returned to Singapore and took refuge at Kong Meng San Phor Kark See (KMSPKS) Monastery in 2007, where she served as a Sunday School teacher. Struck by the aspiration to ordain, she attended a novitiate retreat in the Theravada tradition in 2007, and attended an 8-Precepts retreat in Bodhgaya and a Nyung Ne retreat in Kathmandu in 2008. Inspired after meeting Ven. Chodron in Singapore in 2008 and attending the one-month course at Kopan Monastery in 2009, Ven. Damcho visited Sravasti Abbey for 2 weeks in 2010. She was shocked to discover that monastics did not live in blissful retreat, but worked extremely hard! Confused about her aspirations, she took refuge in her job in the Singapore civil service, where she served as a high school English teacher and a public policy analyst. Offering service as Ven. Chodron’s attendant in Indonesia in 2012 was a wake-up call. After attending the Exploring Monastic Life Program, Ven. Damcho quickly moved to the Abbey to train as an Anagarika in December 2012. She ordained on October 2, 2013 and is the Abbey’s current video manager. Ven. Damcho also manages Ven. Chodron’s schedule and website, helps with editing and publicity for Venerable’s books, and supports the care of the forest and vegetable garden.