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LESSONS: Lesson 4 – The Causes of Suffering

I am the Dharma

Just as Light & Heat are the Sun

How can it be otherwise? We are inseparable from the Truth and yet we seem to be fumbling around in something unreal and not true. We seem to get caught in our ignorance (stupidity), in scattered distractions and in our self-interest. Each one of these traps keeps us from knowing that we, you and me, are the Dharma – the Truth.

How can it be otherwise? Let’s take a look at each one. 


Ignorance, the blindfold over our being. In the Wheel of Birth & Death, the very first link of causation is a blind man heading for a cliff. In this case, we are ignorant children about to get caught in the web of desire. These are clear images of how spiritually threatening ignorance is. As long as we have the pot  of ignorance over our vision we will spin on the Wheel of birth and death – creating all sorts of things that result in the end as death. This spinning is suffering, the first Noble Truth of our situation. The cause is ignorance. But what you ask, are we ignorant of – we are ignorant of knowing the Truth – knowing that we are the Dharma just as light and heat are to the Sun – the Truth.




If this is true, why do we bother with the second Noble Truth which says the cause of suffering is desire? A very good question – we bother with this cause because desire is the demon of distraction. Distraction comes when we desire something, anything at all that is other than what is – what is right in front of us. Desire distracts us and our mind scatters and runs after some thing. It is a trap door in the form of pleasure which we all have in our lives. There are desires that we refuse to renounce and relinquish. When we are unwilling to renounce our trap doors we fall into a scattered mind. Following after desire of things in the apparent world interferes with concentration and meditation.




When we remain ignorant, (stupid) we get distracted, scattered, because we are following our self-interest. Self-interest interferes with unconditional love – because unconditional love is without a self – it is not invested in an outcome – does not pick and choose. But knowing the definition of unconditioned love does not lead to being unconditioned. This love is a realization beyond self-interest and self-evaluation of what one should or should not do. It is a realization, not a brush to polish up an already confused and ignorant ego.


In summary.

Just as light and heat are the Sun, I am the Dharma, we are the Dharma. Ignorance, our blindfolded mind prevents us from knowing this to be so. Realizing it. Because our mind is distracted and confused by the desire for the things of the world – things that come and go – things that are full of suffering when we cling to them. And finally, all this desire for the things the self wants blocks us from unconditioned love. Self-interest causes us to pick and choose what we ignorantly pick and choose as the path – what we want and how we want to satisfy our longing with the things of the world. This nonsense takes us round and round the Wheel of birth and death.


The medicine for ignorance is knowledge, the medicine for a scattered, confused mind is concentration and meditation, the medicine for self-interest, is renunciation and surrender to what is without attaching to it. This takes guts. the spiritual kind. 


I refer those who want to know more, to the excellent essay by our late Ming Zhen Shakya. Here’s her explanation of detachment and attachment.


Detachment requires us to get our emotional teeth and claws out of the people and things of the material world and to get their teeth and claws out of us. For so long as we derive our sense of self, our identity, in terms of our relationships to other persons or things, we bind ourselves to the future and to the past. We attach our ego, like an umbilical cord, to whatever is “other”‘ and we reduce ourselves to fetal creatures who are dependent on those “others” for our sustenance. Attachment, therefore, is to possess or be possessed by someone or something outside ourselves. Ming Zhen Shakya


Humming Bird
Author: Fashi Lao Yue

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Quote: Ming Zhen Shakya

The Mandukya Karika

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