A Journey In Consciousness

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The roots of suffering

(Transcription of a Dharma talk given in Paris, 10 December 2014)

Sometimes what happens in our lives is that we suffer. What is amazing about our suffering is that we seem to have so many methods of creating suffering for ourselves. When we are done with one form of suffering, we invent a new fashion of suffering. We seem to be addicted to suffering. When the old suffering gets to be too old and boring, we start a new kind. We are so creative! 

What is interesting about the Buddha is that suffering is the central theme of his teaching, The Noble Truths. This teaching states that there exists suffering, that is the bad news. But there also exists the way to go beyond suffering, that is the good news. 

The Buddha was very sharp and laser-like in his way of analyzing the nature of suffering, of how we suffer.

He said that we suffer in two ways: One way is by wanting something that is not there.  A correct observation, I think. 

The other way is: Something is there in your life and you really, really don't want it. You resist what is there, you want it gone. You resist it and consequently you suffer. Something else is not there. You want it. You suffer.

If you observe all the moments of your suffering, you will bring it all down to that. 

So, what was his solution?  His solution was very radical. If I desire something that is not there, I suffer. If I desire something to to be not there that is, I suffer. In any case, desire is the root of my suffering. So, what would happen if I would just drop all desires?

And that is apparently what he did. So he dropped all desires and his suffering stopped. Perhaps it sounds easy, but we know it really is not. 

Imagine... you really want that woman or man... And 15 years later you really want the divorce (audience laughs) You laugh and you know it is true....

So, his solution was to drop all desires. He solved it that way. He just walked out on everything. Honestly speaking, I don't know if this is the solution for everything.  There exists a very beautiful, Tibetan movie.  At the end of the movie, the woman approached the monk, who had walked out on her. That is what the Buddha did. Buddha walked out on his kingdom, his wife and child. So at the end of this movie, called "Samsara" the woman presented this great existential question: "Couldn't you have achieved all this and not walked out?" 

That is a good question. 

The one thing that I really find fascinating is that consciousness evolves.  Masters of consciousness evolve. If you look at some of the aspects of the Masters from 2,500 years ago, they will appear very unrefined. Unsophisticated. 

I know the Buddha is very much revered nowadays. But I feel some of the aspects of Buddhism are truly ignorant. The aspect of Buddhism that is most ignorant is its relationship with women. I never understand how any woman could possibly become Buddhist. The only way that I can understand how a woman can become Buddhist is that the woman really does not understand Buddhism. 

One of the vows of the Medicine Buddha is that "I will pray for you, poor woman, for all the girls here, for you to become men in your next incarnation. (all women in the audience laugh) Then you have a chance to become liberated. Because as a woman you have no chance, you are just an inferiour creature. (more women laugh) 

This is a reality in Buddhism. So, girls, I feel sorry for you. You can go home now. No need to be here, you have no chance at becoming liberated in consciousness. 

If you understood this, how could you not rebel against it? Which is what some American women have actually started to do with the Dalai Lama. 

So, don't mess with the American woman. And once the French woman finds out about this, she is going to join the American woman in the rebellion and they will visit the Dalai Lama together. 

But that is what happens if you go into a house that is 1,500 or 2,500 years old. It leaks through the roof when it rains. 

Et voila. That is the bad news.

But the good news is that consciousness evolves and becomes more and more sophisticated. 

Actually, I feel that women have higher chances at becoming awakened than men. 

Tonight we have an unusual situation. Look how many men are here. It is amazing. Usually women are about 80 percent of the audience. That is normal.  The reason for that is that they are more sensitive than men. They feel more. They are more psychic. 

Except of course all the men that are here tonight. The men that are here tonight are very exceptional. (audience laughs)

But really, the people that come here are the sensitive people. They are in fact super sensitive. That sometimes is also part of their pain. You come here and you feel great. You go into the metro, you feel all the stuff there. You feel too much.

But coming back to the central theme of suffering, I just want to say a few final words. 

It is really important that if you feel suffering in your life that you ask yourself the question: "What is my suffering?"  Really ask the question: "How do I create my suffering?"

 Because there is a pattern to it. You need to discover what that is. You must discover the source of your suffering and how do you repeat it in your daily life.  What thought and behavior pattern do I practice that causes your suffering? 

Make the effort to search and comprehend your fashion of suffering. The only way you can do that is by asking the question and through intensive self observation. And that is a lot of work. But if you do this work, you will benefit. You will see your suffering.  You will see the source of your suffering. Sometimes it is absolutely enough  to just see it and in the seeing it begins to disappear.  That is the good news. 

Become conscious of how you make yourself suffer. And once you become conscious, why would you go on doing it?

Of course the answer to that is also simple. You go on repeating your patterns that cause you suffering because you are too afraid to let go. You are too afraid to make the jump. 

There is something very strange about suffering and the way we make ourselves suffer. After a while you get very good at it and it becomes very comfortable. You take a hammer, you hit yourself over the head and you become very comfortable with the process of inflicting suffering upon yourself. 

And if you stop it, we don't know what will happen. The unknown. The amazing thing is that we can become fascinatingly addicted to that which makes us suffer. And we are afraid of letting go of that which makes us suffer. 

It is like you are standing at the edge of a nest. You are supposed to fly away. But the nest was very comfortable for a long time. And now somebody says, "Fly into the sky." And you say, "Ah, really?" (audience laughs) 

You look outside the nest, it looks very deep. What if I cannot fly, you ask yourself. What if I fall down? We are afraid to try our wings. 

So, I invite you to explore the roots of your suffering. If you do that, you will benefit. Et voila.


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